Having a coffee the other day with Dr Rita Heuser and Uli Zawar at Sonntagskind in Gonsenheim and we got talking – as one does in the presence of someone as profoundly knowledgeable as Dr Heuser – about the origin of names.
Given that Zavar and Burland are as rare in Germany as hens’ teeth.
Uli reckons that her family name has its origin in linen weaving.
Don’t believe a word of it.
I got it all worked out and it happened like this:
Do you know how Nome in Alaska got its name?
Well, a cartographer tasked with transposing survey data to a map identified an unnamed settlement, penciled in “Name?” for future research and off it went to the printers.
Do you know how Cream’s “Badge” got its name?
It all has to do with Eric Clapton and George Harrison and the story’s in here.
And everyone knows that immigrants arriving at Ellis Island got the names that the illiterate, half-deaf clerk understood from the huddled masses queued up in front of him.
Which is what happened with the Zawar family.
French, you see.
Didn’t speak the lingo.
Arrived somewhere in German-speaking territory and fronted up
to apply for a telephone get registered and the illiterate, half-deaf clerk asked for their name..
Being friendly folk, they beamed and asked him how he was.
Illiterate, half-deaf clerk duly writes it down.