Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://www.um.edu.mt/library/oar/handle/123456789/101453
Title: Maltese surnames : the Sicilian and Italian connections
Authors: Cassar, Mario (2011)
Keywords: Names, Personal -- Malta -- History
Maltese language -- Etymology -- Names
Sicilian language -- Etymology -- Names
Issue Date: 2011
Citation: Cassar, M. (2011). Maltese surnames : the Sicilian and Italian connections (Doctoral dissertation).
Abstract: For the purposes of this thesis, a surname is defined as a legal identification tag as well as a hereditary name borne by the members of a single family and handed down from one generation to another. Hereditary surnames did not become fixed overnight. In fact, in many European records from the 11th to the 14th century it is impossible to be certain whether a surname is hereditary, or merely a distinguishing epithet. The custom of surname-giving, even ir. Malta, was mainly motivated by the emergence of new administrative practices inherent ir. the medieval feudal system. As societies became more complex, and as such matters as the management of tenure and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to have a more complex system of nomenclature to distinguish one individual from another in a reliable and unambiguous manner. Otherwise, were a person conspicuous enough there would be no need for a surname. The aim throughout the present work has been to give a sound basis to the study of family names which directly or indirectly link the Maltese Islands with Sicily and mainland Italy since the Middle Ages. Not all surnames under discussion are necessarily found in modern-day Sicily or Italy. For example, some Spanish surnames are simply included due to the long and influential Aragonese presence in the Sicilian Kingdom. Others found their way in because they happen to follow Italian morphological patterns (e.g. Pantalleresco < French Pantalleresque) or reflect phonetic equivalence (e.g. Fero < French Feraud). This massive input of surnames has translated itself into an overwhelming case of demographic and cultural symbiosis. In this dissertation, I chose to adopt a multidisciplinary approach, blending historical and statistical data with linguistic aspects such as etymology, philology and typology, in the endeavour to achieve a certain degree of analytical balance. I cannot, and do not, claim to have satisfactorily explained the meaning and origin of all the surnames under discussion. However, I have made a critical use of all the data available at the time of writing. The vast majority of the statements put forward throughout this work are backed by academic research; when no sources are provided, personal opinion is in the offing. Although this dissertation focuses on extant surnames, extinct ones will not be ignored, especially if they provide interesting insights. A number of surnames in this thesis have never been researched before. Some meanings (and origins) will remain elusive, or inadequately explained. Accounts of the origins of many individual surnames, in the present state of our knowledge, contain an element of tentativeness - some are more tentative than others. Whenever it is possible on reliable grounds, I resort to conjecture, albeit cautiously.
Description: PH.D.
URI: https://www.um.edu.mt/library/oar/handle/123456789/101453
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - InsMS - 2011-2013

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