One of the biggest challenges in genealogy is overcoming the spelling of names. As your family tree goes back in time, spelling becomes more uncertain. Part of the problem lies in known spelling variations for certain names (Smith, Smyth, Smythe, etc.). The main problem, however, is that historically many people did not know how to read and write.
Names that were said out loud were often mistakenly written down in a different format. Knowing the proper pronunciation of an ancestor’s name can therefore be a good starting point in trying to decipher how it may have been written down on an old immigration form, a census record or a parish record. But what happens if your ancestor was from Finland or Croatia and you don’t know how to pronounce names in these languages?
Hear Names. This is a website dedicated to the pronunciation of names from around the world. You can either type in a name and it will tell you how to pronounce it or you can search for names by language. Over 25 different languages are listed on the website. Hearing the proper oral pronunciation of a name is a good starting point for trying to reverse engineer how a name may have appeared in written format on historic documents, such as immigration forms.
Hear Names continues to be built out. The authors have informed us that new names can still be submitted to add to the database.
Thanks to Genealogy In Time for highlighting this website.