I found some interesting postings (copied below) on http://groups.google.com/group/soc.culture.occitan. They indicate that Laffoon may be a variant of Lafont, which is an Occitan name, and that it may have originated in Gascony. The posting from OccitaNet should be pretty authoritative but I can't vouch for any of it. This may help narrow down the area to search in for pre-US ancestors. Here are the postings:
From: Susan Vargas - view profile
Date: Sun, Feb 11 2001 11:07 am
I am research my family surname, which is LAFFOON. Thus far there has been no useful information regarding the origination of the name. The family has been in the United States since before 1700 and many of the male family members are named Bernard, Matthew, Nathaniel, and Denis.
Can anyone on the list confirm knowledge of the pronunciation and spelling of LAFFOON as a possible Occitanian surname?
From: gianni_paris_france - view profile
Date: Mon, Feb 12 2001 12:20 am
"Lafont" is a common Occitan surname, pronounced very much like Laffoon. Robèrt Lafont is one of the major living Occitan writers and philosophers.
Gianni - Cergy, France
From: Mathias van den Bossche - view profile
Date: Mon, Feb 12 2001 2:26 pm
There is one more clue : the double F.
As far as I could notice, the FF is a convention in the Gascon dialect of Occitan to note an [h] sound, similar to English 'h', in words where Latin had F. E.g. "hèsta" (latin FESTA, party), "hilha" (latin FILIA, daughter), "in.hèrn" (latin INFERNU, Hell), and of course "hont" (Latin FONTE, spring, fountain).
You find people called "Lafont" (say "lah-foon")or "Lafònt" (say "lah-fonn) in other parts of Occitània (outside Gascony), but written with one F only.
Unless ... unless the double ff has been introducted in the same time as the double, to write in an English way the "a" sound before the f (spelled "lafoon", it could have been uttered like "leyfoon", as far as I understand English pronounciation). So your name is definitely Occitan, and likely to be originated from Gascony (D'Artagnan's country), where it is spelled "Lahont",
pronounced like "lah-hoon", meaning "the fountain, the spring", often because the house of the family was close to some place where drinkable water could be found.
Hope it helps !
All the best
Mathias - OccitaNet
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