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Guenther Publishing

Founded 1981,   Electronic Publishing Since 1993

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Spelling of Guenther
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Günther, Günter, Guenther, Guenter, Gunther, or Gunter?

Tut mir leid, diese Seite ist nur auf englisch vorhanden. Ihr Deutsche kennt ja diese Argument sicherlich schon.

Other phonetic variations may include Ginther, Ginter, Geenther, Guinter, Gynter, even Gunner (a sergeant called me this in the military). These may have other origins -- or not. The variations have had several separate developments leading to spelling differences:

The first and most obvious reason for an ancient name to be spelled in different ways is that the written word developed slowly, without rules. As long as a name was passed on by word of mouth, nobody knew how to spell it. In a manner of speaking, there was no alphabet. Once a scribe put a name to paper, he, not the holder, decided how to spell the name. A different scribe had his own idea, how a given sound should be spelled. He might have been influenced by local dialects, individual pronounciation, or how important the given name was, the weather, or (I'm going out on a limb here) by background noises (temporary distraction, loud noises, war approaching, etc).

The second reason was, how a scribe might have written the name a second (or subsequent time). Often this was different from the first time. Church records have shown time and again, that the same person was recorded differently, by the same priest or scribe. This might have been, that spelling rules became more fixed, or the priest's memory of his last recording, or (again) by the weather (rheumatism), importance of the parishioner, or just plain stupidity (learning to read and write in those early days was not a question of intelligence, but of means). There could of course be the simple reason, that somebody else pronounced the name, and did it differently enough, to cause the scribe to write it differently.

A third reason might have been the changes in German scripts and rules of spelling. Early German scripts leaned heavily on accents. The letter "ü" had the Umlaut dots (ü) above it, but the plain "u" was written with a horizontal line across the top to differentiate it from the "n", which looked identical to most people, including scribes. Suppose the scribe did not lift the pen off the paper when dotting the ü. Instead of two dots there might have been a solid line. Or there might have been too much ink on the quill, and a big blob could have been interpreted as either two dots or a a horizontal line. Stretching this scenario a bit further, the pen could have run out of ink at the start of a horizontal line, and when the scribe came back to finish it, left a gap. Presto! A "u" became an "ü". Later on, when solid lines over a letter were no longer used, all traces of a former "ü" might have been lost.

Finally, there were changes in spelling, when people moved from one country to another. This migh have occurred even without a physical move, as international borders changed in the many wars. But more likely, immigrants to England or USA came to a country that had no Umlaute. If a border official saw a "ü", he might have interpreted it as two "i" or as a plain "u". My family's decision was, to change "ü" in the name to "ue", to keep the name the same to German-speaking people (in German the sound of "ü" is identical to "ue"), and yet compatible with the English language. Others might have wanted to have the name pronounced the familiar way in English (or as close as possible to one whose tounge can do "th", but not "ch" ;-). Günther might have become Gunter, Ginter, or even Gynter! Notice the dropped "h".

For the sake of tradition, Guenther Publishing will use both the Umlaut "UE" and the "H" from Heri. Or perhaps we do so because that is how our domain name is spelled ;-).

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