Daily Archives: May 3, 2011

Tuesday’s Tip – Say it Out Loud

Tuesday’s Tip is another one of the daily prompts suggested by members of Geneabloggers (see link in side bar). My tip for this week is one that I use often. If I can’t find an individual or family (say, in the census or on a passenger list, etc), I try saying the last name out loud in my best imitation of what I think is the appropriate accent. The idea being that how you hear it may help you come up with alternate spellings that may not be obvious.

Many of my ancestors and relatives were (or intermarried with) the Pennsylvania Dutch variety of Germans. Some of the common letter exchanges I find are B changing to P (or vice versa) and a hard C or K changing to G (or vice versa). There are probably others, but these are the ones that come to mind as I sit here and write this. Other types of accents may turn J into H or W into V.

Basically, it’s just another way to come up with alternate spellings that might be too far off for Soundex or some of the other “fuzzy” matching algorithms used by some search engines.  And even in the case where these alternatives are returned by the “fuzzy” search, if you type the alternative in directly it may pop the individual or family you are seeking closer to the top of the returned list, saving you the trouble of wading through all the “wrong” results to get to the “right” one.

Hope this helps!