About Me

Per EVie's suggestion: Here is some information about me: Since personal names currently in use are derived from a multitude of languages and sources, no one can be an expert in all of them. My PhD is in Old and Middle English and Old Icelandic, and I also have had formal training in almost all the Germanic languages (Old and Middle High German, Old Saxon, Gothic, Old Low Franconian, Middle Dutch, Yiddish, Modern German, and Netherlandic/Flemish). In addition I learned Hebrew, Latin, and French before I left high school. Cobbling together my French and Latin, I know something about some of the other Romance languages (including Old French, Anglo-Norman, and Occitan), but I am no expert in Romance philology, although I have had formal training in Germanic philology. So that gives me a better than average background in many of the languages from which our current namestock is derived. However, what I know about Greek and Greek-derived , Balto-Slavic and Celtic names comes from my general knowledge of Indo-European philology, and my general knowledge of Indo-European philology does not really cover names from Sanskrit and other Indian languages and Persian. Knowing Hebrew gives me a bit of insight into cognate Arabic names, but I know nothing about Finno-Ugaric (happily we have our Hungarian sisters for that), Chinese, Japanese, the many indigenous languages of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.

My Favorite Names

No favorite names yet.

My Recent Blog Comments
March 6, 2015 11:08 AM
In Response to Lots of Possibilities

To be frank, I personally would be reluctant to use Miles Stanfield, not because I would have difficulty pronouncing it, but because of Miles Standish.  No matter how low American educational standards have fallen (and they have), I think most elementary schools still do Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving.

March 6, 2015 09:41 AM
In Response to Lots of Possibilities

Miles Stanfield hard to say?  Everyone (in the US) learned to say Myles/Miles Standish their first November in school.

March 5, 2015 10:49 AM
In Response to Battle of the Gwens

Welsh names in -y- like Bryn, Gwyn, and Wynn are masculine.  Feminine names have -e-.  Thus the correct spellings are Gwendolen and Bronwen, not Gwendolyn and Bronwyn.  Somewhere along the way people, at least here in the US, have gotten then idea that spelling a name with y somehow makes it feminine.  I don't know where that idea came from--does anyone? 

March 5, 2015 10:26 AM
In Response to Battle of the Gwens

The place name is pronounced, at least by most people, the English way.  I doubt whether very many people who live there know that the authemtic Welsh pronunciation ends with a -th sound.  BTW there are a lot of Welsh place names in SE PA, for example, Bryn Mawr ('Hill Big'), the first element of which has already been apppropriated as a personal name. Bryn Mawr is in Radnor Township, Radnor also being a Welsh place name.

March 5, 2015 08:12 AM
In Response to Battle of the Gwens

And I said that the name has some use with the Anglicized spelling.  I wouldn't think that there are many (well, any) kids with the Welsh spelling.  Although since Gwynedd is also a place name here in America (actually in the Philadelphia area where I lived for many years) and since people draft place names as personal names all the time these days, a little Gwynedd, probably from eastern PA, isn't impossible.

March 5, 2015 12:31 AM
In Response to Battle of the Gwens

I didn't check, but I am surprised that Gwyneth doesn't show up at all.

March 4, 2015 11:34 PM
In Response to Battle of the Gwens

I don't lnow how that individual pronounced her name, but in Welsh dd = th in English.  So Gwynedd would be properly pronounced Gwyneth. Thus it does see some use with Anglicized spelling.  Gwynedd is, of course, a toponym.

March 4, 2015 02:41 PM

GIven that Lilith is a night-flying, baby-eating demon, I would take that name out of the Bertha-Gertrude category and rank it right up there with the impalers/Death Eaters/Undead Avengers and otherwise raging, sword-wielders.

March 4, 2015 01:33 PM

I can't help associating Bertha with Bertha Bigfoot (sometimes translated as Bertha Broadfoot), actually Bertrada of Laon, Charlemagne's mother.  And there's also Big Bertha (i.e., Dicke Bertha 'Fat Bertha'), the heavy howitzer developed by Krupp in WWI).  That gives Bertha a lot of negative baggage that, say, Gertrude doesn't have.  I remember when I first read Madame Bovary, the part where Emma is fussing over what name to give her daughter and comes up with...Berthe, of all names.

March 4, 2015 01:19 PM

A Dutch form of Matthew/Matthias is Matthijs.  The traditional nickname is Thijs (pronounced roughly TY-ees), so no I don't think Ty is too much of a stretch.

March 4, 2015 08:14 AM
In Response to Caedmon?

Yes, the first syllable has the vowel in 'at', just like calling a disreputable man a cad.  I just checked the "baby name meaning" sites online, and what they have to say about the meaning of Caedmon should be disregarded.  THere is no consensus as to the meaning/derivation/origin of Caedmon.

However, given that our only information about Caedmon comes from Bede's history, I will throw in a little tidbit I just read.  Someone was discussing Bede (actually Beda) as a hyporcoristic form of a Germanic bithematic name starting in baedwu-. and offhandedly mentioned that Bede's father's name was probably Bubba (!).  It wasn't clear from the post (it was a post, not a full-fledged refereed article) what the source of this Bubba info is, but nonetheless it gave me a chuckle....

March 3, 2015 03:07 PM

It's been announced: Isaiah Michael Fisher.

March 3, 2015 07:45 AM

Now I finally see it, and with a live link too. 

March 3, 2015 07:43 AM
In Response to Callan or Zephyr?

Well, there is Zephyr Teachout, a professor of constitutional law, who ran for governor of New York in last year's Democratic primary.  She didn't win.

March 2, 2015 02:26 PM

My choices for names that match with Ellis are Bennett and Austin.  All three are medieval forms of longer names: Ellis/Elijah, Bennett/Benedict, and Austin/Augustine.

March 1, 2015 01:56 PM


March 1, 2015 01:21 PM


March 1, 2015 09:24 AM

Lturtle, check out my recent post in the Names and Society forum.  If you check out the site I mentioned there, you will find a list of almost 1000 medieval European names, masculine and feminine.

March 1, 2015 09:22 AM
In Response to Hackers!

Lucubratrix, I just posted about the reference work in Names and Society.  I made the post in two parts.  The first part gives the explanation about the Dictionary and what it covers and the name of the project for googling.  ANd that went through.  Then I put the url in a second post, and that did not go through.  So work your magic!

March 1, 2015 09:18 AM

This is the url for DMNES as promised--if it posts.  https://dmnes.wordpress.com/list-of-entries/

That will take you directly to the aforementioned list which is what I think will be of most interest here.