The meaning of names among Mediterranean Jews

Marc Eliany ©


AFFLELOU (Aflilo, Afelio, Alfilali, Filali, Tafilalet)

among other possible variations depending on the country and language of the person.

Aflalo is an ancient name. A tombstone in the Jewish cemetary of Oufran indicated that Moussa Aflalo was burried in the year 653. Based on the assumption that the name of settlers precedes the name of the settlement, it seems that the name may be a transformation of the Hebrew name 'eli' and that the settlers gave their name to the region they inhabited. Assuming the origin is Hebrew, the name consists of the prefix 'af' and 'lalo' = 'eli' in Hebrew. Both the prefix and the root were subject to a Berber transformation. The name, in another Berber variation, appears as 'afelio' in the Oued Outat (a branch of the river Moulouya) region in Morocco or from Ksar Afelilou of Oulad Outad, the tribe of Aït Izdeg in Morocco. The 'aflilo' region, known for its multitude of rivers and forts, was once inhabited by Jews. The name Afelio may be of a Hebrew/Roman origin, or at least a Roman transformation of a Hebrew name. Assuming a Roman influence, 'lalo' refers to the grandchildren or descendents of 'eli' (similar to Eli-ano). The name 'eli' appears also as 'elal' in Arabic. The name may appear in the form of 'filal' = descendent of 'ilal' = eli or Oulad Ifli in Tafilalet, Morocco. Thus 'Tafilalet' may be related to this name. It may be that the word 'tafilalet' is a Berber/Arab transformation of the Hebrew word 'tefilat' = prayer, pronounced in Judeo-Arabic as 'tefilet.' It may also refer to an origin i.e., from Assif Afella N'Draa, in Mezguita, Oued Draa, Morocco.

Prefixes attached to the root name such as (aben, iben, abe, abi, abou, aboul, avi, am, ben, bin, abou, a, aj, al, af, aff, bel, even, ha, i, la, lel, me, m, o, wi, vi, ) denotes usually a relation to a person, i.e., the father of or the son of X, a place, i.e., a person from X, an occupation, i.e., a person who practices a specific occupation, a characteristic of a person, i.e., beautiful... The prefixes al, el are equivalent to 'the' in English or the article 'le' in French. In the Moroccan Berbers tradition, prefixes such as 'wi' 'vi' 'i' means usually a family relationship to X, the equivalent of Abu in Arabic, i.e., 'the father of', 'son of' a man, a tribal affiliation and so forth.In the Hebrew tradition, the prefix ‘M ‘ is an abbreviation of the word 'from.'

Complex prefixes such as 'Ab e' in the name Ab E Rgel consist of two elements Ab=father and E=the.
Complex prefixes such as 'BarHa' in the name BarHaNess consist of two elements Bar=son and Ha=the.

Suffixes such as 'an' or 'in' denote affiliation or a characteristic in Aramaec.
Suffixes such as 'a' characterize ancient Hebrew names, i.e., AviHatsir'a'
Suffixes such as oulah, oulay, ilah, ily, el, eli are used in Hebrew and Arabic to associate a name with God' blessing.
Suffixes such as 'i' or 'ri' 'ti' refer to an association with a person or a location, for example: arditi= from ardou or ard.
Suffixes such as 'illo' 'ano' 'ino' 'nino' are used in Spain and Italy to indicate descendence or association with an attribute.
Suffixes such as 'yah', 'yahu' 'hu' are used in Hebrew to denote God's benediction, for example: aviyah, aviyahu, avihu...
Suffixes such as 'oun' 'on' 'yout' 'out' characterize adjectives in Hebrew, for example: Hayoun, hayout...

AFFLELOU Alain (XXes.). Algeria (Sidi-Bel-Abbès). Businessman. Founder of a chain of optics stores in France.

AFLALO Joseph (1939-). Morocco (Fès). Lawyer and Political scientist. Auditor. Executive Director of the Ministry of Tourism among other financial institutions. One of the Founders of 'Identité et Dialogue' to bridge between Moslems, Jews and Christians and peace in the Middle East.

AFLALO Ayouche (XVIIIes.). Morocco. Chief rabbi of Agadir. Author of many judical rulings.


ABEHSSERA Chalom Séfér youhassin (Genealogy Registers).

Azoulay, Hayim Yossef Shem Hagdolim (the names of the great)

AZOULAY Haïm Yossef David (Hida) (1724-1807) Chém haguédolim va’ad lahakhamim (The names of the Great Council of Sages).

Levi, J et. al. 2000        Dictionnaire biographique du monde Juif Sepharade et Mediteranean, Editions Elysee, Montreal.

Toledano, J. 1983        La saga des familles, Les juifs du Maroc et leurs noms, Editions Stavit, Tel Aviv

Laredo A. 1978           Les noms des juifs au Maroc (Madrid, 1978)