Mystery Monday: Goluli

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.

Some of the names we have, we simply haven’t any idea whatsoever what their origins might be. Eventually, we will probably give up on some of them, and enter them into the Dictionary with “origin unknown”, but we don’t want to do that, and always hope that somewhere, sometime, someone might have a clue that will help us puzzleout the name.

Today’s name is one of those. It’s recorded in a Latin document from 13th C Poland, and we’re forced to admit, we haven’t a clue. Do you? Please share any thoughts you have in the comments!

Goluli

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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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Mystery Monday: Frifkyne

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 already has a partial gloss of its origin, but we’re sure we can do better than this:
Frifkyne
We’ve discussed the diminutive suffix -kin, a typically (and unusually) English suffix, before (also discussed here). This name is clearly an example of this pattern occurring in Scotland — a relatively early example there, so it could be an Englishman who’s moved north, a Flem who’s immigrated, or even a native Scotsman given a typically English nickname form.

The question is — nickname of what? We don’t really have any idea what the root of Frif could be. Do you? Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Emalivercha

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 9th C feminine name from Besalú, Catalonia. We don’t have many early Spanish names, yet, and even fewer feminine names, making it hard to do any sort of etymological triangulation. In this particular case, we don’t have any solid basis from which to guess at either element — though perhaps the prototheme is related to Proto-Germanic *amal ‘vigor, bravery’, and the deuterotheme perhaps to Proto-Germanic *berhtaz, making this a feminine of Amalbert. But that is nothing more than a guess, not even quite a hunch.

Emalivercha

Do you have any hunches, any guesses? Any other examples of the name or something similar? Please let us know in the comments.

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Mystery Monday: Damiata/Dameta

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(s) we are not actually sure are variants of the same name or if they are distinct. On the one hand, in early 12th C France we have a number of examples (referring to the same woman) of the name Dameta. On the other hand, in Spain a few centuries later we have two examples of the name Damiata in distinct geographical contexts (Aragon and Valencia) as well as the possible diminutive form Miata.

Damiata/Dameta

Now, the latter form certainly brings to mind the important Egyptian city known medievally as both Damiata and Damietta. It’s unlikely that the personal name is taken directly from the place name (the pattern of naming children directly after cities or locations is a relatively modern pattern!), but is there possibly a connection between the two? Is Miata a pet form of Damiata or a different name? Is Dameta a variant, or entirely independent? Does the name appear anywhere else? (It’d be really cool to find it in Italy.) If you have any thoughts or further examples, please share them with us in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Caracossa

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 had a variety of Italian feminine names to choose from today, and we ended up going with one where we have two examples, slight variant spellings of each other, from the same context (Bergamo in the late 13th/early 14th C). One possible explanation of the name involves a compound with Latin cara ‘dear, beloved; costly, precious, valued’. In the same data set, we already have another example of such a compound with that element as the prototheme, Carabella (and indeed, the same data set gives us the telescoped version Bellacara). Another compound with cara- found in Italy, a few centuries later, is Caradonna.

Caracossa

Is that the right explanation here? If so, how should we analyse the deuterotheme?

Do you have any other examples of Cara- names in Italian? Or indeed any -cos(s)a names? Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Belerius

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 found in two instances in Clairvaux in the late 12th century (both records refer to the same man). The name is not obviously of Germanic origin, unless we interpret the prototheme as Latin bellus ‘beautiful, handsome’ and the deuterotheme as a Latinisation of Old High German heri ‘host, army’. There are other Romance/Germanic compounds in France, albeit they tend to develop at an earlier period and not remain in use very long.

Belerius

It’s also tempting to see this as a variant of Latin Valerius, but that would involve providing an explanation of the vowel shift in the first syllable (as well as the consonant shift, but that is less tricky).

Do you have any examples of the name? Other thoughts concerning its origin? Please share in the comments!

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