Well, it’s been quite the quiet year at DMNES central! We’ve had other projects that have taken higher priority over the last year, so work on the dictionary has mostly been bits and bobs in the backend of things. Most of our attention has been concentrated on creating place-holder entries for all the as-yet-unidentified variant name forms that we have — a task which has resulted in the creation of over a hundred new entries, many of which may not reach “published” status for years if not decades! But occasionally we were able to not only identify the canonical form of a name, but realise we already had an entry for that name — such as happened when we realised that “Febe” was just a French variant of “Phoebe”!
But we did end up with some new material for our new edition — new entries for Frankbert, Fredeward, John-Angel, and Lefrich, and 143 new citations added to already published entries.
Here’s hoping 2023 will be not quite as quiet (in a good way!) as 2022 and 2021, and wishing all our readers the very best for the new year.
2021 was a long year. While everyone here at DMNES central has so far weathered the pandemic unscathed, much of our energy has been dedicated to simply surviving, with not much left for working on this project.
Nevertheless, we published our 2021 edition last night, with new entries and new citations across old entries. For once, we finalised more entries for feminine names than for masculine names!
New masculine names
Semperbella “always beautiful” and Semperbona “always good” definitely win the prize for “prettiest names of the edition”!
This brings us to a total of 941 entries for feminine names, 1665 entries for masculine names, 3 three for names of unknown gender, and across those entries, we have 78094 citations!
In the last two weeks or so, you may have occasionally gotten a 500 internal server error when attempting to access dmnes.org; our technical guru has identified the cause of this, and it is a bug in the newest version of Python, i.e., something beyond our control. He is confident that the bug will be fixed and a patch released in the next few weeks, at which point he can upgrade the webserver to the latest version and the access problems will go away.
Filed under announcements, technical
Tagged as Ansgil, Balsama, Bernwis, Celsa, Celso, Odelgar, Sempberbona, Semperbella, Theodwalda, Volkleib, Volknand, Volkwich, Warnburg, Warnhild, Warntrude, Wigrad
With about 40 minutes to spare, we did manage to get a new edition out in 2020!
2020 was a tough year for everyone, and things have been alternating really quiet and super productive here at DMNES central. If there’s one thing that was a pure, unalloyed joy and benefit of the upheaval of the pandemic, it was joining Mt. Holyoke’s internship scheme which facilitated the joining of four interns on our staff over summer, with one continuing on through the fall term as well. Much of what’s in this new edition — new names, new citations, updated info on Biblical and literary forms — is due to their hard work; and while some of their other work isn’t yet reflected in published editions, it’s laid the foundations for some exciting projects in the future.
So, on to some stats! The new edition has 2592 entries, with 77,248 citations distributed across those entries. (The entry with the most citations remains John, 4533 citations! That’s nearly 6% of all citations in the Dictionary in that single entry.) (Hah, as I was writing this up, our technical guru asked whether the numbers for Mary were comparable. I laughed, and said “no way, that name was never as popular, and he wanted to know the details. So: we have 832 citations for Mary, accounting for 1% of our data. Compare this to three other popular feminine names — Katherine, with 775 citations; Elizabeth, with 1159; and Margaret, with 1281 citations.)
This edition has a total of 931 distinct feminine names, 1658 masculine names, and 3 where the gender is uncertain. Of these, 44 of the feminine entries are new to this edition:
And there’s 98 new masculine names in this edition:
May your 2021 be filled with wonderful names! (Like Bertbert. Bertbert is such a great name.)
Filed under announcements, publications
Tagged as Adald, Adebert, Adegrim, Agtrude, Aitfrid, Albina, Aldebert, Amaro, Andger, Ansilde, Arner, Arno, Aurofina, Austrulf, Bago, Baldrad, Baldwald, Baltrude, Bellabona, Benenat, Benenata, Benno, Berna, Bernswith, Bernulf, Bernwara, Bertbert, Bertlinde, Bertmar, Bertram-Robert, Bertrick, Bodo, Bonald, Charles-Emmanuel, Cuthred, Dadmar, Daghard, Desideria, Dodbert, Dominic-Amicus, Dominilde, Drutrich, Durande, Dutberta, Eckbald, Elizabeth, Erchambert, Ermenald, Ermenalda, Ermo, Everald, Folobert, Fortuna, Fortune, Fredebald, Gardulf, Gardwin, Gelbald, Gendrada, Gerhar, Gislold, Godberg, Gordian, Grimberg, Gundberg, Hartnich, Heilsinde, Helmger, Helmwich, Helmwin, Herger, Hildegrim, Hundolf, Hungrim, Isenbald, Isenbern, Isengrim, John, John-Andrew, John-Angel, John-Charles, John-Peter, Lantgrim, Lautrude, Lea, Lefhild, Liberat, Liebizo, Liutgard, Liutrad, Liutwarde, Lodbald, Lodberta, Lodwin, Madaler, Madalgarde, Madalrich, Maga, Maira, Marcrad, Marcrich, Margaret, Mary, Meinfrida, Merard, Merberta, Merbod, Nantwin, Norwin, Noto, Novella, Odelrad, Odelrada, Otbald, Oteria, Otgisl, Othilde, Otrad, Percipia, Peter-Andrew, Polemia, Polydorus, Radger, Radwise, Reinrich, Richbert, Richbod, Richsind, Rolande, Rother, Sighilde, Sigwald, Sinbald, Sinbert, Theodeger, Waldemar, Waldemund, Warntrude, Wendelbald, Wendelbalda, Wilbald, Wildrad, Wineger, Witbert, Witrich, Zenobia
September is here, summer is over, and we must now say farewell to our wonderful interns, Sidney, Adelia, Juliet, and K.J. Over the last couple of months, they have looked up etymologies, created place-holder entries, updated the Mystery Monday index and also went through ALL the comments that these posts have received either on the blog or on twitter and made a list of possibly-solved names for me to go through and review, converted all my random notes about possible sources into a Zotero library, made an extensive list of names found in Arthurian literature AND a list of the manuscripts that the various pieces of literature occur in, made a list of where in the Bible all our Biblical names are found, and looked up the spellings of those names in the Vulgate and in the Wycliffite translation, updated our list of events pages, read and summarised articles on Portestant and Puritan names, took over our social media accounts, wrote blog posts, adapted to remote working during a pandemic (and at least two multi-day power/internet outages), and took on the challenge of doing a research internship in a field about which none of them knew much at all before the beginning of the summer. There’s probably more that I’m not remembering at the moment!
It’s been truly great having them, and we wish all four the best of luck in their future endeavours. We are also super pleased that Adelia will be staying on at least through fall term, so look out for more posts from her!
Exciting developments are afoot at DMNES central, as we’ve partnered with Mt Holyoke College in Massachusetts for their summer internship programme, which means that we have four research interns working for us for the next 8-12 weeks! So many back-burner projects are being brought to the front burner and are now already bubbling away.
In addition to working behind the scenes, each will write a few blog posts updating their progress and what they’re learning/finding out, as well as take over the twitter account for a week. In this post, we’d like to let them briefly introduce themselves:
Hi, I’m Adelia Brown, and I’m a rising junior at Mount Holyoke College majoring in Philosophy and English. During the semester, I love studying logic, ethics, and horror literature. Right now, I’m living at home with my family, including my Bernese Mountain Dog, Simon.
By working on this project, I’m hoping to learn a lot about names, as well as about the research process itself. I hope I can contribute to the project in a meaningful way and take away valuable experience in the academic field. I’m so excited to join this team for the summer!
I’m Juliet Pepe, a college senior majoring in Neuroscience and Behavior at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. I’ve always been fascinated by names, history, and linguistic systems, so I’m really excited to be working on the DMNES this summer!
I’ll be starting with a project involving indexing biblical names, and then I will be working on an article with Dr. Uckelman on the rise of Protestant names in the second half of the 16th century. I will also be developing new skills in determining canonical name forms to create dictionary entries. I’m so looking forward to studying these names as pieces of linguistic history!
I am a rising senior and English major at Mount Holyoke College from New York. I love reading, bothering my sister, and drinking chai. Working with the DMNES team this summer, I hope to contribute to the expansion of the Dictionary, solve some mystery names, and dive into Arthurian literature! I also hope to learn a whole lot about onomastics, gain research experience, and get to know the people at DMNES.
K. J. Lewis
I’m a rising Junior at Mount Holyoke College, studying Physics, Engineering, and English. I love languages, and have studied (in varying amounts) Spanish, Japanese, German, and Chinese. Languages are a great way to learn about different cultures, and they provide a doorway to communicate with people from those cultures. I’ve also always loved studying history and learning more about the world, so when I saw this opportunity to learn more about onomastics and medieval Europe, I was hooked. Getting to study Arthurian legend and relive my childhood dreams of being a knight is only a bonus.
Yesterday our editor-in-chief gave a talk in the Digital History and Hermeneutics colloquium series hosted by the Center for Contemporary and Digital History at the University of Luxembourg. There, to a diverse audience of digital historians, digital humanities, computer scientists, onomasts, argumentation theorists, and more, she gave a talk on “Digital Humanities, Medieval History, and Lexicography: The Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources“, about the DMNES both as a project and as a representative of wider issues that face the development of DH projects — issues that we have discussed on this blog before. It’s hard to know what solutions can be found to some of these issues, but the first step towards solving the problems is articulating and discussing them: We cannot know how to solve a problem until we first recognise it as a problem.
We are grateful for the opportunity to talk to such a diverse, interested, and inspiring audience, and have already made some connections towards potential future collaborations. Watch this space! We’ll keep people informed of any new developments here.
Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.
Today’s name is so mysterious, we don’t even know (a) whether it is in fact a name or (b) if it is, what gender it is.
It shows up in notarial records from Tirol in contexts that make it look like a name — e.g., all the other records follow the same structure, and in the place were “Robasone” and “Robasonam” appear, the other records have identifiable given names — but it is also not entirely clear whether it’s a given name or a byname. If it is a given name, by the grammar one would expect it to be feminine, but that’s the only clear indication — and almost all of the other people mentioned in these records are men. Hence, our uncertainty.
The word ‘robasona/robesone’ shows up in a few places on googlebooks (distinct from our instances), but unfortunately only in ones that don’t give a big enough snippet to be able to read the context, so that doesn’t help.
Do you have any thoughts? Access to different parts of googlebooks than we do? Please share what you find in the comments!
Our editor in chief, Dr. Sara L. Uckelman, is currently at Dublin 2019 An Irish WorldCon, where this morning she gave a talk on “Names: Form and Function in Worldbuilding and Conlangs”, with a specific focus on medieval-ish/oid European fantasies and alternate medieval European histories. Much of the talk drew on a couple of posts on this blog from a few years ago, but you can also check out the slides if you’re interested!
We are pleased to announce the publication of a new paper by a member of our team. Our editor-in-chief Dr. Sara L. Uckelman’s paper “Names Shakespeare Didn’t Invent: Imogen, Olivia, and Viola Revisited” is now available online from Names. Here’s the abstract:
Just as Shakespeare’s plays left their indelible stamp on the English language, so too did his names influence the naming pool in England at the beginning of the 17th century and beyond, and certain popular modern names are often described as inventions of Shakespeare. In this article, we revisit three names which are often listed as coinages of Shakespeare’s and show that this received wisdom, though oft-repeated, is in fact incorrect. The three names are Imogen, the heroine of Cymbeline; and Olivia and Viola, the heroines of Twelfth Night. All three of these names pre-date Shakespeare’s use. Further, we show in two of the three cases that it is plausible that Shakespeare was familiar with this earlier usage. We conclude by briefly discussing why these names are commonly mistakenly attributed to Shakespeare’s imagination, and the weaker, but not mistaken, claims which may underlie these attributions.
This paper shows the benefit of a large-scale cross-cultural data like the Dictionary collects and publishes; it is easy to be mislead by the data when you focus only on a single culture, resulting in the drawing of incorrect conclusions. When the net is cast wider, then we can obtain a more accurate picture about which names Shakespeare actually coined, which he merely introduced into England, and which were already in use in England before him, but were, perhaps, popularised by his use of them.