The history / How Arbëresh surnames were adapted in Italy

E hënë, 22 Prill, 2024
E hënë, 22 Prill, 2024

The history / How Arbëresh surnames were adapted in Italy

Arbërs who emigrated to Italy took with them, among other things, names and surnames. The names had nothing extraordinary; they were Christian names like all the others, but most of the surnames were definitely typical for the Albanian world. Unlike the language, religion and traditions that people wanted to preserve, this could not be the case with names and surnames. They had to adapt to the language in their new homeland as soon as possible. Today we find it difficult to say how this process developed linguistically, especially when we do not know how Arbër names and surnames were written at that time.

They were definitely written, for example in baptismal records and official documents of the time, but with what spelling? How were they written, for example: the names Gjin, Gjon e Gjergj, with a special letter that marked the sound gj in Albanian or with foreign forms such as Johan, Georg, etc.? I do not know if anything has been written about this problem. However, the adaptation of Arbër nouns and adjectives must have started with the elimination of those Albanian sounds that are unknown to Italian, such as: the vowels ë, y and the consonants dh, gj, ll, q, rr, th, zh. Of course Andoni / Ndoni became Antonio very quickly, but what happened to Gjon and Gjin? These were replaced by similar Italian names.

We have a clear proof of this in the first Arbëresh writer himself. On the cover of his work “E mbsuame e kështerë” (Rome 1592) the author’s name appears twice: first in Albanian as “… paer Lecae Matraengnae (for Lekë Matrëngna)” and later in the Italian translation as Luca Matranga. He also signs with Luca Matranga. The Arbër name Leka could easily be transcribed in Italian, but being unknown to the Italian authorities and the public, the author preferred the name Luca which was known to all. Even the adjective adapted to the new language being made from Matrënga to Matranga. Name changes also took place in Albania.

With the conversion of the majority of the population to Muslim, the names became Muslim, and often for various reasons even the surnames. But the Christian population generally retained early names and surnames. Therefore, in this part of the population is preserved even today the oldest layer of names and especially of Albanian surnames, although there are many Muslim families who still keep the old surnames or know them. It is no wonder, then, that we find many adjectives on both sides of the sea. For a long time prof. E. Çabej has pointed out the importance of the Arbëresh settlements of Greece and Italy for the Albanian onomastics.

In the article “The question of the origin of the Arbëresh settlements of Italy in the light mainly of language and personal names” he mentions the priest Kole Keta from Kuntisa of Palermo, who more than two hundred years ago used onomastics in the study of the origin of his compatriots. Çabej mentions here the most famous Arbëresh surnames such as Baffa, Barbati, Barci, Basile, Becci, Bellusci, Cadicamo, Candreva, Carnesi, Cucci, Damis, Dara, Dorsa, Dramis, Golemi, Helmi, Lala, Licursi, Lopes, Lucci, Manesi , Marchianò, Massaraccia, Masi, Masci, Mates, Matranga, Petta, Plescia, Rada, Reres, Ribecco, Schirò, Smílari, Staffa, Stamati, Suli, Tocci, Variboba. A good part of these adjectives, continues Çabej, indicate the region or village from where the newcomers moved, such as Borscia Borgia (Borshi), Cacosi, Canemiti, Crávari (Kravar in the Preveza region), Cucci, Cudes (Road near Himara), Damis (Damës near Tepelena), Dara (village in the region of Preveza), Dirmí (Dhërmi near Himara), Dorsa (Dorza), Dragotta (Dragoti), Dramis (Drama in Çamëri), Glava, Golemi, Groppa (Gropa in Kurvelesh), Jerbes (Gjerbës), Licursi (Likursi), Lopes, Masaracchia (Mazërék in Chameria), Pillora (Pilurafër Himaraës), Reres (Sand in Mallakastër), Schciadà (Shqadhá in Chameria), Schirò (Sqirô in the district of Vlora), Suli Sciales, Tocci, Variboba (Varibopi in Mallakastër and near Këlcyra), Zarobina (Zharovina).

Some of them are ambiguous from the geographical source, because in Albania there is more than one country that responds, even in Gegëri. There are also names of Arbëresh families, to which in the areas mentioned above the names of families or tribes are answered as p. sh. Andronico, Bala, Barbaci, Basta, Bellusci, Bua, Granà (Vranà), Ghisci, Loscia, Lucci, Macri, Masi, Muricchio, Stamati, Strati, Sciarra, Spata, Tanasi, Thani, Varfi, Zuppa (Zhupa). Some of them take us to central and northern Albania: besides Castriota and Scura also Cadìcamo, Chetta, Gazullus, Gramsci, Manes (Mánëza), Mates, Miracco, Musacchi (Muzhaqi), Plescia, Polisi, Rada, Renes, Riolo. But the number of these names “could easily be increased”, says Çabej, and this is true. Thus reading in “J. arbëreshe I also found these common adjectives: Tamburi (Christians from Përmeti, cf. Alessandro Tamburri), Morina (kr. Aldo Morina from Vacarizzo Albanese with Gege population), Moçi (Christians, cf. Daniela Moccia from St. Benedict) , Rafti (Christians, cf. Massimo Rafti), Mele (Christians, cf. Bishop Janj Mele), Trojani (Christians, cf. Ferdinando Trojano), Flloko (cf. Floccanë Piana), Gjura (mixed, cf. Lluixhi e Ruzari Giura). On the other hand, of the adjectives mentioned by Çabej, only these are still used in our country: Bala (j), Beçi, Belushi / Blushi, Dragoti, Dhamo, Dhrami, Gazulli, Golemi, Keta, Kuçi, Kuqi, Lala, Luçi, Mazreku, Mati, Miraka (j), Muriqi, Radi, Rrjolli, Skura, Stafa, Stamati, Strati, Suli, Shalsi, Sharra, Toçi, Thanasi, Thana / Thano, Varfi, Vasili, Zhupa. The rest are extinguished. Onomastic studies in Albania still have a lot of work to do. A dictionary of Albanian adjectives by Ç. Bidollari, but this is only the first step. It should be followed by an encyclopedic dictionary for all Arbër and Albanian adjectives, including historical, geographical and etymological data. A relief is the fact that studies on Arbëresh adjectives have advanced considerably, either as part of publications on Italian adjectives (see E. De Felice, Dizionario deicognomi italiani; G. Rohlfs, Dizionario dei cognomi e sopranomi in Calabria, Ravenna 1979), either in special editions

(R. D ’Alifera Patitari, Casati albanesi in Calabria e Sicilia në Rivista Storicacalabrese X-XI). The Arbëresh adjectives should not be forgotten and those villages that today no longer speak Arbëresh, but preserve Albanian adjectives such as p. sh. Tosca (Castel San Giovanni in Regio Emilia). There are many things on the internet that need to be systematized. There is also a lot of data on the surnames of Albanians in the Balkans. Interestingly, adjectives have generally changed very little phonetically. Common surnames are undoubtedly the earliest layer of Albanian surnames in the Balkans. Such a dictionary would also contribute to the study of Arberian and Albanian ethnomonics. / Ina Arapi, Vienna /

Arbërs who emigrated to Italy took with them, among other things, names and surnames. The names had nothing extraordinary; they were Christian names like all the others, but most of the surnames were definitely typical for the Albanian world. Unlike the language, religion and traditions that people wanted to preserve, this could not be the case with names and surnames. They had to adapt to the language in their new homeland as soon as possible. Today we find it difficult to say how this process developed linguistically, especially when we do not know how Arbër names and surnames were written at that time.

They were definitely written, for example in baptismal records and official documents of the time, but with what spelling? How were they written, for example: the names Gjin, Gjon e Gjergj, with a special letter that marked the sound gj in Albanian or with foreign forms such as Johan, Georg, etc.? I do not know if anything has been written about this problem. However, the adaptation of Arbër nouns and adjectives must have started with the elimination of those Albanian sounds that are unknown to Italian, such as: the vowels ë, y and the consonants dh, gj, ll, q, rr, th, zh. Of course Andoni / Ndoni became Antonio very quickly, but what happened to Gjon and Gjin? These were replaced by similar Italian names.

We have a clear proof of this in the first Arbëresh writer himself. On the cover of his work “E mbsuame e kështerë” (Rome 1592) the author’s name appears twice: first in Albanian as “… paer Lecae Matraengnae (for Lekë Matrëngna)” and later in the Italian translation as Luca Matranga. He also signs with Luca Matranga. The Arbër name Leka could easily be transcribed in Italian, but being unknown to the Italian authorities and the public, the author preferred the name Luca which was known to all. Even the adjective adapted to the new language being made from Matrënga to Matranga. Name changes also took place in Albania.

With the conversion of the majority of the population to Muslim, the names became Muslim, and often for various reasons even the surnames. But the Christian population generally retained early names and surnames. Therefore, in this part of the population is preserved even today the oldest layer of names and especially of Albanian surnames, although there are many Muslim families who still keep the old surnames or know them. It is no wonder, then, that we find many adjectives on both sides of the sea. For a long time prof. E. Çabej has pointed out the importance of the Arbëresh settlements of Greece and Italy for the Albanian onomastics.

In the article “The question of the origin of the Arbëresh settlements of Italy in the light mainly of language and personal names” he mentions the priest Kole Keta from Kuntisa of Palermo, who more than two hundred years ago used onomastics in the study of the origin of his compatriots. Çabej mentions here the most famous Arbëresh surnames such as Baffa, Barbati, Barci, Basile, Becci, Bellusci, Cadicamo, Candreva, Carnesi, Cucci, Damis, Dara, Dorsa, Dramis, Golemi, Helmi, Lala, Licursi, Lopes, Lucci, Manesi , Marchianò, Massaraccia, Masi, Masci, Mates, Matranga, Petta, Plescia, Rada, Reres, Ribecco, Schirò, Smílari, Staffa, Stamati, Suli, Tocci, Variboba. A good part of these adjectives, continues Çabej, indicate the region or village from where the newcomers moved, such as Borscia Borgia (Borshi), Cacosi, Canemiti, Crávari (Kravar in the Preveza region), Cucci, Cudes (Road near Himara), Damis (Damës near Tepelena), Dara (village in the region of Preveza), Dirmí (Dhërmi near Himara), Dorsa (Dorza), Dragotta (Dragoti), Dramis (Drama in Çamëri), Glava, Golemi, Groppa (Gropa in Kurvelesh), Jerbes (Gjerbës), Licursi (Likursi), Lopes, Masaracchia (Mazërék in Chameria), Pillora (Pilurafër Himaraës), Reres (Sand in Mallakastër), Schciadà (Shqadhá in Chameria), Schirò (Sqirô in the district of Vlora), Suli Sciales, Tocci, Variboba (Varibopi in Mallakastër and near Këlcyra), Zarobina (Zharovina).

Some of them are ambiguous from the geographical source, because in Albania there is more than one country that responds, even in Gegëri. There are also names of Arbëresh families, to which in the areas mentioned above the names of families or tribes are answered as p. sh. Andronico, Bala, Barbaci, Basta, Bellusci, Bua, Granà (Vranà), Ghisci, Loscia, Lucci, Macri, Masi, Muricchio, Stamati, Strati, Sciarra, Spata, Tanasi, Thani, Varfi, Zuppa (Zhupa). Some of them take us to central and northern Albania: besides Castriota and Scura also Cadìcamo, Chetta, Gazullus, Gramsci, Manes (Mánëza), Mates, Miracco, Musacchi (Muzhaqi), Plescia, Polisi, Rada, Renes, Riolo. But the number of these names “could easily be increased”, says Çabej, and this is true. Thus reading in “J. arbëreshe I also found these common adjectives: Tamburi (Christians from Përmeti, cf. Alessandro Tamburri), Morina (kr. Aldo Morina from Vacarizzo Albanese with Gege population), Moçi (Christians, cf. Daniela Moccia from St. Benedict) , Rafti (Christians, cf. Massimo Rafti), Mele (Christians, cf. Bishop Janj Mele), Trojani (Christians, cf. Ferdinando Trojano), Flloko (cf. Floccanë Piana), Gjura (mixed, cf. Lluixhi e Ruzari Giura). On the other hand, of the adjectives mentioned by Çabej, only these are still used in our country: Bala (j), Beçi, Belushi / Blushi, Dragoti, Dhamo, Dhrami, Gazulli, Golemi, Keta, Kuçi, Kuqi, Lala, Luçi, Mazreku, Mati, Miraka (j), Muriqi, Radi, Rrjolli, Skura, Stafa, Stamati, Strati, Suli, Shalsi, Sharra, Toçi, Thanasi, Thana / Thano, Varfi, Vasili, Zhupa. The rest are extinguished. Onomastic studies in Albania still have a lot of work to do. A dictionary of Albanian adjectives by Ç. Bidollari, but this is only the first step. It should be followed by an encyclopedic dictionary for all Arbër and Albanian adjectives, including historical, geographical and etymological data. A relief is the fact that studies on Arbëresh adjectives have advanced considerably, either as part of publications on Italian adjectives (see E. De Felice, Dizionario deicognomi italiani; G. Rohlfs, Dizionario dei cognomi e sopranomi in Calabria, Ravenna 1979), either in special editions

(R. D ’Alifera Patitari, Casati albanesi in Calabria e Sicilia në Rivista Storicacalabrese X-XI). The Arbëresh adjectives should not be forgotten and those villages that today no longer speak Arbëresh, but preserve Albanian adjectives such as p. sh. Tosca (Castel San Giovanni in Regio Emilia). There are many things on the internet that need to be systematized. There is also a lot of data on the surnames of Albanians in the Balkans. Interestingly, adjectives have generally changed very little phonetically. Common surnames are undoubtedly the earliest layer of Albanian surnames in the Balkans. Such a dictionary would also contribute to the study of Arberian and Albanian ethnomonics. / Ina Arapi, Vienna /

Arbërs who emigrated to Italy took with them, among other things, names and surnames. The names had nothing extraordinary; they were Christian names like all the others, but most of the surnames were definitely typical for the Albanian world. Unlike the language, religion and traditions that people wanted to preserve, this could not be the case with names and surnames. They had to adapt to the language in their new homeland as soon as possible. Today we find it difficult to say how this process developed linguistically, especially when we do not know how Arbër names and surnames were written at that time.

They were definitely written, for example in baptismal records and official documents of the time, but with what spelling? How were they written, for example: the names Gjin, Gjon e Gjergj, with a special letter that marked the sound gj in Albanian or with foreign forms such as Johan, Georg, etc.? I do not know if anything has been written about this problem. However, the adaptation of Arbër nouns and adjectives must have started with the elimination of those Albanian sounds that are unknown to Italian, such as: the vowels ë, y and the consonants dh, gj, ll, q, rr, th, zh. Of course Andoni / Ndoni became Antonio very quickly, but what happened to Gjon and Gjin? These were replaced by similar Italian names.

We have a clear proof of this in the first Arbëresh writer himself. On the cover of his work “E mbsuame e kështerë” (Rome 1592) the author’s name appears twice: first in Albanian as “… paer Lecae Matraengnae (for Lekë Matrëngna)” and later in the Italian translation as Luca Matranga. He also signs with Luca Matranga. The Arbër name Leka could easily be transcribed in Italian, but being unknown to the Italian authorities and the public, the author preferred the name Luca which was known to all. Even the adjective adapted to the new language being made from Matrënga to Matranga. Name changes also took place in Albania.

With the conversion of the majority of the population to Muslim, the names became Muslim, and often for various reasons even the surnames. But the Christian population generally retained early names and surnames. Therefore, in this part of the population is preserved even today the oldest layer of names and especially of Albanian surnames, although there are many Muslim families who still keep the old surnames or know them. It is no wonder, then, that we find many adjectives on both sides of the sea. For a long time prof. E. Çabej has pointed out the importance of the Arbëresh settlements of Greece and Italy for the Albanian onomastics.

In the article “The question of the origin of the Arbëresh settlements of Italy in the light mainly of language and personal names” he mentions the priest Kole Keta from Kuntisa of Palermo, who more than two hundred years ago used onomastics in the study of the origin of his compatriots. Çabej mentions here the most famous Arbëresh surnames such as Baffa, Barbati, Barci, Basile, Becci, Bellusci, Cadicamo, Candreva, Carnesi, Cucci, Damis, Dara, Dorsa, Dramis, Golemi, Helmi, Lala, Licursi, Lopes, Lucci, Manesi , Marchianò, Massaraccia, Masi, Masci, Mates, Matranga, Petta, Plescia, Rada, Reres, Ribecco, Schirò, Smílari, Staffa, Stamati, Suli, Tocci, Variboba. A good part of these adjectives, continues Çabej, indicate the region or village from where the newcomers moved, such as Borscia Borgia (Borshi), Cacosi, Canemiti, Crávari (Kravar in the Preveza region), Cucci, Cudes (Road near Himara), Damis (Damës near Tepelena), Dara (village in the region of Preveza), Dirmí (Dhërmi near Himara), Dorsa (Dorza), Dragotta (Dragoti), Dramis (Drama in Çamëri), Glava, Golemi, Groppa (Gropa in Kurvelesh), Jerbes (Gjerbës), Licursi (Likursi), Lopes, Masaracchia (Mazërék in Chameria), Pillora (Pilurafër Himaraës), Reres (Sand in Mallakastër), Schciadà (Shqadhá in Chameria), Schirò (Sqirô in the district of Vlora), Suli Sciales, Tocci, Variboba (Varibopi in Mallakastër and near Këlcyra), Zarobina (Zharovina).

Some of them are ambiguous from the geographical source, because in Albania there is more than one country that responds, even in Gegëri. There are also names of Arbëresh families, to which in the areas mentioned above the names of families or tribes are answered as p. sh. Andronico, Bala, Barbaci, Basta, Bellusci, Bua, Granà (Vranà), Ghisci, Loscia, Lucci, Macri, Masi, Muricchio, Stamati, Strati, Sciarra, Spata, Tanasi, Thani, Varfi, Zuppa (Zhupa). Some of them take us to central and northern Albania: besides Castriota and Scura also Cadìcamo, Chetta, Gazullus, Gramsci, Manes (Mánëza), Mates, Miracco, Musacchi (Muzhaqi), Plescia, Polisi, Rada, Renes, Riolo. But the number of these names “could easily be increased”, says Çabej, and this is true. Thus reading in “J. arbëreshe I also found these common adjectives: Tamburi (Christians from Përmeti, cf. Alessandro Tamburri), Morina (kr. Aldo Morina from Vacarizzo Albanese with Gege population), Moçi (Christians, cf. Daniela Moccia from St. Benedict) , Rafti (Christians, cf. Massimo Rafti), Mele (Christians, cf. Bishop Janj Mele), Trojani (Christians, cf. Ferdinando Trojano), Flloko (cf. Floccanë Piana), Gjura (mixed, cf. Lluixhi e Ruzari Giura). On the other hand, of the adjectives mentioned by Çabej, only these are still used in our country: Bala (j), Beçi, Belushi / Blushi, Dragoti, Dhamo, Dhrami, Gazulli, Golemi, Keta, Kuçi, Kuqi, Lala, Luçi, Mazreku, Mati, Miraka (j), Muriqi, Radi, Rrjolli, Skura, Stafa, Stamati, Strati, Suli, Shalsi, Sharra, Toçi, Thanasi, Thana / Thano, Varfi, Vasili, Zhupa. The rest are extinguished. Onomastic studies in Albania still have a lot of work to do. A dictionary of Albanian adjectives by Ç. Bidollari, but this is only the first step. It should be followed by an encyclopedic dictionary for all Arbër and Albanian adjectives, including historical, geographical and etymological data. A relief is the fact that studies on Arbëresh adjectives have advanced considerably, either as part of publications on Italian adjectives (see E. De Felice, Dizionario deicognomi italiani; G. Rohlfs, Dizionario dei cognomi e sopranomi in Calabria, Ravenna 1979), either in special editions

(R. D ’Alifera Patitari, Casati albanesi in Calabria e Sicilia në Rivista Storicacalabrese X-XI). The Arbëresh adjectives should not be forgotten and those villages that today no longer speak Arbëresh, but preserve Albanian adjectives such as p. sh. Tosca (Castel San Giovanni in Regio Emilia). There are many things on the internet that need to be systematized. There is also a lot of data on the surnames of Albanians in the Balkans. Interestingly, adjectives have generally changed very little phonetically. Common surnames are undoubtedly the earliest layer of Albanian surnames in the Balkans. Such a dictionary would also contribute to the study of Arberian and Albanian ethnomonics. / Ina Arapi, Vienna /