gwynhefar: (Gwyn raven)
Most people here know that I go by Gwyn, which is, in fact short for Gwynhefar. I've had several people lately ask where I came up with that name, and it's been awhile since I talked about it, so I figured it's a good time to explain.

My legal name is Jennifer. I was born in 1979. I *hate* the name Jennifer. Not because there is anything inherently wrong with it, but because there were so damn many of us when I was growing up. So, I was always on the lookout for a new name. Something related, but not as prevalent. Enter my obsession with etymology.

"Jennifer" is Cornish. It's a variant of an older Welsh name "Gwenhwyfar" which was translated as "Guinevere" in the old French Romances. Yes, I am apparently named after Arthur's wife.

Anyway, how did I get from "Gwenhwyfar" to "Gwynhefar"? Well, first of all, I don't like "Gwen". But I do like "Gwyn". In Welsh, 'gwen' is the feminine and 'gwyn' is the masculine version of the word meaning "white". This does not surprise me. I skew male in a lot of ways. So "Gwyn" it was. But "Gwynhwyfar" had too many y's in it and was too unpronounceable in English.

Then I read Marion Zimmer Bradley's Mists of Avalon. No, Bradley doesn't spell it Gwynhefar in her book. But some unknowing person who wrote the blurb on the back *did*. Dunno why - you'd think if your job was to write the blurbs on the back of books you could at least spell the names correctly. Doesn't matter - because I'd found my spelling. English language phonetic spelling of the -hwyfar part with Gwyn instead of Gwen. Perfect.

And so that is how I became Gwynhefar. In case you were wondering.
gwynhefar: (Default)
I'm trying to think of common names that are also the name of a flower. Can you add any to the list below? I'm not looking for flowers that *could* be used as a name, like Chrysanthemum (would you call her Chrys?), but actual flowers that are *commonly* used as names. So far I have:

EDIT: Updated list

Blossom (maybe)
Ivy (maybe)


Jul. 25th, 2009 05:32 pm
gwynhefar: (Default)
About 95% of the results you get when you google "Gwynhefar" are me. The rest refer primarily to a blurb about Mists of Avalon that misspelled the character's name in the book (I admit, in fact, that that misspelled blurb is where I got my particular spelling variant of the name, although the book was not the inspiration for taking the name), an apparent short story by Mercedes Lackey I've never read, and a handful of other random people who have the audacity to use what I've already claimed.

I had no idea I'd created quite that large an internet footprint. And that's only the ones where I used the full "Gwynhefar" name. The google results for "Gwyn Raven" are a bit more ambiguous, due to the aforementioned Lackey's unfortunate use of the hyphenated last name Gwyn-Raven for her psychic dynasty, something that, in fact, interfered quite a bit with my enjoyment of the series when I read them, since I had already been using the name Gwynhefar Raven for quite some time before I got around to reading Lackey's books, and to see what I already considered *my* name popping up on every other page was quite distracting.

Grr . . .

Feb. 28th, 2009 05:49 pm
gwynhefar: (as shackles)
It is rare for a book to tick me off in the very first sentence, but I've found one that manages it. If it hadn't been from an author I'd read before and enjoyed I might even have not continued.

The very first sentence begins: "Branwen ap Griffith sat on the grassy hillside with her back to an oak tree . . ."

Ok, first off, if you plan on writing historical fiction set in early Medieval Wales, for goodness sake, do your research!!

Branwen is a young woman, as such she would not use the patronymic 'ap' which means 'son of'. She would use 'ferch' or 'daughter of'. Secondly, 'Griffith' is a later Anglicization of the Welsh 'Gruffudd'.

So if she'd done her homework, the sentence should correctly read "Branwen ferch Gruffudd sat on the grassy hillside . . ."

gwynhefar: (Default)
So, after my whole post about patronymic naming conventions, I'm home watching West Wing on DVD. They're talking about the Icelandic ambassador. Pres. Bartlett asks for the name and Leo says "Vigdis Olafsdottir" and goes on to say "he is looking forward to meeting you". I immediately had to rewind to make sure I hadn't heard incorrectly. Nope, he definitely said "he is looking forward to meeting you."

As I posted merely hours ago, the -dottir suffix is a *feminine* patronymic. Even in countries that no longer use a patronymic system, but retain vestiges in their surnames, I've never heard of the feminine patronymic being carried forward. Moreover, Iceland *does* still use the patronymic convention, so "Vigdis Olafsdottir" would actually be the daughter of a man named Olaf. In some of the continental Nordic countries it would be possible for there to be a woman with the surname "Olafsson" as a patronymic remnant, but not in Iceland.

So they messed up! I'm surprised. West Wing usually has pretty good script editors and fact checkers. And having looked it up, it turns out that Vigdis is a feminine name as well, so it looks like they pulled an Icelandic name out of the Reykjavík phone book and didn't bother to check gender.
gwynhefar: (Default)
So I just read that the term "bint", derogative British slang for a woman, similar in connotation to "bitch", is actually derived from an Arabic patronymic form. Just as "ibn" means "son of", so "bint" means "daughter of".

This got me thinking about patronymics in general, something I've had to deal with as I work with my genealogy. Below are the ones I'm familiar with, please add any you know:

Irish: Irish is particularly difficult because of the various contractions of patronymic phrases. At its most simple, you have "mac" as "son of", "nic" as "daughter of, "o'" as "grandson of" and "ni" as "granddaughter of".

Welsh: "Ap" for "son of" and "verch" for "daughter of"

Nordic: the Norse put their patronymics at the end of the name. "son" or "sen" means "son of" and "dóttir", "datter", "dotter" means "daughter of". There is also usually an extra 's' to form the possessive between the name and the patronymic, i.e. Olafsson ('son of Olaf') or Gunnarsdottir ('daughter of Gunnar').

Arabic: "ibn" for "son of" and "bint" for "daughter of". The Arabs also have a reverse patronymic, "abu" meaning "father of".

Norman: the Normans used "fitz", a version of the Latin "fils" to mean "son of". The patronymic still lives on particularly in Irish names, a carryover from the time that Ireland was dominated by the Normans. Among British nobility, however, the patronymic took on different connotation, in which "fitz" was used to indicate an illegitimate son who has been acknowledged by his father. This twisting of the patronymic convention led to the creation of the name "Fitzroy" which does not indicate the son of a man named Roy, but rather an (illegitimate) son of the King (roi in French).

Russian (and related Eastern European languages): various spellings of "-evich" for "son of" and "-ovna" for "daughter of" (like the Norse, these come at the end of the name).

Hebrew: "ben" for "son of" and "bat" for "daughter of"

So those are the ones I know. Any one know any others?
gwynhefar: (Default)
Speaking of older names, I was wondering. How would y'all pronounce the name Ephraim?

I was pronouncing it with a short 'e' and a schwa in the second syllable, and my co-worker was pronouncing it with a long 'e' and a long 'a' in the second syllable. Any ideas as to the correct one?


Nov. 14th, 2008 01:35 pm
gwynhefar: (Default)
As I go through the old censuses and other records, I am struck by how, at least in the English-speaking world, there seem to be so few names that are really used prior to about 1850 or so. So I thought I'd start a list. Suggestions welcome. I'm really thinking there are perhaps only about 20 or so for each gender.


Catherine/Katherine (and variants)
Elizabeth (and variants)
Jane/Janet (and variations)
Joan (Joanne, Joanna)
Margaret/Margery (and variations)
gwynhefar: (Default)
Because I haven't done it in awhile and I'm not doing so good at being productive:

1. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother's & father's middle names)
Christine Keithley

2. NASCAR NAME: (first name of your mother's dad, father's dad)
Carlton John

3. STAR WARS NAME: (the first 2 letters of your last name, first 4 letters of your first name)
Ragwyn or Ryjenn

4.DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)
Black Raven

5. SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you live)
Michelle Baton Rouge (hey, I like that)

6. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd favorite color, favorite alcoholic drink, optionally add "THE" to the beginning)
Oh dear god. Do I really have to put this? Dammit. Ok, fine. The Purple Blowjob

7. FLY NAME: (first 2 letters of 1st name, last 2 letters of your last name)
Gwen (damn, am I ever going to get away from that mispronunciation?) or Jean (How come both of mine are actually real names?)

8. GANGSTA NAME: (favorite ice cream flavor, favorite cookie):
Mint Chocolate Chip Molasses

9. ROCK STAR NAME: (current pet's name, current street name)
Robin Sherwood (damn that's ironic)
Siobhán Sherwood
Ciara Sherwood
Fionnuala Sherwood
Fiona Sherwood
Finnegan Sherwood

10. PORN NAME: (1st pet, street you grew up on)
Brandy Kayer
gwynhefar: (Default)
So I play Pure Felinity. One of the fun things is getting to name the kittens each week. I use a random name generator to pick them. Today the generator spat out the following name (first and middle): Mordred Percival.

Whoah. Talk about your loaded name. Almost have to wonder just how 'random' the generator is that came up with that combination.

Hmmm . . . I could use that in a story.
gwynhefar: (WTF)
Ok, so I'm reading a book with a main character by the name of Anatole. How the deuce do you pronounce that? The character is Cornish, and my first instinct would be Anna-TOLE (rhyming with mole). But then I looked it up and found it was from the Greek, in which case perhaps it's uh-NA-to-lee, which sounds far too much like the feminine Natalie for my taste (which doesn't mean it's wrong). Then I do a little more digging and find that it's generally considered a French name (despite the Greek derivation) and I have no idea how that would affect the pronunciation.

So, anyone have any ideas? And yes, it drives me nuts when I can't hear a character's name in my head and be reasonably sure that I'm pronouncing it right.
gwynhefar: (Default)
I need people to help me think of traditionally male first names that end in 'a' or 'ah'. So far I have:


(edit: are there any that aren't Biblical? There have to be some that aren't Biblical)
gwynhefar: (House thinking)
You know how in Disney's "The Fox and the Hound" the fox's name was Todd? I just found out that Todd means "fox". I totally didn't know that. I thought it was just a random name they chose. Cool.
gwynhefar: (Someone is watching)
Ok, so the new ratling looks much like Gormless II, except instead of spots behind his dark grey hood he has a stripe. He's also very fond of trying to escape, but hasn't managed it yet. So I'm calling him Hapless. So we have Gormless, Hapless, Murine, and Glirine. There's at least one more ratling out there, so we'll have to think of names for that one. I'll have to see how it's patterned first. It could be a -less ratling (dark grey hood) or an -ine ratling (cream hood), or perhaps it's very own new name ending. Should be interesting.
gwynhefar: (fall leaves)
Ok, so despite some very good suggestions from other folks, I couldn't find a set of names I liked for the twin ratlings, at least not ones that weren't obviously one gender or the other. So I decided to take a cue from Gormless and use words as names. I found a site with a list of relational adjectives, so the twin ratlings are hereby dubbed Murine (of or pertaining to mice or rats) and Glirine (of or pertaining to rodents).
gwynhefar: (Gwyn raven)
The problem with having two different names that you actually *use* is that you have difficulty remembering which name to use on different occasions. After being Gwyn for the last week and a half, I've almost signed Gwyn to several work emails today. Wouldn't that confuse my co-workers. I'd love to be Gwyn full-time, but it's just too confusing to change now. Ah well.
gwynhefar: (Default)
So Sunday was the new member welcome at church. I have now ensured that no one who was there that day will forget me. First they forgot to put my name in the program. So when I pointed this out quietly to the minister and the guy doing the announcements, they apologised profusely and made a point of announcing me first and apologising in front of the whole congregation for having left my name out. Lovely. Good thing I'm not as shy as I used to be.

Of course, when I got my name tag, my name was misspelled. I realise that "Gwen" is a more common name than "Gwyn". And I can see how the mistake can be easily made, particularly when I say the name. But why, oh why, when you are reading off a membership card where I very clearly printed G-W-Y-N do you feel the need to replace the "y" with an "e", when the two letters look nothing alike? Being called Gwen is a pretty big pet peeve of mine. [ profile] adellyna is allowed to call me Gwennie because she's, well, [ profile] adellyna. Everyone else, *please* remember the 'y'.
gwynhefar: (as redhead clown)
Ok, so I'm late on the bandwagon, but here's the "(your name here) needs" Google meme:

1) Gwyn needs to find the strength to stall the disaster that hangs over them.
2) Gwyn needs to borrow some Trumps.
3) Gwyn needs to talk to Bailey.
4) Gwyn needs female companionship. (Boy do I ever!)
5) Gwyn needs to get over it!
6) Gwyn needs to get her the minutes so that she can post them on the website.
7) Gwyn needs someone more like her, who won't fug up the lens every time they're photographed together.
8) Gwyn needs a HC or smthing position.
9) Gwyn needs to grin more.
10) Gwyn needs help.

Interestingly, a lot of these were referring to Gwyneth Paltrow, who I didn't realise anyone called "Gwyn".
gwynhefar: (Rose Sunshine)
This is a handy little tool from the Social Security Administration. Enter a name, and it will give you that name's popularity rank (within the top 1000) back to the 1880s.

Interesting fact. My legal name (Jennifer) was the number 1 ranked name in the US for a 14 year period! (1970-1984). As I was, indeed, born within that time-span, is it any wonder I hate the name so? Try feeling unique when there are 5 other Jennifers in your kindergarten class.

Gwyn was only in the top 1000 twice -- 1961 (#965) and 1962 (#934).

Jenna, the other name I go by, has within the last few years broken the top 50 (it was #45 in 2001), but in the year I was born it was only #363.

Both of these nicknames for Jennifer I feel to be an immense improvement on the original. Never *ever* call me Jennifer. I won't answer to it.

More name sites:
Behind the Name
The Academy of Saint Gabriel
gwynhefar: (Default)
An article I was reading mentioned that there were at least 15 common diminuitive forms of the name Elizabeth. It didn't list them. So without looking anything up, I'm going to try:

Edit: 11)Betty. How could I forget Betty?

That's all I can come up with. Anyone have any suggestions for the last 5 4?


gwynhefar: (Default)

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