So, November is over. Advent is here and the nights have been drawing ever more in. But, luckily, I've had a few new name discoveries and rediscoveries to keep me going this month.
Looking though the 1381 Poll Tax for Cirencester, I came across John Porcas, Brewer, and Loria his wife. Most likely Loria is a form of Laura -- the form Lora and Lorra can be found during this period -- but it is pretty unusual, and not many citations for it exist. Given how fashionable Olivia, Amelia et al are currently, Loria fits in beautifully.
Selah is a pretty name that comes from the Bible. It is actually a musical term in the Old Testament, referring to a pause for reflection. I have seen it pronounced SEE-la before but the Hebrew is SEH-la. I tend to pronounce it the latter way, but it often comes out so quickly that it sounds like I'm saying "seller." Then, a few weeks ago I listened to Emeli Sande's new album for the first time. The first track is Selah. It is used almost as an invokation in the song and is sung euphorically as "SAY-LAAH". I think I like it even more now,
The name is rare in Britain, but has ranked twice since 1996: 3 births in 2009 and 4 births in 2014.
Speaking of pronunciation, I've been thinking recently of names which I like equally pronounced in multiple languages. So, Beatrice and Alice are equally pleasant to my ears in either English, French or Italian. I settled on Iphigenia -- the mythical daughter of Agamemnon whose name meant "strong born" -- as the winner for the most languages I like it equally in. There is, of course, the English if-ee-JEE-nee-a, but equally pleasing is the Italian if-ee-JEN-ya or Portuguese (if-ee-ZHYEN-ya). I once heard a Russian archaeologist (talking about the mythical character) say "if-ee-GEN-ya" with a hard g sound which I like as well.
I love a new name find, and The Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources (DMNES) is an ever abundant source. Recently, I've discovered Rustic -- yes, it means exactly what we think it means -- in medieval Italy. It's certainly avante garde, but with it's sound between Russell and Patrick, it's not completely crazy.
Another recent find is the surname Goldcorn. You might be forgiven for thinking this was once given to a miller, or someone who dwelt by a corn field, but it actually is a surname that comes from a feminine given name. Turns out, Goldcorn -- sometimes Goldcorna -- was a Middle English feminine name, used from the 13th century.
I know I've seen this before, but another look at the top names in the Netherlands has had me once again marvelling at the use of Puck for girls in Holland. In 2015, Puck ranked #107 for girls in the Netherlands. The reason why remains a mystery to me, though my instincts say it is probably a short form for something as it ranks alongside the likes of Gussje (Augusta), Cato (Catharina) and Yfke (Yvonne). In Britain, Puck is a surname (also Pook, Pucke and Pucker) as well as a name used by Shakespeare for his character in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1600) which was based on a familiar figure in English folklore, also called Robin Goodfellow. Both the surname and the character derive from the Old English puca "sprite, goblin, imp," and was probably used as a descriptive surname for someone who acted impish or whimsically.
The Bible is an eternal source of new or rediscovered names for me, and one that has caught my eye recently thanks to some 18th century baptisms is the Hebrew Kemuel, borne by three minor figures in the Bible. Most likely, it derives from the Hebrew qum "to rise, be uphold," and 'el "of God." With it's sound so close to Samuel and Daniel, there is no reason that Kemuel wouldn't make for a usable choice in 2016.
Audren is the later/modern form of the Old Breton name Altroen, borne by an early medieval Breton saint, and composed of the elements alt "high" and roen "king's lineage, nobility." With it's A beginning and -n ending, it has all the ingredients for a stylishly modern name.