Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

North –South Divide: By Name Only?

16.11.2007
New research from the University of Leicester reveals that the north-south divide is more than one of geography or linguistics- it’s in your name.

Names ending in ‘son’ or ‘by’ are indicative of northern origins and in some areas of the north, over 50 per cent of a local society might once have had such surnames.

Although ‘northerness’ is an elusive concept- the Leicester study looks at what surnames can tell you about the identity of the North of England.

The research, The North through its Names: a Phenomenology of Medieval and Early-Modern Northern England, was carried out by Dave Postles, a University Fellow in the Department of English at the University of Leicester. The research forms part of a new volume of the English Surnames Survey.

The personal names from the north during the medieval/early modern period incorporate dialect speech that defined a northern consciousness, and in this way are an invaluable resource in exploring a northern identity.

In his research, Dr Postles attempts to reconstruct the language of the speech and communities of the region, through the reporting and recording of personal names.

Looking at the evidence from names derived from fathers and mothers, as well as personal names and occupational nicknames, he identifies many distinctions, including the longer continuity of insular personal names in the north, which implies a cultural division with the south.

Since nicknames that others might assume to be insalubrious continued later in the north, northern speech through names considered ‘direct’ by northerners might be thought uncivil by southerners.

Dr Postles explained: “People often refer to a “sense of place”, but perhaps the “sensation” of place is another way of being in place. It is a matter of how we sense place. One of the ways that we do this is through the language use around us, and that incorporates how people are named and hearing their names: both formal names and colloquial forms of name.

“As ever, that process is always complicated. As the anthropologists describe it, we can experience it in two ways: etic or emic. We can feel it from the inside or look at it from the outside. In fact, sometimes the two are not separable.

“How they can be conflated is perhaps best illustrated by names derived from fathers and mothers. Looking from the outside, it will be noticeable to people that the “north” of England is a place where surnames ending in -son have predominated, although they have spread more widely now too.

“In the past, their concentration in this “northern” zone was more intense. It helped to mark off an idea of “northern-ness” when viewed from outside. It was also the “sensing” of people inside too. Yet some areas in what we perceive to be the “north” had an even greater density than other locations there.

“For example, in the taxation lists for Craven in the sixteenth century, some 16 to 18 percent of male taxpayers bore these -son surnames. If we look to a deeper “north”, the uplands of Westmorland, we find that getting towards 28 percent had this form of name in the middle of the seventeenth century (in the Protestation Oath of 1641-2). If we go deeper into intensely localized local societies, in Crosby Ravensworth and Patterdale, 56-57 percent had these surnames then.

“Looking from the outside, we generally perceive a northern area of -son surnames. From the inside, that linguistic environment was experienced differently. In Crosby and Patterdale the sense of neighbourhood would have been profoundly influenced through the density of -son surnames. The idea that “the north” was constituted by a mosaic of local societies with their differences is one that we outsiders tend to gloss over.

“Another attribute is that “northern-ness” was amorphous and not always clearly delineated, so that its boundaries are porous. Those -son surnames extended down in the past into what we regard as the northern part of the north Midlands, although in a less concentrated fashion.

“We can observe these two attributes combined in “topographical -by” surnames. These surnames would include Southiby, Northiby, Easterby (Ousterby), and Westiby: living in the south, north, east or west end of the village or parish.

“In the fourteenth century this form of name was concentrated in what we have recently come to describe as “Humberside”: the East Riding of Yorkshire and north Lincolnshire. We see here a localized incidence within the “north”, marking out a distinct locality within a “north”, but we also notice how there is a spilling out.

“The reasons for that are, of course, historical, but, although attenuated by modern developments, many of these phenomena continue with us in some form still today.”

The North through its Names: A Phenomenology of Medieval and Early-Modern Northern England forms volume 8 of the series: English Surnames Survey (Oxbow Books 2007).

Ather Mirza | alfa
Further information:
http://www.le.ac.uk/press/experts/intro.html
http://www.le.ac.uk

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Lying in a foreign language is easier
19.07.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Engineering cooperation
05.07.2018 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>