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Read the Stuff You Know

When having difficulty transcribing or reading a specific word on a document or record‚ focus initially on words and phrases you know. Many records contain boilerplate text with words that you can reasonably “guess” without initially being able to read. This can help you see how the writer makes certain letters‚ helping you interpret those […]

You might want to save this article someplace. I have no idea why but many of the words used in researching your family tree are difficult to spell. I constantly see spelling errors in messages posted on various genealogy web sites. When someone misspells a word it feels like they are shouting I dont know what Im doing!Here are a few words to memorize:

Genealogy – No it is not spelled “geneology” nor is it spelled in the manner I often see: “geneaology.” That last word looks to me as if someone thought Just throw all the letters in there and hope that something sticks. For some reason many newspaper reporters and their editors do not know how to spell this word. Dont they have spell checkers?

Cemetery – The letter a does not appear anywhere in the word cemetery. You can remember the spelling by an old saying We go to the cemetery with Es. (ease)Ancestor – This simple word is often spelled “ancester” “ansester” or “ansestor.”

Ancestry – This word is often misspelled “ancestory.” I often see errors when someone is referring to the ancestry.com online web site.

History – More than once I have seen someone refer to their family histroy or family histry.

Descent – Perhaps not as common but I have seen this spelled as decent which sounds almost the same.

Descendant – it often appears as descendent descentent and many others.

Progenitor – I can never remember how to spell this word. I simply try to avoid it when I am writing!

The late Dick Pence was quite a storyteller and once he told of an online genealogy article he wrote in which he poked fun at common spelling errors by genealogists. He deliberately misspelled ten different words in the article including all of the words I listed above. In the text of the article he never mentioned that the article was a tongue-in-cheek attempt at humor.

Dick soon received an email message from an irate lady who apparently didnt realize it was a deliberate attempt at humor. She scolded him for his spelling errors writing “Mr. Pence you should be ashamed of yourself. I am an English teacher and I want to tell you that I found seven spelling errors in your article!”

Posted by Dick Eastman on August 17 2010 in Genealogy Basics
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