Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Color names by DMNES: Gold

https://dmnes.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/color-names-gold/

Words meaning ‘yellow’ do not appear to be especially productive in terms of contributing to the development of names. And if you think about it, why should it be — when there are words meaning ‘gold’ instead!
(Well, onomastically and linguistically, that’s a very bad argument: We do not know the thought process driving the use of color terms in names, whether in dithematic Germanic constructions or derivatives of Latin and Greek color terms, and so drawing conclusions of this sort is not well-grounded. But it makes for a nice story about why we’re looking at words relating to ‘gold’ instead of words relating to ‘yellow’.)
Proto-Germanic *gulþą ‘gold’ turned into gold in both Old English and Old High German, and the element was used as both a prototheme and a deuterotheme (though it was more common as a prototheme in names of insular origin and more common as a deuterotheme in names of continental origin), and it was used by both men (cf. GoldwineMangold, and Meingold) and women (cf. Goldiva).
“What about Latin aureus or aurum?” we hear you ask. This word was used, rarely, as a personal name in early France, both as a masculine name (Aureas) and a feminine name (Aurea), and it may be the root of the Roman gens Auria, to which derivative forms such as Auriana can be traced. Another name often associated with the Latin word(s) is Aurelius, which was also originally the name of a Roman gens. An earlier form of this name was Auselius, which may call into question the relationship with aureus — except that the earlier form of aurum was ausum, from Proto-Italic *auzom (and in fact, in writing this post we have revisited the etymology for the name; the next edition will have that entry updated!). This may be a name where we can never be entirely sure if the connection is true or if it was made post hoc.
Looking beyond Latin and Germanic roots, Proto-Slavic *zoltъ ‘gold’ was also used in both masculine and feminine names, though we don’t — yet! — have any examples of any of them.