5 months ago


3 minutes read

The Origin of the name SON BOU

The place-names of the Menorcan countryside is one of the most interesting instruments for the knowledge of the evolution of the agricultural exploitation and a very important source to know a part of its history.

In Menorca, a small group of place-name marks are distributed in most places (farms) of the island's countryside, those represented by the following prefixes or introducers: bini-, son, torre, al- i rafal.

Bini- is a prefix of Arabic origin that is equivalent to "son of ..." and that is used as a patronymic indicator, so that what follows corresponds to a proper name, personal or collective; that is, a first name or family name or, more likely. of a lineage. Some authors have suggested that most of the names started by 'bini' in the Balearics would correspond to Berber lineages (or clans). In more recent times they have called some places using the prefix 'bini' without the continuation corresponding to a patronymic, in an attempt to assimilate ancient names (eg E. Binibò)

Son- is the contraction of "aço d'en" (this from) and, therefore, the name that follows is that of a person, usually the peasant who had the useful domain of the site. Probably the majority of ancient sites that have a name that begins with 'son' correspond to settlements of the period after the Catalan conquest; but in many cases the name of person has been changing depending on the changes of people or families that have occupied the place (as useful domain or as property).

Torre - usually indicates a place that had some types of fortification, and is usually followed by the name of the occupant of the post (Torre d'en Quart, Torre d'en Saura ...); but sometimes the name corresponds to a name before the conquest or difficult identification (Torrellafuda, for example) or to an aspect of the site (Torralba = Torre Blanca).

Al- is a prefix equivalent to the Arabic article. In some cases 'en' is part of Arab names that have themselves a generic meaning, which has remained in our language (Alqueria, Alcúdia). Some place names initiated by 'el' could also be Arabicized forms of older names (Algendar, Alputzer)

Rafal- is the Arabic term that designates "finca", "propiedad", in the sense of "place of agrarian exploitation". The continuation can be a person's name, but not necessarily.

Another aspect to highlight is the ratio between number of posts and number of place names, which shows the progressive segmentation of the farms, especially at the end of Maó (110 sites / 66 different place names). This segmentation is visible in place-names, by the practice of often maintaining the same place-name by adding 'de dalt' (from above), 'de baix' (from below), 'vell' (old), 'nou' (new) , or by using diminutives (from Algendar, Algendaret).