Linguistic or Other Reasons for Surname Variations

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lcafarel
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Linguistic or Other Reasons for Surname Variations

Postby lcafarel » 13 Aug 2011, 22:27

I'm wondering if anyone can point me to a linguistic or other social reason for surame variations within Italy (i.e., not affected by immigration), other than individual orthographic errors or scribal proclivities.

I've been researching my husband's Cafarelli family from the province of Matera, Basilicata. Most of the records I've found show variations between Cafarelli and Cafarella within the same family. In one case I just learned about, the name appears with a final o.

The name is also written with two Fs, but mainly in northern Italy, and there is sometimes appears to be a class difference (two Fs more often associated with upper class). Is this likely to be the same family?

I also found that the name Cifarelli appears frequently in Ferrandina, where our Cafarelli family was living in the 18th and 19th centuries. This seems unlikely to be a variant, given the different pronunciation, but I thought I should mention it.

If there are linguistic patterns that offer any explanation for the variants, I'd appreciate knowing about them. Many thanks.

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Re: Linguistic or Other Reasons for Surname Variations

Postby Italysearcher » 14 Aug 2011, 09:23

In the Italian language every letter is pronounced. There is no word for 'spelling' as we understand it. You spell as you hear. I can't tell you how many errors I make writing down what I hear. If the person moved to a new town or a new clerk came in the office how they heard the name would change the spelling on the records. A double consonant is very difficult to 'hear'. The final vowel changes according to who (or how many) made a declaration. 'i' is the plural of 'o'. 'e' is the plural form of 'a'. 'a' might indicate a female of this surname and 'o' might indicate a male member of the same family. These variations became standardized as literacy improved but there are still variations within the same family tree in many cases.
The double consonant associated with the upper class would make sense.
Ann Tatangelo
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ANNOYING THE SAINTS - Stories of my Life in Italy. http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-b ... ly/7731505

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Re: Linguistic or Other Reasons for Surname Variations

Postby lcafarel » 14 Aug 2011, 16:39

Thanks, Ann. That makes sense.

It would be very unlikely, then, that Cafarelli would be interchanged with Cifarelli, correct?

Have you run across a class distinction reflected in other surames in the same way? Is there a class difference in pronunction of Italian, and if so, how would you characterize it?

Lesley

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Re: Linguistic or Other Reasons for Surname Variations

Postby johnnyonthespot » 14 Aug 2011, 16:47

Regarding Cafarelli / Cifarelli, the most notable difference is in the pronunciation of the first syllable, the former being "Ca" like car without the r, while the latter would be pronounced "Chee" like cheese.

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Re: Linguistic or Other Reasons for Surname Variations

Postby lcafarel » 14 Aug 2011, 17:18

Yes, I know. That's why I said it seems unlikely at the two names would be variants of each other.

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Re: Linguistic or Other Reasons for Surname Variations

Postby Italysearcher » 14 Aug 2011, 17:23

I have come across other distinctions beetween surnames and the class of person. The elongated 'i' is probably the most notable. Tuzi and Tuji.
The elongated 'i' has become a 'j' with the advent of the keyboard.
Ann Tatangelo
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Re: Linguistic or Other Reasons for Surname Variations

Postby lcafarel » 14 Aug 2011, 18:44

Thanks, Ann. I've seen the elongated "i" in lots of records. That's one that I hadn't realized might indicate a class distinction.

I assume you mean Tuzj, right?

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Re: Linguistic or Other Reasons for Surname Variations

Postby Italysearcher » 15 Aug 2011, 09:14

Tuzj was the higher class version at least in Sora.
Ann Tatangelo
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ANNOYING THE SAINTS - Stories of my Life in Italy. http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-b ... ly/7731505


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