Getting the most from a surname study: semantics, DNA and computer modelling (third edition)

Plant, Dr John S and Plant, Prof Richard E (2014) Getting the most from a surname study: semantics, DNA and computer modelling (third edition).

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We here address such questions as: what does a surname mean;is it single origin;and,why do some surnames grow abnormally large? Though most surnames are rare, most people have populous surnames. In this article, we consider in particular the evidence that some frequent surnames could be completely or nearly single origin; this would imply that the whole surname relates to a single family that has grown abnormally large. Some populous surnames have a geographical distribution that might be thought to be consistent with a single origin. As yet, such supposition generally lacks support from adequate DNA evidence. Guided by the empirical evidence, our computer simulations identify various possible reasons for a surname family’s unusually prolific growth. In particular, chance is a main factor. Also, overall population growth conditions vary widely between different counties. This can go a long way towards explaining the large population of Plant, which is apparently the second largest single-family contender in the favourable growing conditions of Staffordshire. This surname shows relatively little evidence of a significant living population that stems from origins other than that of its dominant family. The initial semblance that Sykes could be the second largest single-family contender in West Yorkshire is more open to debate, since there might be more substantial other origins. To explain its dominant family, it seems necessary to invoke some exceptional characteristics such as more favourable growth factors for its homeland than those pertaining in the available data for the whole county. Also, for the computer modelling, we consider the effects of additional factors such as polygyny, resilience to plague,Y-chromosome linked fecundity, or an early start to an hereditary surname. Such factors can be beneficial in seeing a family through initial precarious times, sustaining its survival through to a small but real chance of subsequent proliferation in more favourable Industrial Age growth conditions.

Item Type:Other
Keywords:surnames DNA semantics modelling onomastics
Subjects:Biology > Population Biology
Computer Science > Statistical Models
Linguistics > Historical Linguistics
Linguistics > Semantics
ID Code:9191
Deposited By: Plant, Dr John S
Deposited On:25 Feb 2014 12:50
Last Modified:02 May 2014 11:52


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