[Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Decipering Polish parish records

Sigrid Pohl Perry perry1121 at aol.com
Fri May 23 05:47:16 PDT 2014

To all language learners:

Since German, Polish and Russian parish records are more readily 
available online now, those of us in North America will have to improve 
our language study skills. Our German cousins will also have to work to 
learn Polish and Russian. Since the discussion on the List has revolved 
around Polish records this week, I thought I should post a site 
available to all of you:

The LDS Family Search site has excellent resources for study, especially 
for German, Polish and Latin. SGGEE has other links on the website for 
these languages and for Russian. Besides providing background on the 
language and parish record characteristics, they usually post a word 
list specific or these archaic records, including words not found in a 
dictionary or on Google Translator.

We may all curse English and German for strange verb formations, but at 
least the nouns, and especially names of people and places stay 
consistent. Polish is NOT like that. It is an inflected language so that 
the place of a noun in the sentence or the name of a male or female are 
changed from one record to another depending on where in the sentence 
the name of the person or place appears. That means that -ow, -owna, 
-ich, -ych, -kiego all are endings on proper nouns. They are NOT really 
part of the name of the person or place. We must all learn that or we'll 
be submitting odd information to the database or looking in the wrong 
place for the wrong people. Note also that records may include 
abbreviations of common names or words; some of the squiggles at the end 
of a short word indicate such an abbreviation. I think Catholic records 
will be more inclined to include these because Latin records are full of 

I encourage you all to read at least the LDS Wiki language sites. There 
is good information and some links to resources. For those of you who 
have many records to decipher, purchasing a book will be extremely 
important. Some of us in SGGEE have learned German, Polish and even 
Russian handwriting from resources like this, studying many records 
before becoming reasonably confident. But it is possible. And it is very 
rewarding. Besides, it will keep our brains young!

Sigrid Pohl Perry

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