Thursday, January 7, 2016

Percentages of medieval nicknames and diminutives across different geographical areas

https://dmnes.wordpress.com/2015/12/16/you-want-nicknames-we-got-nicknames/

In dictionary entries, the DMNES researchers sort our citations by modern day country borders (because trying to ascertain which country certain towns were in at which period is quite a bit of work — especially when ‘country’ isn’t a viable geographic category for much of the Middle Ages!). One particularly interesting aspect of the multi-cultural/cross-geographic data that they have is that it allows them to trace certain patterns or trends across these boundaries, and one such pattern is the prolificness (or not) of diminutives. The DMNES researchers touched on this in the previous post when they briefly commented on the percentage of names that are diminutives in any given era. In this post, they thought they’d explore this further, with some stats and some bar graphs; it’s been too long since they’ve had a nice graph!

TABLE OF DIMINUTIVE NUMBERS AND PERCENTAGES

CountryNo. of dims.No. of non-dims.Percentage
Austria0600%
Brabant181918.6%
Czech Republic24191218.5%
England554154573.4%
Estonia61290540.3%
Finland5820522%
France1181117449.1%
Germany15339733.7%
Iceland0630%
Ireland122943.9%
Italy525238718%
Latvia201107915.7%
Malta0100%
The Netherlands368624%
Norway030%
Poland2112314.5%
Portugal2384.5%
Scotland478245.3%
Spain6215563.8%
Sweden275894.3%
Switzerland10254315.8%
Ukraine6826.8%
Wales4639110.5%

In some contexts, it is clear that they don’t have enough data to draw any sort of robust conclusions — Austria, Iceland, Malta, Norway, the Ukraine. But omitting these from discussion (and also omitting England, second from the bottom, and France, no. 8, since their much larger numbers make the graph inelegant), they are left with an interesting picture of the relative percentages of nicknames and diminutives across different geographical areas:

The four outstanding areas are Estonia, the Czech Republic, Finland, and Italy. The DMNES researchers have already discussed the nicknames in Estonia and the Czech Republic when they covered German and Slavic forms; so next up, they will explore diminutive and nicknames forms in Finland and Italy.