Names and Variants

One of the difficult problems concerning names is grouping variants of a name: when does a variant become a name of its own? In current onomastic systems, there is a tendency to see even different writing of a name as something different. People called 'Yanne' often do not feel their name is the same as 'Janne', and certainly not the same as 'Johanna'. Still these names are etymologically related or even identical. A 'separatist' approach would create 3 NAM entries for these three name, an 'integrist' approach would group these three together under a single NAM entry.

In our database, we have opted for the latter, grouping variants, mainly because of the problems posed by the separatist approach when dealing with different languages. Pushing the separatist principle to the extreme, Greek Ἀπολλώνιος would be a different name from its Demotic transliteration ȝpwlnys. Also, because of the existence of a separate database of name variants, the user can still treat each variant as a separate name should he prefer to do so.

But even within each language and script we have permitted some variation within a single name. For Egyptian names (i.e. names with an Egyptian etymology), we have grouped together variants with or without genitive '-n' or feminine and plural endings '.t' and '.w', as well as variants with and without an article inside the name, e.g. Ḥr-Ỉkš and Ḥr-pȝ-Ỉkš. For Greek names spelling mistakes such as Πτολλεμαῖος or dialectal variants such as Ἀπολλωνίδας do not warrant the creation of a separate name.

Perhaps less obvious is the choice for separation in the following cases: for Egyptian the addition of the article in front of the name, e.g. Pȝ-ḥtr against Ḥtr (despite the problems posed by hieroglyphic texts); the possessive pronoun versus the article, e.g. Pa-hb against Pȝ-hb (although we do not claim consistency here, especially not considering the problems created by the possessive pronoun, in particular for the feminine forms Ta- and Tȝy-); for Greek names a variation in ending is enough to consider it a separate name, e.g. Ἀχιλλεύς against Ἀχιλλᾶς. Hypocoristica are also considered separate names, even though in some rare cases full name and hypocoristic are used side by side for the same person in the same text or archive.