Matching Pehr vs Per, Pehrsson vs Persson, Carl vs Karl and so on in Swedish names

+7 votes
140 views
I have noticed that the names Pehr and Per also Pehrsson and Persson does not initiate a match. Checked yesterday when I created a profile with the last name Persson and tried with Pehrsson and got completely different suggestions for match.

This is totally wrong. Per and Pehr, for sure before year 1900 but also after is the same name, it has to be treated as the same name, and as Wikitree match engine doesn't I am sure that there are a huge amount of missed matches only because of this name here in our world tree.

I'm aware that there are a lot of similar problems but just the thing with an h in middle of the name doesn't really matter in our names for example Ohlsson and Olsson also have to be treated as the same name in genealogy.

Also the letters K and C has to be treated as the same letter in names, maybe it is allready? Cajsa and Kajsa is the same name, Carl and Karl has to be treated as the same name and so on.

Even people that today have this names and similar can use different spellings during their life. It works a long you are not entering through a security check on an airport ;)

And consider that the names in the church books was given to the priests by telling them. The priests spell as they like, the next time and another priest he spells different, maybe they were nearly the only one who could write.
in WikiTree Tech by Ola Lidén G2G6 (8.2k points)
There are two issues right now with matching Scandanavian names -- for last names not being seen as matches, it's probably because they are not listed as aliases for each other. The list we use for related names hasn't been updated in a long time, and there isn't a way for users to update that list.

Then for first names, there is no list of related first names so they have to be exactly the same for the system to see it as a match.

Both of these things are on the to-do list to work on.
Thanks for that answer. My post was sort of to find out what the status is now and either wake up people who can do this better or to find out that is an ongoing project or at leas on a to-do list.

It's also useful to know about the first names, I've already started to alter some first names when creating a profile just to check if there could be a match. Like trying with both Per and Pher.

2 Answers

+3 votes

It's the same with Norwegian, and I guess for most languages except for English. Phonetic checking is usually performed by the Soundex algorihm, specifically made for English pronounciation.

The largest Soundex failure for Scandinavian spelling, is that there really is no difference in pronounciation between T and TH, as in English. Thus, Torsten vs. Thorsten, or Marte vs. Marthe, will be considered as different names.

In Scandinavian languages, the letter h is normally silent inside words, but has been widely used for decorational purposes in names. This custom particularly flourished in the 19th century, when for instance "John" temporarily supplanted "Jon" in Norway.

Today, the silent h's have luckily all but disappeared from Scandinavian names. The one apparent exception in Norway is the female names Torhild, Ragnhild, and Gunhild, where the spelling has changed (from Toril, Ragnil, Gunil) due to a clearer understanding of their etymology, the suffix -hildr meaning 'battle' in old Norse.

by Leif Biberg Kristensen G2G6 Mach 9 (98.2k points)
edited by Leif Biberg Kristensen

The accidental creation of som duplicates is inevitable under the circumstances. I don't know about Norway, but for Sweden we have loads of profiles already in WikiTree - mostly imported from GEDCOMS - created in accordance with the practice of standardized names supported by Sveriges Släktforskarförbund - like Kerstin instead of Chjerstin, Kierstin, Chirstin and all the other variants - which is practical, but quite the opposite to WikiTree policy of spelling it "like they did".

Actually this matching problem is why I find location categories so useful, since they allow easy checking of which branches alredy have profiles in WikiTree. Provided, of course, that people have categorized the profiles.

The WikiTree matching when you create new profiles does not take account of location - which has been asked for many times. So in addition to missing out on matches due to an extra 'h' and things like that, the algorithm serves up a lot of false matches.

Most Scandinavians could hardly read or write until late 19th century, and even those who could were quite relaxed about how their names were spelled, so I don't quite understand this obsession with spelling "like they did".

I currently have a pending merge between "Søren Tholvsen" and "Søren Tolfsen", the latter created by me being totally unaware of the former until I tried to create his spouse, who luckily had a more standard spelling of her name.

I greatly prefer to spell names without silent h's, and will heartily recommend this practice even if it goes against current WT policy.

When I read about the Soundex system on Wikipedia it says that it drops all vowels and the h and w, unless it's the first letter. Torsten and Thorsten should therefore have the same Soundex code.

According to the algorithm on Wikipedia:

- Torsten: T6235
- Thorsten: T6235
+3 votes
I would like to lift another issue. The patronymicon ie the habit of making the last name after the fathers first name by putting a ...son or ...dotter after.

Larsson and Larsdotter are patronymicons. This names are not family names in the old times, they are telling who's son or daughter you are, ie who's father you have.

A mans patronymicon would never be taken by a woman after marriage.

At least until the second half of the 1800:s the names ending with son or dotter are patronymicons (mostly, in rare cases they are metronymicons last name taken after the mothers first name).

This changes was earlier in the city areas and last in the countryside and could be even in to the 1900:s before the names became family names.Either people made new family names like Strömberg or Rutkvist or a the patronymicon like Larsson could and was sooner or later changed to a family name and the a wife can and would/will often take the mans family name.

So the habit of making the wife's current last name the same as their new married husband before 1850 if the his name is a patronymicon ie ending with son is completely wrong. If the name is not a patronymicon like Sjövall, the wife could have taken the name but also maybe not, it shall not be there if it's not in the church records.
by Ola Lidén G2G6 (8.2k points)
We have tried to inform about this on a cluster of free-space pages.

https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:Patronymics_in_Sweden
- and other pages gathered here:
https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Category:Swedish_Names

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