[Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Virginia Less-Surname:LESS

Reiner Kerp mail at reiner-kerp.de
Thu May 11 04:46:53 PDT 2006

Hello Virginia Less,
sometimes I´d like to join a discussion but feel, my English is not sufficient.

Your name perhaps is one many examples for how the High-German standardisations (of Lower- and Upper-German) changed the pronounciation of names/words. But we have to consider, that we often read words, written down long before these High-German standardisations were agreed to.
Probably your name originally was written like "Lehs", spoken in English like "LAAASHS" (low-German: Leesch - followed by a genetiv-"s", high-German: Licht, English: Light). Caused by the "h" being a misinterpreted small Latin letter "Esh" (today used as a phonetic diacritic - Unicode: U+0283).
The standardisation agreed to transscribe such a "hs-group" as the small Latin letter "ß" (Unicode: U+00DF) - the "sharp s". In regions that do not use ß, this letter mostly is replaced by "ss", making the word sound very different, because the preceeding vouwel e becomes a very short one instead of an originally lengthened one. It´s a big difference in pronounciation between Ruß and Russ or Graß and Grass. In the case of Eßer (originally Ehser - with the h being the "Esh" - making the preceeding e a lengthened one - followed again by a genetiv-"s"  => Eschser) and Esser it makes the original Eicher (English: Oaker) to an Esser (English: Eater). Our German members may recall the speeches of Franz Josef Strauß, the former german Minister of Defense. He had a bit of an "archaic" accent - stressing and lengthening vouwels..
Additional difficulties are caused by german names being "processed" by the Polish- and finally the English language.

Best whishes,


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