The various forms of Roger (Happy Duran Duran Appreciation Day!)

To mark this special holiday (which is very much real), and because Roger is my favourite member of the band, I thought I’d do a post about the name Roger. This isn’t a name I used to have a high opinion of (since at least when I was younger, it frequently seemed to be given to characters who were bullies and thugs), but I’ve really grown to love the name.

Roger was on the Top 100 in the U.S. from 1921–75, and the Top 50 from 1932–62 and again in 1964 and 1965. It attained its highest rank of #22 in 1945. The name has steadily plummeted in popularity, and was down to #643 in 2016. The alternate spelling Rodger, always less popular, last charted at #921 in 1985.

Roger is used in English, French, the Scandinavian languages, Catalan, Dutch, and German. It means “famous spear,” from the Old Germanic elements hrod (fame) and ger (spear). The name came to England after the Norman conquest of 1066 and the resulting occupation. It replaced the Old English Hroðgar (Hrothgar), which was the name of the legendary Danish king featured in Beowulf.

During the Middle Ages, Roger was a common name in England, though had become rare by the 18th century. Later on, it enjoyed a resurgence in popularity.

Other forms include:

1. Ruggieri is Medieval Italian.

2. Ruggiero is modern Italian.

3. Ruggero is an alternate Italian form.

4. Rogel is Spanish.

5. Rüdiger is German. The parents of my character Roger Brandt-van Acker wanted to name their son this name instead, after his great-great-uncle, but they were pressured into choosing the English form.

6. Rutger is Dutch and Limburgish. The Limburgish nickname is Ruth.

7. Rogier is also Dutch.

8. Rogério is Portuguese.

9. Roar is Norwegian, and obviously not a name I’d recommend in an Anglophone country.

10. Hrodger is the original Ancient Germanic form.

11. Hróarr is Old Norse.

12. Hróðgeirr is also Old Norse.

13. Dodge is a Medieval English nickname.

14. Hodge is another Medieval English nickname, spelt such because of the way in which the English mispronounced the occupying Normans’ R.

15. Roschi is Alsatian.

16. Ruđer is Croatian.

Francesca and Frederick

F

Francesca da Rimini, by William Dyce

Francesca da Rimini (1255–85) appears in Canto V of The Divine Comedy, as she tells Dante her tragic story. She and her lover Paolo Malatesta are condemned to the Second Circle of Hell, for carnal sinners.

Francesca was the daughter of Guido I da Polenta of Ravenna, who forced her to marry Giovanni Malatesta for political reasons. Their families had been at war, and Guido felt this marriage would solidify the peace which had recently been negotiated. After Francesca moved to Rimini upon marriage, she fell in love with Giovanni’s younger brother Paolo, who was also married.

Francesca and Paolo carried on a love affair for ten years, until Giovanni discovered what was going on somewhere between 1283–86, though probably about 1285. Giovanni surprised the couple in Francesca’s bedroom and murdered them both. Over the years, many legends about them sprung up. In Dante’s imagining of Hell, they’re trapped in an eternal whirlwind, symbolic of the passion they were swept away by. Dante is so moved by their story, he faints.

Francesca is the Italian and Catalan feminine form of the Late Latin name Franciscus (Francis), which means “Frenchman.”

Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor (26 December 1194–13 December 1250)

Three Emperor Fredericks feature in The Divine Comedy—Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor (Frederick Barbarossa) (1122–10 June 1190); Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor; and King Frederick III of Sicily (13 December 1272–25 June 1337).

Frederick is the English version of a Germanic name meaning “peaceful ruler,” from the elements frid (peace) and ric (ruler; power). I’ve always absolutely loved this name, and all the foreign versions—Friedrich, Frederik, Frédéric, Fredrik, Federigo, Frigyes, Fredrikh, Fryderyk, Friderik. I’m particularly fond of the nicknames Fritz and Freddie, though the nickname Fred feels kind of dated.

There have been so many awesome Fredericks through history (with the name’s various forms), from all sort of fields—politics, philosophy, music, kings, emperors, science. As a classic rock lover, there’s also the association with Freddie Mercury, who still sang like a god as he was dying. (And yes, I know his real name was Farrokh, not Frederick!)