Saturday, August 11, 2012

Same Name?!?--Charles/Charlotte

It's funny how feminine forms come about. Different languages of course have different masculine & feminine indicators, but quite often a masculine name gets new feminine forms in a different languages despite having an established feminine form in its language of origin. This is one reason the feminine forms of classic names can look quite dissimilar, even though the masculine forms are quite similar, or even the same (the other reason is that, historically, daughters were named after fathers fairly often, but boys almost never after their mothers).
Joseph has Josepha, Josefina, Jozika, JoséeJosephineGiuseppa; Henry has Henrietta, Heinrike, Hendrika, Henna, EnricaCharles is no exception.

In this case, however, the translation gets rather interesting. Charles is the French form of the Germanic Karl which means "free man" (that is, neither a noble or a serf), so the technical translation of Charlotte and other feminine forms is the same. The more placating baby-name books & websites often change it to "womanly", but that simply isn't accurate. There was no Germanic feminine equivalent of Karl. "Free" was a purely masculine quality at that point--women were either wives or daughters, not independent individuals.
A more faithful modern translation, therefore, isn't "womanly", it's "free person" or "citizen".

Original Germanic form: Karl (KAHRL)
Latinized form: Carolus (kah-ROH-lus)
French form: Charles (SHAHRL)

Other forms:
  • Carles (KAHR-les)--Catalan
  • Carlo (KAHR-loh)--Italian
  • Kaarlo (KAAHR-loh)--Finnish
  • Kale (KAH-leh)--Hawaiian
  • Karel (KAH-rel)--Czech, Dutch
  • Károly (KAH-roy)--Hungarian
  • Séarlas (SHAHR-las)--Irish
  • Siarl (SHAHRL)--Welsh

  • Carla (KAHR-lah)--Dutch, English, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish...
  • Carlota (kahr-LOH-tah)--Spanish, Portuguese
  • Carlotta (kahr-LOHT-tah)--Italian
  • Carol (KEHR-ol)--English [formerly masculine]
  • Carola (kah-ROH-lah)--Dutch, German, Italian
  • Carole (kahr-OHL)--French
  • Carolien (kah-roh-LEEN)--Dutch
  • Carolina (kehr-oh-LYE-nah)--English
  • Carolina (kah-roh-LEE-nah)--Italian, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Caroline (KEHR-oh-line)--English
  • Caroline (kah-loh-LEEN)--French
  • Carolyn (KEHR-oh-lin)--English
  • Charline (shahr-LEEN)--English, French
  • Charlotte (SHAHR-lot)--English
  • Charlotte (shahr-LOHT)--French
  • Charlotte (shahr-LAW-teh)--Dutch, German
  • Séarlait (SHAHR-lat)--Irish

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