Russian Phonetics #general


Judith Romney Wegner
 

At 3:38 PM +0000 2/3/06, Aubrey Jacobus wrote:
It is classic genealogy trap -when is a slight spelling difference
significant and when is it mere coincidence -
with transliteration >from Cyrillic to Latin script often via Yiddish always
written without vowels an always present nightmare .
We have a case in point for years we suspected the Litvak families KLOSS and
KLASS were the same but had no proof. Very recently we were able to compare
two ship manifests one was a US 1905 immigrant Nachamia KLAS who fitted the
profile of Nick KLASS in Chicago perfectly now we find a US 1905 immigrant
Nechamia KLOSS who surely is Nick KLASS in Chicago , confirmed by the
destination address.
Can a Russian liguist comment on how such a confusion arose.
BTW KLOSS is a relatively common German name and KLASS is rare other than in
the USA.
Dear Aubrey,

I think the answer may be as follows: You are probably familiar
enough with the American accent to know that a name spelled KLOSS
would in most parts of USA be pronounced KLUSS (rhyming with fuss,
but with a longer-drawn-out vowel). And it would not take too long
before American Jews (especially if literate mainly in Yiddish and
not English) would start spelling the name KLASS instead of KLOSS.
This happens all the time on this side of the pond. So that's my
best guess on how the confusion arose.

Judith Romney Wegner


Jules Levin
 

At 07:38 AM 2/3/2006, you wrote:

It is classic genealogy trap -when is a slight spelling difference
significant and when is it mere coincidence -
with transliteration >from Cyrillic to Latin script often via Yiddish always
written without vowels an always present nightmare .
We have a case in point for years we suspected the Litvak families KLOSS and
KLASS were the same but had no proof. Very recently we were able to compare
two ship manifests one was a US 1905 immigrant Nachamia KLAS who fitted the
profile of Nick KLASS in Chicago perfectly now we find a US 1905 immigrant
Nechamia KLOSS who surely is Nick KLASS in Chicago , confirmed by the
destination address.
Can a Russian liguist comment on how such a confusion arose.
BTW KLOSS is a relatively common German name and KLASS is rare other than in
the USA.
I don't quite see how Cyrillic vs. Latin plays a
role here, since curiously enough,
the Cyrillic letters for A and O are in fact A
and O. Thus "Moscow" in Russian letters
is MOCKBA, pronounced [in NGR dialect]
'moskva'. (In standard Russian unstressed
'o' becomes 'a'.) As for the phonetics involved,
note that the 'a' involved is pronounced
'ah' as in 'father', and the 'o' involved is
pronounced 'aw', as in 'dawn' [*not* 'o' as in 'dope'!]. If you speak an
American dialect that doesn't make a distinction
between Don and dawn, you won't get this.
As for the confusion, I can't think of a reason
based on Eastern European phonetics. If both names are
attested in EEurope, they must be considered
different names. If, not, perhaps we
should look at local factors in the US. Could
the spelling be changed >from 'o' to 'a' under the influence
of the English word 'class'? I hate to resort to
the theory of ignorant immigration officials, but could the
pronunciation of Kloss as 'klaws' have been
misapprehended as 'klahs' and then written with 'a'?
Other ideas?
Jules Levin
Professor of Russian and Linguistics, Emeritus
UCLA, UCR


Stan Goodman <SPAM_FOILER@...>
 

On Fri, 3 Feb 2006 16:44:13 UTC, zen28027@zen.co.uk (Aubrey Jacobus)
opined:

It is classic genealogy trap -when is a slight spelling difference
significant and when is it mere coincidence -
with transliteration >from Cyrillic to Latin script often via Yiddish always
written without vowels an always present nightmare .
We have a case in point for years we suspected the Litvak families KLOSS and
KLASS were the same but had no proof. Very recently we were able to compare
two ship manifests one was a US 1905 immigrant Nachamia KLAS who fitted the
profile of Nick KLASS in Chicago perfectly now we find a US 1905 immigrant
Nechamia KLOSS who surely is Nick KLASS in Chicago , confirmed by the
destination address.
Can a Russian liguist comment on how such a confusion arose.
BTW KLOSS is a relatively common German name and KLASS is rare other than in
the USA.
Aubrey Jacobus
London
I do not style myself a linguist, but I can say the following:

1) In both Cyrillic and Latin handwriting, expecially some of the
execrable examples with which we have to deal, it is no great thing to
confuse a lower-case A with an O, or vice-versa. Judith's guess about
vowel pronunciation is equally likely. Take your pick.

2) As an aside: Contrary to what is written in the query above,
Yiddish, as an Indo-European language, is *never* written
without vowels, else its written form would be incomprehensible. It is
Hebrew, with other Afro-Asiatic languages, that is written without
vowels.

--
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MODERATOR NOTE: This discussion, which started with the practical
question of the identity of families in Lithuania and America with
similarly spelled names, has moved well into the realm of technical
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Aubrey Jacobus <zen28027@...>
 

It is classic genealogy trap -when is a slight spelling difference
significant and when is it mere coincidence -
with transliteration >from Cyrillic to Latin script often via Yiddish always
written without vowels an always present nightmare .
We have a case in point for years we suspected the Litvak families KLOSS and
KLASS were the same but had no proof. Very recently we were able to compare
two ship manifests one was a US 1905 immigrant Nachamia KLAS who fitted the
profile of Nick KLASS in Chicago perfectly now we find a US 1905 immigrant
Nechamia KLOSS who surely is Nick KLASS in Chicago , confirmed by the
destination address.
Can a Russian liguist comment on how such a confusion arose.
BTW KLOSS is a relatively common German name and KLASS is rare other than in
the USA.
Aubrey Jacobus
London


ac <anitac47@...>
 

I work in the borough/county of Queens in New York City which is the most
ethnically diverse county in the United States. Accents abound (including
the ones >from Brooklyn and Lon Gisland :-D). That work is in an English for
Speakers of Other Languages program. I get to hear (and figure out) names
and attempts at English >from nearly everywhere on the planet. Been doing
this for 18 years. And I am pretty good at it.

But you have folks >from whatever country who have speech impediments, who
have never gone to school and learned their language at Mama's knee, who
speak exceedingly fast, who's naming practices don't jibe with American
expectations, who try to impress you with their "English" learned by
listening to the BBC producing an English accent, who hail >from India who
speak an English with interestingly accented words (that is emphasis on
syllables other than commonly accented in American English).

And it depends on the expectation of the listener, the recent experience
(if they processed folks whose names began with NET and you should up with
a name beginning with NAD and a heavy accent, your name could end up
beginning with NET as well).

Vowels are always problematic and even simple names have many variants
although they are all pronounced the same.

If it all other facts fit, sometimes a well-founded leap of faith is required

Regards,
Anita Citron
Hicksville, NY


Fritz Neubauer
 

Aubrey wrote:

"Very recently we were able to compare
two ship manifests one was a US 1905 immigrant Nachamia KLAS who fitted the
profile of Nick KLASS in Chicago perfectly now we find a US 1905 immigrant
Nechamia KLOSS who surely is Nick KLASS in Chicago , confirmed by the
destination address.
Can a Russian liguist comment on how such a confusion arose."

I don't think, it needs a Russian linguist to explain how an ou-sound can turn
into an a-sound, because it has nothing to do with Russian pronujnciation, rather
an English/American linguist is needed: just compare how the word "dollar" is
pronounced in Britain and in America! It was originally derived >from the German
currency "Taler", but the Americans thought, when hearing "Taler", it would have
to be spelled "dollar". In the same way, KLOSS pronounced by an American would
be given an a-sound which then could be confused as an A in writing, too.

I hope that helps,

with kind regards

Fritz Neubauer, North Germany


Peter Zavon <pzavon@...>
 

Since immigration officials in the US used but did not create the passenger
list, this seems highly unlikely. Passenger lists were created by the
ship's officers before or during the voyage.

"Jules Levin" <ameliede@earthlink.net> wrote

[snip]

I hate to resort to
the theory of ignorant immigration officials, but could the
pronunciation of Kloss as 'klaws' have been
misapprehended as 'klahs' and then written with 'a'?
Other ideas?
Jules Levin
Professor of Russian and Linguistics, Emeritus
UCLA, UCR


Dr.Josef ASH
 

Nick replies:

Anglo-Jewish pronunciation in an Ashkenazi synagogue of the same Hebrew
vowel sounds has changed over the years. The way that my father, I and my
nephews learnt to say the Hebrew word "Boruch" are markedly different.

The first vowel my father rhymes with boat. (after Chief Rabbi Joseph
Hertz). I rhyme it with not. My nephews rhyme with but. (Ivrit style)
A gentleman >from Poland in my synagogue pronounce it to rhyme with boy.
Nick Landau
And just to clarify everithing >from the Russian-speaking-Jew "point of
listening": I don't understand what are you talking about! Do not "not"
"boy" and "boat", three of them, sound the same rhyme?
Dr.Josef Ash

MODERATOR NOTE: The point has been made that different people may
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Nick <tulse04-news@...>
 

"Fritz Neubauer" <fritz.neubauer@uni-bielefeld.de> wrote

I don't think, it needs a Russian linguist to explain how an ou-sound can
turn into an a-sound, because it has nothing to do with Russian
pronujnciation, rather an English/American linguist is needed: just
compare how the word "dollar" is pronounced in Britain and in America! It
was originally derived >from the German currency "Taler", but the Americans
thought, when hearing "Taler", it would have to be spelled "dollar". In
the same way, KLOSS pronounced by an American would be given an a-sound
which then could be confused as an A in writing, too.
Anglo-Jewish pronunciation in an Ashkenazi synagogue of the same Hebrew
vowel sounds has changed over the years. The way that my father, I and my
nephews learnt to say the Hebrew word "Boruch" are markedly different.

The first vowel my father rhymes with boat. (after Chief Rabbi Joseph Hertz)
I rhyme it with not. My nephews rhyme with but. (Ivrit style)

A gentleman >from Poland in my synagogue pronounce it to rhyme with boy.

--
Nick Landau
London, UK

COHNREICH (Anklam, Germany Krajenka, Poland) ATLAS (Wielkie Oczy (near
Lvov/Lemberg), Poland) WEITZMAN (Cracow), WECHSLER(Schwabach, Germany)
KOHN/WEISSKOPF (Wallerstein and Kleinerdlingen,Germany) LANDAU (only adopted
on leaving Belarus or later)/FREDKIN (?) (Gomel, Mogilev, Chernigov,
Belarus)


Nick <tulse04-news@...>
 

I have recently started singing in a synagogue choir. The Hebrew is
transliterated into English characters. The letter "e" is used to represent
two different Hebrew vowels (Segol and Schwa).

There is the addition of a French accent and/or phonetic symbol to indicate
the difference - no doubt most of the choristers are not familiar with
these. The choirmaster often has to remind us of this - even for those who
read Hebrew, music is written left to right whereas Hebrew is written the
other way around.

If anyone has ever learnt another language solely >from a phrasebook they
might have had a similar problem.

--
Nick Landau
London, UK

COHNREICH (Anklam, Germany Krajenka, Poland) ATLAS (Wielkie Oczy (near
Lvov/Lemberg), Poland) WEITZMAN (Cracow), WECHSLER(Schwabach, Germany)
KOHN/WEISSKOPF (Wallerstein and Kleinerdlingen,Germany) LANDAU (only adopted
on leaving Belarus or later)/FREDKIN (?) (Gomel, Mogilev, Chernigov,
Belarus)


Judith Romney Wegner
 

In an Orthodox synagogue in the UK, the only way of getting married is
production of one's parent's Ketuba or the certification >from another
religious authority that one was also married in their synagogue.
--
Nick Landau
London, UK
Yes, that is the general rule. I had to produce my mother's ketubbah
to get a marriage authorization >from the London Beth Din. (BTW, the
ketubbah is the property of the bride, not the groom, so it is
properly described as one's mother's ketubbah -- not "one's parent's
Ketubbah) "

But in special circumstances the Beth Din could make an exception.
My husband was an Austrian Jewish refugee who came to London at the
age of six via a Kindertransport in 1939. Both of his parents were
ethnic Jews; his father had died very young before WW2 and his
mother died in England soon after the war. They were very secular
Jews, who had not bothered with a Jewish marriage ceremony, so there
was no ketubbah.

Halakhically, it did not matter who Peter's father was -- but when
we became engaged in 1955 he had no document whatsoever to prove that
his *mother* was Jewish. However, he was listed as coming on a
specific Kindertransport train >from Vienna, which arrived on April 27
1939, and his particulars were registered at the time with the
Jewish Refugee Council (not sure I have the name quite right!) in
London. The Beth Din was quite willing to accept that organization's
certification that Peter was a Jew, and issued the requisite marriage
authorization so that we could be married in a United Synagogue
constituent synagogue. (In England the United Synagogue is orthodox,
not Conservative).

Judith Romney Wegner
USA


Nick <tulse04-news@...>
 

I would refer you to the resource on JewishGen
http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/GivenNames/problems.htm

"Problems Researching Jewish Names"

It concludes that the most accurate source for a name is the Get or bill of
Jewish divorce, because of the consequences of getting it wrong.

I hope that these didn't have to be issued too frequently, and therefore
that this would somewhat be lessened as a research tool. Correspondingly I
would have thought that the Ketuba which presumably preceded it is the one
to look for.

In an Orthodox synagogue in the UK, the only way of getting married is
production of one's parent's Ketuba or the certification >from another
religious authority that one was also married in their synagogue.


--
Nick Landau
London, UK

COHNREICH (Anklam, Germany Krajenka, Poland) ATLAS (Wielkie Oczy (near
Lvov/Lemberg), Poland) WEITZMAN (Cracow), WECHSLER(Schwabach, Germany)
KOHN/WEISSKOPF (Wallerstein and Kleinerdlingen,Germany) LANDAU (only adopted
on leaving Belarus or later)/FREDKIN (?) (Gomel, Mogilev, Chernigov,
Belarus)