Onomastics in Interaction With Other Branches of Science. Volume 2.

Differences in the Applicability of Female and Male Names in the Historical Study of the Cults of Saints

Mariann Slíz
Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE)


The paper demonstrates the usability of historical given name corpora in the research of saints’ cults, with special emphasis on the methodological consequences of gender differences. The small number of historical female name data compared to the male ones is a well-known fact in historical anthroponomastics. Moreover, female names were significantly less likely to become surnames. However, it is less evidently acknowledged how much these differences can complicate (and, in some historical periods, eliminate the possibility of) the onomastic examination of the cults of saintly women in comparison to that of men. The differences between the applicability of the two groups of names by gender are shown by actual examples, comparing the onomastic results with information on the actual state of the cults of saintly men and women in question. The interpretation of the name data covers the aspects of historical changes, as well as social and geographical variances in the frequency of the actual given names and surnames. The analysis is based on Hungarian historical personal name corpora from the Middle Ages (the author’s corpus from the 13th–14th centuries), the Early Modern Period (the Atlas of Historical Surnames of Hungary, 1715) and the Modern Period (the database of official family name changes, 1815–1932).

Keywords methodology, historical name corpora, female and male names, given names, family name changes

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