The associated coat of arms for the name DALEN are recorded in Rietstaps Armorial General. Registered in Holland. This Norwegian, Dutch and Swedish name was of the locational group of surnames meaning 'one who dwelt in the valley'; one who came from DALEN (valley) in Sweden. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. In the 17th century, so-called 'soldiers' names are found as the earliest kind of hereditary surnames in Sweden. These names were derived from vocabulary words, usually martial-sounding monosyllables such as Rapp (prompt) Rask (bold), or occasionally names of animals and birds. The names were bestowed on soldiers for administrative purposes, and no doubt in some cases derived from pre-existing nicknames. The Dutch language is most closely related to Low German, and its surnames have been influenced both by German and French naming practices. The preposition 'van' is found especially with habitation names, and the 'de' mainly with nicknames.
In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
A notable member of the name was Nils Gustav DALEN (1869-1937) the Swedish engineer and inventor. He was educated at Goteborg and Zurich, and invented automatic acetylene lighting for unmanned lighthouses and railway signals, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 1912.
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