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At the intersection of various disciplines (historical, linguistic, literary), onomastics, whose autonomous scientific character is increasingly acknowledged by the international scientific community at large, is undergoing a period of new activity. The contribution of studies in medieval onomastics, indispensable to the proliferation of detailed studies, is currently witnessing two ambitious research exercises on a vast scale. The recognition of the importance of onomastic usage as a source for the study of the various aspects of social groups (from the point of view of economic history and the history of mentality), is the premise of the international GREHAM (Groupe de recherche européen sur l'histoire de l'anthroponymie médiévale) project, co-ordinated by Monique Bourin (University of Tours). The now established use of onomastics made by language historians, who are well aware of the value of the phono-morphological and lexical data provided by proper names and anthroponyms in Middle Age Latin documents for periods so bereft of written vernacular evidence, is likewise available. Hence the other large project on a European scale: PATROM (Patronymica Romanica) co-ordinated by Dieter Kremer (University of Treviri), which aims at compiling a large historical-etymological dictionary of anthroponymy, restricted to Romance languages. From these two projects it is increasingly clear that there is a necessity in this field not only on the part of linguists and medievalists, but of any specialist, to tackle the onomastic evidence, each according to his own principles, yet respecting the legitimacy of the respective points of view. These are principles and methodologies that have now reached a level of considerable refinement in Italy which, in any case, is playing an active role in both projects mentioned. Among the other unmistakable signs of Italy's international zeal for onomastic studies was the creation in 1994 in Pisa of the Onomastics and Literature Association (O&L), where not only scholars of literature, but also linguists, philologists and semiologists meet, and in November 1995 in Rome, the Rivista Italiana di Onomastica (RIOn) [The Italian Onomastics Journal] edited by Enzo Caffarelli. RIOn will be the main point of reference for the section we are going to open in SPOLIA. The information we shall present, originating from my co -operation with RIOn and personal research, will be organised for the time being by linguistic rules and in accordance with a simple sub-division: Anthroponymy, Toponomy and literary Onomastics.

Gianluca D'Acunti

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