Friday 25 June 2010

What's in a name

How did Aspiran get its name? In the village library I borrowed a short booklet "Travers le Temps" which consists of notes made from the work of local historian François Bonnéry. It was published back in 1995 by the village projects group "L’Amical Laïque d’Aspiran".

The 2nd to 5th century AD was the Gallo-Roman period which finally broke down with barbarian invasions dawning the so called dark ages. The centre of village as we know it today didn't really exist, the area would have been a collection of small holdings sited where water was available. During that time one of the village inhabitants was called either ASPER or SPIRIUS and he had a small holding by the Croix du Coq (cross of the cockerel). This exists today and is by the raised junction on the way out of the village 100m past the cave coopérative - rather sadly next to recycling bins and wedged between a lamppost and give-way sign. At one time the river Garelle forded the road here, today it flows underneath.

The Latin suffix “ANUM” indicates ownership and this resulted in the name “ASPIRANUM” or “SPIRANUM”. As the “UM” is nearly silent this presumably evolved at some stage to “SPIRIAN”. The Occitan name for the village is “ESPIAN” – apparently in Occitan the “r” between the vowels is suppressed which supports the name being derived from “ESPIRAN”. In French it is of course “ASPIRAN”.

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