Has anyone tried to search for international names that use another alphabet?

+25 votes

According to the Style Guide, the Proper First Name and Last Name at Birth fields should be the names a person was born with, in their native language.  I am having difficulty when I enter the names of my Greek relatives, and I'm hoping someone can help.  When I entered my grandfather's LNAB as Παναγακος the system correctly created the profile number as Παναγακος-2.  However, when I searched for him, the LNAB field appeared blank in sorted lists, so I changed it to the anglicized version of Panagakos.  I entered his parents with their anglicized names, but I don't want to do this, because they never left Greece, so these are not names they ever used.  I do not plan to enter any other Greek relatives until someone can help me with this issue.  Does anyone have any suggestions that they have found to search for names that do not use the Latin alphabet?  How can we make WikiTree more international?

WikiTree profile: Constantine Stavros Panagakos
in Policy and Style by Star Kline G2G6 Pilot (547k points)
retagged by C S

4 Answers

+7 votes
Star, I think (but not 100% sure) that WikiTree is not currently capable of meeting the requirements resulting from the Style Guide instructions regarding names in cases where foreign character sets are used.

Would it be appropriate to keep the LNAB, and also proper first name, in the native language and add the "americanized" version in other last names and nicknames fields?  That way, the search should be able to locate the profiles, while the names are listed correctly.
by Gaile Connolly G2G6 Pilot (910k points)
Same problem with Russian Romanovs half of whom are in Russian lettering.

Exactly my point!  I edited my original question to indicate that this is an international issue rather than a Greek issue. 

I considered "playing" with the profile and entering data in the wrong fields, but I think we'll need to work on this issue if we want WikiTree to be truly international.  For now, could we edit the Style Guide to let members know that the Latin alphabet is the only one that will sort names appropriately?  That's probably not the best way to state this - any ideas?

+14 votes

Running a search for Παναγακος did result in

???????????? ??????? (Παναγακος) Panagakos ancestors Find Relationship photo Παναγακος-2 merging

October 20, 1895 Petrina, Lakonia, Greece

It looks like the LNAB field works but the first names don't. I would try with the Greek names in the appropriate fields and put a Latinized version in the Other Names.

This should result in a display like Σταύρος Παναγακος aka Stavros Panagakos.

by Helmut Jungschaffer G2G6 Pilot (544k points)
Thanks for the suggestion, Helmut.  That might help for my grandfather, but since his parents never left Greece, I don't want to list an aka name and give the impression that they actually used it.  For now, I'll leave Grandpa with his Greek and American names, even though they appear as ???? when sorted.  I'll leave his parents with only the Latinized version of their names, even though this is absolutely wrong, so I (and others) can easily search for them.  This will also allow other G2G members to look at the profiles and understand the issue.

I think the use of the Other Names field for a latinized version of the name does not necessarily imply that they used that name but it helps to identify them to those who are not familiar with the script.

According to the reference in the answer below we currently have profiles in 7 non-Latin scripts: Arabic الأَبْجَدِيَّة العَرَبِيَّة‎‎‎, Chinese 汉字 or 漢字, Greek Ελληνικό αλφάβητο, Hindi देवनागरी, Japanese 漢字, Farsi الفبای فارسی , and Russian русский алфавит. Without some common denominator, some lingua franca, truely international trees would become unintelligible for the overwhelming majority of users.

Thanks, Helmut.  I appreciate your thoughtful explanation.  I've listed my great grandfather's name in Greek and added the English version of the last name to the Other Names field.  Unfortunately, the sort list doesn't include the Other Names field, so I listed my grandfather s' name in English with the Greek last name in the Other Names field.

+8 votes
I'm not sure I understand all the issues of the question(s) but I've found 27 different languages used in WikiTree profiles:


One of those profile mangers may know more, but some of them might not speak English.
by Peter Roberts G2G6 Pilot (562k points)
edited by Peter Roberts

Thanks for the link, Peter, and for linking to my grandfather as the Greek example - he would appreciate it.  I see how my question still wasn't clear, so I edited it again to clarify that it is a problem with searching, not data entry.  We can enter anything in Greek (or any other characters or alphabet) in the biography section of the profile. We can also enter data in the name fields using another alphabet.  But we can't search for these profiles using both the first and last names - we'll get no results.  We can search by last name only , and all first names will appear as ????.

I used your link for a Russian example - Виктор Житомирский.  Go to the search fields at the top of the page and cut & paste the characters into the last name field.  You'll see that the first name fields for all six records have ????.  Cut & paste the characters into the first and last name fields, and the search result you get is "Sorry, no matches were found for "Виктор Житомирский"."  But his profile clearly is there.

For a Chinese example, I used 黄象郎 Unknown.  Cut & paste the characters into the first name field.  The search result you get is "Sorry, no matches were found for "黄象郎 Unknown"."  There is no way to search for these Chinese profiles.

I noticed that the Hindi example only used that language on his personal profile page, and not in the family profiles.

Maybe we could allow searching for various alphabets work on the first name field the same way it does for the last name field?

So maybe put in what works and an explanation in the notes section re: used/not used name version for now (until it is improved)?
+5 votes

Use Google and site:www.wikitree.com

https://goo.gl/niDpKH = site:www.wikitree.com Житомирский

I have seen other Wikis upgrade the search engine using a module

Extension:Elastica plus Extension:CirrusSearch that address problems with searching in Wiki on different languages... maybe that is an solution.... or use Google....


From the manual CirrusSearch 

What's improved?

The new search engine features three main improvements over the old search engine, namely:

  • Better support for searching in different languages.
  • Faster updates to the search index, meaning changes to articles are reflected in search results much faster.
  • Expanding templates, meaning that all content from a template is now reflected in search results.
by C S G2G6 Pilot (274k points)

Tested today and it looks ok to search on Житомирский inside Wikitree but not 黄潘

Ж is Unicode 0x0436

黄 is Unicode/Hanzi Search: U+9ec4  ==> 

UTF-8 0xE9 0xBB 0x84 => multibyte which maybe is a problem when searching.....


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