The German Surname Atlas Project – Computer-Based Surname Geography
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The <German Surname Atlas> (<Deutscher Familiennamenatlas>, DFA) project is presented below. The surname maps are based on German fixed network telephone lines (in 2005) with German postal districts as graticules. In our project, we use this data to explore the areal variation in lexical (e.g., 'Schröder/Schneider' ‘tailor’) as well as phonological (e.g., 'Hauser/Häuser/Heuser') and morphological (e.g., patronyms such as 'Petersen/Peters/Peter') aspects of German surnames. German surnames emerged quite early on and preserve linguistic material which is up to 900 years old. This enables us to draw conclusions from today’s areal distribution, e.g., on medieval dialect variation, writing traditions and cultural life. Containing not only German surnames but also foreign names, our huge database opens up possibilities for new areas of research, such as surnames and migration. Due to the close contact with Slavonic languages (original Slavonic population in the east, former eastern territories, migration), original Slavonic surnames make up the largest part of the foreign names (e.g., '–ski' 16,386 types/293,474 tokens). Various adaptations from Slavonic to German and vice versa occurred. These included graphical (e.g., 'Dobschinski' < 'Dobrzynski') as well as morphological adaptations (hybrid forms: e.g., 'Fuhrmanski') and folk-etymological reinterpretations (e.g., 'Rehsack' < Czech 'Režak').