Tag Archives: German

Everything old is new again, part 2

So, who’s up for another round of everything old is new again, aka “names generated by a neural network on twitter that are actual medieval names”?

Aulia is a feminine name found in Rome in 1527.

Sania is a feminine name found in Iberia between ~1119 and 1150.

Arnall is a Catalan form of Arnold found in the 12th century.

Lys is a Dutch diminutive of Elizabeth found in Leuven at the end of the 16th C.

Vinne is a Middle Low German nickname of Winrich found in Estona in 1592.

Ales is a popular 16th C English spelling of Alice.

Danel is a Dutch form of Daniel found in London at the end of the 16th C.
Sabel is a nickname of Sabine found in 16th C England.

Alsen is a 16th C English nickname of Alice, popular in Cornwall.

The Italian feminine name Laria is found in Bergamo between 1265 and 1339.

The Hebrew name Asa was used by French Protestants in the 16th C.

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Mystery Monday: Alpoh

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 an early masculine name from Italy, one which is neither clearly of Romance origin nor clearly of Germanic origin — unless it is related to Old High German alb ‘elf’, which is currently our best guess at etymology. Do you have any other examples? Any corroborating evidence? Any alternative hypotheses? Please share in the comments!

Alpoh

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Mystery Monday: Wackerowe

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 have an excellent source of Middle German names from 14th-16th C Estonia (this one), most of which are completely familiar. But a few are not. Are they Middle German renditions of native Estonian names? Are they obscure Slavic names? Are they in fact Germanic? If we knew, they wouldn’t be mysterious. Anyone have any thoughts on today’s mystery name?

Wackerowe

Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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Nature names: Trees, forests, and woods

Nature names are a popular choice of names in contemporary Anglo naming practices, so we thought it would be interesting to see what sort of nature names can be found in medieval Europe. The answer is “Not many” — of all the inspirations that there were for coining or constructing new names in the Middle Ages, the option of taking as a name some nature-related word was very rarely exercised.

In this post, we look at names deriving from elements related to trees, forests, woods, etc.

Romance

Masc. Sylvius and fem. Sylvia derive from the Latin word silva ‘woodland, forest’. From this word we also have the masc./fem. pair Sylvester and Sylvestra.

The other class of forest/tree/wood names deriving from Latin origins are those which are the names of specific types of trees. Laurence and Laurencia both derive from a Roman cognomen itself derived from Latin laurus ‘laurel, bay-tree’. The masc./fem. pair Palm and Palma derive from Latin palma, which can either refer to the palm of the hand or to the branch of a palm tree. This name became popular in the Middle Ages as a name for people born or christened on Palm Sunday. The final tree-type name that we have instances of was also influenced, in its use, by its significance to Christianity, namely, Olive, from Latin oliva ‘olive tree’. (It is often hypothesized that Oliver also derives from this word; but in truth, the origin of this name is uncertain.)

Germanic

Old Saxon widu, wido,Old High German witu ‘wood, woods, forest’ was moderately common in compound names, both masculine and feminine. In men’s names, it’s almost exclusively used as a prototheme, as illustrated in the names Guiart, Guither, Witugis, and Wedekind; the one exception is the simplex name Guy.

In contrast, our only example of the element in women’s names is as a deuterotheme, in the names Alvice, Ansois, Eloise, Hawise, Herois, and Hildois.

The Old Icelandic cognate viðr can be found in the name Arvid.

Hybrid

The final name is a curious one. Modern French bois ‘woodland, woods’ can be traced back to Old French bois, from Latin boscus, but a Latin origin is not enough to put this element under the ‘Romance’ category; for boscus is actually a vulgar Latin development, a Latinization of Frankish busc or busk, and this Frankish word in turn developed from Proto-Germanic buskaz ‘bush, thicket’. So it can be considered as either a Romance element or a Germanic one!

The name we have that includes this element is itself a curious one, because it was not a given name in origin. Tallboys was originally a French nickname for a wood-cutter, or anyone who cuts wood; but in the 16th century in England, there developed a pattern of using surnames as given names (no, this isn’t a modern naming pattern as some people might think!). We have one example of Tallboys used as a given name, and it occurs in England.

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Mystery Monday: Kermunt

Apologies for the radio silence over here at DMNES central! Not only are we in the midst of busy terms for most of us, three of the editorial staff are participating in NaNoWriMo (see our monthly topic from this time last year for advice on naming characters in your historical novel!) and a fourth is busily writing up her Ph.D. dissertation.

(Almost) 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 almost the name of a muppet. In fact, the bit that has changed is the bit that is easiest to identify: The deuterotheme is Old Saxon mund, Old High German munt ‘hand, protection’. But what is the prototheme?
Kermunt
A gut feeling suggests Old High German, Old Saxon gēr ‘spear’, but one does not write dictionary entries on the basis of gut feelings. Does anyone have any data to corroborate this hunch? Preferably in the form of other examples of gēr being spelled ker? Next best, in the form of other examples of a g/k switch in 7th-9th C Germanic contexts? If you do, please share in the comments!

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Combinations of Germanic elements in 9th C France

A few posts ago we highlighted the fact that in the Polyptyque d’Irminon, from early 9th C France, some evidence for parents’ choice of names for their children can be “read off” from the fact that elements from the parents’ names are often used in new combinations for the children. Looking at a number of such examples made us think of an interesting broader question, namely: How many of the possible combinations of two Germanic elements are witnessed in this document? We are still in the process of transcribing the names, so we won’t be able to give a complete answer until that is finished, but in the meantime we’ve started collecting and sorting the data we have, by investigating what points in the Cartesian product of name space we currently have witnesses for:
cross product
This is only a portion of the full chart we’ve produced so far, and it should be noted that this doesn’t give the complete state space: Every row and column has at least one entry in it. This means that the prototheme (row) and deuterotheme (column) axes are not the same: There are some elements that were only used as protothemes and some only used as deuterothemes, and thus these show up only in the rows or in the columns and not both.

One version exciting consequence of collating the data collected so far in this way is that it allows us to make predictions. On the basis of the data we have collected so far, we can predict that with high probability, by the time we’ve transcribed the rest, we will find examples of the following names (so far unwitnessed in what we’ve covered of this text so far):

  • Adalbodus
  • Adalbrandus
  • Adalmundus
  • Adalwaldus/Adaloaldus/Aloaldus
  • Adalwardus/Adaloardus
  • Amalboldus
  • Amalgarius/Amalgaria
  • Amalgis
  • Amalgundus
  • Amalindis
  • Amaloinus
  • Amalradus
  • Amalsindis
  • Anshilde/Ansoildis
  • Bernefridus
  • Ebrefridus
  • Eckfridus
  • Ermenbodus
  • Ermelindis
  • Ermenoinus
  • Ermenradus
  • Framenildis
  • Gisalfridus
  • Godildis/Godalildis
  • Grimbertus
  • Lantboldus
  • Leutbrandus
  • Leutgildis
  • Madalgrimus
  • Madalgundus
  • Magenboldus
  • Nadalboldus
  • Raganbodus
  • Ragangarius
  • Ragangrimus
  • Ricboldus
  • Segoulfus
  • Siclegardis
  • Siclegaudus
  • Siclindis
  • Sigericus
  • Sigmarus
  • Sigmundus
  • Teutbrandus
  • Teutgildis
  • Teuthelmus
  • Teutmundus
  • Teutsindis
  • Teutoulfus
  • Winetrudis
  • Winegundus
  • Winehardus
  • Winehelmus
  • Winildis/Winoildis
  • Winelindis

For a few others, our confidence level is lower, but we still hypothesize that these are more likely than not to turn up in the remainder of the data:

  • Adalbardus
  • Adalwara/Adaloara/Aloara
  • Aginfridus
  • Arnfridus

We’ll keep you posted on how well our predictions turn out to be!

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Mystery Monday: Dedike

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.

Let’s head to Latvia! In the 13th and 14th C, names were predominantly of Low German origin, and this is clear even when the names occur in Latin documents, as our two examples of today’s mystery name do:
Dedike
It is clear that this is a diminutive of something — the -ke ending is a giveaway. When the name is used by men, it is a diminutive of Theodoric, via the Low German form Dederik. However, the two examples that we have here are definitely feminine. For example, here is the entry for one of them:
Dedike in Latvia
There is no way “Lady Dedike, wife of Hinrich Westfal” could be anything but a woman. The question is: What name is this a diminutive of? Do you have any thoughts?

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