Tag Archives: German

Solution Saturday: Liawiso

Every Saturday, we will revisit one of our Mystery Monday names that we have solved. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed their knowledge and expertise, whether commenting here or on twitter or via email. You’ve all helped solve a mystery!

Today’s solved mystery is the name Liawiso.

Many thanks to those who tracked down variants of this name (including a connection to the Latin Libentius!) and independently identified it with Gothic liufs, Old High German liob, liab ‘dear, loved’. This name will appear in the next edition, under the header Liebizo!

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Mystery Monday: Nizul

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 13th C German name:

Nizul

One of the things we often do when faced with a name that doesn’t provide us with any easy starting points is to just plug it into google and see what comes up.

Well! That was certainly an interesting exercise with this name. Google certainly thinks it’s a name, as many of the first page of hits were to various name related websites, none of which had any information about the name at all (some of them didn’t even know if it was masculine name or a feminine name!) but our favorite was a website dedicated to Kabalarians, who have this to say about the name:

Nizul

(For the record, absolutely none of this is true).

Sometimes, when dealing with an unknown name, providing no information is better than providing false information. But perhaps one of you recognise the name and can help us identify it? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Mermer

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.

Most of our mystery names are mysterious because we have no idea what their origin might be. Today’s name is the opposite: We have two equally plausible options, and are looking for assistance in discriminating between them!

The name is a 14th-15th C masculine name found in Switzerland:
Mermer

Normally, a name found in a German influenced part of Europe containing the element mar or mer would be easy: We’d identify it as coming from Old English mære, Old High German, Old Saxon māri all from Proto-Germanic *mērijaz ‘famous’. Doublets — where a name is composed by duplicating an element — are rare, but not unheard of in Germanic names (our personal favorite is Bertbert, which will appear in the next edition), so ordinarily this would be a straightforward identification.

But! There is also a Greek name, rendered in Latin as Mermerus, found in mythology as the name of a centaur, of the grandson of Jason and Medea, a host of Odysseus, and of a Trojan in the Trojan war. The 14th-15th C is on the early end for the revival of classical Greek names in the Renaissance, but we don’t have a previous date for this occurrence, and Switzerland is close enough to Italy that this etymology cannot be discounted.

So we turn to you: What do you think? Do you have any evidence that ways in favor of one alternative over the other? Or any alternative etymologies to suggest? Please share in the comments!

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Solution Saturday: Trauta

Every Saturday, we will revisit one of our Mystery Monday names that we have solved. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed their knowledge and expertise, whether commenting here or on twitter or via email. You’ve all helped solve a mystery!

Today’s name is Trauta. Our suspicion that the name was Germanic in origin, despite it’s appearance in 14th C Italy, was corrected! It is a variant of the name Druda, and the examples we found will be incorporated into that entry in the next edition.

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Secret names: Remembering rather than hiding (Part 3)

Editor’s Introduction: The DMNES staff are super delighted to host a three-part guest blog by Dr. Anna Dorofeeva. Dr. Dorofeeva is a historian specialising in Western Latin book history and culture, and her current work focuses on ciphers and cryptography in medieval manuscripts; you can follow her on Twitter at @LitteraCarolina. In this series of posts, she talks about how personal names were rendered in code form in the Middle Ages.

Part 1 is here; Part 2 is here; Part 3 is below.

Secret names: Remembering rather than hiding (Part 3)

Dr. Anna Dorofeeva, ZKS Barker Junior Research Fellow, Durham University

Ultimately, these sorts of codes were made to be seen, and the names encoded within them were meant to be remembered. This was the intention of the eighth-century abbess who wrote this message by substituting the vowels with abbreviations for ordinal numbers:

Ego una Saxonica nomine Hugeburc ordinando hec scribebam

I, a Saxon nun named Hugeburc, wrote this.

This message appeared in the prologue to Hugeburc’s own work, the Hodoeporicon: a life of the Anglo-Saxon missionary saint Willebald. In it, she called herself ‘a little ignorant creature’, but both her skilled Latin and her use of code showed how untrue this was. [1] While claiming modesty, she ensured that she would be remembered for her learning.

Most ciphers seem to have been written by adults – even high-status ones, who composed their own works and were entrusted with the copying and decoration of books. But we do have one instance of a cipher used by a child, in a ninth-century manuscript of poetry probably used in an early medieval classroom. At the beginning of the book, there is a marginal note, written in a cipher in which dots were substituted for vowels. Here, however, they are also arranged roughly in the shape of the vowel itself. The note reads:

Bernardus puer me fecit.

Bernardus, a boy, made me [i.e. the note]

Many of these ciphers were written by substituting vowels, which was both common and not difficult to crack. But concealment wasn’t the point. Medieval ciphers can be compared to computer languages, encoding and recording metadata about manuscripts, and the people who made them. Ciphers were therefore meant to draw attention, to communicate their contents, and ultimately to ensure that names – and the people behind them – weren’t forgotten.

References

[1] https://thijsporck.com/2017/05/15/anglo-saxon-cryptography/.

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Mystery Monday: Gluscudilum

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 Germano-Gothic name from Iberia:

Gluscudilum

For such a strange name — a name unlike any other name we’ve ever seen — it turns up quite a few hits on google! But that’s because of the context it occurs in, a document from 10th C Gallicia important for all the other names it contains:

manuscript

Image from one of the cartularies of the monastery of Sobrado (Galicia), which contains copies of documents dated in the 8th-13th centuries.

(Isn’t that beautiful…)

Many of the other names in this document already occur in DMNES entries; we’d love to be able to add Gluscudilum — if we can figure out its origins! Do you have any thoughts? Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Enzi / Enziman

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 another two for one — possibly. The two names share an element, and so even if they are not variants of each other (they probably aren’t) they are probably related.

The first name is found in 10th C Austria, the second in the 11th C.

Enzi

Enziman

Morlet has an entry for Enzo in her index; she identifies it as a hypocoristic of any of various names beginning with Proto-Germanic *andijaz ‘end, extremity’. It’s tempting to relate Enzi to Enzo: But is the temptation justified?

What do you think? Are we barking up the right tree? Or have you got an alternative hypothesis? Please let us know in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Bye

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 fun one, because we’ve got examples from 16th C England and 13th C Germany and we have no idea if they represent the same name or not.

Bye

There’s every reason to think that these are distinct names; but there’s also no reason to think that they aren’t the same. This is in part because we have no idea what name this could be; pretty much the only possible possible explanation is that the 16th C English form is a double diminutive of Sibyl via such forms as Sybeye and Sybbie.

Have you got any other ideas? Reasons to think these are the same name? Different names? Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Weyrata

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 14th C Germany (Münster, to be precise).

Weyrata

It’s a feminine name found in a Latin document, so we’re hypothesizing the nominative form from the genitive. The Latin nominative isn’t really uncertain — but the underlying name is. The deuterotheme is probably Old Saxon rād, Old High German rāt ‘counsel, advice’, more commonly used in men’s names but occasionally used in women’s names. But the prototheme is eluding us: It’s not clear at all what would give rise to Wey- in German.

Do you have any thoughts? Any other names with the same prototheme? Please share in the comments!

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Some 9th C Dutch families

One of the neatest experiences, trawling through documents to collect names for the DMNES, is when you get family units, and you can see how the names of parents do or do not affect the names of the children. A few years ago, we were able to give some multi-generation family trees from records from early 9th C France. Recently we came across some similar records — showing the names of people indentured to particular lands — in a document from the east of the Netherlands written in 850. Here, we don’t have multiple generations but we do have a 11 sets of parents, each with a single child.

What’s fascinating is how none of the names of the children reflect the names of the parents — quite the opposite story from what we find in the French data! There is only one case where the child’s name shares any themes with either parents’. Let’s take a look! (Shared themes are in bold.)

Richelem

Father Mother Child
Gerwala Weleka Bernheri
Ludold Reghenlend Ritger
Wigrad Vulfbald
Helprad Ricgard Gerwi
Lantbrad Wana Engilrad
Alfri Werenburgh Letheri
Aclaco Odelard
Liefolt Alfrat Folcheri
Leifans Wenda Asvui
Richard Memsund Sigehard
Vilfranene Odwi Helithans

The other thing that is really cool about this data is that none of the names are Latinized. There is such a dearth of vernacular material from this period, this provides us with such a wealth. More than one of the names would — in isolation — be most likely identified as masculine rather than feminine (Alfrat, Odelard, Odwi), lacking the definitive grammatical gender that Latin imports. But here we see clearly that these are feminine names, identical in form to their masculine counterparts.

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