Pending merge of Empress Theophanu

+4 votes

We have a pending merge (approved by both PMs) since January of this year with several issues that need clearing before the merge:

  • LNAB: The profiles have the names Skleraina(-3) and Of_Byzantium(-40). Both names pose problems. Skleraina is the female form of a Byzantine noble family and would be the correct (transliterated) name. But do we go by the dynastic name or by the sex-specific name - and are we going to use Greek? The dynastic name is Σκληροί, the female name would be Σκλήραινα. Given name Θεοφανώ, preferred name Theophanu.
  • Birthplace unknown, somewhere in Byzantium - Βασιλεία Ῥωμαίων.
  • Death: at Nijmegen, Gelre, Heilige Roomse Rijk
  • Marriage 14 Apr 972 in Rome.
  • Husband's name: Liudolfinger or Ottonen?
WikiTree profile: Theophanu Skleraina
in Policy and Style by Helmut Jungschaffer G2G6 Pilot (544k points)

Following the conclusion of the recent thread about dynasty or gender specific names, I guess the answer would be Σκληροί ?


Yes, but you know it's a minefield and I prefer to tread lightly.
Yes, absolutely!
I believe the anglicized name Theophanu should be used. Greek or dynastic names would only prove difficult for most wiki-tree users and serve no useful purpose.

1 Answer

+4 votes

You know how I feel, writing names in Greek serves absolutely no purpose, and is a disservice to wikitree.  The name is not recognizable, not readable and not searchable.  It defeats the entire purpose of what the name field is for, and why we write profiles.

It seems to me that the wikipedia article gives an fine list of alternative spellings for Theophanu which should appear in the biography.

For the LNAB use the family dynastic name of Skleros or the feminine form Skleraina.

by Joe Cochoit G2G6 Pilot (224k points)
The only argument I could oppose is that when I look, for instance, at profiles for Rurikids with a LNAB in Cyrillic characters, the older profiles seem to have been created by Russian people. Same thing happened when we had Polish or Hungarian contributors, who tended to create profiles with the names they were used to hearing in their native exotic European country. If we decide to use American transliterations (because as you know, French, German, etc. transliterations are different), we are in effect telling all these people to "get lost", and that notable people from their country and of their heritage (I know this is inaccurate, but his is how they would perceive them) do not belong to their country but must be Americanized instead. I'm exaggerating a little, but I'm sure that is how they feel, and you know why. And I'm perfectly aware these people are a small minority on a site like this.

Yes, I know, this is weak and convoluted, and yes, I do think we should be careful how far we want to take "use their conventions not ours". And yes, I know this is an American site (as a non-American you understand this pretty quickly).

Now I'm making a test. I want to see if the profile comes up in search for first name "Theophanu" if we write the proper first name in Greek and Preferred name transcribed in English. Just a test, but I'd like to be certain that the names are not searchable.

I updated the profile to something like I think every medieval and ancient profile should look like with regard to the name.  Because spelling is so variable, because language is so variable, because names often require an explanation, because names often require sourcing, I think every medieval profile should have a ===Name and Titles === section.  This gives a place for the name to be discussed and sourced without cluttering up the name fields with every obscure variation.  For example, for Theophanu:

Name and Titles

Name: Theophanu, Regent of the Holy Roman Empire

Orthographic variations: Theophania, Theophana or Theophano

Greek: Θεοφανώ,

German: Theophanu, Theofana

Empress Consort of the Holy Roman Empire (on her marriage to Otto II)

Regent of the Holy Roman Empire (during the minority of her son).

She was called the "niece" of John I Tzimiskes in her marriage charter, though there are other interpretations of the word neptis (e.g. granddaughter). She is usually said to have been a member of the Skleros family. Her parentage is not known with certainty.

Yes...  but in spite of everything, shall I tell you that I hate seeing "King of France" on top of the profile of a (Capetian, post-Philippe Auguste) king?

Because it's in English?
More because it's not French. They were not English and never spoke English. Technically, they did not speak the French I speak, it is true.

I don't mind having both French and English, though "Roi de France, King of France"; I would tend to prefer "clutter" to obliteration of the culture of the people being profiled... But, as I've already said, I know I'm in the minority and I can live with it. And I don't mind English in itself, obviously !

Isabelle, the failure to search for Θεοφανώ in WikiTree is a failure of the search engine. Ostensibly we use Google Search, but while a Google search outside WikiTree finds Θεοφανώ Σκλήραινα in transliteration (albeit only on the second or third page), a WikiTree Google search finds nothing. I can only surmise that Google rents out the Fiat 500 version of its search engine to other websites and reserves the Lexus version for itself (or for better paying customers).

As for the cultural aspect discussed here, we have a Global Community Outreach Project that, among other things,

... will discuss strategies for reaching out to genealogists around the world, and ways for volunteers outside the United States to become more active in our global community.

The English über Alles  attitude sometimes found here doesn't strike me as very conducive to this goal. 

As to her paternity: I do not see a reason to remove Konstantinos Skleros as father, that's what we have the "uncertain" designation for, given that a considerable number of historians subscribe to his likely paternity.

It depends on where you search on WikiTree - searching just for the first name Θεοφανώ in the usual basic search found at the top of most WikiTree pages, it doesn't find anything, but if you go to the Search page (File > Search) and scroll down to option 4. Search for any text and enter Θεοφανώ then Google has no problems in finding the profile.

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