The Indexer: The International Journal of Indexing

The indexing of Welsh personal names

The Indexer: The International Journal of Indexing (1990), 17, (1), 12–20.

Abstract

Welsh personal names sometimes present the indexer with problems not encountered when dealing with English names. The Welsh patronymic system of identity is the most obvious; this was normal in the Middle Ages, and traces of its usage survived into the mid-nineteenth century. Patronymics have since been revived as alternative names in literary and bardic circles, while a few individuals, inspired by the precedents of history, are today attempting to use them regularly in daily life. Other sorts of alternative names, too, have been adopted by writers, poets, artists and musicians, to such effect that they are often better known to the Welsh public than the real names. A distinctive pseudonym has a special value in Wales, where a restricted selection of both first names and surnames has been the norm for the last few centuries. Apart from the names themselves, there is in Welsh a linguistic feature which can be disconcerting to those unfamiliar with the language: the ‘mutation’ or changing of the initial letter of a word in certain phonetic and syntactic contexts. This can also occur in place-names, which were discussed by the present writer in The Indexer 15 (1) April 1986. Some of the observations made there about the Welsh language will be relevant here also.

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Author details

Moore, Donald