Tag Archives: Slavic

Mystery Monday: Warslav

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 Low German form of a Slavic name — the deuterotheme makes that clear — but what’s not entirely clear is the exact root name. (We suspect that our tentative canonical form Warslav is not the one that will end up as the header name). Slavicists, this one’s for you! Got any suggestions? Please share in the comments!

Warslav

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‘Love’-ly Names for Valentine’s Day

Today is an good excuse to take a tour through names in the Dictionary that derive from words related to love.

Latin

Latin amo “I love” gives us a wealth of names, both masculine and feminine. The participle amandus/amanda ‘meant to be loved’ becomes Amant and Amanda, and the adjective amatus/amata ‘loved, beloved’ gives rise to Amat and Amata. On the active side of things, amator ‘lover’ turns into the name Amadore. From the Old French development of the Latin root, we have Ami and Amy, and then finally there are the compounds: Amadeus ‘beloved by God’ is wholly Latin, while the lovely Amadilde displays the unusual combination of a Latin prototheme with a Germanic deuterotheme.

Latin carus/cara ‘dear, beloved, loved’ was popular in Italian developments, including Caro and Cara simpliciter, and the compounds Bellacara, Carabella, Caradonna, and Deocar. The superlative form of the adjective is found in Carissima.

Finally, the Latin goddess name Venus is the root of the name Venerio (and also the word ‘venereal’, so we wouldn’t recommend this option to anyone seeking a name for their baby.)

Celtic

The root of the romantic Welsh name Angharad is a Proto-Celtic word for ‘love’.

The Old Breton word cum can mean both ‘gentle’ and ‘beloved’, and appears in the name Iarncum.

Hebrew

In rare cases, the name Dodo can derive from a Hebrew word meaning ‘beloved’. A more well-known Hebrew name with this meaning is David.

Slavic

The Slavic element drag, drog, drah ‘precious, beloved’ is a popular theme, found in Dragoslav.

Germanic

Old English is where we must turn for names of deriving from a Germanic element meaning love, specifically, lēof ‘dear, loved’. Here on the feminine side we have Loveday as well as, possibly, Lovewell, though the origin of the later is uncertain, and on the masculine side Lefchild, Lefsy, Lefward, and Lefwin.

Greek

Finally, we have two names incorporating Greek φίλος ‘dear, loved, loving’: Philip and Theophilus.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Nicknames: Slavic diminutives

What is fascinating about diminutive suffixes is how you can trace linguistic contact and language relationships through diminutive forms. We saw that in our previous post, with the similarity between German and Dutch diminutives, and we will see it again when we look at the French diminutives -el and -in. In this post, we look at Slavic diminutives — suffixes used in Poland, the Ukraine, and the Czech Republic — which share a clear relationship with Low German -ke(n). We concentrate on the two most common suffix types: -ko and -ek for men and -ka and -ek(a) for women.

As with the German suffixes, these show up in Latin contexts at least as early as the 13th C. [1,2] But unlike some of the German diminutive forms, which for the most part were rarer than the root names, Slavic diminutives often eclipsed the root name in popularity — for example, in the Czech Republic, diminutive forms of Judith far outstrip the full form.

In what is now modern-day Czech Republic, the suffix -ka was often spelled -ca (especially in Latin contexts where k was often avoided) or with an added sibilant, either before or after the \k\, resulting in -zca, -zka, -kza, etc. Examples of this include Anka (from Anne) and Elsca, Elzca, and Elzka (from Elizabeth). Often, this suffix was added not to the full form of the name, but to a hypocoristic from — as in the forms of Elizabeth just noted. In particular, native Slavic names were often truncated before the diminutive suffix was added, as we see in the names Sdynka, Zdincza, Zdinka (from Zdeslava) and Budka, Budcza (from Budislava). As a result, it can be often difficult to identify what the root name is, which is the case with many of the masculine examples we currently have. Given their linguistic and geographic context, masculine names such as Boczko, Czenko, Daszko, Luczko, Parcko, Raczko, Steczko, and Wyrsko are almost all certainly diminutives, though as of yet we haven’t yet confidently identified the root names.

Our data from Poland, at this point, is still relatively limited, but even amongst the handful of diminutive forms that we have, we can see the influence of the Slavic construction in forms such as Ludeko (from Louis), another example of which we find in Lübeck a few years later. What we tend to see more in our limited Polish data is similarity with German suffixes, in particular one which we didn’t discuss in our previous post: -el. When we discuss German masculine diminutive suffixes, we’ll return to this!

Finally, let’s look at Ukraine. As with Poland, our data from the Ukraine is still quite limited, and yet, even amongst that limited data we have a surprisingly large percentage of diminutive forms (making up nearly 7%!) [3]. We see both the -(z)ko and -ek suffixes in this data, as witnessed by Iaczko (from Jacob), Iwanko (from John), and Muszyk (root name not yet identified), on the masculine side, and Marsucha (from Mary) on the feminine side.

One must be leery of drawing any strong conclusions from the limited data that we’ve gathered so far. Nevertheless, even in this small data set we have ample illustration of the variety of ways in which diminutives could be formed, and evidence of their popularity.


Notes

[1] Artsikhovskii, A. V., et al. Novgorodskie gramoty na bereste, Vols I-VII. Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Akademii Nauk SSSR, 1953-78, no. 348.

[2] Moroshkin, Mikhail. Slavianskii imenoslov ili sobranie slavianskikh lichnykh imen. Saint Petersburg: n.p., 1867, p. 124.

[3] Compare that with, say, England or Spain, where diminutives make up 3%, or Sweden, where it is 4%.

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Color names: Gold

Words meaning ‘yellow’ do not appear to be especially productive in terms of contributing to the development of names. And if you think about it, why should it be — when there are words meaning ‘gold’ instead!

(Well, onomastically and linguistically, that’s a very bad argument: We do not know the thought process driving the use of color terms in names, whether in dithematic Germanic constructions or derivatives of Latin and Greek color terms, and so drawing conclusions of this sort is not well-grounded. But it makes for a nice story about why we’re looking at words relating to ‘gold’ instead of words relating to ‘yellow’.)

Proto-Germanic *gulþą ‘gold’ turned into gold in both Old English and Old High German, and the element was used as both a prototheme and a deuterotheme (though it was more common as a prototheme in names of insular origin and more common as a deuterotheme in names of continental origin), and it was used by both men (cf. Goldwine, Mangold, and Meingold) and women (cf.Goldiva).

“What about Latin aureus or aurum?” we hear you ask. This word was used, rarely, as a personal name in early France, both as a masculine name (Aureas) and a feminine name (Aurea), and it may be the root of the Roman gens Auria, to which derivative forms such as Auriana can be traced. Another name often associated with the Latin word(s) is Aurelius, which was also originally the name of a Roman gens. An earlier form of this name was Auselius, which may call into question the relationship with aureus — except that the earlier form of aurum was ausum, from Proto-Italic *auzom (and in fact, in writing this post we have revisited the etymology for the name; the next edition will have that entry updated!). This may be a name where we can never be entirely sure if the connection is true or if it was made post hoc.

Looking beyond Latin and Germanic roots, Proto-Slavic *zoltъ ‘gold’ was also used in both masculine and feminine names, though we don’t — yet! — have any examples of any of them.

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Taking stock, February edition

I was going to stop doing these monthly recaps with January, because after that you could see first hand what was new and improved. Alas, we haven’t quite made the Jan. 31 goal, so you get one more month’s worth of stats and graphs. We’re up to 16030 individual citations (up from 10288, an increase of nearly 56%!) distributed over 764 entries (up from 639 last month, a 19.5% increase), resulting in an average of 21 citations per name (up from 16 last month, no doubt due to the completion of the extremely popular names John and Joan, both of which have hundreds of citations.)

There are 463 men’s names and 278 women’s, and, excitingly, for the first time in months, our ‘earliest/latest in the alphabet’ names have changed! The alphabetically foremost masculine name is now Achard, of Germanic origin and with French citations, and the alphabetically hindmost name is now Zwentibold, of Slavic origin but influence, in its Latin form, by Germanic elements.

7174 of the citations are from Latin records, that is, around 44.7%, a significant decrease from last month, due no doubt to the large number of 16th C English parish registers that we’ve been working through. Here’s the breakdown for all the languages:
citations per language
When it comes to citations per country, we’ve now reached the point where we’re constrained by the number of slices we can put into our pie chart (on the free online automatic pie-chart generator we’re using), which means neither Brabant nor Malta show up on the below, despite now having sizeable showings:
citations per country

Lastly, this month the Dictionary welcomed a new assistant to the editorial team: Dr. Mariann Slíz is a member of the Institute of Hungarian Linguistics and Finno-Ugric Studies at Eötvös Loránd University, specializing in Onomastics, Cultural History, Historical Linguistics, Medieval History, Literature, Magical Realism, History of Hungary, Medieval Hungary, Hungarian linguistics, and Anthropology of Personal Names. We are very grateful to have an expert on Hungarian names joining us, in part because it means we can move Hungarian from the second phase to the first phase! So keep a look out for Hungarian citations and citations from Hungary in upcoming editions of the Dictionary.

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