The Italian surname of TARANGO was of three-fold origin. A nickname for a lively dancing man; one who dances the tarantella, a dance supposed to cure the bite of the tarantula; and a locational name from the city and province of TARANTO, in the region of Apulia, in south east Italy: It was also a habitation name from the city of TARRAGONA in north-eastern Spain. The name was first recorded in medieval documents in the Latin form TARRACONIS. It is an extremely ancient city, captured by the Romans from the Carthaginians in the Second Punic War (218 BC). The name is also spelt TARRAGO, TARRAGONA, TARAGAN and TARAGANO. 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.
The origins of Italian surnames are not clear, and much work remains to be done on medieval Italian records. It seems that fixed bynames, in some cases hereditary, were in use in the Venetian Republic by the end of the 10th century. The typical Italian surname endings are 'i' and 'o', the former being characteristic of northern Italy. The singular form 'o' is more typical of southern Italy. When the first immigrants from Europe went to America, the only names current in the new land were Indian names which did not appeal to Europeans vocally, and the Indian names did not influence the surnames or Christian names already possessed by the immigrants. Mostly the immigrant could not read or write and had little or no knowledge as to the proper spelling, and their names suffered at the hands of the government officials. The early town records are full of these mis-spelt names most of which gradually changed back to a more conventional spelling as education progressed.
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