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From Santiago to St James

lckgj

Active Member
I stumbled across this on a website http://www.spanish.about.com and thought it might be of interest to anyone else who has wondered why we translate Santiago as St James when there appears to be little connection between the two names....

"Question: I can understand why the name of Robert is Roberto in Spanish, and there's obviously a connection between a name such as Mary in English and María in Spanish. But how do you explain Diego, which is the Spanish for James? They aren't at all alike.

Answer: The short answer is that languages change over time, and the original name of Ya'akov in Hebrew changed in different directions in Spanish and English. In fact, both Spanish and English have several variations of that old Hebrew name, of which James and Diego are the most common, so technically there are several ways you could translate those names from one language to another.

As you might be able to guess if you're familiar with the characters of the Bible, Ya'akov was the name given to a grandson of Abraham, a name given in modern English and Spanish Bibles as Jacob. That name itself has an interesting origin: Ya'akov, which may have meant "may he protect" or something similar, appears to be a word play on the Hebrew for "heel." According to the book of Genesis, Jacob was holding the heel of his twin brother Esau when the two were born.

The name Ya'acov became Iakobos in Greek. If you keep in mind that in some languages the sounds of b and v are quite similar (in modern Spanish they're identical), the Hebrew and Greek versions of the name look quite similar. By the time the Greek Iakobos became Latin it had turned into Iacobus and then Iacomus. The big change came as some Latin morphed into French, where Iacomus was shortened to Gemmes. The English James is derived from that French version.

The etymological change in Spanish is not as well understood, and authorities differ on the details. What appears likely, although not certain, was that the Iacomus became shortened to Iaco and then Iago. Some authorities say that Iago became lengthened to Tiago and then Diego. Others say the phrase Sant Iaco (sant is an old form of "saint") turned into Santiago, which was then improperly divided by some speakers into San Tiago, leaving the name of Tiago, which morphed into Diego.

Some authorities say that the Spanish name Diego was derived from the Latin name Didacus, meaning "instructed." If those authorities are correct, the similarity between Santiago and San Diego is a matter of coincidence, not etymology. There are also some authorities who combine theories, saying that while Diego was derived from the old Hebrew name, it was influenced by Didacus.

In any case, Santiago is recognized as a name of its own today, and the New Testament book known as James in English goes according to the name of Santiago. That same book is known today as Jacques in French and Jakobus in German, making the etymological link to the Old Testament name more clear.

So while it can be said (depending on which theory you believe) that Diego and be translated to English as James, it can also be seen as the equivalent of Jacob, Jake and Jim. And in reverse, James can be translated not only as Diego, but also as Iago, Jacobo and Santiago.

Also, these days it isn't unusual for the Spanish name Jaime to be used as a translation of James. Jaime is a name of Iberian origin that various sources indicate is connected with James, although its etymology is unclear."
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Yeah .... but how on earth did it become Hamish?
 

lckgj

Active Member
Was that a challenge Sil?!

Best I can come up with is:
The boy name Hamish is pronounced as HHAEMIHSH. Hamish is used predominantly in the Scottish language and its origin is also Scottish. The name is Anglicized from Sheumais, which is a variant of Seumas, the Scottish version of James. The name was adopted by English speakers in the mid 19th century. It has strong Scottish associations, but is today generally used in English speaking countries

Anyone would think I had no work to do.....
 

MermaidLilli

Active Member
wow, that was very instructional/informative. I have a son Diego and he will get a read of your post. I knew they were the same name but did not know how it was derived. Thank you for the post/
Lillian
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Wiki gives the name James in many different languages.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_(name)

Galician is: Xaime, Iago, Diego, Xacobe

I often call him 'old Jimmy' so love the one in Cantonese - Jim Si
 

PILGRIMSPLAZA

Active Member
lckgj said:
Santiago is recognized as a name of its own today
Hi Laura,

Very interesting post! Could you please mention (in a PM if you like) which sources you used?

Earlier we tried to find some elucidation in The Santiago Enigma on miscellaneous-about-santiago/topic3794.html under
5a. How jewish Ja'akov became roman Jacobus and catholic James,
and further down that page under
7. Ja’akov en Jacobus – Is the name a Sign here?, by Ria van der Pot & Marianne Lodder.

These contributions deal mostly with HOW Santiago's first name got changed. Even more fascinating could be WHY this happened (or was left the way it is), regarding how different the present Santiago -as most pilgrims know him- is from his forefathers. Do you have any idea?

Happy New Year!
Geert

PS: Alan Joyce wrote an illuminating comment on the Ultreya forum in Re: The Santiago Enigma on http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Ultreya/message/2076 . Sadly Alan died this month as his Margie announced on http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Santiagobis/message/23877 .

PPS: See also Jacob Sheep & Jacob Apple & Jacob Butterfly and & St.Jago flower & Narcissus Jacobeus & St.Jacob's Knight on post20935.html#p20935 . Recently I saw a calculation on how often the name Jacob Apple (for men) could occur in theory (follows asap).
 
lckgj said:
Some authorities say that the Spanish name Diego was derived from the Latin name Didacus, meaning "instructed." If those authorities are correct, the similarity between Santiago and San Diego is a matter of coincidence, not etymology.
I had always thought that the Californian city was a back-formation from Santiago, but in fact it was named after Didacus of Alcala, San Diego http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Didacus_of_Alcalá ; in his case Didacus was derived from Diego, rather than the other way round.

'James' was common in medieval France - as in the town of St James near Mt St Michel, founded by William the Conqueror, or the rue saint James in Bordeaux - and derivatives are still used in Occitan and related languages, such as Jaume in Catalan.

The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names (I have the 2nd edn, from 1950) lists the following versions from medieval England: Jacobus, Iame, Jame, James, Jamettus, Jake, Jaques, Jacominus, Iames, Jacomynus, Jamys, Iamys. It also says: "The name was not very widely used in England in the Middle Ages, though it was more frequent in the North and in Scotland. . . . The accession of James Stuart to the English throne in 1603 marks the beginning of the period in which it became a common English name." Perhaps it was seen as a Norman/French name rather than English, and so not much used by the English. That also seems to imply that the cult of St James was not very strong in medieval England, which would be an interesting idea.

Jacob and the related surname Jacobs are recorded, but seem to have been Jewish names rather than English.

As for Hamish, it describes that as 'monstruous pseudo-Gaelic'. "Scott has a Hamish MacTavish, but the present vogue of the name seems to be due to the novels of William Black (1841-98), very popular in their day, in several of which he makes use of the name Hamish." It then sternly tells us: "The use of this pseudo-Gaelic form is to be discouraged." Harrumph, harrumph.
 

PILGRIMSPLAZA

Active Member
... to Sant-Iago in Jacobsland

Peter Robins said:
Perhaps it was seen as a Norman/French name rather than English, and so not much used by the English. That also seems to imply that the cult of St James was not very strong in medieval England, which would be an interesting idea.
It just seems to be a matter of personal, ecclesiastical or political vision and choice; see the picture of King James = IACOBUS REX in miscellaneous-about-santiago/topic3794.html and:

http://www.dc.fi.udc.es/ai/otero/galicia.htm
"Notes About Galicia
In the Middle Age, Galicia was a kingdom with territories extending to the north of current Portugal (Braga city was one of the capital cities of Galicia) and the north-west of Spain, apart from the current Galicia territories. It was at this time when pilgrims from Central Europe (France, Germany, Austria, England) came to Santiago (Saint Jacobs) traversing the territories of the north of Spain known at this time in Central Europe as 'Jacobsland'."


http://www.forum-gallaecia.net/viewtopic.php?t=43
"Vikings in Galicia - Scandinavian pilgrimage to Jakobsland
The Kingdom of Galicia was a major centre of Christian pilgrimage during the Middle Ages as it was believed that the remains of the apostle St James were buried in the city of Sant-Iago de Compostela. For that reason the Scandinavians called Galicia with the name of Jakobsland."
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
St James in medieval England.

In 1150 Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury granted indulgences to pilgrims visiting Reading Abbey where the hand of St James was the most sacred relic.
Also in the 12th c papal backing for the cult was secured when Pope Alexander 111 made a formal liturgical appeal to all the people in the province of Canterbury to make a pilgrimage to Reading on Saint James’ feast day where generous indulgences, bestowed through Saint Thomas, would be made available to the faithful.
The abbey in Reading incorporated three scallop shells, the symbol of Saint James, into its new heraldic arms.
Further indulgences followed throughout the 12th and 13th centuries. The total days' remissions listed for the feast of St James was 386.

I think the cult was quite strong in the middle ages.
 
I don't think there's any doubt that Reading was popular with the Plantagenets, and was approved of by the Church. It was one of the wealthiest foundations in the country. But that's not the same as saying it was popular with the people. St James was popular with the Church in England - there were over 400 dedicated to him in medieval times.

Reading abbey had a relatively large hospitium, and at least some of those stopping there will have been pilgrims, but I don't think it ever climbed very high in the pilgrim hit parade. Offhand I'm struggling to think of any references to pilgrimage to Reading (though having written that I shall now no doubt find umpteen).

The concept of the indulgences being "bestowed through Saint Thomas" is interesting - seems to be trying to link Reading to Becket, who undoubtedly was popular, as was the name Thomas/Tom.
 

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