proposed change to Czech Roots use of name fields

+16 votes

As it currently stands the Czech Roots Project essentially tells us to disregard the record with regard to name fields: Use –ová (Czech) or –in (German) for all names regardless of time period or what's written in the parish record (see exceptions).

I am proposing to do away with this rule and encourage profile managers to stick with the record instead. Reasons:

  • All surviving church books until 1949 have been published on the web (or will be once the legal privacy protections for newer records expire). It is, therefore, possible to link to these records to document the use of the name.
  • The Czech orthography underwent a major reform in the mid-19th century. Many emigrants and their descendants continued and still continue to use the old spelling of their names. When we trace a family Dworschak back to Bohemia prior to 1850 we are asked to change that to Dvořák even though all records will have Dworschak as spelling.
  • Female name forms: Records are kept in Czech, German, or Latin. By and large, the earlier the record the more likely it will be in Latin. The use of Czech or German generally indicates the language of the majority of townspeople. Starting in the mid-19th century it will often change from one entry to the next depending on what language the family used. In many, particularly the earlier, records only the given name of a girl will be documented, the family name being that of the father. Whether a, and if so what, female name ending should be used is most often discernible from the surrounding name entries: often the midwife, sometimes the godmother or witnesses. Customs vary widely! In any case, if a family name is entered in the record that form should be used.
  • I think these changes would bring Czech Roots more in line with practices used in other projects and with our intent to "[u]se their conventions instead of ours".
in Policy and Style by Helmut Jungschaffer G2G6 Pilot (544k points)
Hi All,

As a newbie, I'm confused about the naming requirementsm for Czech Roots. I've made it a habit of using the name that is in the birth record, hoping to make it easier for others to follow the chain of documentation at a later date. I also keep the diacritics until they arrive in America and drop them. I've never added 'ova to a name. I want to upload a Gedcom but I'm not going to go through 5700 names and change the Latin names, add the 'ova's, etc. I don't want to do it wrong, so I can not do it at all... I'm looking for some advice here. on what others are doing or how Wikitree wants it done.
Yes! Adhering to the names as recorded in the parish books is the most sensible and authentic approach.
I believe we should keep the name as recorded at birth.  That way as Len Musil mentioned above, anyone doing further research can follow the documentation at a later date.

   As a funny side note, I was showing my 20 year old daughter the parish records and she commented that perhaps we should add the diacritic back into our Surname.  She a Bohemian at heart, 4 generations removed from the home land.

4 Answers

+8 votes
I support this proposal.

I have also thought the requirement to use the Czech or German gender suffix "regardless of time period or what is written in the parish record" was artificial, and not necessarily reflective of the community at the time the registers were kept.

This may be reflective of current practice in the Czech Republic, which may have, at least in part, origin in Czech nationalism in the latter 1800s, the advent of Czechslovakia in 1918,  and the expulsion of the German ethnic group after WW II.

Clearly, the Czech nation has evolved. Our practice should follow the nature of the country taking into consideration both the location and the time period.
by George Fulton G2G6 Pilot (405k points)
+1 vote
I agree. My Bohemian research has been the most difficult to wrap by brain around as I've found variables throughout.  But it appears there is no way make policy to cover them all.  Question:  example, if the surname profiled is JARES, would the search engine make a potential match to a surname profiled JARESCH (the German form)?
+1 vote
I would not be so hasty to change an existing rule.  Even if one were to agree that it would have been better to have started with a different rule, changing a rule can have negative consequences.  A mediocre rule consistently applied can be superior to a mixture of both a mediocre rule and a superior rule.

For the record, I am not against adopting some other rule.  I am sitting on the fence open to entertaining ideas in either direction although I should say the feminine form of the surname is something that many are attached to and those persons see dropping its use as a culturally treasonous act. ^v^
by Thom Anderson G2G6 Mach 5 (53.7k points)
+1 vote
As for the record consistency: my great-grandfather's surname was Kiršner. Three generations back, and it's Kiřner. One more generation, Kyřner. Further in the past, this was likely Kirschner or Kirchner. What I would like to say is that it's nearly impossible to figure out the "correct" version of the name. Plus, the older records are in Latin, as are the first names.

It would be great if there was some kind of a "nesting" function which would show all the versions of the first name and surname in a search. Something like does. Absent this, any convention is half-baked, and I agree it's probably too much to force non-native speakers to figure out the feminine version of the surname in Czech.
by Tomáš Minárik G2G4 (4.7k points)
Hi! This discussion was from November 2017 & was last updated December 2017. Just wanted to mention it, in case you hadn't seen it.

Cheers, Liz
Thanks for the link, I guess that resolves the issue. I just wonder how many of the profiles follow this convention in practice - I think we just have to be reasonably lenient.

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