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Name nerds! John or Jean, which came first?


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#1 ~~~

Posted 18 January 2013 - 06:31 PM

So we're going through some names and were trying to figure out the background of some of them.

So the discussion arises of whether John or Jean (French version) came about first? All I can find is biblical references and this link: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=john

So, oh wise name nerds of EB, what are your thoughts?

Thanks original.gif


#2 Lyra

Posted 18 January 2013 - 06:34 PM

Old French trumps English ie early English were actually speaking Norman French before they were speaking English as we know it

Therefore, I say Jean before John

#3 Gudrun

Posted 18 January 2013 - 08:01 PM

QUOTE (Lyra @ 18/01/2013, 07:34 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Old French trumps English ie early English were actually speaking Norman French before they were speaking English as we know it

Therefore, I say Jean before John



What Lyra says. Only thing is that the old French form Jehan morphed a couple of times in England to become John.

But it also morphed into Jean in France.  Could that morphing have been contemporaneous?

Did the actual form Jean beat the actual form John?  Quite possibly, since France had the head start but not necessarily I would think.

Love the question!

#4 Magnus

Posted 18 January 2013 - 08:12 PM

Hmmm, I cheated and looked it up in the OED, which has

c1160 Johannes

c1175 Iohan

c1275 Ion

I don't think that actually answers the question, though.

#5 Feral_Pooks

Posted 18 January 2013 - 08:55 PM


Ok a bit of research on the interwebz has John with this spelling from the 11th century, pronounced same but spelled Iohn from the 7th century(so says wiki). Jean is modern, Jehan is medieval so is contemporary with John.


So John wins Tounge1.gif

#6 Plaxy

Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:03 PM

In the 1292 census of Paris Jehan is the most common male name (total 2320). This is a total of several spellings. Included in that total were 7 of Jean.

In an index of names on the 1292 (coincedence the 2 earliest records I can find are the same year?)
subsidy roll of London Johannes is listed as the most common male name (total 143 with few variations of spelling, but overwhelmingly Johannes) None of the variations are John, but there is one Jon. However on all the early English name records the names are written in Latin form (hence Alice is Alicia, Robert is Robertus, Peter is Petrus etc.  John, if it did exist, would be recorded as Johannes). The spelling variations of Johannes on this record look like abbreviations though, not actual spellings, eg Joh' or Jh' . This probably accounts for the one Jon as well.

So, does Jean win? or, were the English using the vernacular John at this stage while recording Johan/nes?

#7 MissingInAction

Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:10 PM

Giovanni & Giovanna in Italian... not sure who came first though...

#8 kerilyntaryn

Posted 19 January 2013 - 11:17 AM

I say John as John was used in the Bible before Jesus was born

#9 Lyra

Posted 19 January 2013 - 11:31 AM

QUOTE (kerilyntaryn @ 19/01/2013, 12:17 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I say John as John was used in the Bible before Jesus was born


But the Bible wasn't written in English. It would have been written in Hebrew or Aramaic before being translated into Latin and then later into English at the behest of King James hence the King James Bible

#10 HRH Countrymel

Posted 19 January 2013 - 11:36 AM

I have a family tree somewhere that goes back to 1100ish... there are a hell of a lot of Johns in that thing!

#11 la di dah

Posted 19 January 2013 - 08:09 PM

QUOTE (kerilyntaryn @ 19/01/2013, 12:17 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I say John as John was used in the Bible before Jesus was born


But the Hebrew would be Yohanan. No J letter or sound. And then the Hebrew was translated into Greek, which had no J either. And then Latin.

So Jehan, and its decendents John and Jean, are several times removed, linguistically, and Sean would be a grandchild. original.gif

QUOTE (countrymel @ 19/01/2013, 12:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I have a family tree somewhere that goes back to 1100ish... there are a hell of a lot of Johns in that thing!


Mine goes back about that far but there's some Yohanans (Yohanan - John) and some Yonatans (Yonatan - Jonathan) in mine, but no Johns.

#12 ~~~

Posted 20 January 2013 - 08:33 AM

Interesting to learn about the biblical link (or lack thereof). Isn't language amazing that there is so much evolution and cross-influencing (for lack of a more grammatically correct term)!




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