Tag Archives: Names

Newcomer Night: Naming November

Welcome to the SCA
The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) is a practical history society, recreating the arts and skills of pre-17th century Europe and places which traded with Europe. It started in Berkley California at a small gathering on May 1, 1966. It was just a themed medieval party called the “Last Tournament,” and the friends like it so much they did it again, then again, then told their friends about it, who took it to cons, and so on.

Fifty years later, the Society has grown to more than a thousand events happening on five continents every year. SCA Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization based in Milpitas, California with affiliate organizations in Europe, New Zealand, and Australia.

The name “Society for Creative Anachronism” was coined by science fiction author Marion Zimmer Bradley when the group needed an official name to reserve a park for a tournament. (You may know her from The Mists of Avalon series, or Shadow’s Gate, or Darkover or from any of the other dozens of novels and short stories she created.) Her name in the SCA was Mistress Elfrid of Greenwalls.

What’s in a Name?
The SCA requires only one thing of event attendees, which is they make an attempt at garb.

Over time, people are encouraged to create a persona and persona name. This is a focal point around which their historical research, as deep or shallow as they want, will turn.

Ways people choose a persona include: (1) Best garb e.v.e.r! (2) always was interested in Vikings (3) I like this type of art (4) my family comes from there (5) my favorite fighting style (6) um, my spouse told me (7) I saw this movie once (8) my D&D character (9) I always wanted to be called.

From a persona, a person can start developing a name based on the location and date they are interested in. If starting from a partial or whole name, research will need to be done for where the name could have been used.

Having an SCA name can be a lot of fun, if a little confusing. (I looked up my best friend under both Mad and Dog and can’t find him anywhere!)

Don’t assume you know what is historic
So which name do you think is historic to pre-17th century – Wendy or Tiffany? Wendy was invented by Sir James Barrie in 1904 for his play Peter Pan. Tiffany comes from the Greek Theophaneia (epiphany) through Latin into French to evolve fully into Tiffany.

So be sure to research the name you are interested in having. You might be able to have it or something close.

Famous Authors who have Played
Sir Bela of Eastmarch – Poul Anderson
Yang the Nauseating – Robert Asprin
Lady Ursula de Santiago y Galiciano – Esther Freisner
Countess Bevan Frazier of Sterling – Katherine Kurtz
Lord Randall of Hightower – Randall Garrett
Mistress Diana Listmaker – Diana Paxson

Name Structure

  1. Given name
  2. Byname – A byname is a part of the name other than a given name. It may identify someone as the child of an individual (Davidson), as being from a particular place (and no longer living there!) (London), describe some distinctive physical or personality feature (Headworth), or describe their occupation (Cooper). Or inherited Surnames. Note that no language has all the bynames styles listed here.

Though introduced by the Norman during the conquest in the 1000’s, surnames weren’t widespread in England until 1400.

Personal Name – “A name phrase consists of a complete given name or byname with associated prepositions, articles and the like. The elements which make up a name phrase are referred to in these rules as name elements. Name elements may be words or pieces of words. A name phrase may consist of a single word or multiple words.” (The Standards…)

“Bynames were usually short, direct, earthy, and concrete, rather than long and fanciful; after all, they were used every day. As well, they were usually bestowed upon someone, and not chosen by them. One wouldn’t be Robert the Philosophical Poet, but Robert Talkewell (who talks well), or, worse, Robert Boast.” (SCA College…)

Rules of Naming per the Heralds

  1. “Reasonably Period” – Both by content and style.
  2. “Conflict and Presumption”
  3. “Offense”
  1. Single time and place. Avoid mixing languages, unless the location had it as a period practice.

Useful Links for Name Research

The Academy of Saint Gabriel. https://www.s-gabriel.org/ – last viewed November 7, 2019.

While they have retired from personal research, their extensive database is still online.

“SCA College of Arms – Name Articles”. Sca.org. http://heraldry.sca.org/names.html – last viewed November 7, 2019.

Cultures included: Asia, Byzantium, Eastern Europe, England, France, Germany, Middle East, Ireland, Italy, Jewish, Low Countries, Roman, Russia, Scandinavia, Scotland, Spain/Iberian, Wales.
Plus a lot of other good articles.

“The Standards for Evaluation of Names and Armory: The Rules of Submission as approved April 29, 2012 and updated July 15, 2013”. Sca.org. http://heraldry.sca.org/sena.html#GP1 – last viewed November 7, 2019.

The Viking Answer Lady. http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/ – last viewed November 7, 2019.