18th Century PA German Name Spelling Idiosyncrasies


The Liberty Bell March



Filename: SPELLING.HTM

Internet: http://www.kerchner.com/spelling.htm

Date: Compiled: 15 Aug 1999
Updated: 6 Jan 2005

By: Charles F. Kerchner, Jr.
3765 Chris Drive
Emmaus PA 18049-1544 USA

Notice: Copyright (c) 1999-2001, Charles F. Kerchner, Jr.
All Right Reserved.
Establishing links to this page is encouraged and
permitted. But, reuse or reprinting it in it's entirety
or in part in other websites, or in any other media or
publication, without my permission, is not permitted.
Printing a hard copy of this report for your own
personal, non-commercial use is permitted. Exact spelling of names was not clearly defined in the 18th Century. Spelling was often done phonetically. Thus when the Germans settled in Pennsylvania their names were frequently spelled one way when written by German scribes and another way when written by English scribes. In addition to phonetic spelling variations, later there were also spelling errors made by misinterpreting the old script, confusing one letter for another. Also sometimes names were completely translated to the English equivalent. This page was compiled to give persons new to 18th Century PA German research some examples, and thus clues, to other avenues to pursue if one cannot find the name they are seeking spelled the way they expect it. This is particularly important when searching through newly printed index reference books of church records, etc. You need to check for all possible spellings and misspellings. Suggestions for other PA German common spelling indiosyncrasies are solicited and I will consider adding them to this file. This list is not comprehensive by any means, just examples.

Keywords: PA GERMAN DEUTSCH NAME SPELLING VARIATIONS IDIOSYNCRASIES PENNSYLVANIA

GERMAN LETTER   ENGLISH PHONETIC SUBSTITUTE     EXAMPLE

V               F                               Vetterman = Fetterman
W               V                               Weiss = Veiss
P               B                               Probst = Brobst
J               Y                               Jost = Yost
D               T                               Diehlman = Tilghman
                                                Dries = Trease/Treese
T               D                               Tesch = Desch
                                                Lautenschlager = Laudenslager
                                                Gut = Good
D,T             TH (no 'th' sound in German)    Deobald = Theobald = Tibald
SCH             S                               Lautenschlager = Laudenslager
G               CH or CK (for harder form)      Glogge = Gloche = Glocke
G               K                               Glock = Klock
G               Y (for softer form)             Goder = Yoder
                                                Boger = Boyer
H               J                               Han = Jon
Z               S                               Zeller = Seller
K               C                               Konrad = Conrad


GERMAN UNUSUAL LETTERS      INTERCHANGED IN ENGLISH WITH

B with tail                 SS
A umlauted                  AE
O umlauted                  OE
U umlauted                  UE


GERMAN SCRIPT LETTERS       CONFUSED WITH
K                           R (and vice versa)
SCH                         PF or SH
H                           F or L

GERMAN NAME                 ENGLISH TRANSLATED VERSION AND SPELLING

Duerr                       Dry
Fuchs                       Fox
Jaeger                      Hunter
Kirchner                    Churchman
Schwartz                    Black
Zimmerman                   Carpenter

JUST PLAIN READING THE SCRIPT WRONG IN TRANSCRIPTION DUE TO POOR HANDWRITING

S for L and vice versa. Example: Saudenslager for Laudenslager.
R for K and vice versa. Example: Rerchner for Kerchner.
H for K and vice versa. Example: Herchner for Kerchner.

I published this page to share some spelling variation tips I learned over the years. I am not a name expert so I won't be able to help you solve your specific name spelling problems. Below are a couple of books which you should review if you need more help with germanic records.


Review, and order on-line if desired, the following research books
in association with Amazon.com.
German-English Genealogical Dictionary, by Ernest Thode
German-American Names, by George F. Jones
Dictionary of German Names, by Hans Bahlow, translated by Edna Gentry

Some other good genealogical research books:
If I Can You Can Decipher Germanic Records, by Edna Bentz
Evidence!: Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian, by Elizabeth Mills
German Church Books: Beyond Basics, by Kenneth L. Smith


An interesting research tool on another topic.
Review, and order on-line the following Internet research tool
offered in association with Net Detective.
Need help finding ADOPTED ancestors or finding LOST cousins.
This program targets searching the Internet to find hard to locate information.
Click on the logo advertisement below for more information about the program.
Click Here For More Net Detective Information

[Net Detective]





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Charles F. Kerchner, Jr.
3765 Chris Drive
Emmaus PA 18049-1544 USA
Email: Contact Me


Copyright ©1996-2007
Charles F. Kerchner, Jr.
All Rights Reserved
Created - 1 Oct 1996
Revised - 22 Jun 2007