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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

Personal Names of Livonian Origin in Latvia: Past and Present.

P Balodis

There are many borrowed names in the anthroponymic system of the Latvian language, because its economic and spiritual life was influenced by many neighbouring peoples and cultures: Germans, Russians, Poles, Swedes, Lithuanians, and also the Finno-Ugric peoples of the Baltic Sea region (Livonians, Estonians, Finns). The Livonian substratum can be felt in the Latvian language even today. Finno-Ugrisms, which are included in the Dictionary of Latvian Personal Names (Siliņš, Klāvs. Latviešu personvārdu vārdnīca, Rīga, 1990), as well as names recorded in ancient historical documents and modern register of names, are analysed in this paper, based on material formed by more than 200 personal names.
Lexical meaning (semantics) testifies about the Finno-Ugric origin of a name, for example: Lelū < Est., Finn. lelu ‘toy’, Valve < Est. valve ‘guard’, Taivis, Taivo < Finn. toivo ‘hope’. Mostly personal names with endings -o, -i, -u/-ū are of Finno-Ugric origin: Aigo, Ailo, Aino, Aivo, Arvo, Eino, Endo, Raimo; Helgi, Helmi, Helvi, Leili; Helju, Ilū, Lelū, Maimu.
Roots of Finno-Ugric lexemes could be noticed in several historical (13th-16th cent.) personal names, which are not used nowadays: Elmede – recorded only once in 1286 in Riga: Liv. elm, pl. elmed ‘pearls’ (KS 114); Imme (masculine) – 1296 in Riga: Liv. im ‘wonder(KS 87); Piške (Piszke Puisze) – recorded in 1582 in Kurzeme: Liv. piški ‘small’ (KS 262). Nowadays the most popular names of Livonian origin are Aiga and Imants.
Such Latvian personal names as Līvs, Līvis, Līva could be related to the Livonian ethnonym līvs ‘Livonian’.

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