Author Topic: So you want to bear an authentic Norman name  (Read 35584 times)

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hrotha

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So you want to bear an authentic Norman name
« on: February 11, 2012, 10:17:37 AM »
For many, authentic names are one of the best ways to enhance the level of immersion of Víkingr. An English eorl called Eadric is more believable than one called Tim, a jarl should be Björn rather than hax0r_pwner and we’ll all agree Ualrach is a better Gael name than Celtichugs. Those who want Old English names have it easy, as there’s a great thread to help them out. Old Norse is not hard either, thanks to the many vernacular sources. For Old Irish, Old East Slavic and Old Norman names, however, there’s not a lot of period-appropriate information around here. The Nafngift thread is an excellent place to start, but I feel faction-specific threads that focus on each faction’s unique issues would be nice. So, here’s my contribution. Special thanks to Eadric for his help, and also to several Old French professors who I’m not sure would like to be listed here!

Disclaimer: all of this is subject to change if new information surfaces and I spot a mistake. There's one or two things I'm not too confident about, but there's still a few leads open.

THE NORMANS

ON THE LINGUISTIC SITUATION OF VÍKINGR-ERA NORMANDY
At the time the Normans settled, the area that would become Normandy apparently had a larger Frankish population than many other regions of modern France. While these Franks already spoke a Romance language, their names had a West Germanic form. It would seem the Norse settlers largely adapted their names to the local (Frankish) variants, so they often fail to display many features of North Germanic or show a mixed form (for example, ON ás [<*ans] appears as os, ans or an in Norman names). The process of “translating” or adapting personal names was of course standard practice at the time.

These Franko-Norse names were naturally subject to the influence and subsequent development of the local Romance language, so by the time we get to the Víkingr era they were pretty French-looking already. One thing should be remembered: unlike Old English and Old Norse names, which were still largely transparent to the people who bore them, Norman names had little to do with their everyday tongue. They were purely conventional, like our modern names. While learned scribes and scholars still recognized the meanings and older forms of these names and used them when writing in Latin or other languages (and hence Henri appears as Henricus), that wouldn’t be the case for most people. At their core, these names were foreign words with foreign sounds and structures, and in the process of being adapted into Romance they yielded many divergent forms. Old Norman names were wildly inconsistent in their spelling and, presumably, their pronunciation.  For most names here, several variants will be listed, all of which should be appropriate for this period.

ON THE DIALECTS OF OLD NORMAN
Normandy was divided in half by the Joret line, an isogloss that set the Picard and northern Norman dialects apart from the rest of Old French - including the southern Norman dialects. In addition, Norse influence north of the Joret line was stronger. Anglo-Norman was largely derived from northern variants, and thus the Norman names most commonly encountered in England display typical northern features (like w for standard OF g, g for j, etc), but that doesn't apply to all Norman names elsewhere. In this list, northern names are listed as the default, followed by the southern variants in square brackets. Choose which variant your character would be more likely to use depending on where you imagine them to come from.

ON NON-GERMANIC NAMES
One thing I haven't really been able to establish is the prevalence of Latin names in the Norman armies. The Normans, and the Franks before them, were a ruling elite, and it's safe to assume most of their subjects were of Gallo-Roman origin all along, but as I said Normandy seemed to have a particularly large Germanic population, and armies were small. The vast majority of recorded Norman names for this period are Germanic, with the odd Biblical name here and there; Latin and Greek names are quite rare, although they occur. That may not mean much, since the recorded names tend to be those of the ruling elite anyway, but it's probably a sign that Germanic names were more widespread overall.

ON THE SUBJECT CASE
Old French had lost all Latin cases except for two: subject and object or oblique. Virtually all male given names took an –s in the subject case, and many modern names descend from that form: Jacques, Hugues, etc. However, Old Norman seems to have been very inconsistent on this front, as in others, and it would seem Germanic names didn’t necessarily use the –s subject ending at the time. It’s possible that this feature was introduced through the influence of continental French at later times, well after the Víkingr era. However, both forms with and without this ending must have been possible at the time. The names in my list don’t have the –s, but if anyone prefers their name to have it, here’s the basic rules:
-   The combinations ts/ds and ls are spelled z and lz: Rollanz, filz.
-   Un-Norman consonantal clusters resulting from adding this –s would be simplified by dropping the final consonant of the stem: Raulf+s > Raulz.

Some names of non-Germanic origin like Jehans and Helies are already in the subject case. "Weak" names (marked with an asterisk in this list) are much more likely to take the -s ending: e.g. Ives, Eudes. Therefore I make an exception with these names and add the -s in brackets directly to the list.

This applies only to male names.

ON PATRONYMICS
A patronymic may be formed by filz, “son” plus the object form of a personal name. For example, the Norman equivalent of my full character name would be Rodbert filz Hubert. "Weak" names (marked with an asterisk) have an irregular object case form with an -un ending (cf. the declension of the word ber, object case barun). For example, the object case of Ive(s) is Ivun. Non-Germanic names that appear in their subject form with -s in the list, like Helies, drop it in the object case.

ON THE DEFINITE ARTICLE
The Norman definite article was declined, just like the nouns. The masculine subject form was li (sg. and pl.), the object forms were lu or le (sg.) and les (pl.). The feminine subject and object forms were la (sg.) and les (pl.). La was elided before a word that began with a vowel (eg. la + armede = l’armede), but li (sg.) often wasn’t, and li (pl.) never was. Combinations of preposition + article tended to be contracted: de + le becomes del.

As an example, Roland may be called Rollant li proz, “Roland the proud” (note the subject case in proz < prod-s)

ON FEMALE NAMES
Víkingr isn’t the real world. Here, women can be commonly found on the battlefield, and they too may want an authentic Norman name. Unfortunately, female names are harder to get by, as they’re not recorded as frequently as male names, and their forms are usually more uncertain. Nevertheless, I included a short separate list of female names too.

A SELECTION OF COMMON NORMAN NAMES
Very roughly, the variants for each name are listed in order of likelihood to have appeared in that form in true Norman texts, but all variants should be valid. For an excellent source for Norman names, check this and this, but take into account the forms used there are usually Latin or Modern English/French, not Old Norman.

By far, the most common of these are: Willelme, Richard, Ro(d)bert, Ro(d)ger and Gi(s)l(e)bert. So common, in fact, that the five of them together add up to roughly 258% of all recorded Norman individuals. Those and other particularly common names are bolded. There's two Breton names which are preceded by a plus mark - they were used in families of mixed heritage, but probably not by the Normans at large at this point. Take this into account when dealing out Norman names among clan mates!

It is important to note that this is but a shortlist. I only picked 11th century Normans to compile this list because I had to stop somewhere, but you can go beyond that. Check those links above and you'll find earlier Norman and Frankish names, and also later Anglo-Norman names. Most of those should be fine, once properly adapted to 11th century Old Norman "standards". Feel free to pick a name that isn't in this list and then ask what its Norman form would have been.

Male names:

Abelard, Abelart
Ailmar, Ailmer
+Alan
Albert
Albreid, Alvreid, Albrei, Alvrei
Albri
Amalri
Anscher
An(s)chetil, An(s)quetil, An(s)ketil
Anselme
Ansfreid, Ansfrei
Ansger
Arnald, Arnold, Arnalt, Arnolt
Arnost
Arnulf
Avenel
Baldri
Baldwin, Balduin, Baldewin
Berenger
Bernard, Bernart
Bertram
Boemund, Boamund, Boemunt, Boamunt
*Croque(s)
*Drogue(s), *Droge(s)
Durant
Engelger
Engelmar
Engenulf
Engerand, Engerant
Erchembald, Erchembalt, Erkembald, Erkembalt
Erchenger, Erkenger
Ernegis
Ernulf
Esteven
Eustace
Everard, Everart
Franc
Fulbert
Fulcher
*Fulque(s), *Fulke(s)
Gerald, Geralt
Gerard, Gerart
Gerveis
Gilebert, Gislebert, Gilbert
Go(d)(e)bald, Go(d)(e)balt
Go(d)freid, Gefreid, Gefrei, Gofrei
Gozelin [Jozelin]
Gozelme [Jozelme]
Grimald, Grimold, Grimalt, Grimolt
Gundulf
Gundwin, Gunduin
*Hame(s)
Hamelin
Harald, Harold, Haralt, Harolt
Hasculf
Helies
Helinant, Helinand
Henri
Herbert
Herfast
Herluin
Herman
Hilbert
Hubert, Hugbert
*Hugue(s), *Hug
Hunfreid, Hunfrei
*Ive(s)
Ivelin
Jehans
Jordans
Lambert
Malger
Maurice
*Mile(s)
Niel
Norman
*Ode(s), *Eude(s)
Oliver
Osbern
Osbert
Osmund, Osmunt
Radulf, Raulf
Raimund, Raimunt
Rainald, Rainalt
Rainbald, Raimbald, Rainbalt Raimbalt
Rainer
Rainfreid, Rainfrei
Rainulf, Ranulf
Richard, Richart
Richer
Rodald, Rodalt, Roald, Roalt
Rodbert, Rotbert, Robert
Rodger, Rotger, Roger

Rodulf, Roulf
Romoald, Romoalt
Seinfreid, Seinfrei
*Sarle(s), *Serle(s)
Simun
Tancreid, Tancrei
Teduin, Tedwin
Teobald, Tedbald, Tiebald, Teobalt, Tedbalt, Tiebalt
Terri, Tierri, Tedri
Turald, Turold, Turalt, Turolt
Turbern
Turbert
Turgis
Turchetil, Turchil, Turketil
Turstin
Turulf
*Urse(s)
Walbert [Galbert]
Walchelin, Walkelin [Galchelin]
Waldin [Galdin]
Waleran [Galeran]
Waleri [Valeri]
Walter [Galter]
Warin [Garin]
Warinfreid, Warinfrei [Garinfreid, Garinfrei]
Widmund, Wimund, Widmunt, Wimunt [Guidmund, Guimund, Guidmunt, Guimunt]
*Wide(s), *Wie(s), *Wi(s), *Wid (*Wiz) [*Guide(s), *Guie(s), *Gui(s), *Guid (*Guiz)]
Willelme [Guillelme]
Winebald, Winebalt [Guinebald, Guinebalt]

Female names:

Ade
Adeliz(e), Aaliz
Adeline, Aaline
Adile, Adele
Agathe, Agate
Agnez, Agnes
Albreide, Alvreide, Albrei, Alvrei
Anfreide, Anfrei, Anfrie, Amfreide, Amfrei, Amfrie
Amiere
Aveline
Beatriz
Berte
Bilelde, Bilehelde
Bilende, Bilehende
Damate, Damete
Denise
Dunelme
Emme
Emmeline, Ermeline
Eremberge
Eremburge
Esile
Fredesende, Fresende
Gerberge
Gisele, Gisle
God(e)hilde
Gozeline [Jozeline]
Gunnore
Hauise, Haueise, Hawise, Haweise
Heliarde
Helisende
Heloise
Herleve
Hildeburge
Hildegarde
Isabelle
Jehanne
Judith, Judit
Lezeline
Mabile, Mabille
Mathilde, Matilde, Malde
Merleberge
+Muriel
Odoline
Roese, Rohese
Rainburge, Raimburge
Seinfreide, Seinfrie
Sibylle, Sibille
Weuve [Gueuve]

If a name is not in the list, but was used by the early Anglo-Normans and is not Old English, it’s probably safe (if in doubt, ask!). Names of Italian Norman individuals are trickier, because it’s harder to tell apart the Old Norman from the Italic elements. For example, Asclettin seems to be a heavily distorted Italian Norman variant of Anschetil. Common French names that were used by the Normans, but for which I couldn’t find any recorded early 11th century Norman individuals, are not in the list – that doesn’t mean you can’t use them if you fancy them, though.

(Note that Rollo seems to have been a learned Latinized form, not a name in everyday use)

APPENDIX: ON PRONUNCIATION AND SPELLING
(click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: May 09, 2015, 10:24:11 AM by hrotha »

Takeda_Shingen

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Re: So you want to bear an authentic Norman name
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2012, 10:44:23 AM »
Aaah tis beautiful and well written  :D

Thanks to you Hrotha and to Eadric as well


Harkon Haakonson

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Re: So you want to bear an authentic Norman name
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2012, 11:42:53 AM »
Harkon best name
I can't wait until white people are finally a minority.
Dear Harkon Haakonson !     I think your mother didn't teach you how to talk to a person. Alas!

C_Ronin_Rico

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Re: So you want to bear an authentic Norman name
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2012, 11:50:50 AM »
Bloody Normanz!

csskyfire

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Re: So you want to bear an authentic Norman name
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2012, 11:51:39 AM »
Turgis?

hrotha

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Re: So you want to bear an authentic Norman name
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2012, 11:57:14 AM »
Turgis?
Yep. From Þórr "Thor" + gísl "hostage."

Barabas

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Re: So you want to bear an authentic Norman name
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2012, 12:08:25 PM »
Great post Hrotha!  :D
I'd almost become a Norman ^^

Harkon best name

Please show some respect when someone puts a lot of effort into helping out the community.

Takeda_Shingen

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Re: So you want to bear an authentic Norman name
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2012, 12:10:17 PM »
Great post Hrotha!  :D
I'd almost become a Norman ^^

I feel proud to be a Norman when people say that, and when Hrotha posts something like this


Éadríc

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Re: So you want to bear an authentic Norman name
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2012, 12:15:01 PM »
What a treat to read, dear Hróða – this old world just came alive a great deal more!

Let everyone realise that information like this (Norman nomenclature) is very hard to come by indeed. Much obliged! I can't wait to see these names borne on the battlefied.

I shall call you Reordwita, for you are learned in the ways of speech.

hrotha

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Re: So you want to bear an authentic Norman name
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2012, 02:10:52 PM »
Thanks, folks! Now let's hope Víkingr players will put this to good use. :)

PS: Reordwita. I like the sound of that.

Linear

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Re: So you want to bear an authentic Norman name
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2012, 02:40:30 PM »
So... much... writing
None the less very well done Hrotha!
« Last Edit: February 11, 2012, 02:53:34 PM by Linear »

hrotha

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Re: So you want to bear an authentic Norman name
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2012, 02:13:05 AM »
I like writing, Guðmund!

I tried to keep it to a minimum, but there was so much that needed to be said... :p

Celtichugs

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Re: So you want to bear an authentic Norman name
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2012, 10:18:07 AM »
Brilliant work my friend!

Well done! :)

Takeda_Shingen

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Re: So you want to bear an authentic Norman name
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2012, 10:42:01 AM »
Brilliant work my friend!

Well done! :)

Maybe now I can convince you to like the Normans? It is my long life mission  :wink:


hrotha

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Re: So you want to bear an authentic Norman name
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2012, 03:41:07 PM »
Thanks, Ualraig!

I updated the OP with a short list of female names. Bring your sisters, people.