Thursday, 30 April 2009
Wednesday, 29 April 2009
I wonder what could have been the inspiration for Turner Prize shortlisted artist Enrico David? A one-eyed joker sporting an uneasy smile. And seemingly keen to give us all a savage beating with a large baseball bat...
Tuesday, 28 April 2009
'In the middle ages there were very few male first names and people very rarely possessed surnames. This was fine as individuals were told apart by being named ’son of’ (in Welsh ‘ap’ or ‘ab’), working back through the generations to distinguish individuals as required.
However, when the English state started writing down the names of its Welsh subjects in the early modern period only the father’s name appeared as a surname, it being too long-winded to differentiate individuals by citing more than the immediately preceding generation (Price being derived from ‘ap rhys’ for example).
Of course, this new reliance on surnames derived from the patronym led to an immediate problem of differentiation. The lack of first names necessarily meant there was a lack of surnames.
This problem was addressed through the subsequent proliferation in Welsh of first names: I read somewhere that there were more in Welsh than in most other languages. But this hasn’t been sufficient. Occupations are brought into play: Jones the Steam, Evans the Garage.
Nevertheless, the problem to a degree remains: try Googling your typical Welshman and you’ll come up with a horde of others with the same name. As for the women, I’m not sure how they fit into this history.'