On the Development and Origin of the Village Name Jedžiõtai

  • Laimutis Bilkis
Keywords: oikonym Jedžiõtai, evolution of oikonyms, origin of oikonyms, historical records, personal names Edžiotas, *Eidžiõtas


Jedžiotai village in Aleksandrija eldership, Skuodas district, is not a very well-known Lithuanian settlement, but its name has a unique structure with no analogues in the onomasticon of Lithuania. Its origin is not easy to explain. In the work devoted to the research on the formation of Lithuanian suffix-derived oikonyms, this name is attributed to the category of unclear structures: it is believed that it is of anthroponymic origin and is derived from the personal name *Jedžiotas, *Jedžius, or *Jadžius, the plausibility of which is justified (with a question mark) by the surname Jedzevičius. As for this hypothesis, the authenticity of all three reconstructed personal names is highly questionable. Such anthroponyms are not presumed by the current list of surnames, as the dubious surname Jedzẽvičius is probably borrowed from Slavic languages. In addition, personal names *Jedžiotas, *Jedžius have not been recorded in historical anthroponymy research, at least for the time being: this also casts doubt on the possibility that the oikonym Jedžiõtai originated (was derived) from these surnames. Given the opaque structure of the oikonym and the emerging doubts about the discussed hypothesis of its origin, it is necessary to study, in as much detail as possible, the peculiarities of the use of the oikonym in the living language and historical sources. The analysis of the records of the oikonym from the living language suggests that the current form of Jedžiõtai is undoubtedly used by the locals and is rather old. This is evidenced by the data from the beginning and the first half of the twentieth century. The origin of Jedžiotai village should be linked to the sixteenth century, in the second half of which the settlement is already mentioned. Much information on the development of the village name may be obtained from the surviving records of the church books of the Ylakiai parish to which Jedžiotai belonged. The detailed analysis of the records of the village name in ecclesiastical and other types of historical sources allows distinguishing the following variants of the oikonym in historical records relevant to the study of its development and origin: with the initial ei- (Woytowstwo Eydziackie, Εйдзяты, de Eydziaty, de Eydʓiaty, Eydziatty, Wies Eydziaty, do Eydziat, Do Wsi Eydʓiat, Ейдзяны); with the initial e- (de Edʓiatiʃ, de Edziatis, de Edziotis, de Edʓiatis, de Edziaty, de Edziatow, de Edzioty, de Edziatiʃ, de Edźiatis, Edziatty, Edziotty); with the initial je- (de Jiadziatis, de Jedzioty, de Iiadziaty, de Iedziaty, de Iedzioty, de iedziaty, Jédžiotã). Considering the chronology of oikonym variants, the frequency of their use, the possibility to explain the reasons for their occurrence, and their implied origin, it can be stated that the most probable primary form of the village name Jedžiotai was *Eidžiõtai. In this case, a slightly later but rather frequent variant *Edžiõtai, which has originated due to the two-part monophthongization [ei] characteristic of the residents of Telšiai in northern Samogitia, can be considered dialectal. The earliest form *Eidžiõtai used in historical sources can also be considered primary due to its relatively easy-to-explain origin. It would be an oikonym derived from the two-stemmed personal name Edžiotas, *Eidžiõtas. The possibility that there could have been an anthroponymic variant with the accent on the second stem beside the one with the accented first stem is proved by surnames of a similar structure, such as Dáujotas, Daũjotas and Daujõtas, Gniotas and Giniõtas, Grijotas and Girijõtas, Giriõtas. The two-stemmed personal name Edž-iotas is mentioned in many anthroponymic works and has survived as a surname that at the beginning of the twentieth century was widespread in the vicinity of Varniai. The antiquity and evolution of this two-stemmed personal name is evidenced by the names of the nobility recorded in the historical sources from the middle of the seventeenth century: Kaʓimierʓ Eydʓiatowicʓ (= Kazimieras Eidžiotavičius) and Pana Jana Eydziatowicza (= Jonas Eidžiotavičius). Considering *Eidžiõtai the original form of the village name, it can be speculated that the current form Jedžiõtai may have originated from a dialectal or slavicised name *Edžiotai with the initial j. This can be assumed in view of the fact that in the area of Telšiai in northern Samogitia, there are cases when j is added at the beginning of the word with the initial e, cf. jẽma ← ẽma. On the other hand, it cannot be ruled out that the emergence of such a form may also be associated with slavicisation of names.