Category talk:Greco-Roman names

From Tolkien Gateway

In the last meeting it was decided that it would be best to diffuse the category into "Romanic names" and "Ancient Greek names".

There are several problems which all options I have come about.

The first problem is that we don't know if Tolkien had the etymology in his mind while picking those names. For example Gerontius and Lalia are clearly exotic, archaic Greco-Latin names that are not naturalized in English and we can guess he was very aware of that.

However Ruby, Lily and Myrtle, albeit their Latin or French etymology, are perfect English words, and I dont know if there were any pure Germanic alternatives for them. We can guess that he put them not to imply some "exotic" origin, but simply because they were naturalized in English.

To extend the problem, another question is that we can't say how he envisioned those names. For example Amethyst Hornblower, is the name supposed to represent pure English (amethyst), anglicized Latin (amethystus) or anglicized Greek (αμέθυστος)? And if we suppose that it represents English, then why do we have Adamanta Took and Mentha Brandybuck instead of the purer English "Diamond Took" and "Mint Brandybuck"?

Such latinized names seem to imply that they were intentionally so, perhaps a peculiarity of Hobbitish against Germanic-Westron. But can we extend the case of Adamanta and Mentha to Ruby, Lily, Myrtle etc? We can't know, but for sake of completeness and uniformity, I vote yes.

Now this touches the problem of why we can't really separate the Greco- from Latin. Many of these names come from French, in turn from Latin and sometimes in turn from Greek; or directly from Latin, in turn from Greek. But then, Gerontius is a naturalized Latin name; should it be categorized Greek because it derives from Greek? or Latin because it was naturalized in Latin? In its present form, I insist that it can be classed only as Greco-Latin.

I know that the Greco- part is totally unrelated to names such as Isunbras, Ferumbras, Peregrin etc, or names of Latin etymology such as Ruby; and intuition says that names that have no Greek origin should belong a different category from Gerontius. But that would complicate things more, as there were Latin names that were reborrowed to Greek, making them Greek again; this also would require perhaps to separate French from Italian names, or separate the very few names of ultimate Asian origin (such as Esmeralda, Jessamine and Sapphira) from the rest.

Edit: Just to make things more complicated, I just found out that the french element -bras in the above names comes from Latin bracchium which in turn comes from Greek βραχίων. This is yet another example of why it's not simple to separate Greco- from Roman. Sage 07:12, 6 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't know if you can follow me. The more I think of it, it's best that we accept a loose "Greco-Latin" entity to which belong the later Romance names, even those unrelated to Greek; that means leave them as they are for now.

If any of the above thoughts sounds good to you, let's discuss it. Sage 23:49, 5 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]