Re: Tentative Definition of Casefolding

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Wed Jun 14 2006 - 14:58:16 CDT

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    From: "Keutgen, Walter" <>
    > If true, this is interesting. In the French speaking part of Belgium, people tend to write their Dutch or Flemish rooted names with an "y" instead of "ij". In manual writing "ÿ" would be the same as "ij". When I say people, one must know that long ago only the teachers, priests, civil state servants and army secretaries wrote authoritatively names and sometimes they made mistakes, "corrected" or just transcribed what they heart. So my mother's first name on the birth certificate, a document one does not read too often, is "Catharina" whilst she was tought at school to write "Katharina" – her teachers did not read the birth certificate. She was not aware of "Catharina" until a civil state servant stopped her when signing "Katharina ...". Similarily the father of a colleague of 11 years ago suddenly got a letter of the ministery that he illegally had changed his name to "Pattyn" and was urged to revert to "Pattijn" including to reprint his business paper forms!

    Thanks these administrative rules have changed, simply because democratic countries admit that their administration could make errors in the past. Now the civil states allow people registering and using legally their common usage name (even if old official records are not changed, as this would require a lengthy and costly judiciary procedure to change a person name). But for children, now rules are much more permissive when a new record is made, and civil state offices have now computers and forms that can be verified by the applicant before the final registration.

    I think that everybody must have in his family some known cases where the names were changed due to ignorance or incorrect reading of handwritten forms or even by false interpretation of old handwritten registries. The evolution of languages, and of the legal system (possibly also influenced by intolerance regarding some languages or origin nationalities or cultures) may also be the cause of name changes (notably during troubled periods or during wars, when old registries could have been destroyed and rebuilt later based on fair faith of applicants, or based on interpretation of similar names by civil state officers).

    When I had to renew my old printed identity card for a new numeric model, I had to write to the Consulate of thr Netherlands to confirm that my mother did not have the Dutch nationality like her father, and that Iwas really French, because the old records in the family book was not clear and gave false interpretation (this occured even though there was no doubt on the nationality of my father and his parents, and on my place of birth in France...). My mother had much more difficulties to renew her identity card, despite she was French since her birth in France from a French mother, as her birth name was clearly Dutch from her father, that got the French nationality immediately after WW2.

    My grand father also had his name changed by the Civil State after WW1, because his civil registry was destroyed, and only his "military book" was considered (that used the wrong orthography, striping a silent letter). If this error did not occur, my own name would have a final silent "s"... like some other members of my family and as seen on funeral stones and in other civil registries for the brothers of my grand-father!

    There's no logical rules in people names. But changing it is difficult and most people don't like to see their names incorrectly written or not written the way they desire or the way they have always written it!

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