List of Phonetic Substitutes

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The following is a list of common phonetic substitutes. This list can help you decipher and understand incorrect records. Since record takers (such as census enumerators) frequently misunderstood the people they were talking to, this list can also suggest possible spellings to search for.

Phonetic Substitutes

  • a--e,i,o,u,y,ey,eh
  • au--ow,ou
  • b--p,v,bb,pp
  • bb--b,p,pp
  • c (as in catch)--k,g,gh,q,cc,ck
  • c (as in chin)--ch,cz,s,sh,tch,tsh,z,dg
  • ch--c,k,g,gh,sh,h (as in Chanukah), ju (as in San Juan)
  • chr--kr,gr,cr
  • ck--k,c,g,q
  • cr--kr,chr,gr
  • cz--c,ch,ts,tz,s,sh,tcr,tsh
  • d--dd,t,dt
  • dd--d,t,tt
  • dg (as in dodge)--g,j,ch,gg,tj
  • ds (as in bends)--z,ts
  • dt--d,t,tt
  • e--a,ee,i,o,u,y,ie,ea
  • ea--e,i,y,ie,ei
  • eau (as in beau)--o,aw,ow,au,ou
  • ee--ie,e,i,y,ea,ei
  • ew--u,oo,ou
  • f--v,ph,pf,gh,il (as in calf),ff
  • ff--f,ph,gh,v,lf (as in calf)
  • g--c,ch,gg,gh,j,k,q,dg,h (as in Gila Monster)
  • gg g,ch,k,q,j
  • gh (as in ghost)--c,ch,g,gg,ch,k,q
  • gh (as in laugh)--f,ph,pf,v,lf
  • gn (as in gnat)--n,kn
  • gr--chr,ke
  • h--(h is sometimes omitted) ch,wh,w,g (as in Gila Monster),ju (as in San Juan)
  • i--a,e,o,u,y,ei,uy,aye
  • ie--e,i,y,ee,ea,ei
  • ih--y,i,ei,ii
  • j--ch,g,dg,gg
  • ju (as in San Juan)--h,wh,ch
  • k--c,ch,g,gh,q,nk,cc,ck
  • kn (as in knot)--n,gn
  • kr--chr,cr,gr
  • ks--x
  • l--ll
  • lf (as in calf)--f,v,ph,pf,gh
  • Ll--l,th
  • lm (as in calm)--m,mm,mb,mn
  • m--mm,lm,mb,mn,n
  • mb (as in comb)--mm,lm,mn
  • n--nn,ng,gn (as in gnat),kn,m
  • ng--n,nk,ch,k,q
  • nk--ng,ch,k,q
  • nn--n
  • o--a,e,i,u,aw,ow,eau (as in beau)
  • oey--oy,oe,oi
  • oe--oy,oe,oey
  • oo--u,ow,ew
  • ou--u,au,ow,ew.oo
  • ow--au,ou.eau (as in beau)
  • oy--oi,oe,oey
  • p--b,pp,ph,bb
  • pf--f,pfph,gh,v,lf
  • ph--f,gh (as in laugh),pf,lf,p
  • ps (as in psalm)--s
  • q--c,ch,g,k,gh,cc,ck,ng,nk
  • r--rr,wr,rh
  • rh--r,rr,wr
  • rr--r,rh,wr
  • s--c,sh,tch,z,cz,ss,x
  • sch (as in school)--sh,s,sc,sk,sq
  • sch (as in Schwarz)--s,sh
  • sch (as in Tisch)--sh,tsh,tch,ch,cz,ti (as in nation),ss
  • sh--s,c,ch,cz,sch,ti (as in nation),ss
  • sk--sch,sh,s,sc,sq
  • sq--sc,sk,sch,sh
  • ss--s,c,ch,ci,sh,sc,z
  • t--d,dd,tt,th
  • tch--s,sh,c,ch,cz,s,tsh
  • th--t,tt,d
  • ti (as in nation)--sh,si,tsh,tch,ch
  • tj--j,g,ch,dh,dg,tch,tsch,s
  • tt--d,dd,t,th,dt
  • ts--tz,cz,z,tzts,cz,z
  • u--a,e,i,omou,ew,oo
  • v--b,f,lf,w
  • w--wh,v,au,ow,h,ju (as in San Juan)
  • wh--w,h,ju (as in San Juan), oa
  • wr--r,rh,rr
  • x--s,z,ks,chs
  • y--i,e,ij
  • z--s,c,sh,sch,x,ds
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