Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Monday, 9 March 2015


Clearing my mother's house has brought up some interesting and amazing finds ... little things I bought over the years but that I had forgotten about. In a large wooden trunk in my former bedroom I found my grammar (English and Italian) books from the 70-ties when I was at university. 

And I also discovered these little 'gems': 'Collins Gem Dictionary of Synonyms and Antonyms' and 'Collins Gem Dictionary of First Names' - both 1976 editions. I remember buying them at WH Smith in Deal. They cost 75 p each. One still has the price tag on it. They are in pristine condition and I just didn't have the heart to throw them away.

This is what the First Names Dictionary says about my name: Martine/Martina/Martin from the Latin Martinus, a diminutive of Martius, meaning 'of Mars'. Mars was the Roman god of thunder and war. According to popular legend, St. Martin was a 4th century soldier who cut his cloak in two to give half to a beggar one winter's night. He later became Bishop of Tours in France.He also gave his name to two birds, the martin and the martlet. This was the name of five popes, and also Martin Luther, the great Protestant reformer, so it has been very popular in both churches. It has been used more or less without a break since the 12th century and today is more popular than ever.

I guess that last bit was true in the 60ties when this book was first edited. In Belgium it went out of fashion in the eighties though, when the Anglo-American diminutive names became in vogue: Cindy, Wendy, Benny, Rudy, etc. Since a couple years Emma, Thomas and Luca are the most popular baby names. I wonder if Martine will ever make a comeback ...


Carolyn said...

Last of the Martines, are you? I doubt it. Someday your name will begin to seem new again and there will be a batch of little Martines showing up in schools all over Belgium.

Bob said...

They must have been good books since your English is perfect!!! You should keep the books, who knows, you might need to refer to them one day. Martine will come back around. My name, Robert, is not very common today in the US. By the way, how is your Mom doing in the new apartment?

Craig said...

How lucky you are to have a rare name Martine. The male version is very popular in the UK, but not the female version. I didn't know about "Mars" - most interesting!

VirginiaC said...

I would hang on to those two books...they are treasures.
I wish I could track down the grammar books we used in primary school when I was a kid, they were great books.

chm said...

You should keep them. They might be more complete than what the Net has to offer. This kind of book is a writer's paradise!

ladybird said...

Carolyn, lol!

Bob, My mother is very happy in her new apartment. She loves it. Thank you for asking.

Craig, Forgot to mention that Martin is also the most common surname in France ... or so I have been told.

Virginia, Don't worry, I'm keeping them.

Chm, I think they are interesting from a linguistic point of view. So many words that have 'gone out of fashion'.