Re: Why Various Spellings of A Family Name #names

Peter Straus

My own theory is that, especially when literacy in German was not universal, one must remember that the original function of written language was to record spoken language, and as such, the modern concept of a “right” and a “wrong” spelling doesn’t have much basis, so long as it sounded right—and don’t forget regional dialects.  This concept appears to underlie variations in given names like “Sophie” and “Sophia,” “Joseph” and “Josef,” but in surnames as well, particularly in the early years of their use (the early 1800s in the lands west of the Rhine).   Thus my paternal line’s family has consistently spelled its name “Straus” in most records from the 1800s, but there is lack of consistency between “Straus” and “Strauss” in the earlier records.


--peter straus

  San Francisco, California, USA

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