Which is the logic behind "Aloysius" Latinisation?

Latin Language Asked on August 25, 2021

Wikipedia states that Aloysius is:

… a Latinisation of the names Louis, Lewis, Luis, Luigi, Ludwig, and other cognate names (traditionally in Medieval Latin as Ludovicus or Chlodovechus), ultimately from Frankish *Hlūdawīg, from Proto-Germanic *Hlūdawīgą (“famous battle”).

Looking at the list of Latinised names you can see a lot of Latinised names ending in -is, -us, and -ius. This kind of make sense, as these seem to be pretty common declensions in Latin.

However, I am puzzled with the “y” in between Aloysius. From that list (perhaps excepting the conversion from English names, where an “y” in the original name is more common), there are very few exceptions having the “y” in the Latinised name. For example, Syncerus (Sannazaro).

If there is one, what was the logic of the Latinisation of the name Louis as Aloysius? I mean, given my current little knowledge of Latin, works with “y” and “k” tend to be mainly of Greek origin. So it seems rather unatural to translate a name with a “y”, even more if the original did not have it. What was wrong with Aloisius? It seems “oi” is actually a diphthong, whereas “oy” is not.

3 Answers

It seems that the Latin form Aloysius is based specifically on an Occitan form of the name, Aloys. The Latin has simply retained the Occitan spelling; I don't know enough about Occitan to say anything about that spelling, or about the strange initial A-.

Correct answer by TKR on August 25, 2021

I have read that the Latin suffix "ius" added to a surname between the Late Middle Ages and the Early Renaissance period of Europe originally indicated a man of scholar, much like Ph.D. is used today. Over time, the separation between the surname and the "ius" disappeared and became all one word. In Lithuania, the suffix "ius" is said to mean "son of".

Answered by Robert Buckius on August 25, 2021

It seems there are two possible etymologies for the Occitan name Aloys, whose Latinisation gave rise to the form Aloysius:

  1. cognate with German Ludwig, from Germanic (Frankish) name, a compound of (h)lūt ("fame") + wīg ("warrior").
  • Dutch Lodewijk
  • French Louis
  • Spanish Luis
  • English Lewis
  1. cognate with German Alwis, from Old High German al ("wholeheartedly") + wîsi ("wise, knowing").
  • English Elvis
  • Occitan Aloys
  • French Aloïs

If the second etymology is correct, that would explain the initial A-.

As for the y, though unusual, it is not unprecedented in Latinised Greek names. Modern names descended from those suffixed -ysius / -ysia tend to end in -is(e), so it seems reasonable to assume that Aloysius was back-formed from Aloys by analogy to these:

  • Dionysius > Dennis, Dion
  • Dionysia > Denise
  • Aloysius < Aloys

Answered by ukemi on August 25, 2021

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