Jeanne Owens, author

Blog about author Jeanne Owens and her writing


Old Anglo-Saxon Character Names

Nicholas C. Rossis

As someone who knows how hard it can be to choose a character name for your fantasy novel, I came across some interesting discussions on Quora (here and here). They concerned the letter Æ and the evolution of old Anglo-Saxon names. I hope you find it as interesting as I did!

Medieval manuscript | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's book

What does Ælf mean?

You may have noticed how many old Anglo-Saxon names start with Æ, and Ælf in particular. This is pretty popular with fantasy, as it automatically conveys an Old English feeling.

Some translate ælf as elf, while others argue it is, in fact, connected etymologically to “Aelfe” via the proto-Indo-European root “albho-“ which means pale, white, or high (perhaps both).

The former often forget that “elf” is also derived from “white”, while our modern interpretation of “elf” or “elves” was formed by plays by Spencer for example, or in fairy-tales which were medieval or pre-medieval…

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