Monday, August 03, 2009

French Canadian surnames

The Military Roots of the 'dit' Names: "In 1716, French military rules require a nom de guerre for all regular soldiers. The assignment of these nicknames is done in a flexible manner. It can be the soldier’s choice or that of the Company’s captain (6). During the American revolution, France sends the régiment de Tourraine to help the American rebels. A list of these soldiers has been published (7). In each company, all the nicknames start with the same letter. Thus in the Dugre company, the soldiers’ nicknames all start with the letter D, in another company, they start with B. It is thus easy to identify to which company a soldier belongs. From 1764 to 1768, the Company of Casaux of the Régiment de Boulonnois-infantrie uses names of vegetables. We thus find Lartichaud, Lalétue, Lachicorée, Lecresson et Lecerfeuil. (Translator’s note: the artichoke, lettuce, chicory, cress, and chervil.)

The nom de guerre is a personal property. A soldier does not change it readily. It can happen when the soldier is transferred to another company and the nickname is already in use. In France, the soldier’s wife will take his nom de guerre. On the other hand, a soldier’s son will always carry a name that is different from his father’s if he serves in the army. The absence of a genuine nickname is a sign of esteem. Officers, cadets, volunteers, and gentlemen do not have one."


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