Tag Archives: German

Mystery Monday: Irsut

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 found in Latin records from early 13th-century Germany. It isn’t obviously dithematic in nature, nor does it bear any resemblance to any other name we’ve come across so far. So it is a true mystery:

Irsut

Have you come across this name before, or have any ideas what its origin might be? Please share in the comments!

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Playing linguistic detective: Where is Accon?

Yesterday one of our editors went on an interesting little sleuthing trip concerning the place name Accon. We tweeted it while it happened, but thought it would be fun to also write it up here!

Historical onomastic research is filled with little sleuthing problems. Mostly, they are “what are the etymological roots of this name?” or “are these two spellings variants of each other?”, but sometimes we also get to do a bit of placename sleuthing.

For each citation in the DMNES, we record the most detailed geographical information that we can concerning where the document in question is from. Usually this means recording city + country, although sometimes the best we can do is just country. Because country boundaries change over time, we use contemporary boundaries for our geographical assignations. (So a city that was once in, say, Savoy, but is now in modern-day France will be listed as “France”.)

For charters, the city of issue is generally given — in Latin. So the first sleuthing puzzle always is “what is the vernacular form of this place name?” A lot are quite transparent, e.g., Parisius for Paris. Some of them are easy if you know your history, e.g., Aquisgrana for Aachen, or your linguistics, e.g., Aurelianum for Orléans. Others you might have to look up, but are obvious when you do (as happened to our head editor the other day when she realized Confluentia = Coblenz). There are three very useful sites that we use when identifying Latin placenames with vernacular forms are:

Sometimes in addition to a Latin form in the text, the editor might have provided the “modern”-day vernacular in their editorial header for the charter. This is great! Except when “modern” isn’t modern. A lot of the chartularia we work from are from the 19th C, and especially in German, the modern forms of the place names are not the same as the 19th C ones. Again, some are easy to identify, especially with other indicators, such as Nymwegen = Nijmegen. Often an easy way to find the current modern vernacular form is to put the 19th C form into wikipedia (or even googlemaps!) and see what it spits out — though the results shouldn’t be trusted blindly — you’ve got to use the other contextual clues as well.

All of this leads up to our recent little sleuthing puzzle, namely, a document from Accon. If you plug “Accon” into wikipedia, you get suggested the French city Accons. This is definitely not the right Accon. This is because the charter has to do with the Teutonic Order, so German rather than French, and was written by one “frater Thomas de ordine Predicatorum dei gratia patriarcha Ierosolimitanus”, also noted by the editor as “bischof von Accon”.

So! Let’s look at lists of patriarchs of Jerusalem, and see if we can find a Thomas from 1277. Lo and behold, what does Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem give us but: “Thomas Agni of Cosenza (1271–1277)”. That’s our guy! And, when Jerusalem was lost in 1187, the seat of the patriarchy moved to Acre.

Ahah! Acre! What is Acre called in (modern) German? Akkon. Shift the consonant around a bit, and you get Accon.

So not only did we solve our little mystery, we also now have our first names from a document written in the Holy Land for the DMNES.

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Mystery Monday: Enderquina

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 one of those names that sounds like it comes straight out of a fantasy novel, but in fact comes straight out of 12th century Spain:

Enderquina

This is quite an interesting name, because we don’t have any other feminine name (and this is out of a data set of over 15400 feminine names!) that starts with Ender-. Our handful of masculine examples are all Low German forms of Andrew, which is quite an unlikely explanation in this context.

So we put it to you, dear readers: What are your thoughts? Have any suggestions about the origin of this name? Any other examples of the name? Any other feminine names beginning with Ender-?

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Mystery Monday: Bulrebecca

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 curious feminine name from Latvia. We’ve rather punted on the standardized/normalized form: We have no idea whether the name does in fact include rebecca, etymologically, or whether this is a false friend.

Bulrebecca

The context makes it clear that this is a feminine name, which is why we think rebecca may be a player in the analysis here, but another alternative is that the -(e)ke ending is simply the standard Low German diminutive suffix. In which case, the root name would be something like Bulreb(e) — which, we have to confess, is entirely opaque to us.

Have any thoughts on what this name might be? Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Umizi

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 from early 10th Austria. The ending makes it likely that it is a diminutive of some sort, which means that we need to identify the radiconym. Our best guess is that the root is the same as the prototheme of Humbert, as that name often shows up with the initial h dropped. If that’s right, then the root can be identified with Proto-Germanic *hūn ‘bearcub’.

Umizi

Do you have any alternative suggestions? Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Trauta

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.

Trauta

Today’s name is from 14th C Italy, and we have two instances of it from the same source — once in its full form, and once as a diminutive. We have also just found another instance (not yet transcribed, which is why it doesn’t show up in the draft entry yet) from the deathbook of a Benedictine cloister in Obersteier, Austria, in the 13th C.

Given this new Austrian evidence, the odds are high that the name is Germanic in origin, but beyond that we’re uncertain. Do you have any suggestions? Any other examples of the name, either in its full form or as a diminutive? Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Serentyn

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.

In the eleven century period that the DMNES covers, there were — naturally — a lot of changes in onomastic fashions. But considering that that period is only about twice as long as the era from our cut-off date to the present time, it is surprising just how familiar how many of the names are — names are both remarkably fluid and changeable and remarkably stable. This is especially the case when we look at the 15th C (or thereabouts) onwards. The number of Mystery Monday names that we have that come from the final two centuries of the period we cover is quite low — simply because the vast majority of the names in use then are still in use, in some form or another, today, or are closely related to names which are still in use.

So when we find a name whose first occurrence in data set is quite late and yet we still don’t recognise, this is always unusual! Today’s name is one of those names — recorded in Middle Low German in Estonia in the early 15th C, it’s not obvious (to us, at least!) what it’s origin is.

Serentyn

Do you recognize the name? Have any thoughts on its origin? Please share in the comments!

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