It has long been recognised that phonetically-motivated misspelling is a frequent cause of variation in names. Some of the earliest attempts at name matching were based on an understanding that names are often misspelt in a way that sounds similar, so that
may be misspelt as
. Such errors may result if the person writing the name is doing so from hearing it spoken rather than from seeing it written out. It may also be that the writer has seen the name written out but remembers only the sound pattern rather than the exact spelling. In case of doubt, a person may be more likely to recall the spelling that is most familiar to them.
This chapter looks at variations in names that occur as a result of the relationship between pronunciation and spelling. Pronunciation is a complex topic and one that is highly language specific, so any consideration of the effect of pronunciation on spelling must be made in the context of the relevant language. However, even within individual languages, the various peculiarities and ambiguities in pronunciation mean that great care has to be taken in trying to identify names that are pronounced in the same way.