Archive for November, 2007

On Spellings and Origins

Friday, November 16th, 2007

I have already lost the sense of name permanence as I learned to dig in old family history. I have enough personal experience now with old church and immigration records to know that there was a certain amount of creative spelling and name evolution. Specifically, as I looked early-on for places named Hasselbach from which Hasselbachers might spring, I did not know what to make about the significance s, ss, or ß in my name. (I still do not fully understand, but I no longer worry about it.) There is a however, a certain amount of non-randomness in the geographic variation of the spelling. The old scientist in me wants to find meaning in non-random events so I continue to investigate.

For example, if one enters place names into Goggle’s Map function for Germany, there are 9 Haselbach locations and 8 Hasselbach locations. However, if one enters the same names for sites in Austria, there are 10 Haselbach locations and no Hasselbach ones! I did not have to dig out my old statistics book to tell that this was not a random variation. (more…)