Category Archives: crowd-sourcing

Mystery Monday: Alsarember

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.

Early 13th-century France is not a place where you expect to find quirky, unusual names. And yet, take a look at this:
Alsarember
It’s from a Latin document but the nominative spelling is Alsarembers — not a typical Latin case-ending! Could it be influence of the Old French vernacular poking through? A typo in the edition? A manuscript error? Who knows!

But solving that question won’t address the deeper one, which is: What kind of a name is this? It’s certainly not your ordinary dithematic Germanic name, nor is it an easily identifiable Latin/Christian name. If anything the Al- feels Arabic.

We’d love to know if you have any thoughts. Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Zauist

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.

It’s always fun to come back to “Z” in our trips through the alphabet! We’ve got more Z-names than you might think.

This one is found in Mecklenburg in the 13th C. The context doesn’t make it 100% certain that it’s a given name, rather than a byname, but on balance it’s more likely to be a given name than not, and that’s why we have it included in a provisional entry in the Dictionary. Someday we may learn more info that means we’ll jettison it — perhaps even from this post! — but we’d always rather collect more false positives rather than miss out on tasty tasty name gobbits.

Zauist

So, what are your thoughts? Do you recognise it? Is it a given name or a byname? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear.

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Mystery Monday: Yuwage

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.

How about a very strange name from 13th century Latvia? In the Rigische Schuldbuch (1286-1352), a man named “Yuwage” was recorded in 1290.
Yuwage
A lot of the names in this register are ordinary German names, easily recognisable underneath their Latinization. But this is an exciting source precisely because so many of the names in it are not ordinary German names, or are significantly masked by their Latinization — and this name is one of them.

We have no idea, not even a guess, about what the underlying name is. We’d love to know if you have any thoughts! Please share them in the comments.

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Mystery Monday: Wrana

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 names is a 14th C Czech masculine name:

Wrana

As with many names from this particular source (and from this period more generally), this specific instance is recorded in Latin, which may disguise the underlying Czech form to some degree. (“Wr-” is not a common combination in Latin, so it’s definitely representing something foreign!) No obvious candidates come up in our searching, so we’re hoping that someone out there has a guess as to what name this might be representing! If you have any thoughts, please share them in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Vyrzbantha

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 a mysterious Polish/Ukrainian name, Vyrzbantha.

Our example comes from Latin records in the Ukraine, in the 15th C; but a google search shows another Vyrzbantha who was “castellanus Poznaniens” in 1306, so just over the border in Poland.

The context of both instances makes it pretty clear that it’s a personal name, but it’s not one that we’re familiar with at all; and it may be a byname element rather than a given name. We’re hoping someone who specialises in Slavic languages might recognise this and give us some pointers! Please share in a comment any thoughts you might have.

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Mystery Monday: Uideal

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.

We figure the odds are pretty high that if you were presented with the name “Uideal”, you’d have no guess about it’s gender, language/culture, or time period; it is a remarkably peculiar little name.

Uideal

To answer those questions exhausts what we know about this name: It’s the name of a man, recorded in a document written in Italy, in 827.

Early Italian names are remarkably recalcitrant to identify; often, they’re too late to show a clear connection with Latin vocabulary, but too early to reflect the influence of the Germanic naming practices. That’s exactly where this name falls: There’s nothing about it that gives us an “in” into understanding it.

Do you have any thoughts or suggestions? Have you seen this name — or something like it — before? Please share in the comments if you have!

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Mystery Monday: Teagaton

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.

The hardest of names are those that are from one language, rendered into another, often by a scribe that doesn’t know anything about the original language.

One source that we’ve been working through for awhile (it’s one that has to be taken in small chunks, due to the heavy nature of the subject matter) is a register of enslaved people in Florence in the middle of the 14th century. This is a fascinating source from an onomastic point of view because so many of the people were renamed when they were enslaved — and yet, despite this, the notarial records relating to them often include their previous name, as well as the “language” it was in. I put “language” in scare-quotes because most of the time, the recording simply gives the person’s name “in the Tartar language”, and this is not really a single language at all.

So this means we have a large number of likely-Turkic-origin names being rendered in Latin by an Italian speaker — that’s many many layers of obscurity to poke through.

A lot of these names, we’ll probably never known what their actual origin is. But that makes them perfect candidates for Mystery Monday, and it’s why we’ve chosen one such name for today’s post:

Teagaton

We know that Teagaton was of Tartar descent, and that this is a representation of her name in her original language/culture. We haven’t the faintest idea what that original name might have been, and would love to know if you have any thoughts or suggestions. Please share in the comments if you do!

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Solution Saturday: Bulrebecca

Every Saturday, we will revisit one of our Mystery Monday names that we have solved. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed their knowledge and expertise, whether commenting here or on twitter or via email. You’ve all helped solve a mystery!

Today’s name is Bulrebecca, and it highlights one of the difficulties we face when going through medieval documents, and that’s: How do you identify a given name as a given name? When faced with a bunch of words, there are a number of clues one can use to identify what kind of a word it is (noun, verb; Latin, German, English; given name, not a name) — clues from semantics, syntax, morphology, grammar, context, etc. Because personal names don’t function in the same way that significative nouns and adjectives do, we often have fewer clues, which means that even if you can confidently identify a word as part of a name, it’s not always clear whether it’s a given name or part of a byname.

In the case of this particular name, we were mislead by the superficial similarity between -rebeke and the personal name Rebecca, and thus originally identified Bulrebeke as a given name (the context not making it clear which it was). However, the origin of this mysterious name is solved by noting that it’s actually a place name, not a personal name. Alas, this means we’ll remove this record from our database (flagging up why, of course, so that the information isn’t lost forever!) and you’ll see no entry for Bulrebeke or Bulrebecca in future editions of the Dictionary.

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Mystery Monday: Stenent

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.

Sometimes it feels like obscure 16th C English names are the most obscure of all, their obscurity magnified by our familiarity with the language and context in which they occur. Such a name is today’s mystery name:

Stenent

Just, what, uh, hmm? Is it a scribal error? An editorial error? A weird made-up name? A transferred surname? (would be very odd, that). We have zero idea, which makes this a perfect mystery to include in our list. If you have any thoughts, please share in the comments! We’d love to know.

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Solution Saturday: Dywa

Every Saturday, we will revisit one of our Mystery Monday names that we have solved. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed their knowledge and expertise, whether commenting here or on twitter or via email. You’ve all helped solve a mystery!

Today’s name is one that we’d originally identified as feminine, but turns out to be masculine! The name is Dywa, and our thanks to Brian M. Scott who connected the dots from Dywa to Tiva to Protiva, a name which we also had an entry for, under the less-Latin/more-Czech spelling Protywa.

So there we have a part-solution, at least — we can combine the entries for Dywa and Protywa. In the comments on the post linked above, a suggestion is given for the origin of Protiva, which we will file away and follow up on and hopefully in the future an entry for Protiva will debut on the Dictionary.

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