Danish: surname Volk or Wøhlk

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by Madrid829, Jan 29, 2014.

  1. Madrid829 Senior Member

    Washington, DC
    US English, Great Lakes area
    Hej friends -

    I am doing some family research on my Danish ancestors and I am stuck. I know that my great-great-grandmother's maiden name was Volk, at least spelled that way on my great-grandfather's death certificate. She was born in Denmark. I have a few leads and a couple of them are for a woman, about the right age and with a husband of the right name (Nels/Nils Hansen, unfortunately an incredibly common name), named Charlotte Wøhlk. Unfortunately I haven't found the missing link confirming that she's the same person or that at some point she changed the spelling of her name.

    So, my question is whether anyone knows of other instances of Wøhlk being modified to Volk, in English-speaking countries or elsewhere?

  2. MindBoggle Senior Member

    Danish. English from childhood
    I have never heard of any of the two names, let alone a transformation of one to the other. 'Volk', of course, is German for 'people' (which is probably the etymology of the name), but what is Wøhlk? I have no idea what it means or where it comes from. Or what someone might change it into.

    But the long and the short of it is that, to me, Volk and Wøhlk look like two different names with no connection between them (except a couple of letters). But who knows?
  3. Madrid829 Senior Member

    Washington, DC
    US English, Great Lakes area
    Thanks for your reply. If pronounced by an American, wouldn't Wøhlk come out sounding a lot like Volk? Or am I getting my sounds wrong? In the U.S. it's really common—and especially in those earlier waves of immigration—for immigrants (or migration officials, in the past) to change their names to sound more American/English/easier to pronounce. Here is the family I'm trying to confirm as mine (or not).
  4. raumar Senior Member

    Oslo, Norway
    I think you may be right, Madrid829. I have seen more comprehensive name changes than that (for example, the Norwegian name Sjøli became Schellie after immigration to the US).

    The letter W does not really exist in the Scandinavian languages. It is used in some names, but then it is pronounced just as a V. Therefore, a Scandinavian W could easily become V in the US. And the letter H in Wøhlk is not pronounced.

    For the Danish Ø and the English O, the pronounciations are different. But because Ø does not exist in English, this letter had to be changed anyway.

    I would say that it is at least not implausible that Wøhlk became Volk.
  5. MindBoggle Senior Member

    Danish. English from childhood
    I agree that it is possible. I also agree that it is conceivable that someone named Wøhlk might want to change it to Volk in order to try to get an english speaker to pronounce it sort-of-right.

    - but without more evidence, I wouldn't feel very confident.

    We've established that the butler may have been present at the scene. But what we want to know is whether he commited the crime. Who knows? ;)
  6. Mivsel New Member

    I am doing a bit of genealogy, and found this thread by coincidence in the google search results.
    My middle name is Wölch and I live in Denmark.
    It it by no means a common name in Denmark, as it is protected by law, so that no one can buy the name.

    I have ancestors called Wölch/Wölk/Wöhlk/Wølch/Wølke/Vølck and so on...

    I have not come across Charlotte Wøhlk, but I am absolutely positive that we must be related.

    The name comes from Germany, and so far I've been able to trace it to the Schleswig area.
  7. Axel "the Dane" New Member

    I have seen on the site xxx.krak.dk/person/resultat/w%C3%B8hlk that there a 205 persons i Danmark with that name AND a known telephone. So good luck in your search!

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