Italian byname structures (was: RE: [ANSTHRLD] House Porto - Household name and badge)

ED Reese edreese at
Sat May 31 22:05:25 PDT 2003

At 02:37 AM 5/30/2003 -0500, you wrote:

> >If Francesca's rank and prestige were greater than her husband's, he would
> >take her name, and her influence.
>Really?  I hadn't run into the use of married names in Italian yet.  I have
>seen 16th C records where a wife is referred to by her surname, rather than
>her husband's, though the children got his surname.  Where'd you run across
>this info?  I'd be interested in seeing what other info that source has.

As soon as I get my library out of storage in California, on to the shelves
in Texas, I will dig it out. Remember, I said in my first post that I may
be mis-remembering, and was checking with those more knowledgeable than I,
to see if such pluralization/identification might help in the (O)Porto case.

> >Their children would want to do the same
> >thing, an their grandchildren, etc. -- so, you could have, Alberto della
> >Bella, which often went to a plural, if he had siblings, which would either
> >be Belle, if he kept it feminine, which I would think unlikely, or Belli --
> >which would also change the plural of the link between the names, either 'i
> >Belli' or "dei Belli". That's how you get names like "Lorenzi" or "Medici".
>My understanding is that surnames like <Lorenzi> and <Alberti> come from
>the genitive case and so indicate possessive.  <Lorenzo> is a nominative
>case name.  In a byname, it could be <di Lorenzo> '[child] of Lorenzo' or
><Lorenzi>.  The <Lorenzi> form is the genitive case of <Lorenzo> and
>indicates possesive.

It also indicates plural, when combined with the plural "dei". I don't
think we're actually contradicting each other here, but I think you have
the more complete explanation.

>   An example of this type of name would be a name like
><Marco Lorenzi>, which would literally translate as 'Lorenzo's Marco'.  In
>the 16th C, the genitive surname forms such as <Lorenzi> are normally
>inherited surnames rather than literal patronymics.

Um, I'm sorry, I thought that's what I said! :-) I apologize for not making
it clear. My understanding, and again, I need my library, is that surnames
typically evolved from literal patronymics, descriptors, and place names.

><Medici> is different.  It's a shortened form of <dei Medici>.  I don't
>have my Italian books in front of me, so I don't know if the genitive form
><Medici> is due to a plural usage or some another grammar requirement.

Well, I think it's both -- one when it's "dei Medici", and the other when
it's "i medici"/ "i Medici" -- which, interestingly, can mean family
members, or supporters of the Medici family, or a bunch of medics.

> >If Francesca had gone to Venice, the pattern might have become "Firenzi"
> >for her kids.
>Maybe, maybe not.

I said it was a possibility, not  certainty, nor even necessarily common.

>There's some research in this going on regarding Italian
>bynames at the moment.  I've got <Fiorentino> 'the Florentine' in one of my
>in-progress articles.  That form could easily have become an inherited
>surname.  Regarding <Firenzi>, this is also a genitive form indicating

Mm, yes, Fiorentino is better -- see, I TOLD you my memory was stretched!
It's been over a decade since I made an in-depth study. It sounds like you
are much further ahead of me in your research!

Well done!


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