Sunday, January 5, 2014

35 down, 1, 979 names to go!

You've met 35 new names so far this year. Here are the next 7.


Girls

Jacintha - Latinate form of Jacinthe which is a French form of Hyacinth which was originally 'hyakintos'. Pronounced 'yah sin tah' in Dutch. Just looking at it as an American, however, I say 'jah sin thah'. The hyacinth is a flower named after a boy in Greek legend. Hyacinth, the boy, was loved by the god Apollo and when he died the god turned him into a flower. There was a festival celebrated by ancient Greeks called the Hyacinthia which honored the boy in the legend. According to Wikipedia he may have been a god before the 'Hellenic' period in Greece, meaning a god worshiped there before Apollo was revered.

Keturah - Hebrew, meaning "incense".

Lancelotte - a medieval queen named Hildegarde, whose father's name was Lancelin, was also known as Lancelotte. If you know your Arthurian legend, then you know that Lancelot was the knight of the Round Table who loved Queen Guinevere. Hildegarde, however, lived in the 11th century and Lancelot does not appear in Arthurian romance til the 12th century. But, Hildegarde was French, Lancelot is supposed to have come from France, so it seems reasonable to see the name as French. Possibly associated with the word lance, but the name Lanzo was a short form used for names beginning with the root 'land'. Remember that the word 'lot' also refers to a specific plot of land. I could see Lancelot meaning 'land' of a particular 'lot' of land. Or, as land can also mean a country or particular region or type of land, perhaps it meant something like land of lots (as in a country or area that was claimed and developed, partitioned or divided among people or groups) or maybe it meant land of lots in the sense of  'country to be divided by lot' - where lot is by chance, or lottery (the concept of a lottery being quite ancient). Although in Hildegarde's case, it would seem that Lancelotte is just a way of feminizing her father's name for her (Lancelin > Lancelotte).

A little examination of word origins seems appropriate. Lance, as in the weapon used by knights in jousts, comes from the word lancea, which is Latin, and especially seems to refer to a 'light spear' or 'Spanish lance'.  The Latin word seems to come from a Celt-Iberian word (Celt-Iberians were the people of Spain that Rome eventually conquered). Lance can be a verb, 'to lance' is to pierce something lightly. A lance also referred to the squires who surrounded the knight and provided him service. Lancelin meant 'servant' in old French. So perhaps Hildegarde's name, Lancelotte, would just mean 'servant'. Though I wonder why it wasn't Lanceline or Lancelina, etc. In any case, the word for lance was older than Hildegarde and had been around for some time. So, if Lancelin meant servant, did it mean a particular type of servant? One who served a knight carrying a lance? If you gave that name to your daughter, does it mean she is the daughter of someone who served a knight carrying a lance? Seems reasonable to me, as I know that Germans (maybe not as long ago as Hildegarde, but at some point) added 'tin' or 'ton' to a man's name to indicate that a woman was his wife or unmarried daughter. So perhaps in the part of France Hildegarde was from something similar was a custom, and so Hildegarde Lancelotte would be Hildegarde daughter of Lancel (or in this case, Lancelin - though who knows, perhaps he had Lancel as a nickname?).

I'm reminded of the word 'allot' which means to set aside or assign or allow something for some person or purpose, time, etc. Could Lancelotte mean land set aside for a servant?   Or maybe the opposite - a servant set aside for a piece of land.

In the book "From Scythia to Camelot: A Radical Reassessment of the Legends of King Arthur" a few theories are suggested for the origin of Lancelot (which does come later than Hildegarde Lancelotte, but the theory might still apply to the name). One is that the first part of the name refers to Alans, a group of Sarmatian tribes from the time period. (for those of us who did not know it, Alans are the same as Aryans and originated in Iran).  The authors of this book point out that 'lans', a reference to the Alans, is a part of various place names where those people settled. In the case of place names that were a phrase, they sometimes become one word, with the 'a' dropped, so that Alans d'Riano becomes Landriano, for instance. It is possible that the 'lan' part of such a place name just refers to the Celtic word for land, but it might be that it referred instead to the Alans of that place. In which case, Lancelotte might indicate Hildegarde's ancestry. About 500 years before the Alans came to France. Many settled in the north, including Loiret - Beaugency is in Loiret - and Loiret is thought to be related to the Alan people. The authors of the book points out that a hero's name and a place could be the same - for instance, Lancarote - in their argument that Lancelot refers to the hero and the place he is from. If that is so, and if the same applies to Hildegarde, isn't it possible that 'Lancelotte" was not necessarily 'one' place but a more generic term used for anyone from an Alan settlement?

Enough theories to ponder, I think! It would be great to figure out if just one applies.



Boys

Moloch - Semitic, meaning "king". Moloch was an ancient god. Terrifying if you ask me. It was just about unbearable to read about the human sacrifices he was offered. He certainly wasn't the only god who demanded them (or was offered them, however you look at it). He seems to have been worshiped by the Phoenicians, Ammonites, and Canaanites and the ancient Hebrews were expressly forbidden by their God to worship the god Moloch - though that does not seem to have worked entirely as they are often chastised for permitting such worship to occur.

Nestor - Greek, meaning "return"

Otto - a German form of Odo or Audo, which was a short form of names beginning with 'od' which means "wealth, fortune".

Pavel - Latin, meaning "little" or "humble". Mainly used in Slavic languages.

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