MSS-003-French Pronunciation and Text-to-Speech Aids

Maple Stars and Stripes fleur-de-lis logoWhen our French-Canadian ancestors left Québec and came to America, they began to generate records in an English-speaking system. Many clerks wrote their names phonetically. As a result, the names in American records often don’t come close to the actual spelling and can often be unrecognizable to an inexperienced eye.

In episode 3, we discuss different strategies for solving this dilemma.

Language Tip #3 looks at the importance of knowing the native pronunciation as a way to locate missing records.

In the main segment, we note both human and technological resources that may provide us with a proper surname pronunciation. Also, the recently published Dictionary of Americanized French-Canadian Names: Onomastics and Genealogy by Marc Picard might hold some clues. Be sure to check out the show notes at

Within the next week, Maple Stars and Stripes should be available on iTunes. I’ll send out a post when that happens.

Happy and genealogically prosperous 2014 to all!


3 comments on “MSS-003-French Pronunciation and Text-to-Speech Aids

  1. Linda Hjelm

    I have a letter, written in what I”m told is “Old French” before 1900. I have tried several sources to interpret the letter in English without success. Can you make any suggestions as to how I could get the letter translated?

    1. Sandra Goodwin

      Hi Linda-
      Are there any French-Canadian genealogy societies nearby? Is there a nearby high school or college that teaches French classes? Is there a local Catholic church with a large French-Canadian population? I’d try some of those places first. Anyone else have any ideas?

  2. The Milwaukee Art Quilters

    I’ve also got an untranslatable letter from 19th century Quebec. A French-speaking friend couldn’t make heads or tails of it and told me that it’s probably written by someone whose education in “proper” French was lacking. This probably isn’t helpful, but might give you an idea of what you could be up against. 🙂

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