The many forms of Simon

Though Simon was one of the names I gave to my marbles when I was a kid (yes, I actually named my marbles), it wasn’t a name I liked that much until I was about 24. I grew to associate that name with a geek and a wimp, but everything changed when I read Leon Uris’s Mila 18. Simon is the name of the head of the Ghetto Fighters, and hardly a wimp or geek. The famous Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal was also hardly a milksop.

Regular readers of my main blog may remember I sleep with a giant frog named Simon, whom I’ve had for over five years now. He takes up half the bed, and is almost as big as I am. If only he’d turn into a prince as handsome as his namesake circa 1985 when I kiss him!

The spelling Simon is used in English, French, German, Dutch, the Scandinavian languages, Hungarian, Romanian, Slovenian, Macedonian, and Georgian. The variation Simón is Spanish, Símon is Icelandic, and Šimon is Czech and Slovak. Nicknames for the lattermost form include Šimůnek and Šimonek, and Sime is the Macedonian nickname. Hungarian nicknames include Simi, Simike, Simó, Simkó, Simku, and Simonka. Other variations are:

1. Shimon is the original Hebrew form. I think the nickname Shimmy is just so cute!

2. Szymon is Polish, and the spelling Mr. Uris should’ve used for his Mila 18 character. It’s baffling as to how he could do so much intense historical research for his novels, and then not use authentic Polish names for that book!

3. Simão is Portuguese.

4. Jimeno is an alternate Spanish form.

5. Ximeno is Medieval Spanish, though it may possibly derive from the Basque word seme, “son,” instead of being a form of Simon.

6. Ximun is Basque.

7. Simeon is Bulgarian and Serbian, and the name of Bulgaria’s last Tsar. His father, the heroic Tsar Boris III, died under suspicious circumstances during WWII. Simeon, who was born in 1937, was too young to ascend the throne in his own right, so his regents were his uncle, Prince Kiril; Prime Minister Bogdan Filov; and General Nikola Mihov. Simeon had to flee his homeland in 1946, and when he returned in 1996, he began a very successful political career which lasted until 2009. He’s never renounced his claim to the Bulgarian throne, and indeed is referred to as King of Bulgaria in all Bulgarian Orthodox services.

8. Shimmel is Yiddish.

9. Šimun is Croatian, with the nicknames Šime and Šimo. Without a háček, Simo is also the Serbian nickname. The variation Símun is Faroese.

10. Simion is an alternate Romanian form.

11. Semyon is Russian, with the nickname Syoma.

12. Simo is Finnish. The alternate form Simó is Catalan.

13. Siemen is Dutch and Frisian, with the nickname Siem.

14. Simen is Norwegian and West Frisian.

15. Simonas is Lithuanian.

16. Sīmanis is Latvian.

17. Simoni is an alternate Georgian form.

18. Seimon is Welsh.

19. Semaan is Aramaic, and very common for Middle Eastern Christians.

20. Sieme is West Frisian.

21. Siimon is Estonian and Finnish.

22. Simone is Italian, and not to be confused with the French feminine form of the same spelling. The variation Sîmóne is Greenlandic.

23. Cimone is Medieval Italian, and the name of the protagonist of one of my least-favorite Decameron stories. He throws his weight around until his crush finally gives in and marries him, and this is presented as a love story that began badly and ended happily. Even allowing for the standards of a much different era, Cimone came across as a total bully who couldn’t take no for an answer.

24. Sijmen is an alternate Dutch form.

25. Siman is Silesian–German.

26. Simit is Sami, a native Siberian language.

27. Simmá is also Sami.

28. Simmon is a third Sami form.

29. Sîmorne is Greenlandic.

30. Simu is Swiss–German.

31. Simuna is Finnish.

32. Sîmûne is Greenlandic.

33. Síomón is a rare Irish form.

34. Sum’an is Arabic.

35. Syman is Sorbian.

36. Szymek is Vilamovian, a Germanic language spoken in Poland.

37. Semen is Ukrainian, and one of those quintessential names I would NOT use in the Anglophone world, for reasons I don’t even have to explain! It’s not pronounced the same way in Ukrainian, but the spelling is still what it is!

Feminine forms:

1. Simone is French, with the nickname Simonette. The variation Simonė is Lithuanian.

2. Simona is Czech, Slovak, Italian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Slovenian, and Lithuanian. The Italian nickname is Simonetta, though this is now frequently given as a legal name.  Another Italian nickname is Simonella.

The slight variation Šimona is Czech and Slovak (albeit lesser-used), with nicknames including Monuška, Monuša, Simonka, Simuša, Simuška, and Simča. The variation Símona is Icelandic.

3. Simä is Swiss–German.

4. Shamoun is Arabic.

5. Jimena is Spanish.

6. Ximena is Medieval Spanish, and one of my favouritest female X names.

7. Símonía is an alternate Icelandic form.

8. Szimóna is Hungarian.

9. Szimonetta is also Hungarian.


A to Z Reflections


I was glad to see my blog got more traffic for A to Z than last year, when this blog was still fairly new. It still has a ways to go in becoming more visible, but I’m hopeful it’ll continue to gradually gain new readers. I’ve also put a button on the top of my main blog’s sidebar, linking over here. Many of the regular readers of my primary blog simply haven’t known I have another blog, nor where to find it.

Writing, scheduling, and editing all my posts in advance was essential to successfully completing the Challenge. With the amount of planning and research which went into my posts, I never could’ve written them on the fly, in real time. It seems like a lot of people who drop out early, or never start in spite of having signed up, don’t understand the importance of doing this. All it takes is a little time each day, not hours and hours.

It’s always really disappointing to click on a link to a neat-sounding blog, and discover that person either never started the Challenge, or quit participating without an explanation or later attempt to make up for it. I’d guess many of these people never read the A to Z blog for advice and encouragement on how to stay on top of the Challenge and win.

I understand life gets in the way, but if you’re not really serious about seeing this through to the end, it seems pointless to sign up. You should bring your A game, and if you’re unable to finish, at least write your readers an explanation and/or apology. People want to know why you’ve stopped posting. It also seems kind of weird to announce your awesome theme, and then quit only a few posts in. How much planning and thought really went into this theme if you abandoned it so quickly?

People really want to help you! It pays to visit the A to Z blog, and the blogs of the co-hosts, so you can see how it’s done. It really doesn’t take much to write a post every day. You don’t need an elaborate theme requiring lots of research and 700-word posts. All you need is a good idea and lots of determination.

Recap of my A to Z posts:

Arrighetto and Ambruogia (29 views)
Beltramo and Beatrice (16 views)
Cassandrea and Cipolla (14 views)
Dioneo and Dianora (19 views)
Emilia and Ercolano (18 views)
Fiammetta and Filostrato (18 views)
Ghismunda and Gabriotto (17 views)
Hadrian and Hippolyta (12 views)
Isotta and Ishmael (7 views)
Jarogniew, Jezebel, and Jancofiore (12 views)
Kohinoor and Keith (16 views)
Lisetta and Landolfo (11 views)
Mithridanes and Mita (9 views)
Neifile and Nicostrato (8 views)
Oretta and Osbech (14 views)
Panfilo and Pampinea (14 views)
Qadir and Quadressa (11 views)
Rustico and Restituta (12 views)
Sismonda and Saladin (10 views)
Tedaldo and Teudelinga (8 views)
Usimbalda and Ughetto (11 views)
Violante and Vieri (11 views)
Wulfric and Wafiya (8 views)
Xiomara and Xochipilli (14 views)
Yumiko and Yaron (12 views)
Zinevra and Zima (16 views)

I have an idea for next year’s theme, though if it’s the theme I’m thinking ahead to, I’ll probably once again have to have a couple of wild card days.

Zinevra and Zima


Zinevra seems like an old Italian form of Genevra, a name which also appears in The Decameron as Ginevra (sixth story of the tenth day). It’s the Italian form of Guinevere, which is combined from the elements “fair, white” (gwen) and “smooth” (hwyfar). It may also be related to the Italian word ginepro, “juniper.”

Zinevra appears in the ninth story of the second day, as the unfairly accused wife of the foolish Bernabò da Genoa. Bernabò agrees to a ridiculous bet with his so-called friend Ambruogiuolo da Piacenza, and loses all his money when Ambruogiuolo tricks him into believing Zinevra has been unfaithful. Ambruogiuolo creeps into Zinevra’s bedroom when she’s sleeping naked, and finds a mole under her left breast, with six soft golden hairs around it. He takes some of Zinevra’s belongings before sneaking off.

Bernabò really was setting himself up to be a victim, the way he was so overly trusting of Ambruogiuolo and insistent about Zinevra’s absolute loyalty. Full of shame over losing his money and hearing the lie about Zinevra’s unfaithfulness, he orders a servant to murder her. The servant has pity on Zinevra and leaves her to escape with his clothes. Eventually, Zinevra finds her way to Alexandria and enters the service of the Sultan, under the male identity Sicurano da Finale.

Ambruogiuolo later comes to the city and makes friends with Sicurano/Zinevra, and she finally discovers just why Bernabò was so angry at her. She arranges for her poverty-stricken husband to come to Alexandria, and in the presence of the Sultan, Bernabò, and Ambruogiuolo, she reveals herself as a woman and exposes Ambruogiuolo as the liar and scoundrel he is. A very macabre just desserts are meted out, and the story closes with the awesome line, “And thus it was that the deceiver lay at the mercy of the deceived.”

Zima appears to be derived from Simon, whose original form is the Hebrew Shimon and which means “he has heard.” Though the word zima means “winter” in the Slavic languages, it doesn’t seem likely an Italian name in the Middle Ages would be derived from a Slavic root. However, in The Decameron, Zima’s real name is Ricciardo, with a nickname derived from azzimato, “ornately dressed; decked out in one’s best clothes.”

Zima appears in the fifth story of the third day, as he lusts after the wife of Messer Francesco Vergellesi, a knight of Pistoia. He’s unsuccessfully been courting the lady for quite some time, until one day he agrees to sell Francesco his prize horse from Tuscany. Zima only agrees to part with this precious horse on condition he be allowed some words with Francesco’s wife in Francesco’s presence. They’re sitting far enough away from Francesco to not be overheard, and though the lady doesn’t say a word, Zima sees a certain glint in her eyes and speaks what he believes is on her mind, as though she’s the one speaking.

Francesco is soon going to Milan to serve as podestà, and Zima tells the lady of a sign to let him know when the house will be empty. Once Francesco is gone, believing he’s got a true-blue wife, the lady realises Zima can sexually satisfy her far more than her husband, who won’t be back for a good six months. They finally become lovers, and even after Francesco returns, they continue discreetly enjoying themselves.

Violante and Vieri


Violante may be an alternate Italian form of Yolanda. The name is also found in Spanish and Portuguese. I’ve never personally cared for it, since it sounds too much like “violent,” but there was little choice as to my female V name, seeing as how near-impossible it is to find them in The Decameron. There are two Violantes, in the seventh story of the fifth day and the eighth story of the second day. I’m focusing on the Violante of the fifth day, whose theme is love stories which took an unhappy turn but then ended happily.

She’s the daughter of Messer Amerigo Abate da Trapani, a Sicilian nobleman. Among Messer Amerigo’s servants is Pietro, who came into his household as a young boy captured in Armenia by Genoese pirates. Among the Turkish peasant boys, Pietro (then called Teodoro) stands out because of his noble, handsome appearance, and is believed to have another origin. Baptised with the name Pietro, he grows up in Messer Amerigo’s household with his own children, entrusted with all Messer Amerigo’s most important affairs.

Messer Amerigo has a daughter named Violante, whom he hasn’t been in any hurry to marry off.  Naturally, Violante and Pietro fall in love and eventually reveal their feelings. While seeking shelter from a rainstorm one day, they consummate their love, and arrange to have many other rendezvous. They’re both horrified when Violante becomes pregnant, and is unable to succeed in numerous attempts to miscarry.

Violante confesses to her mother when her condition becomes impossible to hide, and makes up a story to avoid implicating Pietro. Her mother gives her a good tongue-lashing, but agrees to hide her in one of their country estates. As luck would have it, Messer Amerigo stops by after a hawking trip, right as Violante is giving birth. He’s completely incensed, and tells her she’ll die if she doesn’t name the father. Once the truth is out, Messer Amerigo orders Pietro put to death, and gives Violante the choice of suicide by dagger or poisoned wine. After this is done, he plans to smash his infant grandson’s head against a wall and then throw him to the dogs.

While Pietro is half-naked and being whipped on his way to the gallows, an important older man named Fineo notices a large, bright red birthmark on his chest, and is immediately reminded of a son whom he lost to kidnappers over 15 years ago. Fineo calls him Teodoro and speaks to him in Armenian, and the soldiers stop whipping Pietro out of respect for Fineo. Of course, Pietro says he’s Armenian and the son of a a man named Fineo. Once the story reaches Messer Amerigo, he regrets his cruel, unfatherly behaviour, and arranges with Fineo for the couple to be married.

Vieri is derived from Oliviero, the Italian form of Oliver. In spite of the Latinate meaning “olive tree,” the name may actually ultimately be derived from the Germanic name Alfher (elf army or elf warrior) or the Old Norse name Áleifr (ancestor’s descendant).

Vieri was the only male V name I could find in The Decameron, which was kind of a surprise, seeing as how it’s not the most rare letter for Italian names. There are no characters named Vittorio, Vincenzo, Vittore, Virgilio, nothing. As it turns out, he’s only mentioned in passing in the eighth story of the ninth day, and doesn’t even appear as a character.

Biondello is at the fish market, buying two huge lampreys for Messer Vieri de’ Cerchi, when an infamous glutton named Ciacco spies him and inquires into his business. Biondello lies he’s buying the fish for Messer Corso Donati, who already has a lot of other huge fish for a banquet but still doesn’t have enough to feed everyone. He then invites Ciacco to dinner, which is a big surprise to Messer Corso.

Dinner consists of chickpeas, tuna bellies, and fried fish from the Arno River. Ciacco is really pissed, but doesn’t let on to Biondello. Instead, he starts planning his own trick, which earns poor Biondello a good thrashing.

Usimbalda and Ughetto


Usimbalda is a name I can’t seem to find the etymology for, but my educated guess is that it might be an Italian feminine form of the Ancient Celtic name Cunobelinus. Most people are more familiar with the feminine form of the name as Cymbeline, though of course, Decameron author Giovanni Boccaccio predated Shakespeare by several centuries. Then again, Usimbalda could have a completely different etymology.

Abbess Usimbalda appears in the second story of the ninth day of The Decameron, one of numerous people of the cloth violating their vow of chastity in these 100 stories. The Abbess is in bed with a priest when some of her nuns come running to tell her they caught Sister Isabetta in bed with a man. Usimbalda has frequently had her priest brought into her bedroom in a chest, and is terrified he might be discovered because her nuns are beating on the door so violently.

In her haste and in the dark, Usimbalda mistakes the priest’s trousers for her psalters (a type of veil), and goes off to catch the guilty party. Isabetta is dragged off to the convent’s meeting hall, and Abbess Usimbalda excoriates her. During this tongue-lashing, Isabetta sees the trousers on the Mother Superior’s head, and repeatedly tells her to tie up her wimple before saying anything more. The other nuns then notice it too, and Usimbalda realises she’s busted. She then begins to talk much more sweetly, saying no one can resist the temptations of the flesh, but that it must be done discreetly.

Ughetto may possibly be a diminutive of Ugo, the Italian form of Hugo/Hugh, a Germanic name meaning “mind/spirit/heart.” He appears in the third story of the fourth day, whose theme is love stories which ended tragically.

N’Arnald Civada, a wealthy Marseille merchant of humble origins, has three daughters, 15-year-old twins Ninetta and Magdalena, and 14-year-old Bertella. Their arranged marriages have been delayed because N’Arnald is away on business, and in the interim, a young, poor nobleman named Restagnone falls in love with Ninetta. Restagnone has two wealthy friends, Ughetto and Folco, who fall in love with the other two sisters.

Restagnone schemes to get rich through them, and convinces them to go with the ladies to Crete. They live like royalty in Crete, but eventually Restagnone bores of Ninetta, and sets his sights on another woman. Ninetta’s depression turns to fury, and she poisons Restagnone. She’s discovered as a murderer and arrested, and later Ughetto and Folco are detained overnight by police, as a pretext for the Duke of Crete to secretly spend the night with Magdalena.

Ninetta has been released in exchange for this night with her sister, but Ughetto and Folco have been led to believe she was tied in a sack and thrown in the sea. While they’re trying to console their wives for the believed loss of their sister, Folco discovers Ninetta and refuses to believe Magdalena’s story. (It wasn’t previously stated which of the other two men marries which of the other sisters, but this makes it obvious Folco has married Magdalena, and thus Ughetto has married Bertella.) Folco is so furious over her adultery, he stabs Magdalena with his sword. He then flees with Ninetta.

The next morning, the murder is discovered, and the Duke of Crete has Ughetto and Bertella arrested. He forces them to make a false confession about how they, not just Folco, murdered Magdalena. Fearing for their lives, they escape by ship to Rhodes at night, living the rest of their short lives in poverty and misery.