How should I record a name when a different alphabet was the "native alphabet" of the person?

For example, Polish, Czech and Russian letters aren't well represented in Latin (modern portuguese) alphabet. Recording names, places, and so on, using just "my alphabet" could make it harder for someone looking for informations about my family.

And it gets worse when we're dealing with my wife's parents, since his father is japanese...

How can I deal with that? What approaches have you used ?


4 Answers 4


I have both situations. For my Japanese in-laws, even though they would normally not write their names in English letters, I write it that way because I want my kids to be able to read it. But then I put the Japanese characters in parenthesis because that's important on the Japan side. A Hirota (弘田) is not the same as a Hirota (広田) especially if somebody ever wants to do more digging on the Japan side.

For the umlauts I've not been that consistent since search engines generally match a Lucic with a Lučić but if it's been americanized I might do something like "Lucich (Lučić)." Note I'm no expert at this stuff and have only been into it for a couple of months so take whatever I say with a grain of salt. And so far I've only used ancestry.com's online & iPhone versions as my "software." If I had access to the romanization tag mentioned above, I'm sure I'd use it.

  • :) thanks for the ideas, specially about sharing that you have a similar situation Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 13:52

A name should be entered as it is. Use a Unicode-based genealogy application so you can enter all names correctly. Take advantage of the romanisation feature to include a romanised name, i.e. the same name in Latin script. There are ways to enter other scripts, and you may want to learn those, but you will probably be able to get by using copy & paste.

The romanisation feature is not specific to any particular product, but supported by GEDCOM through the ROMN tag, so you should be able to transfer both the name and its romanisation between genealogy applications.

By the way, Romanisation rules vary with script and language, there may be more than one romanisation system, and there may be more than one acceptable romanisation of a name.


Record the name the person used. If it was normally written in another alphabet or writing system, use that one, which should be possible in most cases in modern software that uses Unicode characters. Entering the characters correctly might be a bit of a one-time challenge, but one may be able to get some help via various internet forums.

That said, software these days allows alternate names to be entered as well as a primary name. You can use alternate names for various purposes, including representing the name in a form in the alphabet familiar to you. You might well want to use the familiar form as the "primary" name of the person so that your access to the person's data is easier and the presentation of the person is better for your audience. I think this is fine, as long as you also record the native form of the name as well.


You can enter what you see visually ( Using Unicode input ) or ask someone that is familiar with that language to type it in to an electronic document for you to copy and paste in to your unicode aware genealogy software ( Unicode ) Also see this response ''Family Tree Software''

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