Monday, July 15, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Origin of the name Motl

When I was a baby, my father would often say that we come a French aristocratic dynasty de Motl – for some time, I tended to buy it ;-). Much later, I knew about the Yiddish (extreme Jewish dialect of German) novel Motl der Operator and people would conjecture that I must have some Jewish roots which I never believed.

Finally, I accidentally asked my editor, Ms Věra Amelová, who was just working on the index for the 2nd edition of the Czech Elegant Universe and who found an explanation of the origin in a book. I don't expect regular TRF readers to be interested in similar linguistic stuff but those who search for things using search engines may be interested. And I just wanted to write it down somewhere.




Doc. (Assoc. Prof.) Josef Beneš spent his life by his work on the origin of surnames. What does it say?




Motl or Mottl: a German [close to Pilsen] vernacular (dialect) form of the Czech surname Mátl [an actor is called this way]. The name Mátl itself came from Matas which was derived from the first name Matouš or Matěj [Matthew] which arose from Hebrew Matityahu, meaning a gift of God.

[LM: Amusingly enough, in recent discussions with a nice and versatile physics professor in Santa Barbara, I was led to find out – among many other things – that the name Baghdad may paradoxically have Slavic roots and it means a gift of God, too. "Bag" is related to "Bog", a Slavic word for God, while "Dad" or more precisely "dát" is "to give" in Czech and similarly in other languages.]

Alternatively:

Motlík [little Motl], Motloch [a derivative of Motl resembling brloh, a den] – a confused, deranged person in the Lachei, North Moravian/Silesian dialect of Czech [very far from Pilsen]. [LM: the Czech verb "motat" is probably related and it means wind, roll, reel, spool, but more relevantly totter, stagger, walk unsteadily, confuse, mix up, and – most importantly – muddle.]

You can pick your theory. My editor believes that the former, German, gift-of-God theory is much more likely to be the right one, both due to the more precise form of the name, the geographic proximity, as well as the tendency to obscure vowels in the Southern part of the Czech-German border region.

I don't need to explain that Luboš is a Slavic name linked to love, viewed as derived from more complicated names Luboslav and Lubomír but currently independent of them, often translated as "milý" i.e. dear, beloved, kind, nice, pleasant, likeable, agreeable, appealing, amiable, congenial, loved one, boyfriend, beau, gentle-mannered – you knew that, they're 14 most often adjectives that people immediately think about when my name is pronounced anywhere. ;-)

The link in the previous paragraph contains the list of 8 famous holders of the name. Do you know at least one of them? ;-) It also says that 22,700 holders of this first name in Czechia make it the 44th most frequent masculine one. To compare, there are about 800 male Motls in Czechia written in this exact way.

What about your name?

Add to del.icio.us Digg this Add to reddit

snail feedback (32) :


reader anna v said...

Well, christian Greece adopted all the biblical names in the saint list, so Anna is easy, the mother of John the Baptist I think . My paternal surname as many surnames in Greece relate to a fathers's name, by my time many times removed, in my case Seraphim, ( which was also my fathers first name). Again of course a biblical name . My mother used to call my father "the legion" from " the legion of Seraphim" , as it is plural.


reader JollyJoker said...

Apparently I'm descended from the "fool" card in a Tarot deck :(

"He represents the mystical cleverness bereft of reason within us, the childlike ability to tune into the inner workings of the world. The sun shining behind him represents the divine nature of the Fool's wisdom and exuberance, holy madness or 'crazy wisdom'."

Not so bad, I guess.

Bee has a post up on some excess muons seen at Pierre Auger.

http://backreaction.blogspot.fi/2013/07/more-mysteries-in-cosmic-rays-and.html
http://arxiv.org/abs/1307.2322

It might be some interesting new physics since it probes such high energies. From what I gather from Wikipedia it can go above the LHC by an order of magnitude or two.


reader Luboš Motl said...

It almost sounds like you are just a little bit younger than the ancient Greeks. ;-)


reader Shannon said...

The only name closed to yours in France would probably be Moutol. But you can't be French and a God's gift as well. It would be too much ;-).
Both my mother and father have Breton names, both from Finistère, meaning land's end for a good reason. So I am a 100% celt. My village is full of standing stones and dolmen... (and also many blockhaus (casemate or bunkers) on the dunes but those ones came long after and it's another story).

OT: Lubos, did you see this interview with Roger Penrose who says that M theory is not a theory but rather a collection of ideas... Go easy on the rum ;-)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2kVPnussGo&feature=share


reader Luboš Motl said...

LOL, I don't have any rum or hard alcohol at home now - I exceptionally bought 200 ml for four days or so.


reader Mephisto said...

My name is Jan in Czech (John in English, Johannes in German). The name is derived from the Latin Ioannes, Iohannes, which is in turn a form of the Greek Ἰωάννης, Iōánnēs. This Greek name is a form of the Hebrew name יוֹחָנָן, Yôḥanan which means "Graced by Yahweh".

But later, I adopted my second name, which describes my nature more appropriately

The word Mephistopheles could derive from the Hebrew mephitz, meaning "destroyer", and tophel, meaning "liar"; "tophel" is short for tophel shequer, the literal translation of which is "falsehood plasterer". The name can also be a combination of three Greek words: "me" as a negation, "phos" meaning light, and "philis" meaning loving, making it
mean "not-light-loving", possibly parodying the Latin "Lucifer" or "light-bearer"


reader Luboš Motl said...

LOL, what a propaganda directly from hell.

You forgot about your real last name which is hydnum, a genus of mushroom.


reader Mephisto said...

The Czechs are mostly Celtic too. We had a peaceful culture and our druidic religion and we were quite advanced, by first we had to fight the warmonging Romans and after that the barbaric German tribes

According to a 2000 study by Semino, 35.6% of Czech and Slovak males have haplogroup R1b, which is very common among Celts and rarer among Slavs.

A high frequency of mutation of the G551D gene CFTR (cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator), causing cystic fibrosis is found in the Czech Republic, Austria, and among the Celtic nations: Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, Ireland and Brittany.


That might be the reason why the Czechs have a similar sense of humor as the Brittish, and also a similar love for beer


reader Luboš Motl said...

The first author of the paper, Glennys Farrar, was my particle physics phenomenology instructor at Rutgers. Fun lady.


reader Soylent Green said...

Well then, I suppose your name could mean, "beloved of the deranged."
Explains why I'm here. ;-)


reader Dilaton said...

At least for me, Lumo is a gift of God indeed :-)


My name and avatar picture I have choosen carfeully ... ;-P


reader andrew oh-willeke said...

There are companies that publish histories of surnames. I learned they were a scam when I got one explaining the medieval European origins of my post-marital surname "Oh-Willeke" which is a hyphenation of "Oh" a common Korean surname and "Willeke", a German surname directly derived from a family about half way N-S on the West German-East German boundary.


reader Bz said...

Baghdad does not come from Slavic. It comes from Persian, which is an Indo-European language too and so cognate to Slavic. Bagh is the persian word for God, already attested in the sincriptions by Darius for instance 2500 centuries ago, Dad is the Persian word for "gave". Both of course are there in Slavic too because they are from the same family of languages. That's all.


reader Bz said...

See this link too:

http://books.google.com/books?id=lBAeAAAAMAAJ&pg=PR1&lpg=PR1&dq=Bagha+vazraka&source=bl&ots=SAn1mj8sBR&sig=jESZFmz487uyOwlI6Cx2r7eoEw4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=OrbkUfW9IdLi4AOLzYHQCg&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Bagha%20vazraka&f=false


reader Luboš Motl said...

You make it sound as if all Indo-European languages had Baghdad similar to their words for "gift of God". It's surely not the case.


Baghdad arose when Slavs are moving through Eurasia and it is compatible with all the knowledge we have that the Slavic origin of the word is a more accurate description of the history than Persian origin.


reader papertiger0 said...

No no no ... Lubos Motl is loving gift of God.


Don't it give you a sugar rush? Reminds me of Brady Bunch reruns. Little House on the Prarie, and caramel apples.
Diabetics beware. Keep your insulin handy.


reader papertiger0 said...

"Loving Gift Of God" ---- I'd put it in the masthead. lol


reader Luboš Motl said...

Off-topic: make your own helicopter out of a bike wheel, $5 keyboard, or a book:

http://vimeo.com/68841788



Via Viktor K.


reader Bz said...

Gift from God is your translation, teh actual name literally means God-given. Baghdad arose when slavs were moving through Eurasia does not explain anything. How does Slavs moving through Eurasia translate into a city built in Mesopotamia? The persian link is clear. Mesopotamia was the center of Persian rule (The Sassanids) just before the Arabs invaded and the Baghdad became their capital. It is completely understandable that they chose a small town already there when the Persians ruled the place. We know that almost all the bureaucracy of the Umayyid, and even more so, Abbasid, dynasties was adopted from Sassanid rule. Moreover, the name does not just sound "similar" to Slavic terms, it is Persian as it is. Not similar, as it is. As for the reason why the name is more similar to Slavic rather than some of other Indo-European languages, one reason could be that specific word for God was adopted from Persian when the Slavs moved around Eurasia as you put it. The second part (dad, data, etc.) exists in most Indo-European language in one form or another (but again, the precise term "dad" is specifically Persian.)


reader Bz said...

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Baghdad


reader Bz said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Slavic_borrowings#Slavic_and_Iranian



:-)


reader Luboš Motl said...

OK, I surrender. It's a remarkable proximity here, anyway.


reader Bz said...

Yes it is. Very interesting. I didn't know that either.
Cheers.


reader Dilaton said...

Yep, thanks for the correction :-)


reader Peter F. said...

My paternal great grandfather seems to have gotten sick of being just another Ericsson (in actual fact he was a somewhat less successful entrepreneur and inventor of a washing-machine than the L.M. Ericsson Ericsson), so he, Oskar, made up a surname from the name of a small town in the region. The town's name means exactly "Fallen tree bridge". By removing the a possessive s-ending and the bridge-part he created my not completely unique surname.
;-)


reader Casper said...

So if we apply mysticism to the subject then Lubos is either a gift from God or completely mad, or both. This seems reasonable. I had already figured that something like this must be the case.


reader lucretius said...

You can find a note on these matters here
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhaga



According to my Polish etymological dictionary the Polish word "Bóg" derives from the old Slavic words for wealth (bogaty means wealthy, ubogi means poor) and these words are cognate to the Sanskrit bhaga and Avestani (and Old Persian) baga. There is no suggestion that the word Bóg itself was borrowed from Persian.


reader Smoking Frog said...

I've just discovered that "Pilsen" is the Czech equivalent of "McDonald." When I ask Google Maps for Pilsen, Czech Republic, it points me exactly to a McDonald's restaurant. :-)


reader lukelea said...

I read recently on a website that counts the numbers of peoples with various names that there are only two Luke Lea's in the U.S.. I doubt that frankly -- especially since I know who the other one is!


reader Eugene S said...

Mais pourquois pas? Mesdames et messieurs, j'ai l'honneur de vous introduire M. Aimé Dieudonné... I dunno, it has a certain ring to it :)


reader Bernd Felsche said...

Sacrilege!


It should point to a brewery. :-)


reader Bernd Felsche said...

In the semi-prehistory when years were counted backwards, there were Celtic tribes roaming around the region... one of the more prominent ones between the Danube, Elbe and Oder rivers was called "Boii" by the Romans of the period. They called their homelands "Boihem" - The home of the Boii. Bohemia. One of the outer settled areas of what the Germanic tribes of the time refered to as "Boier" later largely became incorporated into the layer "Bayern" - Bavaria. The Boii's influence went as far as Gaul and northern Italy to the Mediterranean at the Adriatic.

During the last generation of the backward-counting years, the Boii lands were conquered and the people assimilated by the Swabian (Germanic) Marcomanni tribes.

Some historians still like to view the conquest of lands by other tribes as driving others out or an act of mass genocide... but the human genome says that it was mainly the conquerers culture that dominated, with many of the natives "converting". The "driving out" meme may be rooted in the writings of Roman scribes, making their masters, or those who defeated their masters, look powerful.