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Three French documents relating to Africa

Most of the time when we’re working through sources culling names from them, our primary interest is in the names themselves, and not the contents of the documents (though sometimes of course you find something interesting, such as a reference to a person you know (I found Peter Abelard once!) or an interesting legal dispute, or socio-economical titbits such as women owning land and donating it to the church). We recently came across a short little article [1] in a 19th C journal that had three documents in it which were absolutely fascinating both from a linguistic/onomastic point of view as well as from a historical point of view, so we thought we’d talk a bit about them here.

One of the by-products of keeping detailed geographical information for each citation is often having to go on investigations to match medieval Latin placename forms with modern places. A lot of times, it’s easy — the common names (e.g., “Parisius”) show up a lot and are linguistically related to their modern forms. Other times, the connection isn’t immediately obvious, especially when it’s a smaller, less important city. (My knowledge of French geography has increased significantly in the last five years.) Usually the first step is to plug the Latin form of the name into wikipedia, and see if there are any hits; quite often there will be some documentary quote in the entry of the relevant modern city that includes the historical form of the name, and then it’s just a matter of triangulating what we know about the city from the document it’s mentioned in to the info in the wikipedia article to confirm that we’ve got the right one (important when there is more than one city with the same, or similar, name). The title of this article, “Chartes Inédits Relatives aux États de Bougie et de Bone (1268-1293-1480)” mentioned two cities — or rather “states” — that I didn’t recognise, but since the introductory material to the article mentioned Marseille, so I figured it would be somewhere in that area.

So I was totally taken by surprised when I found out that “Bougie” is a historic French name for the Algerian city Béjaïa, and that “Bone” (more properly “Bône”) or “Bona” is an old French name for the Algerian city Annaba, aka Hippo, where the great Saint Augustine came from.

Records from/relating to Algeria! From the middle of the 13th-century, Algeria was ruled by the Hafsid sultanate, but there were close connections between it and southern France, and thus these documents fall squarely within the scope of the Dictionary.

The first document, from 1268, is in Latin, and written under the authority of Guillaume Dagenessa, “vicarius” of Marseille, on behalf of Charles, king of Sicily, and concerns the establishment of a consulate at Bougie, with one Hugues Borgonion, a merchant, nominated as consul.

The third document, from 1480, is in Middle French and is from “Loys, par la grace de Dieu, roy de France, conte de Prouvence, et seigneur de Marceille” to “le illustrissime roy de Bone nostre chier amy”, who is, alas, unnamed, but who is the son of “le roy de Thunys”, that is, Tunisia (presumably, Uthman, Hafsid caliph from 1435–1488). The editor of the treatise speculates that the person in question might be Abu Yahya Zakariya, who was caliph of Ifriqiya from 1490-1494. It truly is a shame that the letter does not name its recipient!

The second document, from 1293, is by far the most exciting one. First, it is written not in Marseille about Béjaïa — it is written in Béjaïa, to be sent back to Marseille! Second, it is the first document in Old Occitan that we have had the opportunity to work with for the Dictionary. Three men are named — Guillem de Cadenet, “cavallier et viguier de Marseilha”, the recipient of the letter; and the two authors, Peire Jordan and Peire de Gerusalem, consuls, who are written to Guillem on behalf of all the merchants from Marseille in Béjaïa. (There is something somehow fitting about how out of three men, we only get two names. The popularity of forms of Peter in southern France is distinctive and pervasive, and while we would have loved to have more variety in these scant examples, it is satisfying to see the general pattern reinforced by such a small data set.)

What tremendously exciting documents to have come across, and we look forward to the next edition of the Dictionary which will boast not only its first names in Old Occitan but also its first names from Algeria!


References:

[1] L. de Mas Latrie, ed., “Chartes Inédits Relatives aux États de Bougie et de Bone (1268-1293-1480)”, appearing in vol. 2 of Bibliothèque de l’École des Chartres (1840-41), pages 388-397.

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The return of -cock and -kin

Over a year ago we discussed two unusual English diminutive suffices, -co(c)k and -kin. At the time, we said of -co(c)k:

This suffix was never common, and we don’t currently have any examples in our data, but look forward eagerly to the day when we do!

Well, now we do! So we thought we’d devote a post to revisiting these suffices.

We have recently been working through the 1379 poll tax of the West Riding of Yorkshire, which is delightful in that not only has a number of given names recorded in diminutive form, but also — despite being recorded in Latin — a surfeit of vernacular matronymic and patronymic bynames based on diminutives. In addition to adding the given name citations directly to the Dictionary’s database, we have also been adding the evidence from the bynames to the body of the relevant entries. This data will be available in the next edition.

-kin first. To our previous examples of -kin, we can now add diminutives of William Wilke, Wilken, Wilkin, Wilkyn, and Wylkyn. The -kyn spelling is favored in this dataset; we also have Adken, Adkyn, Atkyn, Attkyn (from Adam), Jonkyn (from John), and Perkyn (from Peter). The suffix was not exclusive to men; our final example, Malkyn, is a diminutive of Mary.

And, *drum rolls*, our two new examples of -cock! Adcok is another diminutive of Adam and Wilkoc is another reduction of William.

These are not the only diminutive suffices we find in this dataset, and they are certainly not the most common ones. We will set about exploring the nicknames of Yorkshire in a future post!

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Mystery Monday: Ymatke

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 masculine name recorded in Latin in Latvia. It has a clearly identifiable Low German diminutive suffix, -ke, but the root name is uncertain. Do you have any guesses? Have you see the name before? Please let us know in the comments.

Ymatke

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Mystery Monday: Usupina

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 comes from a delightfully varied source of Italian names, both masculine and feminine, from Bergamo between 1265 and 1339 A number of the names from this source are already included in the Dictionary (and you can see a list of them all here), but nearly as many name forms are still awaiting identification. Today’s mystery name we don’t even have any gut feelings about:

Usupina

We welcome any insights or thoughts about its origins/roots. Do you have any? Have you seen any other examples of this name? Please share in the comments!

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How do you get Peggy from Margaret?

We recently answered a few questions about how certain nicknames/name forms came to be associated with their full forms over on FB. These comments seemed to generate enough interest that we figured we’d expand on them here in a couple of posts.

First up is a question that has probably puzzled a lot of English speakers at some point or another — just how did Peggy come to be a nickname of Margaret? Or Dick from Richard, Bob from Robert, Ted and Ned from Edward, etc.? In this post we’ll focus on Peggy and Margaret, but the same pattern of development happened for all these names. (We’ll make use of the terminology for nicknames that we introduced here).

So, how does Margaret become Peggy?

Margaret is the radiconym; take it and cut the name down to the first syllable, and you get Marg. In certain dialects, that r is going to be very lightly pronounced, giving us Mag. Magge (pronounced with two syllables) can be found in England as early as 1200, and not much later after that, you can find that hypocoristic form augmented with a diminutive suffix: Magota 1208 (this is a Latin form and would’ve been Magot in the vernacular). (We’ll give you three guesses as to why this name is no longer popular today….). By the end of the century, there are examples of the -a- shifting to -e-, e.g., Megge 1254, 1275, 1279, etc. You can also see it in Megota 1309 (also Latinized).

So that gets us Meg. From there, Peg is straightforward: It’s a rhyme.

The shift from something like Magge, Megge, or Pegge to Maggie, Meggie, or Peggy comes in the 16th C with the Great Vowel Shift — what used to be an unstressed schwa sound shifts to \ee\. And then eventually the spelling caught up, but that happened late enough that we don’t have any specific data. (Yet.)

References

Reaney & Wilson, s.nn. Dick, Dicken, Dicketts, Madge, Maggot.

Withycombe, s.nn. Edward, Margaret, Robert.

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Publication of Edition 2016 no. 4

We’re pleased to announce that Edition 2016, No. 4, went live last night. We didn’t quite hit our (admittedly ambitious) goal of reaching 50,000 citations, but with 48,862 in this edition, we’ll surely pass it in the next!

We also crossed the 2100 threshold for number of entries, coming in to a total of 2108. There are 86 new masculine names:

Adalsad
Adegar
Aderich
Adrewic
Aginbert
Agenteus
Agino
Albulf
Alcteus
Alfgar
Alker
Allegro
Ambrich
Arcwin
Autlaic
Baldbert
Baldwar
Baltad
Benegar
Berengaud
Berlwin
Bernhaus
Bertgaud
Bertier
Bertingaud
Bertleis
Blither
Blithewine
Bonadeus
Brightnod
Candid
Carlfrid
Dodeus
Dructbald
Dructbert
Drudmund
Drudo
Dulcedram
Edwy
Einarr
Electulf
Ephraim
Erchamar
Erchamold
Erchamrad
Erlulf
Ermengod
Ermenulf
Everbald
Everbert
Expert
Farolf
Felician
Felicio
Fergal
Framwin
Gammo
Gerich
Gisfrid
Hadward
Haelnou
Haeloc
Hakon
Haldor
Hartmar
Hartrich
Harwich
Heidenrich
Helmold
Hemard
Herwin
Herulf
Hildulf
Hugier
Hugran
Hywel
Jaromir
John-Alphonse
John-Dominic
John-Francis
John-Jacob
John-Paul
Nivard
Tanculf
Walateus
Winulf

And 58 new feminine names:

Adalginde
Adalgisdis
Adaly
Agina
Albilde
Alctrude
Ansois
April
Arnberta
Arngilde
Autlinde
Balda
Balsinde
Bertegilde
Bertiere
Bertisma
Blathilde
Blitgilde
Brunissende
Doctrama
Douglass
Elisaria
Erchamilde
Esther
Eugenia
Eusebia
Fionnghuala
Frambalda
Frotberga
Gislilde
Gontarde
Haburg
Hadena
Harda
Hartgilde
Hartois
Heidentrude
Henarda
Herilde
Herois
Hildesinde
Hildois
Honorata
Honoria
Jocosa
Jonilde
Liutisma
Liutlinde
Liutrada
Luceria
Luthera
Madalberta
Nadalinde
Natalisma
Primavera
Reina
Stabilia
Vera

Enjoy!

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Mystery Monday: Gargana

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’ve been working in the G’s lately, in preparation for the next edition, and today’s mystery name is a feminine one from Italy. We’ve never seen anything else like it; have you? Do you have any thoughts concerning it’s etymology and origin? Please let us know!

Gargana

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