#52Ancestors Week 46 ‘Different Languages’

Welcome to Week 46 of my Genealogy challenge, from the wonderful Amy Johnson Crow, of writing something about your Ancestors for a whole year, #52Ancestors in 52 weeks. This week’s prompt is ‘Different Languages’.

For a small Island, the United Kingdom, is a real Mish-mash of local dialects, spread from the North to the South and equally as far wide from the West to the East. As you move from County to County, you can hear the subtle changes in accent and dialect and even the emphasis on how a word is pronounced. Throw into the mix that different words have completely different meanings, from area to area, it’s no wonder there is confusion in what gets recorded in the records.

Wind the clock back 150 years or so, throw in a different accent or dialect from either those registering a parish record, or those recording a parish record, then it’s hardly surprising that we see such glaringly obvious mistakes, in the Parish Registers. Take into account that your Ancestors most likely could not write as well, then the mistakes are more understandable.

Now if you are like me, useless at local accents, try saying your Surname in a totally different accent, then you start to see how these mistakes can easily occur.

Take the Surname “Cant”, is it pronounced the same way you say “Rant”? Or is it pronounced like the word Can’t? See how spelling and pronunciation can be two completely different things. Therefore it’s highly possible that it could be written as Carnt in a parish register and therefore looking for an entry beginning “Can___” would not locate your Ancestor.

Throw in a first name of Janet, Janette, or Jennet and quite quickly we can see how easy it is to ‘lose’ an Ancestor, add a place name of Dalziel, (pronounced De-ell) and it’s a wonder we ever find anyone!

I went to School with somebody with the Surname Death……..for obvious reasons he pronounced it as De Ath, so how you pronounce your Surname today is entirely up to you, it’s your name after all……….but spare a thought for us poor Genealogist’s

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6 thoughts on “#52Ancestors Week 46 ‘Different Languages’

  1. Having Pearis as a surname has been fun. It comes out differently around the world. It is heard differently and spelled differently. I love hearing all of them. Pear-is, Paris, Pee-r-is, Perez, Peer-is, Parr-is, etc…. But then Tamara has been a joy too. Ta-mah-ra, Ta-mare-uh, Tamra, Tam-uh-ruh, Tae-mare-ah, etc…


  2. Good points about the different ways names can be pronounced and spelt. Place names too can be pronounced so differently to what one might think. In Kent we have Wrotham, pronounced “Rootham”and Trottiscliffe, pronounced incomprehensibly as “Trosley”!

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