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Review of  Deutscher Familiennamenatlas

Reviewer: Sebastian Kürschner
Book Title: Deutscher Familiennamenatlas
Book Author: Fabian Fahlbusch Rita Heuser Mirjam Schmuck
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics
Subject Language(s): German
Issue Number: 24.744

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The book under review is part of a series called ''Deutscher Familiennamenatlas'' (Atlas of German family names), resulting from a large-scale research project at the Universities of Freiburg and Mainz. The series provides an overview of the geographically determined variation found in German family names, resulting in a comprehensive atlas. Three volumes have appeared since 2009, and the book under review is volume 3, concerned with morphological variation (''Morphologie der Familiennamen''). Volumes 1 and 2 were concerned with phonological and graphemic variation, and several volumes to come will treat lexical phenomena.

The phenomena studied in this volume reflect historical morphological processes. Family names in Germany stem from bynames. In our days, bynames are often necessary when persons sharing an identical given names need to be distinguished, e.g., Christian from Hamburg vs. Christian from Berlin, or the taller vs. the smaller Christian (i.e. der größere vs. der kleinere Christian). In times when individuals usually only had a single name, bynames were important for clear identification, usually based on a person's characteristics. The motives for such bynames were most regularly found in a person's ancestry (usually patronyms, cf. Christiansen 'Christian's son'), physical shape or character (Braun 'brown (hair)', Grimm 'grim'), profession (Müller 'miller'), or the place of residence (Bach 'creek') or origin (Schweizer 'Swiss'). The bases of such bynames were thus above all personal names, appellatives, and adjectives. Bynames turned into family names when they were inherited from ancestors, and in this process they lost their motivation. What we find in today's family names are reflexes of historical morphological processes connected with family names, and these are described and mapped in the volume.

The volume contains 785 pages. It starts with an introduction, Section A, followed by a main Section B called ''Kartenkomplexe'' (map complexes). The maps in Section B are subdivided into five sections marked by Roman numbers, first according to the usual division of morphology into inflection (I) and word formation (II: derivation and III: compound formation), and then a section on the morphology-syntax interface (IV) and a section on morphosemantic transposition into Latin equivalents (cf. Schmidt > Faber, V). The microstructure within these sections is marked by Arabic numbers.

The introduction (Section A) starts with an overview (I), briefly introducing the aspects treated in each section. Part II provides data on the technical background and on the structure of the map complexes. Additionally, the base maps, lists of abbreviations, and links to the list of references and an index of the family names are given.

All map complexes in Section B are structured identically: For each phenomenon, a main map is provided on the first page, and a map commentary follows over several pages. The commentary is structured as follows: The research question is defined (1), the quantitative (2) and qualitative basis (3) for the data analysis is provided, details and additional information are shown and commented on in tables and side maps (4). Each commentary also features a historical section, presenting results from a survey of 71 monographs on regional and local family names, closing with notes on related phenomena in the atlas, in neighboring dialects and languages, and possible explanations for the variation.

Section I on inflection is concerned with family names in nominative (Section 1) and genitive forms (Section 2). Variation in nominative forms is found when a byname was formed from an adjective. There is variation between the weak form (e.g., Lange, apocopated Lang, going back to appellations such as der lange Johann 'the tall John') and the strong form (Langer). The second part shows where genitive forms of patronyms and profession names are found (Walter vs. Walters, Becker vs. Beckers). Variation of family names in strong (-s) and weak genitives (-en, cf. Jansen) is treated as well.

Section II on derivation -- the largest part of the book with 470 pages -- deals with different sorts of affixation processes, sorted by the types of family names (Sections 1-3) and word-formation specific processes (Section 4-5). In Section 1, reflexes of the formation of professional names (e.g., in -er, -e, -mann, and -macher) and in characterizing names (''Übernamen'', e.g. in -lich and -sam like in Ehrlich 'honest', grausam 'horrible') are mapped. Section 2 shows different manners of patronym formation (Petersen, Peterson, Petermann, etc.), and Section 3 the formation of family names based on locations, reflecting variation in -er (Lindner), -mann (Lindemann), and zero (Linde, or apocopated Lind). Section 4 treats the formation of diminutives (e.g., -chen/-ke forms and l-forms like Schmidtchen, Schmidtlein), and Section 5 deals with onymic markers, both native ones like -elt, -ert, and loaned ones in Frisian (-inga, -stra, etc.) and Slavic names (-ski).

Compounding is the topic of Section III. Section 1 shows composition in profession names (Schmidbauer, Hansbauer) and patronyms (Junghans). 'Dubble' names with a hyphen are subject of Section 2 (Schulte-Kellinghaus). Subject 3 deals with contraction phenomena blurring the historical link between the parts of the compound (Göpfert < Gott+fried).

Section IV presents the morphologization of phrasal structures (univerbation or ''Univerbierung'', cf. Aufderheide < auf der Heide 'on the heath'). Section 1 shows family names built from prepositional phrases, Section 2 names including articles (de Jong), and Section 3 sentence names (''Satznamen'', cf. negation names like Habenicht 'have' + negation), which exhibit a great variation of grammatical types.

Section V deals with transposition into Latinate names, both in semantic translation (Section 1, Faber < Schmidt 'smith') and in morphological transposition using Latinate suffixes (Section 2, Paulus, Michaelis, Hessenius).

The atlas is primarily intended as a general reference book for researchers and students interested in variation in German family names, aiming to provide a systematic and representative overview of the morphology of family names (p. XXV). The atlas presents a broad collection of morphological phenomena. These phenomena are transparently grouped, primarily according to morphological processes, and secondarily with reference to specific types of family names. The book is thus well-structured and provides an easy access to the phenomena of interest. It would have been nice to have an introductory and concluding commentary for each of the sections in addition to the structuring. In this way, the volume would have been even more coherent, summarizing the common questions and results for each complex of phenomena.

The primary data source is the digitalized phone book of Germany from 2005, providing a database of individual family names connected with the place of residence. The resulting maps use two mapping techniques: 1) Pie charts illustrating relative frequencies per name type and region. 2) (Whenever clear regional distributions are provided,) color-based marking of areas. All maps are printed in color and easily accessible thanks to a clear legend presented in the upper left corner of the map. The maps often present distinct regional distributions of specific name types -- astonishing when we regard the great personal mobility shaping the modern German society. The atlas therefore also documents that the variation of family names is clearly related to geography and must be interpreted with respect to regional and dialectal developments.

In the choice of phenomena and names mapped in the atlas, the authors use frequency as a primary criterion. A list of 10,000 most frequent family names and ca. 10,000 additional cases as the basis for a lexicon of family names (Kohlheim/Kohlheim 2005) is referred to as a primary point of reference. In addition to frequency, the authors also include maps of less common family names which are, however, especially interesting from a morphological point of view (e.g. Frisian names, name compounds, names including definite articles, etc., p. XXV). In my view, the methodology is sound for providing an overview of morphological variation in family names, capturing both the most common types and an interesting collection of geographically restricted or infrequent phenomena. As a result, the atlas will achieve its aim of becoming a primary reference for linguistic research on family names and for disciplines using such research as a reference or data source (e.g., geographical or folklore studies).

The phenomena in question are usually well-explained and motivated in the introductory sections of the individual commentaries, especially with respect to their historical source. The division between a main map and certain side maps per phenomenon are valuable for both giving quick general access to the phenomenon and providing information on the complexity of the phenomena in question when details are concerned. The basis of all maps is transparently presented in the regular expressions used for browsing the database, and in statistics for each query.

At some points, I missed an attempt to interpret the geographical variation found in the maps. However, this is not the primary task of an atlas (which may remain rather descriptive), but a task for future research that follows from the rich, new documentation of family names published in this format. Still, whenever possible, the authors provide information on related types in neighboring countries (especially in West Germanic, i.e., adjoining Dutch and Luxembourgish regions), and the commentary includes interpretations of the geographical picture when this is possible due to existing research (or when it is close at hand due to phenomena well-known from dialectal variation).

At many points, the atlas also shows its potential for revealing new areas of research in onomastics. For example, Section II.5 deals with the productivity of final -t in family names ending in -er or -el (Grüner vs. Grünert, Ruppel vs. Ruppelt), showing that a regular and frequent ending emerges. This ending might be interpreted as a suffix serving to mark the onymic status of family names. Other examples of innovative ideas are chapters on compound formation (Kochmeier, Hansmeier), the morphologization of phrasal structures, a differentiated look at Latinate transpositions based on German family names, etc.

To sum up, the atlas provides a valuable, well-structured and broad overview of morphological phenomena in family names, based on an accurate analysis of a suitable dataset and a careful review of relevant research. Both frequent and infrequent regionally restricted phenomena are mapped, resulting in a comprehensive overview of morphological processes. The atlas will be relevant to research on the history of family names in general, and is a good starting point for innovative research in German onomastics.

REFERENCES Kohlheim, Rosa, and Volker Kohlheim (2005): Duden Familiennamen. Herkunft und Bedeutung. 2nd edition. Mannheim: Duden.
About the Reviewer: Sebastian Kürschner is professor of variationist linguistics and language contact at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany. He studied German, Scandinavian, and computational linguistics at the Universities of Freiburg and Copenhagen. He received the doctoral degree from the University of Freiburg in 2007, and held a postdoc position at the University of Groningen. His research interests include language variation, language and dialect contact, historical linguistics, and morphology.

Format: Electronic
ISBN-13: 9783110278453
Prices: U.K. £ 299.00