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SunnysideA Sociolinguistic History of British House Names$
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Laura Wright

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266557

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266557.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 30 June 2022

The Earliest London House Names

The Earliest London House Names

(p.12) 1 The Earliest London House Names
(p.iii) Sunnyside

Laura Wright

British Academy

294 pre-1400 London house names given in Appendix 1 are analysed as to meaning and structure. Before 1300 haw, bury, seld, hall and house were the predominant medieval house-naming nouns, but haw, bury and seld dropped out around the Norman Conquest. Modifiers were limited to the householders’ name, the householders’ occupation, and the appearance of the house. From the 1320s heraldic names became common for commercial premises, adopting the emblems used by chivalric knights. Commercial premises also used synecdoche to signal their wares (such as the Cock referencing the stopcock on a barrel), and double meanings were exploited visually on signage. Cock seems to have been the first (literal meaning ‘tap’, punning meaning ‘fowl’), starting a fashion for bird names. By the 1700s an extensive informal code of trade signs had evolved, such as a rainbow to signify a dyer. From 1762 numbering replaced urban building signs, with the exception of bookshops and pubs.

Keywords:   medieval house-names, heraldic names, commercial premises, synecdoche

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