Tag Archives: Catalan

Mystery Monday: Aguilona

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’re now back at the beginning of the alphabet! Today’s name is a beautiful Catalan feminine name from the 16th century. Have you seen this name before? Do you have any thoughts about its origin or etymology? Please let us know in the comments!

Aguilona

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Mystery Monday: Scolana

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 we bring you a lovely Catalan feminine name from the 16th C:
Scolana
Do you recognize this name? Have any thoughts about its origin? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Arthurian names: Gawain

Taking a request from the audience, in this post post we consider Gawain, the name of a son of King Lot of Orkney and a nephew of Arthur. Under the name Gwalchmei he occurs in some of the earliest Welsh mythologies, and after Chrestien de Troyes picked up the story, calling the character Gawain, he became incredibly popular in French Arthurian cycles.

The origin of the name is disputed. The first element is Old Welsh gwalch ‘hawk’, but the element -mei is uncertain, and the later forms of the name ending in -wain and the like perhaps show influence of Old Welsh gwyn ‘white’. In any case, Gwalchmei itself is rare outside of literature: It is the Old French influenced forms that spread around Europe. The name, perhaps influenced by Gaelic gabhann ‘of the smith’, survives today in the form Gavin; because this is the most common spelling under which the name is used today in English-speaking contexts, it is the spelling we have picked for our header name.

This name was never as popular as some of the others, but it is relatively wide spread. In England and Scotland, we have a variety of English and Latin examples from the 16th C; the most common forms are Gawen and Gawyn. In unprocessed data, we have an unusual form, Gouen, in 14th C Yorkshire. On the continent, our examples are earlier: In France, we have a Latin genitive form Galweni from 1164, and a variety of Middle French forms in the 14th C, including the dialectically interesting Gauvaing. The name also moved quite far east, with Gawin, Gawinus, and Waliwan all occurring in 14th C Silesia. In Italy and Spain, the internal l was retained, as can be seen in the forms 13th-14th C Latin genitive forms Galvanei and Galvagni from Italy; Gualvanus and the diminutive Gualvaninus, two names from early 14th C Imola in our unprocessed data; and the 16th C Catalan nominative form Galvany from Valencia.

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How about some stats?

Earlier this morning we passed another milestone, reaching 30,000 citations:
30000
It’s been awhile since we did a stats post, so this seemed like as good a time as any to do one.

Entries & citations

Finalized entries: 1482
Unfinalized entries: 2636
Total: 4118

Finalized citations: 30023
Unfinalized citations: 7388
Total: 37411

Avg. no. of citations per entry (finalized): 20.25
Avg. no. of citations per entry (total): 9.08

Feminine names (finalized): 8101
Masculine names (finalized): 21901
Names of uncertain gender (finalized): 5

Languages (finalized citations only)

Latin: 14028.
English: Old English: 5; Middle English: 419; Early Modern English: 10426.
French: Old French: 684; Middle French: 946.
German: Low German: 1552; High German: 477.
Catalan: 217.
Swedish: 202.
Spanish: 159.
Scots: 148.
Hungarian: 28.
Norwegian: 9.

Dates (finalized citations only)

6th C: 4.
7th C: 73.
8th C: 33.
9th C: 844.
10th C: 370.
11th C: 1076.
12th C: 3857.
13th C: 3202.
14th C: 4490.
15th C: 3358.
16th C: 12536.

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500th entry: Innocent

Today marks a historic point in the development of the Dictionary: We’ve just finalized the 500th entry to be included in the first edition. It is the entry for the masculine name Innocent.

Innocent

Etymology

The name derives from Latin innocens ‘innocent, harmless; virtuous, upright’.

Usage

Innocent was adopted as the papal name of a number of medieval popes (and one anti-pope!), from the 5th C through to the 18th C. It was also the name of a number of early saints (including the Pope Innocent I).

Because of its use as a papal name, Innocent shows up in far more records than it would have were it simply the name of an ordinary person. As a result, during certain periods, there are disproportionately more citations for the name than might otherwise have been expected.

Of the 18,000+ citations already collected, 12 are citations of this name. Though in the actual entries, citations will be organized first by geographical area, then by language, and then by date, here I’ll present the entries by date.

12th C

  • 1132: Innocencius (Latin, nom.; France)
  • 1141: Innocentius (Latin, nom.; France)
  • 1141: Innocentii (Latin, gen.; France)
  • 1141: Innocencius (Latin, nom.; France)
  • 1142: Innocencio (Latin, abl.; Germany)
  • 1143: Innocencius (Latin, nom.; Germany)
  • 1198: Innocentius (Latin, nom.; Germany)

13th C

  • 1210: Innocentius (Latin, nom., Germany)
  • 1248: Jnnocentius (Latin, nom., Germany)

15th C

  • 1421: Innocent (French, France)
  • 1423: Innocent (French, France)
  • 1489: Innocent (Catalan, Spain)

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Statistics from the other side

The last few months we’ve been posting statistics about how things look with a view towards the first edition of the Dictionary, but today I wanted to say a little bit about the other side of the statistics, all the data that we’ve collected that is not yet ready for publication.

Compared to the 480+ entries that are ready for publication, we have 1580+ that have been created but are still in the drafting/research phase — nearly four times as many. These entries are sitting unfinished for any number of various reasons:

  • Time. When entering individual citations (VNFs in editor-speak), when a new name is reached that doesn’t yet have an entry associated with its canonical form (CNF in editor-speak), we simply create a CNF file which is empty other than the name form itself, and continue entering data. Depending on the data set being transcribed, over the course of an afternoon, 25+ such entries could be generated. Then, someone has to sit down, compare them to the CNF files already in existence (to make sure that it isn’t actually a duplicate of something, just in a different spelling), collect etymological and usage information, review everything to make sure it’s accurate, there are no typos, the XML formatting is correct, etc.
  • Etymology. A lot of the names we deal with are ‘known’ quantities; their origin has been well established, and thus it’s just a matter of writing up the etymological information correctly. Others, though, are unique and puzzling, and a single citation or two is not sufficient for positive identification. For this, I can offer examples the names Pelejana (Valencia, 1510), Persla (Brno, 1349), and Pevernel (Devon, 1599) (yes, I was working in “Pe-” last night…). These are likely tractable cases, but need to wait until further examples are collected before we can make headway with identification.
  • The intractable ones. Some, however, are going to be intractable: We fully expect that there will be names where all we can say is “This unique name of uncertain origin is found only in Italy in the early 14th C”, or the like. But, as with the names of (currently) uncertain origin noted above, we can’t make such a decision about a name too quickly.
  • Non-Latin alphabets (other than Greek). The Dictionary currently has no ready-for-publication entries which involve names of Hebrew origin, because we are still determining the best way to handle words written in that alphabet, in particular how to store the data and how to make sure it displays properly on the website. This means that, right now, a tremendously large number of names of Biblical origin are not yet ready.
  • Complex developments. In many cases, it’s rather straightforward to trace the development of a name through different time-periods and cultures, to confidently say, e.g., that Giovanni is a form of John. Other names are not so straightforward: Are Randal, Randolph, and Ranulph all distinct names? They are of the same etymological origin, which normally would cause us to group them together; but would someone looking for Ranulph think to look under Randal?
  • Names of cultural importance. For many names, providing the etymological information and some information about the use of the name by important royalty, saints, or popes is sufficient: The citations then speak for themselves in illustrating the spread of usage over time and space. But some names are, through their widespread use, important from a ‘cultural’ perspective, i.e., the perspective of anyone who is interested in the relationship between onomastics and social and personal identities. These names deserve greater comment, which, in turn, takes time to adequately compile, collate, and present. An example of such a name is John, whose popularity in pretty much every western European culture from the early 13th C on strips that of almost every other masculine name. (It is rare to find a data set where John and variants are not the most common name by a significant margin. I’ve always wondered about Ormskirk, Lancashire; in their 16th C baptismal register, Thomas just barely squeaks past John to be the most popular name.)

So what does all this mean? It means that the first edition is not going to contain a lot of names that people might expect to be in there (John very most likely being one of them). But it also means that there is always place for further research, and that we are unlikely to reach the end of potential new entries any time soon. It also means that at some point down the line, we’ll be able to put together a “Does Anyone Know This Name?” page where lay users of the Dictionary as well as onomastic specialists can contribute their knowledge regarding identification and etymology of rare and unusual names.

It also means that we could stop collecting data now (though we won’t!) and spend the next two months solely doing research, and there’d still be potentially nearly 10,000 VNFs that could end up in an upcoming edition, since that is the number we correctly have waiting for review by one of the editors, to ensure that the entry details are correct and that the entry for the corresponding CNF is ready for publication. And this is just a scratch on the surface: There are hundreds of thousands of names out there waiting for us to catalogue them.

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