Bubba, I share your pain and when my knowledge of the French language improves to the point where I can supply a precise translation I will do so.In what follows it would be well to bear in mind that my excerpt was from a site dealing with the etymology of French names. That accounts for the references to parts of France and not to Germany. What I found most interesting was the fact that Bahlow in his dictionary of German names considers the surname NUSS to have had its origins as a hypocoristic form of Denis, that is, a pet name or term of endearment such as parents might bestow on a child. In the case of NUSS, Bahlow thinks the change came through apheresis which one dictionary defines as "the dropping of a letter, syllable, or phoneme at the beginning of a word. (Ex, 'cause for because)". Trudy for Gertrude would be an example from the world of familiar given names.In the case of NUSS, by apheresis, "Denis" becomes "Nuss" or "Nies" or "Niess".
As some of you have been saying, the origins of common family names are often quite complex and names of common origin may take on variant spellings and pronunciations. In the case of "Nuss", as found in Alsace, there are also the variants, "Nus" and "Nups" of Lorraine, and the "Nies" and "Niess" previously identified. And a look at family search.org shows a number of other (to my limited understanding) probable variants. I guess that's about enough for now, Bubba. Have to get back to Palmeri and Milligan's "French for reading knowledge", a book I recommend highly and still available from your online bookseller! -russ brokaw
P.S: St. Denis, one of the patron saints of France, seems to have been highly venerated in the Middle Ages. I suspect many male children bore his name. -rb