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*'''''Language and terminology.''''' If you do not know the native version of a country name, you may think the country name is a town. For example—
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| '''Native Name'''
Other foreign terms can be mistaken for place-names. “''Königreich Preußen'',” for example, means the “kingdom of Prussia” and does not refer to a town called Königreich in Prussia. Other foreign terms that may confuse researchers include—
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| '''Native Term'''
Many town names are spelled differently in the native language:
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| '''Native Spelling'''
*'''''State, regional, and provincial names.''''' Instead of the town, some sources only name the county, region, or province. Foreign states, counties, provinces, or regions are unfamiliar to many researchers. Some examples include—
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| '''Native Term'''
*'''''Place-name changes.''''' Some places have been known by more than one name. Such changes often occurred when another country took over and translated the name into its language. Gdansk in Poland was known as Danzig under German rule. Some name changes were political. For example, Kitchner, Ontario was Berlin before World War I. Other changes have evolved over time. Shropshire, England is sometimes still called Salop, its old name. Other examples include—
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| '''Old Name'''
'''Spelling.''' Foreign names are often spelled differently from common spellings. There are many reasons for the variations:
*'''''Phonetic spelling.''''' Some letters have a different sound in other languages. For example, the German j is pronounced like the English y; j in French is pronounced like zhi in English.  *'''''Misreading.''''' Handwritten or gothic printed letters are easily misinterpreted. Be aware of this as you search handwritten records or indexes to handwritten records. For example, the German handwritten letter w can be confused with m, and the letter k often looks like r.  *'''''Special characters.''''' Many languages use special marks called diacritics that change the sound, and sometimes alphabetical order, of letters. These characters are sometimes eliminated or changed into another letter when written in another language. For example, the German ä often, but not always, becomes ae in English. The Czech š may become sh or sch. The Dutch ij is usually translated as y.
Use comprehensive gazetteers to identify all possible towns that fit a spelling you have found. You should also be familiar with the spelling rules, phonetics, and handwriting of the immigrant's native language. The Family History Library and family history centers have word lists that explain such information for some major languages. You may also want to ask for help from another researcher who knows the culture, language, and history.
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