Printer Friendly

A Dictionary of English Surnames, 3d ed.

P. H. Reaney, third edition with corrections and additions by R. M. Wilson. (London; New York: Routledge, 1991). lxx + 509 pp. ISBN 0-425-05737-x. 50.00[pounds].

The third edition of Reaney's dictionary, now with |English' in the tide instead of the |British' of earlier editions, is welcome. R. M. Wilson has added another 4,000 surnames from his own and Reaney's collections, thus improving what was already the most comprehensive compendium of Middle English personal names and bynames. Here we find typical Middle English hypocoristic forms, such as Dobbe, Hudde and Tebbe, as well as Old English survivals, such as Diering(us) (c. 1185) from OE Drying, and Wlston (c. 118), from OE Wulfstan. The new material includes examples of ON Inga (fem.) and ON Sand-, Sandulfr, grouped under Ing and Sandall, respectively.

In terms of material, this edition marks a substantial advance on its two predecessors, but unfortunately it has retained their methodological shortcomings. The introduction is still Reaney's text of 1958, which should at least have been revised to take account of more recent work, if not entirely rewritten. The bibliography has been augmented, but still has gaps. As Olof von Feilitzen pointed out, a fundamental weakness of Reaney's dictionary is that there is often a gap of several centuries between his mediaeval forms and the modern surnames to which they are supposed to belong (The Study of the Personal Names of the British Isles, ed. by H. Voitl (Erlangen, 1976), p. 84). This method may be acceptable for surnames like Dobson, where derivation from the Middle English patronymic Dobbes(s)one is clear enough, but in other cases its applicability is questionable. Thus, under Giller, Guiler, we find three examples of (le) Gilur, le Gilor dating from 1242-1302, and are informed that the base is OF guileor |deceiver, traitor'. Giller would fit ME giller |one who guts fish of animals' better, but without a continuous run of forms it is impossible to establish its linguistic history and etymology.

The antiquated practice of referring to Continental Germanic personal names as |Old German' (|OG') is also retained. Nowadays, many such names can be more precisely localized. For example, Hildebrand, a name recorded in Norfolk from 1086 onwards, is clearly a loan from Middle Low German, examples occurring in Flanders and in such Hanseatic towns as Hamburg and Stralsund. Again, Ingeram is characteristically West Frankish, being attested in northern Gaul in Merovingian and Carolingian records. Its base is Frankish Ingoramn (< WGerm *Inzwia-brathna-), not Engel-, Ingelramn, as asserted by Reaney, though a certain amount of convergence between In era and Engel-, Ingelram in Middle English must be reckoned with.

False etymologies also occur. Thus, Trikke [del Northgate], noted in a Wakefield court roll of 1277, is wrongly assigned (s.v. TRICK) to OF trique |trick, deception'. It belongs to ON * prykki, which also forms the first element of Thrigby (Norfolk). Similarly, Derechin, Derkin, -kyn is interpreted (s.v. Darkin) as a diminutive of OE Deor, It is rather a Flemish loan, Derekin, a hypocoristic form of MDu, MLG Diederic, Diderik.

Reaney's dictionary remains an invaluable tool for philologists and historians, and the present volume is much better than previous editions. It is unfortunate, however, that their methodological weaknesses remain largely unrectified.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Society for the Study of Mediaeval Languages and Literature
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Insley, John
Publication:Medium Aevum
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 1993
Previous Article:Regionalism in Late Medieval Manuscripts and Texts: Essays Celebrating the Publication of 'A Linguistic Atlas of Late Medieval English.'
Next Article:Thomas: Le Roman de Tristan.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters