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Community Forums › General › General Discussion Groups › Italian given names and English equivalents

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Italian given names and English equivalents
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tjbrn
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 1:29 pm    Post subject: Italian given names and English equivalents Reply with quote

I am curious about the derivation of the English equivalents of Italian given names. My mother was named Gaetana. She has been known as Ida for as long as I can remember, which corresponds to various online references regarding the English equivalents for Italian names; however, Gaetano, the masculine form corresponds to Thomas. How were these equivalents determined, especially since Gaetano, for example, might have Greek origins? Giuseppe-->Josephum-->Joseph makes sense but other names are a puzzle. Along similar lines, can anyone shed light on when and/or who would have initiated the change from using the original Italian given name to the English equivalent? I know that the answer to the previous question depends on individual families and their circumstances. In my own family, I know that my Sicilian grandparents gave their children Italian names (birth and baptismal documents substantiate this); however, I have not determined conclusively when English equivalent names were adopted, and how and by whom they were arrived at. Knowing what I know about my grandparents, it seems unlikely that they did this unassisted.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 2:36 pm    Post subject: Re: Italian given names and English equivalents Reply with quote

I can only comment on my own family. But, first about gaetano. I have found people with that name using thomas, tommy and also guy.

My mother, was born giovannina. She said the school teacher chose her american name with her..by asking if she liked johanna or jennie. My mother became jennie and I believe she had the giovannina legally changed to jennie. I find that sad.

My aunt (fathers side) also said they chose her american name for her in school.

It seems, that unlike today, the professionals couldnt accept the ethnic names or had no wish to learn how to pronounce them..so renamed these school aged children. Heh..I would love to see the uproar today, if that ever occured.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 2:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Italian given names and English equivalents Reply with quote

I think alot of children's names were changed in the schools, but I could be wrong. My name is Erminia and of course, that was not a very common name to grow up with in the '70's. To complicate things, I was known as Nuccia by my family. Since Irma was so "similar" to Erminia, (at least one of my teachers thought so) she decided that would be my name. My cousin (who has the same name and had the same problem thought there was no way we should be called Irma and so we became "Amie", a name I still use today. But of course, I still sign my real name on all my legal documents.

My uncle years and years ago decided to move to the US and was going through a messy divorce so he just up and totally changed his name. There was no court proceedings, he just signed it and still goes by that name today. But I believe he also uses his real name now. I'll ask him next time his up. I think it would be interesting to ask and I only know the story second hand anyway.

Will let you know.

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Eleven
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 3:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Italian given names and English equivalents Reply with quote

Nuccia..your real name is so pretty...and different.

Ya know..all of these old world names are coming back.

The daughter of a friend of mine..named her son, Giovanni. Another womans daughter, I know, probably 3-4th generation, born here named her baby Giovannina.

My generation tried to get away from the italian names...well I guess my mother did, too because my name is nowhere near italian.

I gave my son an italian first name (but that was NOT my choice). Its the name of his father and his grandfather..and I fought tooth and nail with my son and dil not to give that name to their son. It took me 9 months..but they ended up reversing my sons first and middle name for my grandson..so Anthony is his first name, and the other, is in the middle.

I was tickled pink. I hug my grandson everytime I see him and call him "my" Anthony. The Anthony it took me 34 years to get..lol
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tjbrn
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 8:43 pm    Post subject: Re: Italian given names and English equivalents Reply with quote

I don't believe any of my aunts or uncles legally changed their given or surname; however, I do know that the surname "Dragotto" became "Degrotto" for reasons I've yet to unearth except for the attempt to sound less Italian given the difficulties they encountered getting work. Dragotto was still used in 1930 as it appears on the 1930 census although the given names were the English equivalents--my mom was only 3 and she was already listed as Ida. The crazy thing is that "Degrotto" certainly sounded Italian to the locals in south Jersey! My genealogical efforts were stymied for several years as I searched Italian name databases in vain for any trace of the name Degrotto. Dutch, yes, even a possibility of French but never a hit in any Italian name database that I tried. All of the breakthroughs came when the letters were translated on this site for me. I'm still trying to ascertain my Uncle Russell's given name. The easy answer is Rosario; however, according to the naming convention that Italians followed he should have been named Salvatore as he was the second son and my grandmother's father's name was Salvatore. I have an uncle who is named Salvatore but he was born in 1939 and my uncle Russell died in 1945 so the renaming practice doesn't seem logical in this case. I wish I had asked my grandmother more questions as a kid or at least different ones as I'm sure I taxed her patience more than once!!

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