NYALBANY-L ArchivesArchiver > NYALBANY > 2002-05 > 1020997278
From: "Bill Brizzell" <>
Subject: Re: [NYALBANY] Pronunciation of names is the often the key
Date: Thu, 9 May 2002 22:22:23 -0400
I spent most of this past winter (no time for genealogy the rest of the
year) researching the Dutch on my father's side of the family. His
grandfather came to the US in 1907 from the Netherlands, so I started my
search from only a hundred or so years ago. I have found that having at
least some grasp of the language is necessary. One example is that the "ij"
and "y" are, or at least were, interchangeable. Of course if you write an
"ij" in cursive and don't dot either letter, what do you get - a "y". I
felt like I should have figured that one out.
I have another interesting one. When I was first getting started in
genealogy I was reading (yes, line by line) the federal census at my local
(Town of Colonie, Albany County) library. I knew that my
Emerich/Emmerich/Emerick family had to be there in the 1900 census.
Couldn't find them, even reread the section I though they were in. Then I
realized that there was another family where a bunch of the names seems to
line up with my family. I later found that this was my Emmerich family, but
the family name on the census was Emery. Now we have stories about what a
poor job the census takers did, but this seemed to be pretty far off. I
have a book on the history of the Town of Colonie and it has some old maps
of the town in it. On the 1866 map, living on what is now Albany-Shaker
Road, is a G. Emmery. It has to be my George Emmerich. And the map maker
had his name wrong 34 years before the census taker.
So I finally get to my question about Emmerich vs. Emery. George Emmerich
immigrated from Germany in 1854. There were lots of Germans coming to the
area at the time. Is is possible that the presumably English-speaking map
maker and census taker could take Emmerich as Emery? I don't know how well
the family spoke English, but it makes me wonder - how does Emmerich sound
----- Original Message -----
From: "Cliff Lamere" <>
Sent: Wednesday, May 08, 2002 7:41 PM
Subject: [NYALBANY] Pronunciation of names is the often the key
> As late as 1800 at the Albany Reformed Dutch Church, a pastor was being
sought who spoke both English and Dutch. The older (and more financially
well-off) people in the church still spoke Dutch in their homes. They
couldn't find a bilingual pastor to take the post, but a second Reformed
church in Albany was being built, so the solution was to get two pastors,
one who spoke English and the other who spoke Dutch. Then each pastor could
conduct a single service at each church each Sunday. The second church
began conducting services about 1815. At that same time, a successful
businessman in the city still had to speak Dutch. So, you see, Dutch was
spoken in Albany much later than most people would have imagined.
> Very few people that I know speak Dutch, but, fortunately, except for a
few letters, Dutch sounds quite like German. Some of you will be familiar
with that language.
> Based on pronuciation, I was recently able to match up two people in my
database as being the same woman. One was named Ytje and the other Ida. In
Dutch, the first would be pronounced EE-tyuh (EE-chuh in spoken language)and
the other EE-tuh. That got me pointed in the right direction, and other
facts clinched it. (A final 'd' or a 'd' with a vowel on either side of it
would be pronounced as a 't'. I have even seen cases where a Dutch name
beginning with a D was heard by the writer as a T, but not often. For
example, Dirk and Tirk.)
> Catherine is a very common name with which people have problems, even
though they don't realize it. Catherine, Catharine, Catharina and Catarina
were all pronounced the same by the Dutch. COT-uh-REE-nuh. In western
European languages, an 'a' would be pronounces as 'ah', or like the 'o' in
hot. The 'i' would be pronounced as 'ee'. The 'h' in 'th' is silent
causing 'th' to sound like 't'. The Dutch and Germans would pronounce a
final -e even though in English we usually don't. COT-uh-REE-nuh is what
you get. All four names were pronounced the same way, and were just
spelling variations of the same name.
> Jacob and Yacop are the the same name because the Dutch J sounds like an
English Y. A final 'b' sounds like a'p'. It didn't sound too much like we
pronounce Jacob today. Remember that the 'a' in this name sounds like 'ah'.
> A great number of Dutch female names end in -tje or -tie in our
transcriptions of the early church records. Actually, the Dutch 'j' and 'i'
were often hard to tell apart. The 'i' was just a short, straight, vertical
line with a dot above it. The 'j' had no curve at the bottom of it, so it
was exactly the same as the 'i' except for the length of the line.
Transcribers often could not tell them apart. Fortunately, they are both
pronounced the same; as -chuh. This may seem improbable to some readers,
but a 'j' in Dutch and German sounds like our 'y' (the German word for yes
is 'ja', which is pronounced 'yah'). The 'y' and 'i' are pronounced the
same; as 'ee' (when we say yes, we really say ee-es without a break
between). But, remember that we have to pronounce the final vowel -e (which
is -uh). What we get is -tee-uh. In Dutch, when either -tje or -tie are
said in normal speech, they come out as -chuh.
> I got my start on Dutch pronunciation with the name Jannetje. Over a
period of time, I asked four people born in The Netherlands to pronounce it
for me. They all agreed that it was pronounced YON-uh-chuh. Clues given in
previous paragraphs should have prepared you for this (except the location
of the emphasis). Jannetje translates as Jane.
> I have long been interested in correct pronunciation whenever I intended
to learn a few words in a foreign language. It has finally paid off in the
pursuit of my ancestors.
> How would you pronounce Fitje? FEE-chuh. It
translates as Sophia.
> The experience and education of the person recording a name determined
what he wrote down when a person told him their name (a great many people
could not spell their own name). If the recorder was Dutch, a person's name
was likely to be recorded with a different spelling than if the recorder was
English. The recorder put down what he heard. If two spellings sound the
same, they are almost certainly the same name.
> The various spellings of a person's name should not throw you off. Don't
assume that Catarina Van Dyke and Catherine Van Dyke have to be different
women. Don't assume that either one of the spellings was the one preferred
by the woman. A great many people could not read or write, but they, of
course, could speak their own name. When I have two or three spellings of
the same person's name, I use the one that I believe to be most Dutch. As
the primary spelling, I would always pick Jannetje over Jane. I would
always pick Annatje (ON-uh-chuh) over Anna (ON-uh) or Ann (ON) or Hannah
(HON-uh) in a situation where I had all four names in the records for the
same person. Antje (Antie) is another variation of Annatje. Hannah can
also be a nickname for Johanna which ends in Hanna.
> Jan (yon), Johannes (yo-HON-ess), and John (probably pronounced yon by the
Dutch in the early days of its use) are all the same name in eastern New
York during different centuries. From my study of one Dutch family's births
and baptisms, Jan was the name given to boys up until 1689. The earliest
Johannes was c. 1721 (born to a Jan) and the last was 1791. John was the
given name after 1791, with just two exceptions (one c. 1790 and the other
> Some Dutch/German sounds
> Dutch/German English
> a ah
> i ee
> j ee
> final b p
> final d t
> final g k
> th t
> v f
> w v (the Dutch is closer to vw sounded
> Does anyone have any experiences where the pronunciation of the name was
helpful in finding an ancestor?
> Cliff Lamere Albany, NY
|Re: [NYALBANY] Pronunciation of names is the often the key by "Bill Brizzell" <>|