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05 January 2014

Lines Over a Letter?

If you see a single line over one letter in a name in a document, it usually means that the letter was actually used twice in the name and not just once. This notation was not used everywhere, but this illustration shows a "Fanny" written as "Fany" with a line over the "n."


  1. Did this practice apply to a certain language or nationality or was it a universal thing?

  2. I've seen it in names like Zimmer or Hermann where the letter would be used only once with a line over it. Careful in German records when you see a line (actually a little curve) over a u. It distinquishes u's from n's.

  3. Good point, Lisa. I've had a few private emails regarding this tip where I think people were confusing straight lines from umlauts.

  4. and umlauts are not the same as the curves. The curve is just a mark to distinguish a u from an n, but doesn't make it an umlaut. An umlaut changes the pronunciation and possibly even the meaning while the curve is just a different way to write the letter u.

    1. Yvette is right. One always has to interpret these marks carefully and within context.

  5. And sometimes I've seen a tilde over the letter 'g' in place of the combination 'ng'.