Contrastive grammar of family names

Starting date
November 1, 2015
Duration (months)
36
Departments
Foreign Languages and Literatures
Managers or local contacts
Rabanus Stefan
Keyword
Contrastive grammar, family names, German, Italian, Armenian

The project aims at comparing the well-studied German family-name system with the less-studied systems of other Indo-European languages, especially Italian and Armenian. The basic hypothesis is that there are shared principles of family-name formation and inflection which are interpreted differently by the different languages. For example: all languages have family-membership affixes but it seems that in German and Armenian these affixes are always suffixes - e.g., German Petersen 'son of Peter' (-sen, cf. Rabanus 2014: 489), Armenian Տիգրանյան/Tigranyan 'belonging to Tigran's people' (-յան/-yan, cf. Avetisyan 1978: 223) - while in Italian prefixes are not rare, e.g., Ingarao 'belonging to the family of Garao' (in-, cf. Marcato 2009: 75), Firoberto 'son of Roberto' (fi-, cf. Kremer 1996: 1272). Often prepositional phrases like Di Filippo are used. A source of family names in all languages are personal attributes, e.g., hair or skin color, hence, the family names are derived from color adjectives. In German the family names may be color adjectives in their uninflected citation form (Schwarz 'black') or adjectives with nominative-case suffixes, e.g. Schwarzer e Schwarze (-er, "strong nominative", -e "weak nominative", DFA, Vol. III: 2–13). Modern Armenian does not have adjective inflection, in Շեկիկյան/Šekikyan the adjective շեկ/šek 'blond' is combined with the diminutive suffix -իկ/-ik and the above cited family-membership suffix -յան/-yan. The person's individualization with the father's name in the genitive case is the oldest strategy in the Indo-European languages (cf. Schmitt 1995: 628), historically attested in German family names like Beckers 'baker's' (-s "strong genitive", DFA, Vol. III: 14 ff.) and still productive in the Armenian middle name which is the father's given name in the genitive case, e.g.: Արմեն Արթուրի Արարատյան/Armen Art‛uri Araratyan 'Armen Araratyan, son of Artur' (-ի/-i genitive suffix of nouns). The Italian family name Delledonne "of the women" is located in between case expression and univerbation, examples of real univerbation are Italian Mangiafico 'eat fig' and German Lachnit 'don't laugh' (DFA, Vol. III: 678 ff.). For an overview of the typology of German family-name formation cf. Rabanus (2014).

Quoted literature
- Avetisyan 1987 = Ավետիսյան, Տ. 1987. Հայկական ազգանուն. Երևան: Հայկական ՍՍՀԳԱ հրատարակչություն. Avetisyan, T. 1987. Haykakan azganun. Erewan: Haykakan SSHGA hratarakč‛ut‛yun. (Armenian family names.)
- DFA = Kunze, Konrad & Damaris Nübling (Hrsg.) (2009 ss.): Deutscher Familiennamenatlas. 6 Vols. Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter.
- Eichler, Ernst et al. (eds.) (1995–1996): Namenforschung/Name Studies/Les noms propres. Manuel international d’onomastique . 3 Vols. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter.
- Kremer, Dieter (1996): Morphologie und Wortbildung der Familiennamen: Romanisch. In: Eichler et al. (eds.), Vol. II, 1263–1275.
- Marcato, Carla (2009): Nomi di persona, nomi di luogo. Introduzione all'onomastica italiana. Bologna: Il Mulino.
- Rabanus, Stefan (2014): Rezension von Konrad Kunze & Damaris Nübling (Hrsg.): Deutscher Familiennamenatlas, Bd. 3: Morphologie der Familiennamen. Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter 2012. In: Beiträge zur Namenforschung 49/4, 485–496.
- Schmitt, Rüdiger (1995): Entwicklung der Namen in älteren indogermanischen Sprachen. In: Eichler et al. (eds.), Vol. I, 616–636.

Sponsors:

Funds: assigned and managed by the department

Project participants

Stefan Rabanus
Full Professor

Collaboratori esterni

Haykanush Barseghyan
Yerevan Brusov State University
Research areas involved in the project
Lingua e linguistica tedesca
Dialectology - Dialektologie
Publications
Title Authors Year
Wortbildung der Familiennamen Armeniens Rabanus, Stefan; Barseghyan, Haykanush 2018
Konrad Kunze, Damaris Nübling (Hrsg.): Deutscher Familiennamenatlas, Bd. 3: Morphologie der Familiennamen. Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter 2012 Stefan Rabanus 2014

Activities

Research facilities