Are these all the same Surname?
I have been researching an ancestor with the surname Schafer/Schaefer/Schaffer. As I track German birth and marriage records, I want to make sure I'm looking at the right people. In the German church records I see it spelled Schäfer, Schäper, Scheiper, Scheipher, Schapheer. I have included a link to a page in the Familienindex that shows some of the spellings. I always cross check to make sure dates and parents line up but would appreciate some reassurance that I am lumping the correct people together !
I'd say there's a chance that they are spelling or maybe dialectal variants of the same name, but since Schäfer means shepherd, you can imagine that it is a widespread name. I've also come across cases where the old handwriting to me read as Grohs, and I found two different records with Grofs and Gross respectively, so iti's not unheard of to have spelling differences, especially since most likely the people themselves were illiterate and couldn't help if the pastor changes and the new guy didn't know them.
I personally would not think twice to link Schäfer, Schäper and maybe Schapheer (Schäpher?) together, but I'm hesitant when the vowel changes to ei, since ä sounds close to english a (without turning into the ee sound at the end), but ei is a very pronouced i-sound in english. To me as a native speaker, that feels like a huge difference, but it may not always have been in all dialects.
Hope that at least helps a bit and the pronunciation part was not too confusing I always have a hard time figuring out how to describe sounds to an English native speaker, due to how different the vowels are between German and English.0
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Thanks Katja. I also thought the ei might be a stretch, and was surprised that the Familienindex shows Schäper, Schaper and Scheiper as alternate spellings of this name. This was in Osnabrück parish, so maybe a Plattdeutsch or local dialect ?0