Norse, Saxon, Swedish to Latin name help needed

+5 votes
I am working on some old records written in Latin.  But it translating names for what we believe to be Saxons or Norse or Swedish individuals.  So I need some help...

Sweyn Thorlongusson and grandson of Thorlongus Leofwinson  

how would these show up in either Latin or English in the 10th Century?

What would Sioani in Latin be?  Could it be Swyen as seen above?

Swani  is this the same as Swyen or Sioani?  

Any help someone can give is greatly appreciated.
in Genealogy Help by Laura Bozzay G2G6 Pilot (682k points)

4 Answers

+3 votes
Best answer
Medieval scribes generally weren't very good at Latin but made attempts, usually unsuccessful, to use correct grammar.

"Thoro, filio Sioani" is an attempt to say "To (or for) Thor, son of Sioan". Thoro is not short for anything. It's the dative case of Thorus which I would assume is the invented Latin form for Thor, or names derived from it. Filio is the dative of filius (son) and Sioani is the genitive case of Sioanus - whatever that represents. 'Si' in Welsh and Gaelic is 'sh' so it seems plausible it's being used for Sven or Sweyn. It's important to realise that the final -i is not part of the name they're trying to represent.
by Matthew Fletcher G2G6 Pilot (108k points)
selected by Per-Olav Hildebrand
Great that is what I was wondering.  It gives some credence to a passage we found and are trying to verify.
So it is "of Swen" in Gaelic Latin :-) Not bad.
+2 votes
My Latin isn't that great Laura, but it might help if we knew exactly what the sections of the records actually stated?

One of the other difficulties with names in records from this period, is that they may not be spelled the same way in different records.  Even within the same record the same name might be written differently.
by John Atkinson G2G6 Pilot (486k points)
Hi John,  It is from a Scottish charter from the 10th Century.

Yes I am aware that spelling was not standardized until the 20th century in many places.  And dialects and language changes can also come into play.

I have done a lot of Latin for English, French, and German records... but the Saxon or Norse style names I am not really versed in and am wondering if they make sense to the English version of the names.  

Here are the passages: " he is the son of Sweyn Thorlongusson and grandson of Thorlongus Leofwinson"  that appears in one location and appears to be English version of the names.  

""Thoro, filio Sioani"  Thoro would be short I think for Thorald or Thoraldus which is the possible son of Sweyn and grandson of Throlongus listed in the first passage.    This is the third version:

Sir David Dalrymple, in his Collections,^ notices a confirmation by" Thoraldus {sic) filius  Swani " to the Abbey of Holyroodhouse of the  claim he had to the church of Travernent  

We are trying to determine if Sioani and Swani are the same and then if they can both be Sweyn.   Because we are trying to determine if these are the same people or different people and I am hoping someone with language expertise can help us figure this out.   

I know that Hans, Jean, Johan, Johannes, and John are all the same names...  but I don't know if Swani, Sweyn, and Sioani are the same.

In French, Steven, Stephan, and Etienne are all the same name so I know that sometimes the word forms can vary a lot...

This is later, but we had a bishop in Sweden, who was born Sven Jacobsson and latinized Sveno Jacobi. Died 1554. In Swedish records he would probably have been written as Swen rather than Sven, from what I see when immersed in ordinary folks in the 1600s (which is as far back as I usually go).

That makes sense to me for Sven.  Although I could also see Svenus or Svenius.  Normally men's names ended in us or ius when they took a non Latin name and Latinized it.  But I have also seen Marcus and Marco with the o being more Italian than Latin.  But I can see that...  the scribes were writing most often phonetically and then trying to make it sound Latin...  it is how Feisthauer became Festor in France...  plus you have all the foreigners who came either with trade, as refugees from famine, war or illness or religious persecution or for plunder... and dialects to deal with too. Sigh,  Even my lexicons have not been a great help with this one...
Just speaking without much experience of the time in question, I can easily imagine Swen being Sweyn in Nordic documents. Swani... I'm not sure. Tried looking up Svani - it seees to be a name in Iceland today.

One problem with the multiformity of names is that names that originally have different roots may end up written the same (as you have probably noticed).

The Sioani comes across to me as being customized to the Scottish context - so it all hinges on whether Sven and Svani is the same name or different.
Agreed, but that Iceland hint is great!  That makes sense to me...

Sorry Laura, I still can't work out the source for "Thoro, filio Sioani".  Knowing the full charter rather than just that section may help identify who they are meant to be.

Also in Riddle:  FN page 225 PDF  * There is a grant by David I. to the Abbey of Dunfermling " de rectitudine Navhiin de In veresc," which is witnessed by " Herberto, Camerario," and "Thoro, filio Sioani^''—"Thoro," it is concluded, being a contraction for Thoraldo. It is very likely—these Christian names being then exotics in Scotland, shared at least by very few there, while Saxon, too —that the preceding is the Thoraldus in the text. And Sir David Dalrymple, in his Collections,^ notices a confirmation by" Thoraldus {sic) filius  Swani " to the Abbey of Holyroodhouse of the  claim he had to the church of Travernent   The Theory here is that Thoraldus might be the one known as of Cadder I and is thought to be the progenitor of the Stirling line.  The Italic is directly lifted from the book.  That is what I have.  

0 votes
I think Sioani is too far from Sweyn to make a guess like that unless we find a special to believe this was the case. If it was Soaini the proposal would look stronger. Could it be a Gaelic name?
by Andrew Lancaster G2G6 Pilot (108k points)

So I am trying to test the Sioani against the above link...

Gaelic has only eighteen letters in its alphabet, so no J, K, Q, V, W, X, Y or Z.  so with no v or W it would have to come up with some combination of letters to get close to that sound.  

S; as in English  unless it is a "slender S"  = 'slenderising' a consonant just involves sticking a Y after it  since i can be interchangeable with y I wonder if this applies here?  Anyway a slender S sounds like sh in chash

i =  is sounded like e in see

o =  O as in cot usually  or Ò as is law.

  • A like in cat, or more accurately, like the first part of the vowel in cow.

  • À is a longer version of the above, as in father.

n as in English...  So if I try putting this all together I get something like Shawn (Sean)  Or maybe Se- o - an

and a final i   So Shawny or Seany or the like

EUIA and ÌO sound like a Gaelic I and A run together, that is, like the English word ''ear'' (without the R)   so that would change it a little maybe more like


What do you all think?


Don't forget Matthew's comment about the final 'i' being tacked on as a genitive in the Latin. This leaves us with Shawn or Schwan -w hich sounds to me what a Scot might make of Swen/Sweyn.
Good point.  Yes I think we are on the right track and this is making sense.  

Thank you all so very much!  I love collaboration!
I think Sean comes from French/English Jean/John (medieval Jehan etc), and is not the therefore an old original Gaelic name, but something imported later?

I think the original medieval Gaelic version of Biblical Latin Johannes had no fricative sound like in French and English but will be more like Ewan and Ian.

Anyway, whatever good guesses we come up with these are only guesses and I don't think we should use those?
I think so, too, about Sean. But as I said in a comment above: One problem with the multiformity of names is that names that originally have different roots may end up written the same.
Yes and any "word" or name with only a couple of syllables will naturally seem to appear in many different languages, as if from a common root, but actually just by chance.
So, the question is, what is the 'i' doing after the 'S' in Sioan.

Slenderizing the 'S'? - and would there be a reason to do that?
It would be stronger proof if I had found where Sioani was the same name as Swen to be sure... but I think there is some strong circumstantial evidence in that scribes wrote what they heard phonetically so if the Scribe is Gaelic (they are in Scottand) and hears Swen of Swyen and writes down something that is close in his language you can say, while this is not proof there are some interesting phonetic possibilities here.  I wish I knew a linguist who could tell us if this is close, real, or pie in the sky.  I agree we are all guessing but sometimes people on G2G have knowledge that makes a huge difference.    Since he man in question is thought to have come to Scotland with David I and these names are appearing on charters they are coming from most likely fairly well to do people.  That means there may be other traces if we can find the clues to look for...
You have to go in search of a linguist :-)

I think the guess has gained strength, but of course it is still a guess.
I have them for French and German but not for Norse or Danish and the other Northern languages.   I also am not versed in Gaelic.  The Latin I can handle.  Had years of it in school plus French.  I have picked up some Hungarian which is really different than the Romance languages.  

One of my cousins speaks and reads and writes 9 languages.  I think I will run this by him too.  Maybe one of his professor friends has a handle on it...

My lexicons did not help me on this one...   I think they are more geared to Romance languages.
In Scots Gaelic John is Iain (or Ian when translated into English)

In Irish Gaelic John is Sean (pronounced "Shawn")

Do not know the history of the difference.
Thanks Janet that is good information too!
0 votes

I think you're looking at uncorrected OCR.  This is the scanned image:


by Anonymous Horace G2G6 Pilot (568k points)

Hi RJ I am working from multiple sources. I downloaded the copy of the Riddle Book in the Library of Scotland and that is what I am using.  Some of the transcriptions in the various sources do vary a bit from each other.  One of the interesting sides of doing research on 10th Century texts!  My source is and yes it is the text in the foot note.  But some of this was also echoed in other books on the topic.

I am working with Fraser, Bain, Sterling and some websites like the Peerage trees, POMS,  plus the Riddle  Book.  One site made some claims based I believe on this footnote that takes Thorald's line way back.  I wanted to see if there was any validity to that site..  I never take anything at face value with out testing it.   But sometimes as they say even a blind pig can find a truffle!  I have found some obscure websites with a key that opened up some really good research.  But you have to take these with a grain of salt as we know!  Take a look at this and you will see why I wanted to test it...  I think this person used that footnote and then went out and tried to back source it into a tree...

But thank you for the link because it is another one to the same book I am using.  Different versions and years of printing may have slightly different text and that is worth checking out too!
It was "Navhiin" that worried me.  You can search for it in the Riddell book on, and it finds the page, but the printed word is actually Navium.

If your PDF has the same error, it was probably downloaded from there.
Oh, good catch!  I have noticed that sometimes when I try to copy and paste text it changes the numbers and letters.  I have tried to catch those and correct them  I did not see that one!   Thanks again!  But I have also found some differences among the various sources all quoting the same handwritten charter text and I have not in all cases seen the hand written charters.

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