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Most materials used in German research are written in German. However, you do not need to speak or read German to do research in German records. You will need to know some key words and phrases to understand the records.

Because of Germany's history, you may also find several other languages in German records. Latin was frequently used in Roman Catholic church records. French was often used in Elsaß-Lothringen and during the French domination of the area west of the Rhein river (1806-1815). Danish was used in much of Schleswig-Holstein until Preußen annexed that area in 1864.

See also:

German grammar may affect the way names appear in genealogical records, so your ancestor's name in German may vary from record to record. For help in understanding name variations, see the “Names, Personal” section and Affect of dialects on German surnames.

See also: spelling variations in German documents.

Contents

Language Aids

FamilySearch Wiki has genealogical word lists for:

The German Word List includes symbols commonly used in German genealogical sources. For more information about reading German writing, see Germany Handwriting.

The following books and English-German dictionaries can help in your research. You can find these and similar materials at many research libraries.

Thode, Ernest. German-English Genealogical Dictionary. Baltimore, Maryland, USA: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1992. (FHL book 433.21 T352g 1992.)

Langenscheidts German-English, English-German Dictionary = Langenscheidts Deutsch-Englisches, Englisch-Deutches Wörterbuch. New York, NY, USA: Pocket Books, 1952, 1993. (FHL book 433.21 L262g.)

Grimm's Dictionary online can be found at this link Dictionary of German historical words.

Other language aids, including dictionaries of various dialects and time periods, are listed in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:

GERMANY - LANGUAGE AND LANGUAGES
GERMANY - LANGUAGE AND LANGUAGES - DICTIONARIES

Also check the Subject Search of the catalog under:



GERMAN LANGUAGE - DICTIONARIES


Other language aids for parish Latin can be found at these links:

http://www.krumhermersdorf.de/literatur/latein.htm#Auswahl 

http://www.e-latein.de/

http://www.krumhermersdorf.de/literatur/latein.htm

http://www.albertmartin.de/latein/

http://lateinisch.bildung-infos.info/latedeus.htm

http://www.muehle-com.de/HP-Tools/html/latein.html

http://lateinwiki.org/Hauptseite
http://www.albertmartin.de/latein/?q=bapti&con=0

Numbers

In some genealogical records, numbers are spelled out. This is especially true of dates. The following list gives the cardinal (1, 2, 3) and the ordinal (1st, 2nd, 3rd) versions of each number. Days of the month are written in ordinal form. Ordinal forms may have other endings, for example: erste, ersten.

Cardinal Ordinal
null
eins 1st erste
zwei 2nd zweite, zweyte
drei 3rd dritte
vier 4th vierte
fünf 5th fünfte
sechs 6th sechste
sieben 7th siebte, siebente
acht 8th achte
neun 9th neunte
zehn 10th zehnte
elf 11th elfte
zwölf 12th zwölfte
dreizehn 13th dreizehnte
vierzehn 14th vierzehnte
fünfzehn 15th fünfzehnte
sechzehn 16th sechzehnte
siebzehn 17th siebzehnte
achtzehn 18th achtzehnte
neunzehn 19th neunzehnte
zwanzig 20th zwanzigste
einundzwanzig 21st einundzwanzigste
zweiundzwanzig 22nd zweiundzwanzigste
dreiundzwanzig 23rd dreiundzwanzigste
vierundzwanzig 24th vierundzwanzigste
fünfundzwanzig 25th fünfundzwanzigste
sechsundzwanzig 26th sechsundzwanzigste
siebenundzwanzig 27th siebenundzwanzigste
achtundzwanzig 28th achtundzwanzigste
neunundzwanzig 29th neunundzwanzigste
dreißig 30th dreißigste
einunddreißig 31st einunddreißigste
vierzig 40th vierzigste
fünfzig 50th fünfzigste
sechzig 60th sechzigste
siebzig 70th siebzigste
achtzig 80th achtzigste
neunzig 90th neunzigste
hundert 100th hunderste
zweihundert 200th zwei hunderste
tausend 1000th tausendste


Dates and Time

In German records, dates are often written out. For example:

Freitag den vierzehnten Februar achtzehnhundert sechs und dreißig [Friday, the 14th of February, eighteen hundred six and thirty (1836)].

To understand German dates, use the following lists as well as the preceding “Numbers” section.

Months

English German
January Januar, Jänner, Hartung, Jenner
February Februar, Hornung
March März, Frühlingsmonat
April April, Ostermonat, Osteren
May Mai, Wonnemonat, Blütemonat
June Juni, Brachmonat
July Juli, Heuert, Heumonat, Heuet
August August, Erntemonat, Hitzmonat
September September, Fruchtmonat, Herbstmonat, Herpsten, 7ber, 7bris
October Oktober, Weinmonat, 8ber, 8bris
November November, Wintermonat, 9ber, 9bris
December Dezember, Christmonat, 10ber, 10bris, Xber, Xbris

A more extensive list of month names in German.

Days of the Week

English   German
Sunday   Sonntag
Monday   Montag
Tuesday   Dienstag
Wednesday   Mittwoch
Thursday   Donnerstag
Friday   Freitag, Freytag
Saturday   Samstag, Sonnabend

See also:


Times of the Day

German birth and death records often indicated the exact time of day when the birth or death occurred. This is usually written out.

German English
ein Uhr one (o’clock)
zwei Uhr two (o’clock)
drei Uhr three (o’clock)
halb eins half one = 12:30
halb zwei half two = 1:30
halbe Stunde half hour
Stunde hour
früh early (a.m.)
spät late (p.m.)
morgens in the morning
vormittags in the forenoon
mittags at noon
nachmittags in the afternoon
abends in the evening
mitternachts at midnight

Symbols

Sometimes a symbol is used in German genealogical sources rather than abbreviations. Some of these are shown at GenWiki, Genealogical Symbols and Signs.



 

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  • This page was last modified on 25 July 2014, at 18:15.
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