IOFE family, Vieksniai, Lithuania, Revision List errors? #lithuania


I’m looking for possible ancestors in a IOFE/IOFFE family in Vieksniai, Lithuania.  I have found what I take to be three brothers, Shepsel, Itsyk, and Zundel IOFE/IOFFE, all sons of Abram, listed in the 1858 revision list at Jewish Gen, and born, respectively, in 1776, 1784 and 1787.  The 1834 revision list for Vieksniai also exists and I found a Shepsel IOFE with the same birth year as in the 1858 list, but no Itsyk or Zundel.  I did, however, find an Itsik and Zundel IAPO, both with father Abram and with the same birth years as Itsyk and Zundel IOFE/IOFFE in the 1858 list.  I assume the original list is in Russian.  Is this a likely transliteration error – IAPO instead of IOFE?

Deborah Jaffey, IN, USA

Joel Ratner

To my way of thinking, it is quite difficult to confuse the Cyrillic letters for the Latin "f" and "p". Here is my explanation and I'd like to ask the Russian speakers to give me some leeway in my explanation. 

The Cyrillic letter for the Latin "f" is similar to the Greek phi. IF you recall, the Greek phi is the letter with the circle and the vertical line going through it. In Cyrillic, the handwritten 'f' takes a similar form although the shape is not circular, but does have the vertical strikethrough. It is a very distinct letter The Cyrillic "p" is most like the Greek letter "pi' which has two vertical lines and a wavy top connecting the two. Examples of the two letters in question can be seen in the attached files. The list of names used for this was from the YIVO Archive, Record Group 24, F160, Part 1. These are records for the Vilna Rabbinical School and Teachers Seminary from 1872/3.  I selected these records to use as examples due to the neat, clear handwriting not always found in some revision lists and vital records. 

In the first image, an example of the Cyrillic "p" is shown. The name in this list is listed as number 46. The name is PAS, Manuel. In fact, Manuel almost received all "A's (a grade of 5). It is easily seen how the first letter of the surname PAS resembles a Greek pi. Another example is just below for number 47 on the list, PREIS, Leyzer.

In the second image, name number 57 is FRUKHT, Khatskel. The next name, number 58 is FINKELSHTEYN, Mendel. Here you can see the resemblance of the leading letter of the two surnames to the greek "phi". 

From the examples, one can see how it is difficult to mistake the two letters for one another. I have also attached a copy of examples of Cyrillic letters which can be mistaken for one another. Thanks for this list go to the developer, Joe Armata.

Joel Ratner


Basic Soundex rules explain that P V B and F are equivalent letters, substituted for each other so often that one symbol is used for all four letters.  When I search JewishGen for Vein, Fein’s also show up. Vowels are even slipperier.  IOFE and Iopa are basically identical.  The shape of the letter does not matter.  The name is spoken to the census taker and he writes what he hears.
Have fun!
Fred Millner

Russ Maurer

There may be a simpler explanation. When one is transliterating back and forth from Cyrillic into Latin characters, in a moment of inattention it is easy to forget which alphabet one is looking at. The Cyrillic lower case "f" can look a lot like the Latin  lower case "op". Such mistakes happen. You would have to examine the original record to be sure.

Russ Maurer
Records Acquisition & Translation coordinator, LitvakSIG