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Need Help with Greek Surname Search & Pronunciation

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Need Help with Greek Surname Search & Pronunciation

Postby czarbos » Fri Apr 22, 2011 1:15 am

I am trying to understand how the Immigration Clerk would have known what English letters to use when he recorded my Grandfather's name. We know the name as John Zarbs, but other than old United States Census Reports and Baltimore Phone Directories, there are no other records that can help me determine when he immigrated, locate his naturalization papers, obtain his birth certificate, etc.

For three years, I have been searching for him using any variation of the last name Zarbs, using the letter Z as the first letter. Since I have not been able to find anything, I was wondering if his original Greek surname could have started with another letter that sounds like the English Z. I tried referring to the Greek alphabet chart to figure it out, but am confused, and was hoping someone on this forum could help me so I know I have it correct.

The only information I know about him is that he is supposed to have been born in Crete around December 1860, and that he immigrated to America sometime between 1876 and 1882, residing in Baltimore, MD until he died in 1933.

Thank you.
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Re: Need Help with Greek Surname Search & Pronunciation

Postby IreneY » Mon Apr 25, 2011 10:18 pm

That's kind of difficult!

To begin with, his last name may have been shortened. It could be something like "Zarbakis" for instance.

Anyway, "Zarbs" doesn't sound Greek at all. It needs a letter between the b and the s and that letter could be α (Zarbas), ο (Zarbos) or η (Zarbis). This could be part of the shortening of course.

Then we have the "b" which could represent either "μπ" or "β" (So either Ζαρμπ- or Ζαρβ-). And there's always the possibility of "a" actually being something else (an "o" mistaken for an "a")

As for possible misspellings, the sky's the limit I'm afraid. A plausible alternative for the "Z" is sigma (Σ) but, as I said, who knows (though I would guess that z does represents z).

Sorry I can't be of any material help.
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Re: Need Help with Greek Surname Search & Pronunciation

Postby theodoros » Mon May 23, 2011 11:30 pm

I think the problem is the second and not the first letter. There is in Greek the word Zervos ( Ζερβός ) meaning a left-handed person. In English the e before r sounds more like a. As surname there are Ζερβός and Ζέρβας (Zervas), and if the origin of your grandfather was from Kreta the most probable is Ζερβάκης Zervakis.
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