Slavic Speak

By Lisa A. Alzo Premium

Czech and Slovak research can leave you tongue-tied: You might encounter up to a half-dozen languages, including your ancestors’ native Czech or Slovak. Though these closely related West Slavic tongues use the Roman alphabet, their unfamiliar consonant combinations and accent marks can trip up unsuspecting researchers.

The Roman Catholic influence means you’ll also find records in Latin; some Greek Catholic church records are in Old Church Slavonic, which uses the Cyrillic alphabet (see <>). Since Austria controlled Bohemia and Moravia, Czech records may appear in German (usually in a script called Kurrent). Likewise, you’ll stumble upon Slovak records written in Hungarian. Consult online and offline translation dictionaries, the FHL’s word lists (at <>) and the Church Record Translations Web site < jjaso> for help — as well as this cheat sheet of common family history terms:

From the August 2005 Family Tree Magazine