2021 was a long year. While everyone here at DMNES central has so far weathered the pandemic unscathed, much of our energy has been dedicated to simply surviving, with not much left for working on this project.
Nevertheless, we published our 2021 edition last night, with new entries and new citations across old entries. For once, we finalised more entries for feminine names than for masculine names!
New masculine names
Semperbella “always beautiful” and Semperbona “always good” definitely win the prize for “prettiest names of the edition”!
This brings us to a total of 941 entries for feminine names, 1665 entries for masculine names, 3 three for names of unknown gender, and across those entries, we have 78094 citations!
In the last two weeks or so, you may have occasionally gotten a 500 internal server error when attempting to access dmnes.org; our technical guru has identified the cause of this, and it is a bug in the newest version of Python, i.e., something beyond our control. He is confident that the bug will be fixed and a patch released in the next few weeks, at which point he can upgrade the webserver to the latest version and the access problems will go away.
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.)
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.