Friday, September 12, 2014

Random Fact of the Day:

Unlike in modern times, in the medieval world, your name would change as you travelled from place to place. So, if your name was John, you would answer to (and even sign documents as) Juan in Spain, Johann in Germany, Gian in Italy, Jehan in French, etc.

A side effect of this is that when parents imported names from Latin (or used Latinized versions of names from other languages), they often "translated" it by chopping off the gendered ending, since English doesn't use those (sometimes replacing it with a Y, sometimes not).
Thus, there are names that could be feminine in Medieval English that we wouldn't expect--Christian (from Christianus/Christiana), Adrian (Adrianus/Adriana), Julian (Julianus/Juliana), Denis (Dionysius/Dionysia), Phillip (Philippus/Philippa), Johan (Johannes/Johanna), Cecil (Cecilius/Cecilia), and probably many others!