Létourneau Letourneau or LeTourneau

+4 votes
I'm looking at merging three profiles for the same person, but don't know which style is preferred. Most WikiTree profiles for Létourneaus in Canada around the 1700s have it like that (accent, lowercase t).  Would that be the preference when merging profiles of different styling/spelling?
WikiTree profile: Marie-Anne Létourneau
in Genealogy Help by Liz Shifflett G2G6 Pilot (466k points)
retagged by Liz Shifflett

1 Answer

+1 vote

I'm not sure if that name shows up amongst the early Acadians, but I added it to the list of names to look up in Stephen White's DGFA.


If the name is not in the DGFA, is there a similar well accepted work on Québec geneaolgy that can be used as a guide to standardizing names on wikitree?

by Roland Arsenault G2G6 Mach 5 (54.6k points)

Thanks so much for the offer of a lookup - yes please!  I'd tried the recommended Internet search of the name +"Stephen White" but struck out.  I don't know of any other authoritative source for styling French-origin names aside from maybe Nos Origines?

I'd been working on profiles with profile manager Gaston Tardif and most of his had the accent/lower case t and I went with that. However, since I realized this was a matter for debate since then, I thought I'd ask.  Gaston cites Nos Origines ( http://www.nosorigines.qc.ca/GenealogieQuebec.aspx?pid=3833 )  as his source, but when I checked that citation, I found it dropped the accent (see Létourneau-38 for example).

Thanks again!


Nos origines is not a proper reference for this matter as they standardised without all the accents wether be é, è, ç or others. But these are fundamental to the proper writing and prononciation of the names or surnames used then and even nowadays in French Canada. Further more, the rules within this Wikitree require to include them. I would hate seeing my family tree without the respect of the original writing.

General Naming Conventions

Use their conventions instead of ours

We aim to use the names that people themselves would have known and that would have been recognized in their own time and place.

This is true for the "official name fields", Proper First Name and Last Name at Birth, and it's also true for the "preferred name fields", Preferred First Name and Current Last Name. These are meant to be the names they would prefer, not the names we prefer to call them.

At first this may seem overly complicated. We know what we would prefer but often cannot know what they would prefer. However, creating a single worldwide family tree requires a universal standard. "We" depends on who is speaking and the language they're speaking in.

For example, English-speaking WikiTree users know William the Conqueror. But French-speakers know Guillaume le Conquérant. Even if 99% of current WikiTree users speak English, William should be Guillaume in our database because he himself spoke French. We can all share one profile even though we don't share one language.

This applies for names with accented characters, and even for languages with non-Latin alphabets. WikiTree can accept most character sets, such as Cyrillic, Chinese, and Arabic.

Thanks Gaston - that's a definite yes for the accent. I'll propose merges toward Létourneau .  Cheers, Liz

I finally got to the library and checked the DGFA. Létourneau is not in there, the closest names are LeTourneur and Létranger. One problem I noticed with using the DFGA for name standardization is that Stephen White uses all caps, so it still makes the capitalization ambiguous sometimes. The good side is that he does use accents.

Gaston, I definitly agree that a reference that does not use accents is not one to standardize on! Of course, we should follow the naming conventions you quoted, but in the case of the early Acadians, which mostly didn't read or write, it's very difficult to know what spelling they would have used, especially with all the variety used be the priests and census takers.

Back to Létourneau, I was wondering why "Lé" rather than "Le" like the many other names starting with "Le" meaning "The". I didn't deeply look into it, but I did find variations spelled LesTourneau, which leads me to believe that "Lé" is just a shorter sound-alike form of "Les".  Anyone have more insight on this?
thank you so much. I had wondered about the accented "le" too - I think your supposition that it's a renedering of "les" makes sense. Maybe as we go further back, we'll find a group of Tourneaus :D
"Nos origines" is not the place for the correct spelling of French names as they have standardised all names to a contemporary form and removed all accents; it is however a good reference place to use to follow up and organise our entries while refering to other sources for proper original spelling.

I searched different data bases with "Létourneau and Letourneau". 99% are Létourneau. The Letourneau that I have found seem to be from anglophone environments; that would explain the disapearance of the "é" into an "e".

Here are some variants of "Létourneau" in France: Estourneau, Estournaud, Étournaut. Étournaux, Étournaud, Étournau, Étourneau, Étourneaux, Étourneau, Étourneaut. In New-France.

If we want to find and follow our origins, we have to respect the way their name was spelled generation after generation.

Just today, I was looking at one french surname: Bélanger. In th USA, it has become Bellanger and other similar spellings. This is just an example of normal adaptation to a different country.
Tanguay, Volume 1, Page 390, lists the first Létourneau as David, born in 1616, marries in 1638 and buried at Château-Richer, Quebec, on the 16th of May, 1670.  His son David, born in 1639, and Phillipe, born in 1658,  kept the same surname spelling.  His son Jean, born in 1642 and his son Jacques, born in 1668, were known with the surname spelled L'Estourneau.

I agree with Gaston that we should always defer to the last name used while the person was living.  If they signed thier name with inflection markings, then we should honor their memory with that spelling.  Sometimes assumptions are made incorrectly too.  Just because you see an accent in someone's profile, it doesn't mean that they have the accurate spelling either.  All these items should be researched to provide the best possible portrayal of our ancestors for the Wikitree audience.  It's far better to research before a profile is posted.  You may need to defend your profile at a later date, when someone merges your profile with anothers.  Cheers!!
Hi John, and Thanks!  I agree with Gaston too: I fully support the WikiTree policy of using "their conventions not ours" - it's just a bit hard to determine sometimes! Appreciate your looking into this case. For the record, my involvement was from an Arborist's perspective; I was just trying to clear duplicate profiles.

Also, I feel I must offer an alternative view to your statement "It's far better to research before a profile is posted." Cousins and others can't collaborate on a profile if it isn't posted, and if it's fully researched before posting - where's the collaboration? Most all of my ancestors were in Mississippi by 1800, by way of other southern states, and most of their records were destroyed or stolen 1861-65. I've made HUGE headway through posting what I have on WikiTree and then getting information from distant cousins I didn't know I had ... and strangers too! Another thought: I work with a lot of orphaned profiles that, when combined with duplicate profiles from others (either still managed or also orphaned) provide enough clues to find additional information. If the original posters had waited for solid sources before posting, WikiTree wouldn't have that synergy for a better profile. (Sorry - got on a bit of a soapbox there. But the collaborative discoveries is one of the top 3 things I love about WikiTree!)

Cheers, Liz

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