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How to Document a Name

(to within an inch of its life)

Copyright © 1993 Heather Rose Jones, All Rights Reserved

Introduction

This booklet attempts to present in text form the subject of a class that I have given on several occasions. It is still very much in the developmental stages and I anticipate putting out seriously revised editions of it at some point in the future. The only excuse I have for publishing it in this rough form at this time is that people have asked for it.

The contents of this book are solely the opinions of the author. It presents the approach to the contents and formatting of name documentation that I have attempted to implement as the name-documentation coordinator for the West Kingdom letters of intent.

I have tried, in this guide, to make as little reference as possible to the Rules for Submission in current, past, or potential future form. This system sets up a continuum of documentability from the names that could have been plucked out of a period document to those that are simply a string of random words or sounds. Where the Rules have chosen to place the acceptability cut-off has varied considerably over the years, and individual kingdoms may choose to adjust it for their own uses. Unless we decide to throw out the requirement that names strive for medieval authenticity altogether, this system should not go out of date.

The Theory

This system is meant to be an approach rather than a set of hard and fast rules. For some names this approach will work easily, leading you quickly and efficiently through the various aspects of documentation. For other names this approach will constantly lead you into apparent brick walls. You will find yourself incapable of fulfilling the questions it wants you to answer. The first major factor in whether the documentation is easy or impossible is your available resources. Even the most authentic name cannot be documented in a vacuum. The second major factor is the inherent authenticity of the name. Given sufficient books of the right type, a period name will be easy to document while a non-period name will still be next to impossible. One of the advantages to using an approach that documents the "pattern" of the name is that it leads the researcher into a study of those patterns and does not depend on a (usually untutored) "instinct" for which names are authentic in structure and which are not.

Some Terminology

In the process of constructing this system, I have had to invent some new terminology, and even invent (or at least introduce) some new concepts.In my own usage I have not always been entirely consistent in the past (although not, I hope, to the point of unclarity), and may not be so in the future. The following definitions will be consistent throughout this guide but cannot be assumed to have a validity outside of it.

Name - This may refer to the entire submission or to a specific element within it. The difference should be fairly obvious, but when the latter needs to be clearly specified I will use "name element". In this latter sense, a name refers to any word or set of words that forms a complete and independent concept.Theodoric is a name (element), Theo- is not. A very important part of this definition is that by "name (element)" I do not mean a specific spelling of the item, but rather an abstract "name-as-a-concept". By this definition, Ellen, Elen, Elene, Elena, Ellyn, and Ellin are all considered the same "name". Any one of them could be used when referring to "the name Ellen", although my usual practice is to use either the submitted spelling or the "standard" spelling when referring to a name.

Name Form or Name Spelling - This refers to the exact spelling in which a name is being considered.

Standard (Modern) Form or Spelling - This will be the form that is considered "correct" in modern usage. Usually an entry heading in a name book will use this form. There may be more than one standard form, as with Anne and Ann. Frequently the standard modern form of a name is also documentable as period. The only time this phrase should be invoked is when you have not been able to find a dated period example. (In some reference books, the standard modern form is all that will be available, see below in the discussion of sources.)

Name Pattern - This refers to the way in which the different name elements are put together, both the types of elements and how they are combined, and the use of non-name words: prepositions, articles, etc. "Pattern" can also be applied to a subunit of a name when discussing its internal structure especially in relation to a parallel example. E.g., at Ashwood has the same pattern as at Oakley, both sharing the general structure at <tree type> <geographical feature>.

Document vs. Justify - When I use the word "document", I mean that you can find the actual name, spelling, or construction that is under consideration. When I say "justify" I mean that you can logically argue that it fits into an existing pattern of documentable examples.

What you want to say

The actual text of the documentation involves a simple five-point questionnaire. The rest of the system involves the ways by which you can answer those questions.

What is the nature of each name element?

Start by coming up with a broad, generic definition of each element.  John Smith might be <given name> <occupational byname>.  Ian MacDonald could be <given name> <patronymic byname>. Richard D'Acre could be either <given name> <locative byname> or at a deeper level <given name> de <city name>. Start with a broad category. You will need a more detailed definition or formula only if you can't document the name element itself and need to justify it on the basis of parallel examples.

The "nature" of the element also involves language, nationality, and gender. Gender is particularly relevant to given names and to relational terms (-son, Mac-, ferch, etc.). It can also be relevant if a language has gendered forms of adjectives or occupational terms. Language and nationality are related but not identical concepts. Nationality is often a function of the specific spelling of a name.  The name John occurs throughout Europe, but the spelling John is specifically English. (Note again our defined use of "name".) The spelling of a name may belong to more than one culture, in which case it is valid to call it either one. Pick the one that is most relevant to the whole name. The spelling Isabella was used in both Spain and Scotland but if you're going to document it as Spanish for Isabella MacDonald then you'll have to go through the further effort to demonstrate the use of Spanish given names with Scottish surnames.

Is the name (element) period?

Once you have a working definition of each name element, then you can start looking for documentation. The definition comes first because it guides you in your search. For each element, determine whether the name (or word) is period in some form. This first step doesn't require that you pin it down too closely, just that you discover how successful your documentation is likely to be. This and the previous stage of documentation are when even awful baby-name books can be useful. At the very least they may give you a culture, a language, and perhaps say things like "invented in the 1940's". Don't stop here, but it doesn't always hurt to start here. The name-as-a-concept idea is essential at this stage because we aren't worrying yet about matching the exact spelling. Figure out what the "standard form" is likely to be and look there.

Is the spelling period?

Now we worry about specific spellings. Can you find your spelling in the target culture? With what dates? (Don't just pick one date at random if there are several. Get an idea of the whole range of time when this spelling was used.) If you can't find what you want in your target culture, can you find it in a related culture - one you have a hope of demonstrating compatibility with? (It doesn't do any good to document Kira as Russian if you plan to use it with a Basque byname.) Or can you interpolate the desired spelling from examples in the right time and place? (The techniques of interpolation are described below.)

Is the way that the parts are put together period?

Start with any name elements that consist of more than one word (ap Rhys, von Falkenstein, with the Sword). Do your examples document the whole phrase or only the primary word? If the latter, can you find parallel examples with the same underlying structure in an appropriate time and place? You needn't find von Falkenstein if you can find von <German castle name>.  You needn't find with the Sword if you can find with the <tool or other everyday physical object>.  This becomes particularly important when the element mixes languages or cultures.  You won't likely have trouble documenting the phrase ap Rhys, but what if you want to use ap Ælfred? It might be considerably easier to find ap <Anglo-Saxon given name> than to hold out for finding ap Ælfred itself.

Finish by looking at the whole name; the types of elements, their combinations, their ordering. For example, all the elements of the name Regenweald Acleah Beorhthram are documentable as Anglo-Saxon. I can demonstrate the use of locative bynames (even with no preposition used) and of unmarked patronymics (i.e., using only a given name, such as Beorhthram). I can even demonstrate the use of the two types of bynames in combination. What I couldn't demonstrate was this particular order; every example followed the order <given name> <patronymic> <locative>. Again, culture can be an important consideration. If you have documented your given name as English and your surname as French, find an example for the appropriate time period with a similar combination. Ideally at this stage you will find an example of a whole name that is exactly parallel to the submission you are considering, only with different names and words plugged in. Less ideally you may have to settle for documenting various subsets without finding the whole pattern. For John ap Dafydd Smith you might have to settle for finding <English given name> ap <Welsh given name>; <Welsh given name> ap <Welsh given name> <Welsh occupational byname>; and <Welsh given name> <English occupational byname>.

Extra Credit: Can you postulate a time and a place where this name could have existed?

This is the acid test of a truly period name. From the documentation you have found, can you say, "This name could have existed in 15th century France." Or even more precisely, "This name could have existed in London in the first half of the 13th century." This is the goal we should be aiming for, although it can only occasionally be obtained (unless you're working backwards, constructing a name from elements that are documented from a particular time and place). This is the reason that you want to keep in mind the full range of times and places in which an element occurs, so that you can chose the ones that are most compatible with each other.

How you want to say it

As important as the information that you have discovered about the name is the manner in which you present it. Too often, valuable data is obscured by an unclear presentation. One common example of this problem is when documentation states, "X is a variant of Y which can be found in source Z." Now is X found in Z or is only Y found in Z? Or if you say, "According to Smith, a 6th century English king bore the name Alfred" the usefulness of this reference for dating the spelling Alfred to the 6th century can only be judged if we know what sort of book Smith is. A history book? A baby-name book? A transcript of 6th century English charters? It is also important to give all the relevant information you have found.  If Withycombe says of X "the name of an Italian martyr of the 5th century, it did not come into use in England until the 19th century", then it would be extremely misleading to write as your documentation "Withycombe dates the name to the 5th century" thereby implying that Withycombe dates its use in England to that time. The three essential components to conveying information about a name are: say what you know; say what you don't know; say what you think.

Say what you know

What kind of book did you get your information from? What is the nature of its name examples? Does the book date specific spellings or only the name in general? How reliable is the book known to be? What exactly does it say about the name? What is the full context of the name example (if relevant)? This isn't the place for interpretations and opinions, just the facts.

Say what you don't know

What information does your source omit? Does it lack dates for specific spellings? Does it give only standard modern forms? Does it neglect to note clearly the culture of a name form? Does it give a variety of dated spellings but fail to present any with some essential element that your submission contains? Are you using a modern dictionary to document a non-English word rather than one with dated examples? (This will, of course, be the norm.)

Say what you think

When you are unable to document the exact spelling or pattern of a name element or the name as a whole, then you need to present evidence why you believe it fits with period practice. The two major techniques for this are interpolation (postulating an item that falls within a demonstrated set of facts) and extrapolation (postulating an item that follows a demonstrated trend but falls outside of the demonstrated examples). Interpolation is most often applied to spelling variation. If the name Bork is found as Borkk, Bork and Borcc, then it is reasonable to postulate Borc. It falls within the demonstrated range of variation. Remember to pay attention to the dates of your examples. If Borcc is found in the 9th century, Borkk in the 12th century and Bork in the 16th, then it is entirely possible that there is a rule operating that says "c" changes to "k" sometime in the 10th century but double letters don't change to single ones until the Renaissance. In this case, Borc would not be particularly likely. My personal rule of thumb is to aim for a one-century span, both in this sort of analysis and in demonstrating compatibility of elements.

Extrapolation is most useful in doing pattern-matching exercises. Suppose you want to use Stevenston in a surname but can't find it as an actual place? If you can find town names such as Johnston and Walterston in period, then we can extrapolate to a general pattern of <post-Norman English given name>+s+ton. Beware of false etymologies when engaged in this exercise. What is important here is not what a name looks like it means but what it was originally derived from. Coneythorpe and Congerston might appear to support the use of animal names at the first element in place names but the first element in both cases was originally a word meaning "king". Extrapolation is a vitally important technique when documenting the pattern of a whole name. It would be silly to think that the only way to justify the pattern of John Weaver of London would be to find an example of the combination John Weaver of London! Instead we can substitute the name types from our original analysis and look for any name that fits the pattern <given name> <occupational byname> of <place name>, or even more specifically, <masculine English given name> <English occupation> of <English city name>.

The Practice

Sources and References

There is a large range of possible references for names, both the individual elements and the overall patterns. Different types have advantages and disadvantages. Often you find that the purpose of an author runs contrary to what you need from the book, as in history books where names have been carefully modernized and standardized. Transcripts of medieval documents can be the most reliable sources for specific spellings and name patterns ... and next to impossible to use due to problems of organization, indexing, and ignorance of the language.

Name books are the best organized for our purposes, needless to say. Not all name books are created equal, as we all know well. Very few books are of no use whatsoever. The only unredeemable books are those that give misinformation. But it is vitally important to keep in mind a hierarchy of source usefulness. I have developed a classification system that has vague similarities to the nomenclature of "primary", "secondary", and "tertiary" sources. Because it doesn't correspond exactly to these notions, I have instead called them "Types I, II, and III".

Type I sources are those in which dated examples are presented as an exact transcription of the period source. The dated citations in Withycombe fall in this category as to those in Reaney's Dictionary of British Surnames. Ideally, this type of source gives you the whole name in which the element under consideration appears. Slightly less useful are those which list a source document rather than a date, forcing you to look up the era of the source. A number of the citations in Morgan & Morgan's Welsh Surnames are of this type.

Beware of documents that give a precise date but attach it to a standard modern form of the name. Corrain & Maguire's Irish Names has a lot of this type of citation. History books are rife with it. These sources I call Type II. They can give you documentation for the historicity of the name-as-a-concept, but are useless for documenting a specific spelling. Into this category also fall discussions of culture-specific or other variants of names that do not have actual verbatim examples attached. The text discussions in Withycombe fall into this category. (There is no rule that says a book will have only one type of information in it.)

Type III books are those that do not discuss the historical usage of the name at all (or perhaps only by noting a language or culture).  Most "baby-name" books are of this type. These books can sometimes give you useful information, such as pointing toward a language to search, but should only be used as "documentation" if absolutely nothing else is available. The nature of the book should be clearly noted when citing it. For some obscure languages this may be the only type of book available, but there is rarely any excuse for using them for English names.

If your name has non-name words or phrases in it, then you will most likely need the assistance of a dictionary. The ideal dictionary is one that, like the Oxford English Dictionaryhas dated examples of usage and spelling. For languages other than English, however, references of this sort may be impossible to find. If you are using a modern dictionary, note that fact. Remember that a dictionary in the hands of an amateur can be a disaster. At the very least, have one that goes both ways. When you look up the English word X and find A, B, and C as possible translations, go look up A, B, and C and see what they translate back as. See how related words are translated. No matter what you come up with, include a description of what the submitter wants it to say or thinks it says. For most languages, you'll need a grammar as well as a dictionary. The best kind is what is called a descriptive grammar; it arranges information in a systematic format and is intended as a reference. Slightly less useful are instruction books that are intended to teach the language to beginners. Often it is hard to track down specific information in these. The aspects of grammar that most often need adjustment have to do with the gender and number of nouns and their associated adjectives and articles, the case required by prepositions or by the function of a word (such as a possessive), and the order in which various elements normally occur. As with dictionaries, a historical grammar is better than a modern one, but as with dictionaries it is often impossible to find. Don't forget extrapolation as a tool: if you can find a parallel example already as part of a name, half your work is done. If you aren't up to dealing with foreign languages yourself, it is imperative that you include the intended meaning, the intended language (be specific - "Gaelic" could be any one of three languages), and all the information you have been given on the parts that you have. Then cross your fingers and hope that someone further up the line can deal with it. Remember: say what you don't know!

History books are the classic Type II source. Names have almost always been modernized and nicknames are usually translated into the language of the book. They are useful for placing a name in a general era but very unreliable for dating specific spellings of elements. Beware also of nicknames that may be of later invention.

Period literature and documents cover a whole range of types. They may be fictional tales written in period or legal documents. They may be scholarly, precise transcripts of the original document complete with abbreviations and original corrections or modern translations complete with modernized names. A scholarly treatment will generally tell you in the introduction what sort of editing has been done. A version that has no explanatory introduction - especially if it isn't in the original language - should be treated as a Type II source. Unless documents of this sort are very well indexed, they are generally not helpful when documenting a submitted name. They are, however, a treasure trove of material for pure research.

Types of Name Elements and How to Document Them

Different types of name elements have different documentation needs and the same books will not serve for all of them. As with the hierarchy of source types, I have developed a hierarchy of likely sources for particular types of elements.

Given Names - The obvious place to start looking for a given name is in a book specializing in given names. For early examples of given names, general surname books can also be useful. Entries for a patronymic surname often show examples of the root as a given name. Type I surname books also often have citations of whole names, although this is not particularly useful unless someone has indexed the given names that appear. History and literature are generally most useful if you recognize the name or have been given a clue where it appears. While given names often appear as part of place names, this is a rather bad place to try to document given names. The names have generally been altered seriously in the process of compounding and the best you are likely to find is the author's stab at what the standard form of the original would be.

Descriptive bynames - For descriptive bynames, the first place to look is a book generally specializing in surnames. This will be most useful for epithets that were popular enough to survive as hereditary surnames. These tended to be short and fairly simple. But many types of epithets never settled into permanent respectability and will not appear in a book that is working backward from modern surnames. You won't find Outwitheswerd in your average surname book and will need to look in one of the more specialized books that trace the development of particular types of surnames. Medieval literature often has examples of "non-typical" descriptive bynames, although these do not always show everyday practice. When all else fails, pull out your dictionary and try to demonstrate that the word or words you are using are period in the sense you mean.

Occupational bynames - Many occupational bynames will be found in the general surname books. The technique of extrapolation works well on these too, for the existence of so many surnames derived from occupations suggests that almost any occupation could produce a surname. The trick is to find what that occupation would have been called in period and not be tripped up by modern constructions and idioms.

Locative bynames - The documentation of locative bynames is usually a two-step process. First, find a pattern for the structure of the locative phrase in your target language: does it use a preposition? a definite article? does the place have a proper name or is it a generic description? Second, document the place name itself or the words used to describe it. Surname books that show historical development will often show early forms before the prepositions were dropped. Be very wary of selecting your prepositions from a dictionary! The structure of locative bynames is often idiomatic and by far the best method is to find an existing byname to use as a pattern. A language might well never use a byname of the form from X and instead use something like X-er. When documenting the name of the place itself you are, as usual, concerned with placing both the name and the spelling in a particular period. Atlases and history books are useful, but they don't always remark on the changes that a name has undergone. You might find a book that says "the city of Chester dates to the time of the Roman occupation" and never mentions that it was called Deva at that time, Legaceaster for several more centuries, and didn't become anything resembling Chester until at least the 11th century. Stick to type I sources if you want to discuss spelling. Books studying the placenames of a particular region are perhaps the most common of the specialized name books.

Patronymic (or "relational") bynames - As with locative bynames, the documentation of patronymics is often a two-step process, first demonstrating the structure and then documenting the elements. Surname books are a good place to find structures. After that use the same sources mentioned above for given names.

Name "patterns" or The Whole Shebang

About the only kind of book that is useful for documenting whole-name patterns is a type I source with whole-name examples. Type I surname books are very useful, but mostly for names with only one byname. The author usually has a great many examples of a particular name from which to select, and picks those with the least extraneous "noise". Transcripts of period documents are often a better source, when available. The information you want is equally hard to find in all sources, and the period documents tend to have a greater range of name patterns demonstrated. (Tax and court rolls are especially useful.) It would be nice if any of the easily available name books actually considered the question of name patterns, but it seems to be a relatively unexplored field. Not every language or culture has whole-name examples easily available.

Here's a checklist for looking at the name pattern:

"Temporal Consistency"

The question of temporal consistency - locating the elements of a name within a particular time span as well as within a particular culture - is one that many people find daunting. I maintain that people find it daunting only because the question is given so little consideration by submitters when they compose their names. It is very hard to fault them when most available books consider the subject of little importance. A submitter will read that Alfred was a 9th century Anglo-Saxon king and that Shrewsbury was an important Anglo-Saxon town in the 9th century and he will be justified in concluding that Alfred of Shrewsbury is a reasonable 9th century Anglo-Saxon name. And it's a name he and his friends can get their mouths around fairly easily. Then some herald comes along and says that it wasn't spelled Shrewsbury until the 15th century by which time Alfred had passed entirely out of favor not to return until the 18th century, and by the way, what does he think of Ælfræd æt Scropesbyri?

But as with any other aspect of this system of name documentation, the more "real" a name is, the easier it is to document or justify temporal consistency. The bane of consistency is submitters who pull elements from wildly varying cultures - thereby forcing you to postulate a fairly late date when cultural mixing was greatest - and yet want fairly freeform descriptive bynames, ones incompatible with an era when fixed surnames were the rule. Submitters who are stuck on a particular "exotic" spelling of a name also make the job harder, for often a minor adjustment to spelling can pull the elements of a name into the same decade, to say nothing of our rule-of-thumb century. Often the best you can do is to date the different elements as close to each other as possible, and if the gap is still fairly large, acknowledge that you are aware of the fact.

Our ability to demonstrate temporal consistency either of the elements in a name or of their spellings is entirely dependent upon the books available. For English names we have good enough resources available that we could probably get away with requiring complete temporal consistency. For, let's say, Turkish names we'd be lucky to be able to prove that they are correct modern Turkish.

Bibliographies and Photocopied Documentation

Once you have assessed your references and found your citations, you need to convey that information to whoever reads your documentation. The absolutely basic-basic level of citation is a page number and a bibliographic reference. There are a number of "correct" formats for bibliographies, but it needs to include at a minimum the title, author, publisher, place of publication, and date of publication (not date of copyright, if they are different). Sometimes an edition number is also helpful. I've started including ISBN numbers in some of my bibliographies in case my readers want to try to track down and buy a copy of the book.

If the book is one of the references commonly used in the College, the previous information is all you should need to give. If you think that others may not be familiar with the book - and especially if the title doesn't give a clear indication of its contents - that some sort of brief description can help your readers assess its reliability. A statement such as "Although no dates are specifically mentioned, Gnrrz is a study of the nicknames borne by red-heads in 13th and 14th century Moscow and environs" is a lot more helpful than "p.26 Gnrrz, Reds in Russia".

If your bibliographical information is complete, you should not need to include a photocopy of the title page of the book in your documentation (in fact, the title page is usually missing vital information), but if you are uncertain how to interpret the information (Which one of these things in Finnish is the publisher?) then include both the title page and the following page - where the printing information is usually found. When you photocopy a page for documentation, write the author and/or title on the photocopy. Not all books have this information on headers or footers and the interpretation of documentation should not be a guessing game.

Ideally, any page of any book that is mentioned in your documentation should be photocopied. I will freely admit that I don't go to this length. Conversely, some will argue that it is unnecessary photocopy anything as long as it has been cited properly. And if people were careful and rigorous in their citations this would be true, but I can give you hundreds of examples of citations of documentation where the original didn't really say what the citation implied. A middle ground is to say that it's unnecessary to copy from books that the Laurel office owns, on the assumption that Laurel can look it up if so inclined. I look from a different angle, considering that if I were Laurel I couldn't afford to run off to the bookshelf every time I wanted to double-check documentation from Withycombe.

I try to include the following three types of information. 1) Copies of the citations for all elements that are directly documented, i.e, where I found exactly what I was looking for. 2) Copies of the citation for the closest form when I have had to interpolate or extrapolate the submitted form. 3) Copies of everything that is even remotely relevant when I believe that I am out of my depth on an interpretation, or when I am dealing with an unfamiliar language.

At this time, I photocopy documentation for the name elements, but do not do so for whole-name patterns. If at some time in the future the documentation of name patterns becomes a required element, then I would include photocopies of this also. The one book that I never photocopy documentation from is the OED. I use the compact edition and have not found a photocopier with the resolution to make it worth while.

Following are some examples of actual name documentation that I have prepared (with the help of other researchers) for West Kingdom letters of intent. They show how I have handled names of varying levels of documentability and authenticity.

Examples

An Almost Perfect Example

Theophania Hathaway of Sutton in the Elms

New name.

Theophania is a feminine English given name. The submitted spelling is dated in Withycombe (p.278 under Theophania) to 1205.

Hathaway is an English patronymic surname (deriving originally from an Anglo-Saxon given name). Reaney (DES) (p.220) lists the submitted spelling as the main heading although the closest dated form is Hathewy (1294).

Sutton in the Elms is a town in Leicestershire (Ekwall p.454). Although the dated examples there have it only as Sutton (1220), another similarly modified town, Sutton in le Colfeld is dated to 1289 showing the pattern to be period.

Although in the Middle English period locatives most often used French de, occasional examples with of can be found, such as John Elwrun of Antyngham (Selten v.II p.19) dated to 1302, which documents the whole pattern of the name as Elwrun is also a patronymic surname derived from a simple given name.

Analysis

What you want to say ...

What is the nature of each name element?

Are the names and spellings period?

Is the way that the parts are put together period?

Extra Credit: Can you postulate a time and a place where this name could have existed?

How you want to say it

Say what you know.

Say what you don't know.

Say what you think.

A Bit More Work

Angus Ian McDougel

Name resubmission to kingdom. The previous submission, Angus MacDougel, was returned at kingdom (5/10/92) for conflict with the registered Angus MacDougall.

Angus is an Anglicized form of a masculine Gaelic given name. Black (pp.23-4 under Angus and Angusson) dates the submitted spelling to 1204 and 1630 (which presumably makes it reasonable for the entire period between).

Ian is an Anglicized form of the masculine Gaelic given name Iain (= John). The closest dated form in Black is in the patronymic surname M'Ean (=MacIan 1538 p.510 under MacIan) however the submitted spelling is a standard modern form.

McDougel is a Scottish Gaelic patronymic surname (standard modern form MacDhughaill). The submitted form may be interpolated from the following examples in Black (pp.487-8 under MacDoual and MacDougal, variants of the same name): Mcduwell (1515), M'Douell (1547), M'Dougall (1647).

The pattern of the name is justifiable if you consider Ian to be acting as a patronymic surname. Rarely, a bare given name may be found as a surname as in Thomas Nevin (1538), Black p.630. Although the second generation of patronymics usually aspirates (to Mhic), contrary examples may be found, such as Ferquhardus McOwne McArchare (1537) on p.490 of Black.

The Analysis

What you want to say.

What is the nature of each name element?

Is the name period?

Is the spelling period?

Is the way that the parts are put together period?

Extra Credit: Can you postulate a time and a place where this name could have existed?

How you want to say it.

Say what you know.

Say what you don't know.

Say what you think.

The Interpolation

You want the various points from which you interpolate to occur in the same culture and roughly the same time period - say within the same 100-150 year span. Break your names/elements down into several variable regions.

Mc

duw

-

e

ll

1515

M'

Dou

-

e

ll

1547

M'

Dou

g

a

ll

1647

Mac

Dou

-

a

l

modern

Mac

Dou

g

a

l

modern

There are three imperfections in this interpolation:

Sometimes You Just Have to Shrug ...

Aoibheann O'Gowan

New name.

Aoibheann is the standard modern spelling of a feminine Irish given name. Woulfe (p.207) notes that it was borne by the mother of an early saint.

O'Gowan is a modern Anglicized spelling of an Irish patronymic derived from the occupation of smith. Woulfe (p.542) lists the submitted spelling and mentions a 16th century family that bore the surname.

The use of a Gaelic given name with an Anglicized Gaelic surname may be demonstrated by the late 16th century example of Grana O'Malley (Chambers p.55).

[Author's note: This last statement is false.<Grana> is an Anglicized form of the Irish name Grainne. Therefore the general conclusion I also false.]

The Analysis

What you want to say.

What is the nature of each name element?

Is the name period?

Is the spelling period?

[Note that I'm not saying that these spellings couldn't be period, only that I don't know that they are. And I do know that they are standard modern forms.]

Is the way that the parts are put together period?

Extra Credit: Can you postulate a time and a place where this name could have existed?

How you want to say it.

Say what you know.

Say what you don't know.

Say what you think.


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