Category Archives: events

Two case studies in massive cross-cultural onomastic corpora (1)

Yesterday we went down to Sheffield for the very interesting In the Name of History conference organised by James Chetwood. One of the themes of the day was what type of information historians can get from names that they can’t (easily/necessarily) get from other types of sources.

Medieval personal names encode unique data about cultural context that is often available in no other source. This information could function at the individual scale, such as when a tax role from Paris has a l’Anglais and a l’Escot, or a census from Rome has a fiorentina and a todescha. In a documentary context where the only information we are given is a name and either a taxation amount or a number of people in a household, quite often names encode information that would be in no other way accessible.

Names can also provide evidence of local phenomenon at a micro scale, at the level of cities or parishes, where the influence of local saint or dignitaries can sometimes be seen.

Finally, names can also provide cross-cultural information at a macro scale, such as how languages change and develop, how linguistic fads move, how (and when and where) names and naming pattern propagate. This macro scale can only be studied through massive cross-cultural onomastic corpora.

In our talk, we sketched two case studies of the type of things that can be seen from such a cross-cultural corpus, drawn from the data we’ve collected for the Dictionary (both published and unpublished citations): (1) Protestant naming practices in the late 16th C, and (2) the eclipse of Germanic names over the course of the 12th C.

We’ve discussed Protestant names before on the blog, but our point today was to use this data to argue against a conclusion which may seem appropriate when considering the English data alone, but which, in the presence of relevant contemporary French and Dutch data, is no longer warranted.

C. W. Bardsley in his Curiosities of Puritan Nomenclature draws a distinction between Puritan names/naming practices and the effect of the Reformation more generally. He says:

We must at once draw a line between the Reformation and Puritanism. Previous to the Reformation, so far as the Church was concerned, there had been to a certain extent a system of nomenclature. The Reformation abrogated that system, but did not intentionally adopt a new one. Puritanism deliberately supplied a well-weighed and revised scheme (pp. 42-43).

If you look at English data — particularly after 1600 — it is certainly true that the Puritans adopted some distinctive names and naming types (“Praisegod”, “Fly-Fornication”, etc.) However, as our previous blog posts have shown, there is a distinctively Protestant trend in given names that can be identified if the French, Dutch, and English data is all analysed together. This cross-cultural analysis is required: Some of the trends that are visible across all three contexts would be merely a handful of isolated incidents if only one cultural context were considered. For example, if we consider New Testament masculine names exclude the names of the apostles, each of the three cultures have only a handful of examples. But when we compare the name lists from each, we see that there is a significant amount of overlap — while no name occurs in all three contexts, almost half occur in two, and not always the same two.
New Testament masculine names
From this, it is clear that these individual examples are all a part of a wider trend.

The case is similar when we look to virtue names. Virtue names are in many respects a quintessentially English phenomenon — almost all of the examples of virtue names used before 1600 occur in English contexts and also occur ONLY in English contexts. However, not all of them do, and there are some names which are best classified as virtue names which occur outside of England. Again, on their own, these handful of names would not be enough to provide any evidence for a wider pattern or trend. However, when we view all of the virtue names together, they do:
Virtue names
Memorantia and Opportune are both found in Protestant contexts, and are extremely atypical names for the wider Dutch and French naming pools in the 16th C (or earlier). They are best understood as being examples of a Protestant-wide trend towards virtue names, forcing us to look beyond the narrow scope of Puritanism.

This is but one case-study of the sorts of trends that you can only witness if you look at a broad set of data. We’ll cover another case-study in a future post!

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The DMNES at ICOS 2017

We’ve been having a wonderful week here in Debrecen so far for the International Congress on Onomastic Sciences. On Monday editorial assistant Dr. Mariann Slíz presented on the translation of personal names in Latin, German, and Czech charters in medieval Hungary, and on Tuesday our editor, Dr. Sara L. Uckelman, presented the Dictionary in a special symposium on International Onomastic Cooperations and Projects, coming away with many expressions of interest and offers of collaboration. (We may have found a way to fill that Lithuania-sized gap in our coverage…)

We’ve been actively tweeting the sessions and plenary talks we’ve been at (with 5-8 parallel sessions it’s been great to follow the tweeters in talks we can’t be at!), and you can catch up on all the fun at #ICOS2017. We have compiled a bit of a report for the presentations by our staff members. Start here for a summary of Dr. Slíz’s talk:

And for the DMNES presentation by Dr. Uckelman (which, naturally, I couldn’t tweet), we’ve Storified all the relevant tweet discussion and photos: The DMNES at ICOS 2017.

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Call for Paper Proposals: Names as Memorials (Leeds IMC 2018)

Call for Paper Proposals for a session at the 25th International Medieval Congress on Names as Memorials, July 2-5, 2018, Leeds, England

This year the International Medieval Congress celebrates its 25th anniversary with the special thematic strand “Memory”. The Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources intends to organize a session (or more than one if we receive sufficient interest!) at the IMC on the subject of “Names as Memorials”.

Names, both personal names and place names, provide a unique way for people, both individuals and people groups, to encode both memories and memorials. These can be memories of individual people, memories of ancient languages, and memorials of saints, miracles, or important events. The special session(s) on “Names as Memorials” seeks paper proposals that reflect this special role that names play. Possible topics include (but are not restricted to):

  • Given names used for specifically memorial purposes.
  • The practice of naming children after dead or living relatives.
  • Memorialising saints in personal names.
  • How place names encode the “memory” of dead peoples and languages.
  • Vernacular personal and place names in early Latin documents as a means of reconstructing our memory of early vernacular languages.
  • Etymology, especially folk etymology, as a way of preserving and constructing memory.

The deadline for paper proposals is September 15, 2017. To propose a paper, send the following information to Dr. Sara L. Uckelman (Durham University) at s.l.uckelman@durham.ac.uk:

  • Paper title
  • Brief abstract (100-200 words)
  • Language of delivery
  • Speaker’s full name and time
  • Speaker’s affiliation, including mailing address, email, and telephone

Speakers will be notified of whether their papers will be included in the DMNES’s session proposal(s) to the IMC by September 25, 2017.

Any question should be directed to Dr. Uckelman.

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The DMNES at Leeds IMC 2016

We’re very pleased to announce that the DMNES will be back again at next year’s International Medieval Congress at Leeds! We have two very interesting sessions lined up on Names and Multiculuralism — one on place names, and one on personal names. Here are the provisional details:

Session 1237: Wed. 06 July – 14.15-15.45

A Feast of Names, I: Place Names and Multiculturalism

Abstract: Many onomastic studies focus on a single time and place, providing a detailed linguistic and social analysis of the names from a narrow data set. While there is no doubt these studies provide valuable information, in this session we seek to move from the meagre diet afforded by a narrow, monocultural approach to the full feast offered when multicultural aspects of names are considered. This session looks at the influence of multiple cultures on the evolution of given names on and off the continent.
Sponsor: Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources
Organiser: Sara L. Uckelman, Institute of Medieval & Early Modern Studies, Durham University
Moderator/Chair: James Chetwood, Department of History, University of Sheffield

Paper -a: “Medieval Place Names of Ecclesiastical Reference: A Cross-Cultural Approach”, Andrea Bölcskei, Institute of Hungarian Linguistic, Literary & Cultural Studies, Károli Gáspár Református Egyetem, Budapest
Paper -b: “A Frisian Place Name on the Southwestern Norwegian Coast and Its Relationship to Old Norse bákn and Old Frisian bāken“, Andrea Maini, Department of Nordic & Media Studies, Universitetet i Agder
Paper -c: “Siculo-Arabic Toponyms in the Book of Roger”, Katherine Jacka, School of Humanities, University of New South Wales
Paper -d: “About the Different Hydronymic Layers of the Multilingual Hungary in the Middle Ages”, Erzsébet Győrffy, Department of Hungarian Linguistics, Debreceni Egyetem

Session 1337: Wed. 06 July – 16.30-18.00

A Feast of Names, II: Contact of Cultures and the Evolution of Given Names

Abstract: Many onomastic studies focus on a single time and place, providing a detailed linguistic and social analysis of the names from a narrow data set. While there is no doubt that these studies provide valuable information, in this session we seek to move from the meagre diet afforded by a narrow, monocultural approach to the full feast offered when multicultural aspects of names are considered. This session looks at the influence of multiple cultures on the evolution of given names on and off the continent.
Sponsor: Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources
Organiser: Sara L. Uckelman, Institute of Medieval & Early Modern Studies, Durham University
Moderator/Chair Drew Shiel, Independent Scholar, Maynooth

Paper -a: “You Can Call Me Al-Cuin: A Re-Evaluation of Medieval English Personal Naming, 900-1100”, James Chetwood, Department of History, University of Sheffield
Paper -b: “A Typology of Contact Phenomena in Medieval Personal Names”, Mariann Slíz, Institute of Hungarian Linguistics & Finno-Ugric Studies, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
Paper -c: “Þá hálgan: An Etymological and Cross-Linguistic Analysis of Anthroponyms”, Serena Martinolich, Scuola di Lingua e Cultura Italiana, Università degli studi di Genova

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DMNES goes to Bolzano

Dr. Sara L. Uckelman, editor-in-chief, and Dr. Joel Uckelman, chief technical guru, will be giving talks on the Dictionary and Digital Humanities at the University of Bozen (Bolzano) next month, on Dec. 21, 2015. We’ll post more details on the Events page as they are available.

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Call for Paper Proposals: Leeds IMC 2016

The Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources is pleased to announce its intention to organize sessions on medieval cross-linguistic/cross-cultural onomastics at the Leeds International Medieval Congress 2016, July 4-7, 2016. Please distribute the following Call for Proposals to any of your colleagues that would be interested, and consider submitting a proposal of your own!

Call for Paper Proposals

Does your research involve names (of people, of places, of things)? Does this research have a cross-cultural or cross-linguistic element? Do you want to present at one of the largest, most exciting medievalist conferences in the world? The Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources, http://dmnes.org/, is organizing sessions for the 2016 Leeds International Medieval Congress (July 4-6, 2016, Leeds, England) with a focus on cross-linguistic onomastics. Many onomastic studies focus on a single time and place, providing a detailed linguistic and social analysis of the names from a narrow data set. While there is no doubt these studies provide valuable information, in our sessions we seek to go beyond a narrow, mono-cultural approach. We stress the importance of looking beyond a single social/cultural/linguistic context in conducting onomastic research and are looking for paper proposals on any aspect of onomastics — place-name studies, anthroponymy, names of organizations, buildings, ships, guilds, etc. — which includes an emphasis on the comparison of data across linguistic, social, geographical, and temporal boundaries.

Please submit proposals to eic@dmnes.org no later than September 10, 2015. Proposals should include the following information:

  • Title of presentation
  • Language of delivery (Deutsch, English, Español, Français, Italiano, or Latina)
  • Name and title of presenter
  • Affiliation
  • Full address
  • 100-200 word abstract

Authors will be notified whether their proposal will be included in the DMNES’s proposal to the IMC by September 20, 2015.

Any questions may also be directed to eic@dmnes.org.

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The Launch of the DMNES at IMC2015

Monday afternoon saw the official launch of the Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources to a packed audience at the International Medieval Congress 2015 in Leeds.

DMNES launch

Photo courtesy of Rob Briggs (@SurreyMedieval)

The editor-in-chief, Dr. Sara L. Uckelman, gave an introduction to the Dictionary, providing a brief overview of the who-what-when-where-why-how (see her slides here), and then editorial assistant Dr. Nina Shiel showed how data from the Dictionary can be used — even by non-medievalists — to answer questions such as “How medieval were the names in Sir Walter Scott’s novels?” These two talks were followed up by an extremely lively and productive half hour of discussion.

It was so exciting to present our project to such an interested and enthusiastic audience. We’d like to thank everyone for coming, and encourage everyone to share news of the Dictionary with all their friends, whether medievalists or not:

title bar

http://dmnes.org/

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