Monday, December 17, 2012

Luxemburgischer Familiennamenatlas

Luxembourg Surnames Atlas 

(Luxemburgischer Familiennamenatlas)

Institution: Université du Luxembourg

Partenaire(s) : University of Trier (Dept. of Philology) , University of Freiburg (D) , University of Mainz (Germany) - Deutsches Institut , University of Cologne
Autres partenaire(s) University of Bonn
Du : 01/05/2009
Au : 30/04/2012
Budget : 525 000,00€
Contact(s) : Gilles Peter (principal investigator):

Kollmann Cristian , Muller Claire


(from here:

The project „Luxemburgischer Familiennamenatlas (LFA)“ aims at documenting the distribution of family names in Luxembourg and beyond and seeks to ascertain which family names are typical of the Luxembourgish area and what are their specific linguistic features. Although they became a liability by Napoleonian law only in 1794, family names have been given since the late Middle Ages. The oldest sources (from the 14th century) for the Luxembourgish area are interesting but not exhaustive; furthermore it is sometimes uncertain if a name like ‘Schoumacher’ is already to be considered patronymic or if it still denominates the profession of shoemaker. More exhaustive sources are to be found from the nineteenth century on, especially the census of 1843.

Unfortunately, transcribing and digitizing the microfilms would be too costly and laborious. Other data though, has been transformed into a usable digital form: the address book from 1905/1906 and the census of 1930. The use of contemporary data from the “Répertoire national des personnes physiques” has been filed for. Whilst waiting for the new privacy laws coming into effect, the project relies on the phone book data bought from Editus. We have also obtained diachronic and synchronic data concerning the Greater Region of Luxembourg: the phone book data of Germany (2009), birth lists of France (1890-1990) and citizens lists of Belgium (1998; 2009).

All data are processed in a SQL data bank combining the possibilities offered by SQL scripts and features e.g. from, allowing to locate and represent the names on a map.

Regarding the theoretical embedding of the project, the semantic categories of name types have been reorganized and refined. These new cognitive structure permits to track more accurately the consolidation of family names and to describe more precisely the morphological differences (e.g. Thilgen vs. Thilges). With this new approach more than 200 names in the data bank have already been commented on their distribution, etymology, characteristics in morphology and phonetics. The future efforts will concentrate on continuing to organize the data for the best and fastest treatment (the data bank will contain presumably over 35 million entries). The historical data is to be integrated into the data bank as well and their cartographic representation along with the modern layers of information must be elaborated. The linguistic goals of the next project year consist in refining the theoretical model, consolidating the particular interpretations and identifying more clearly typically regional features.

This is the distribution of surname BERTEMES ( The latter derives from Bartholomäus (from aram. Bar Tolmai ‘son of Tolmai’). In Luxembur the following patronymics are to be found: Baartel, Baart(e)l(e)méis, -mës, Berthemes.

Here is the synthetic dispersion of BERTEMES (blue) and SCHANEN (red), which stems from †Schan, a Germanized form of the French ↑Jean. The latter is of Hebrew origin from yōḥānān ‘Jahwe manifested His mercy’. The surname SCHANEN is situated close to the Mosel region.

Here above is the synthetic map of French Guillaume and German Wilhelm surnames.

This map demonstrates the distribution of German Müller, Luxemburgish Muller, Latin Molitor and French Moulin.

This one is a map which presents the proofs of clear demarcation between Luxembourg and Germany by the example of surnames DENTZER, DENZER, TÄNZER and TENZER.
And here below you can see the dispersion of the same names on a map charting the dialects: