Alicia and Alice
Some Victorian name book writer derived these
names from the Old German Adelheidis, and all the modern baby
name books repeat this. It's not impossible -- after all, Louis
began as Chlodwig -- but it becomes unlikely when one can find
Now you must remember that most Victorian
name book writers attempted to derive absolutely all European
names from Hebrew, Greek, Latin, or Old German. If they could
have stuck to just the three "holy languages" they
would have been happier, but there were just too many Germanic
names in use to ignore. One never, ever sees a name tracked back
to equally ancient but non-scholarly languages like Etruscan,
Gaulish, Phoenician/Punic, or Ancient Egyptian. The modern writers
of baby name books normally know even less of languages, and
merely compile old information. They certainly aren't going to
rock the boat. Even so, there is plenty of good evidence that
names survived from the scholastically- ignored people. The first
to strike me during my researches for People's Names was
Alicia is often listed as a romanticised version
of good old dependable English Alice. I believe this is putting
the cart before the horse, as was often the case with Victorian
namsers. Alice has suffered, like many Continental names, being
chopped down to suit the abrupt Anglo-Saxon ear. Alicia or Allicia
is the older form as I found it in medieval references.
An onomasticon is the set of words or sounds
which are acceptable as names in any culture. Some onomasticons
share a lot of names; some names have to be changed in pronunciation
to be acceptable to certain onomasticons. In the ancient Gaulish
onomasticon, there is attested by inscription the male name,
Allicio, whose feminine form would be Allicia. This puts Allicia
in France before the Germanic invasions.
Now, the Germanic invasions did not annihilate
or replace the bulk of the Latin-Gaulish population of France.
Their numbers were nowhere near large enough for the job. Instead,
they became the military overlords of the Gaulish population.
As belonging to a ruling class, the Germanic
onomasticon was higher in status than that of the Romanised Gauls.
So Allicio and Allicia were used by commoners thereafter, and
disappear from the history books as all the rulers, generals,
and other worthies have Germanic names or Latinised Germanic
Allicia reappears as a name, not in England
or Germany, but in France, where one would expect a Gaulish name
to survive. In the Middle Ages, they often used the diminutive
form Allisoun or Allison.
It is not the only Gaulish survivor. Many
of the others, peculiarly French names, like Etienne, have been
forcibly attached to utterly unrelated Greek or Latin saints.
In this case, Stephanos has only a T near the front and an N
near the end in common with Etienne, yet the -ienn- structure
is common in the Gaulish onomasticon, if you will look at that
chapter. In the same way, Andres, though close, need not derive
from Andros when there is an attested Gaulish "Anderes"
from BCE. However, all these Gaulish names would have a pagan
odour, and were probably attached artificially to sacred sources
so that they would be acceptable in the sacristy.
Note that as I live in the middle of the Pacific,
I do not have access to the early (300-1300) French church registers
where the evidence for or against this theory lie. I can only
hope that one of you stopping by here may take up the work. Looking
outside the few languages considered by Victorian scholars for
the actual roots of names, and tracing their history of modification
in use, is a job for many hundreds of researchers, which needs
to be done. The onomasticon of a people can tell historians a
great deal about them. At present, there is still too much complacent
acceptance of the dominance of few languages and their cultures,
burying the actual contributions of others to what we are today.
copyright by Holly Ingraham