Soundex Codes

Did you ever wonder about how names written in other alphabets became codified in the Latin alphabet, indexed by how they sound?

Take the Yiddish name     ט ק ל.

The Soundex Codes help us unravel how that name came to be pronounced either Tekel or  Tackle (or Tockle). They have the identical Soundex Code.  Typically, when searching for a name (that’s often misspelled) you’ll need to check many possible spellings (e.g. Greenberg, Grinberg, Grimberg, Gruenberg).  With certain databases you’d have to search one combination at a time.  But, if the database uses Soundex, you can search a group of potential names at once.

Here’s how it works:

  • Except for the first letter of surname, disregard these letters:  A, E, I, O, U, W, Y, H.
  • Each code begins with the first letter of the SURNAME.
  • Code the first 3 consonants (do not include the first letter of the surname).
  • Begin coding the first consonant AFTER the first vowel in the surname.

Example: S C H W A R T Z
……………S                   6 3  2 = S632

  • Double consonants (or two consecutive consonants with the same code number are CODED AS ONE letter.

Example: S U SS M A NN
……………S       2   5        5  = S255

  • Each code must have first letter of surname and three numbers. If surname lacks enough consonants to create 3 numbers, add one or two zeros.

Example 1: H A SK E LL
……………..H       2      4 + 0 = H240

Example 2: B U LL
………………B       4 + 0 + 0   = B400

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About Billie Tekel Elias

Author of upcoming book, Pearl's Party...and you're invited.
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