I can say with absolute certainty:
A) If your ancestry is even partly Jewish (of any thread; ashkenazi, sephardi, israeli/former-palestinian, &c.), Chrisell's answer is the most likely.
B) If your ancestry is European and Christian (especially irish or scottish gaelic, less so welsh), your name is more likely derived from the previously discussed 'John.'
Now my understanding (emphasis on 'my'), is that 'Shana/Shayna' are akin to 'Shawna/Shauna' in their derivation from Irish-Gaelic 'Seán.'
'Shawna/Shauna' is phonetically similar to the common pronunciation of 'Seán' as we know it modernly. 'Shana/Shayna' traces its origin to the once-common, but incorrect, Anglicization of 'Seán' as 'Shane.'
The popularity of 'Shane' has always been more than slightly Irish associated, and the feminine form 'Shana/Shayna' is almost certainly therein derived.
I surmise Welsh or Scottish associations to 'Shana/Shayna' developed ex post facto, mostly because I have never seen strong evidence (none firsthand) to support independant development.
Regarding your statement, "...I wanted to know if it was ever its own name." Forenames, given-names, are rarely just definitions but trips upstream sometimes increadibly rough waters.
If the non-Jewish origin is the most likely:
Shana(Eng) < Shane(Eng) < Seán(Ire) 1) < Jean(Frn) 2) < Seadhán/Seathán/Seaghán(OIre) < Jehan(OFrn) < Jehannes(OFrn) < Johannes(Ltn) < Ioannes(Grk) < Yôhanan(Heb)
If the Jewish origin is the most likely, well you are one step from its source.
This message was edited by the author on October 29, 2004 at 12:08:58 AM
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