What's in a name?
Hooray! I have finally decided to write down the answers to the most frequently asked questions about my name.
How do you pronounce Wilmer?
I pronounce it [ˈvilmer] (or better [ˈvilmɛr], if you are one of the few people who can tell the difference), where the final [r] is trilled, albeit lightly.
Where does your name come from?
In my parents' intentions, it should be a German name. But seriously, it's more accurate to say it is a very old Germanic name, supposedly meaning glorious will.
Are you German?
No, I'm Italian.
Are your parents German?
No, they are both Italian. But in my mother's region of origin, it is relatively common to use uncommon names.
Do you know anything about your family name?
A lot, actually. Ricciotti is a derivative of riccio, meaning "curly-haired".
My first recorded ancestor, born in the first few years of the 1500, didn't have this name. He was known, after his birthplace, as Francesco dalle Fratte ("of Fratte", a small village not too far from Urbino). He was a cattle trader, and was frequently selling beasts in the market of Ancona, where I was also born.
The family name appeared, in the singular form Ricciotto, as the nickname of Giulio's son Battista (born October 16th, 1588), who was the last person in the family to be called porchettaro; we can guess he was curly-haired, but we do not know for sure. Battista lived most of his life in the vicinities of Ancona, as did all of his descendants in my branch of the family.
Then, the family name was unexpectedly carried on by the children of Battista's granddaughter, also called Battista, born in 1644, presumably because of her husband's premature death (if this hadn't happened, my family name would probably have been Badaloni). After that, the name was passed on for another ten generations without any other surprises.
The above story comes from the work of my (very) distant relative Giovanni Ricciotti, who spent a dozen years browsing ancient parish and legal records. A more detailed account (in Italian) can be found on his website. Giovanni is also the author of an interesting book on the history of porchetta.
Should I want to mention you in a Latin text, how do I proceed?
(This is actually a question I asked myself in the past; but somebody else might be interested, who knows?)
In Latin it is perfectly acceptable to use indeclinable foreign names. However, if you find yourself unable to distinguish "Wilmer" (genitive case) from "Wilmer" (dative case), you've got several options:
What if I want to use ancient Greek?
That's surprisingly easy (if you know the language, at least) because Greek, unlike Latin, has a definite article which is used in front of personal names all the time. Should you also want to create a Hellenic form of my name, beware that Attic Greek (the most important literary dialect, which is also the main ancestor to modern Greek) lost the sound [w] during its prehistory, and never had the sound [v]. Thus, my suggestion is to try something like Ὁ Ὀυίλμερος.
Do I have to learn the International Phonetic Alphabet to read your page, seriously?
You have to learn the International Phonetic Alphabet anyway, seriously.