This article is part of the series “Get Familiar With German Given Names In Old German Script” where you will find similar articles about other German names, including name variations and examples out of old documents. In this article we’ll deal with old German script Johann resp. Johanna.
Some of the name variations are mainly used in certain German regions so it might well be that you’ll never ever see them in your own research. But according to the “better safe than sorry” it’s not one of the worst ideas to list them all, don’t you think? Please have a look at the list below.
- Han, Hanke, Hanko
- Hannes, Hanni, Hanno
- Hanns, Hans, Hänsel, Hansele
- Hansi, Hänsi
- Hennes, Hennig, Henning, Henno
- Jan, Jannes, Jannis, Janosch
- Jehann, Jenke, Jens
- Jo, Joan, Joãn, Joann, Joannes
- Johan, Johann, Johanne, Johannes
- Johi, John
- Jojo, Joop, Jos
- Schani, Scheng, Sjang, Sjeng, Sjon
- Hanna, Hanni
- Hansi, Hansje
- Jaantje, Jana, Janine, Janna
- Janka, Janke
- Jannegien, Jannetje, Janny
- Jans, Jansina, Jantien, Jantine
- Johanna, Johanne
- Jenke, Jenske
Interesting name website
For more and international variations of Johann resp. Johanna please have a look at “Behind the name“, an incredible name website with more than 200k of names all over the world. Please also pay special attention to the very interesting internal links on the right side of their page:
- Expand Name Links
- See All Relations
- Show Family Tree
Examples of old German script: Johann resp. Johanna
Now let’s have a look at the snippets I collected for you. Of course I don’t have a snippet for each and every possible variation but I’ll add them when I stumble over them.
Here and there you’ll notice that I meddled with the snippets. I erased all leftovers and cutoffs from other words and letters to make it easier for you to spot the single letters.
We’ll start easy. These are the first five versions of the name “Johann”, all from a municipal death register around 1900. Can you keep apart all six letters in the five words?
- All five words look very similar even though they were written by four different clerks. I’m sure you can spot the two snippets that were written by the same person.
- The most difficult letter, at least for me, seems to be the “a” since it doesn’t really look like the “a” in the official version in the lower right corner. Sometimes it’s roundish, sometimes jagged, sometimes open, sometimes flattened. Distinguishing between such a flattened “a” and a regular “e” isn’t always easy. The “a” in snippet four looks best to me.
- The other letters are quite easy to keep apart, just the double “n” at the end requires counting the vertical lines.
Another batch of snippets, again depicting the name “Johann” as well as one of its variations: “Hans”
- The first snippet looks very much like the ones in the first batch above.
- The second snippet might be unfamiliar to you. You see the “Jo” with a weird looking equal sign dangling behind and under the line. That’s actually an old-type hyphen, indicating that the word continues on the next line. But don’t rely on that hint, sometimes the writer simply skipped the hyphen and chopped the word apart nevertheless. So… if you can’t make head or tail of a weird looking word at the end of a row, check out the beginning of the next row if the word continues there. Here the “Jo=” continues with “hann”, making it “Johann”.
- The next three snippets show a short form of Johann: “Hans”. One of the first things you might notice when you compare the originals with the official version in the lower right corner, probably is that the uppercase “H” looks more like a bigger lowercase “h” rather than the official “H”. People liked it simple and I guess the “official” version had too many loops and changing directions. Who knows… 🙂
- Other than that pay attention to the “round s” at the end, one of the two different versions of lowercase “s” in Old German. This version is used at the end of syllables and words. There are a few exceptions but I’ll explain those when I have example snippets for them.
- The official version of this lowercase “s” has a loop to the right but you can see that people also ended that letter with a loop to the left, like in snippet five in the lower left corner.
The first four snippets show the female version of Johann: “Johanna” or Johanne”.
- Distinguishing between a flattened “a” and a regular “e” sometimes is difficult that’s why I set them side by side. Can you spot the difference between the two names on the right and the upper two names on the left? Which is “Johanna” and which is “Johanne”? Compare with the male name form “Johannes” in the last snippet, lower left side, if you aren’t sure.
- I highly doubt that people in former times really cared whether their official given name ended with an “a” or an “e”. In most cases they probably didn’t. But we should be as accurate as can be, there are enough blurs and lack of clarity in the sources we have, don’t let us add even more by being careless.
And the final fine snippets, for the time being. This time I colored the letters of the name “Anna” to help you see where one letter ends and the next begins, not easy with multiple ups and downs so close together…
- The first name is not colored though because it’s written in Latin letters which you should be able to read without great problems. A bit scraggy but easy to recognize I think. In official documents you might be lucky to find all the text in scrawly Old German letters – except for the names which might be in Latin letters. Only reason I can think of is that Latin letters were used for clarity? Doesn’t matter, it helps us 🙂
- The second name has a very strange uppercase “A”, individual handwriting I’d say. Maybe someone tried to mix both Latin and Old German in one letter? Looks a bit like that though. Anyway, the rest of the name is clearly written in Old German letters.
- The other three snippets are completely written in Old German letters even though they do differ from each other. The two on the left have a very very large loop on top of the uppercase “A” which makes identifying this letter a tad difficult. The name in the middle row on the right has a tiny loop on top of the uppercase “A” as it’s supposed to be. But then its lowercase “a” looks quite jagged. Anyway, file that under individual handwriting as well.
More snippets with other variations are on their way, please check back now and then for new additions. Come time, come snippets…
Names with lots of short letters like “n”, “m”, “i” or “r” close together are not easy to read. All those ups and downs so close together makes it difficult to determine which letter combination that is. I often sit there, pouring over a word, capping the ups and downs to be able to count them properly, mumbling to myself all the time. Did you ever do that? I’m guilty of that – as long as it helps me, right?