I am engaged in several translation projects on the side which often involve translating names that do not have a Roman equivalent.
Certain names obviously come from or have obvious equivalents in Latin (often through Greek):
- Julius: Iulius
- Amelia: Aemilia
Others have fairly standard representations, mostly because "Christian names" often come from Biblical figures or saints who have names in Latin:
- Michael: Michaelus
- Mary: Maria
- John: Iohannes (or Ioannes)
I was recently reading through a medieval History of Norway, and I decided to write down how names were written in Latin versus how they are normally rendered in English. Here are some examples, with my comments in italics:
- Sunniva: Sunniva - unchanged
- Gunnhild: Gunnilda - h dropped
- Haakon: Hacon, -nis (also: Haquinus) - 3rd declension and consonant change
- Halstan: Halstanus - us appended
- Knut: Canutus - vowel added between double consonant
- Sigurd: Sigwardus (also: Siwardus and Sigvarus) - vowel (sometimes consonant) changed
- Halfdan: Halfdan - indeclinable
This is a small sampling of person names (place names are an entirely different mess) for one geographic location which, because of Christian influence, probably has had time to assimilate some conventions from Latin-speaking Christian monks.
My question: Are there any accepted general principles for translating non-Latin names into Latin? Am I doomed, in Latin circles, to an interminable cycle of being referred to as Brianus, Brennus, and (indeclinable) Brian based on irreconcilable opinions?
Examples (and especially patterns) of translation from classical and medieval sources would be helpful.