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The Glinz/Glintz Names
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The Glinz and Glintz Names

The Meaning

Mrs. Amelia (Rausch) Cline, daughter of Margretha Glinz and John Cline, recorded in a letter to Alan Glinz that the translated meaning of the name Glinz is “squinting with splendour”. Although we can't be sure about this commentary or what the source might have been, comparison to current dictionary entries would make part of this translation plausible.

The word in the German language most similarly spelled to “Glinz” is the word “Glanz”. There is no similar word to “Glintz” other than “Glanz”. Glanz is a masculine noun (nouns may be one of three genders in German-masculine, feminine or neuter, and nouns are always capitalized).

Collins New Edition German Dictionary defines "Glanz" as: gleam, shine, sparkle, glitter, sheen, lustre, gloss, glare, radiance, glory, splendour.

Collins also translates the following expressions: "mit Glanz und Gloria" means "in grand style" and "ein Prüfung mit Glanz bestehen" means "to pass an exam with flying colours". and finally “welch Glanz in dieser Hütte?” means “to what do I owe the honour of this visit?”

Collins also informs us that the German noun meaning “squint” is ”Schielen” and the verb form of “squint” is also “schielen”.

So while the connotation of splendour seems to be upheld by dictionary translation, I cannot say where the idea of “squinting” may have originated.

German Spelling and Phonetics

There is a considerable quantity of entries located in the German church books (Kirchenbücher) which record the last name spelled as both “Glinz”, without a “t”, and “Glintz” with a “t”. These records are from the era of the 1790s to the 1860s. I hope the following observations of recorded spellings provides an insight into the lack of consistent spelling of the last name within the German records.

In the church records at Ammendorf/Beesen, on the 20th of April 1802, “Johann Gottfried Glinz” (without a “t”) and “Maria Rosine Chemnitz” (with a “t”) had a baby boy, “Johann Gottlieb”. Then 5 months later the death of the same child was recorded in the same church records. This time the parents were recorded as “Johann Gottfried Glintz” (with a “t”) and “Maria Rosine Chemnitz”. The person recording the death was the exact same parish minister as had recorded the birth. We note here that only 5 months have passé. This person recording both events is the pastor of whom we might relatively certain that he is quite familiar with his own parishioners in a small village. And yet the name is recorded inconsistently by the very same person who is in all likelihood well aquainted with the family! This is only one of numerous instances of this type of spelling inconsistency.  

Witness the fact that the same spelling problem could also arise with the family name “Chemnitz”. It also ends with the letters “tz” and phonetically has the same last sound. Investigation into the spelling of “Chemnitz” (Marie Rosine’s last name) reveals no similar consistency of spelling problem, as does the name “Glintz”. I believe there is good reason for this. The name “Chemnitz” as well as being Marie Rosine’s last name was the name of a fairly large nearby town (now a city) and most people of the area would be very certain of the spelling of this town’s name. Hence the spelling of the name “Chemnitz” would be very familiar to most Germans of the time.

The same cannot be said of the last name “Glintz”. Being such an uncommon name would virtually ensure that anyone attempting to write it would do so purely by sound, or phonetically. For a German language speaker this now adds a degree of ambiguity to the problem of spelling the last name “Glintz”. A characteristic of the German language is that the sound of the letter “z” by itself, is identical to the sound ot the consonant combination “tz” together. Therefore a German language speaker is not able to say “Glinz” is the correct spelling over “Glintz” as they are both phonetically identical. This fact by itself would seem to explain the rather random recording of the name spelled both ways. A survey of records bears this out.

Further understanding of the phonetics may be possible using English language examples. The sound of the German “tz” consonant combination is identical to the sound made by the letter “z” by itself and that sound is the same as the English “ts” sound, as in the words “fits” or “darts”. The German language does not include the distinctive sound of a single (or double) “z” that in English is heard in words such as “buzz” or “prize”. Therefore if it had been the desire of the German-speaking Glinz family member to reflect that the name should be spelled “Glinz” without the “t”, he could provide no audible clue that it should be spelled as “Glinz”. This audible distinction is a possibility for an English language speaker.

Other Spelling Variations

In addition to the Glinz name appearing as “Glintz” in German records, the name also appears as “Glanz” (same spelling as name definition – see above) and “Klintz” in some instances. Several recordings in Canadian records have the name spelled as “Glenz”. There are numerous spelling possibilities as the phonetic permutations are explored.

Personal Preference

After some time in Canada, three of the brothers, Frederick, William and Ernest began recording their name as “Glinz” without the “t”. Only Andrew chose to continue spelling the name “Glintz” with the “t”. To this day it would appear that members of each family branch have retained these conventions.

I have chosen to record the spelling of the name for the purposes of this book (in a generic sense) as Glintz meaning to include all Glintz and Glinz family members alike. The following paragraphs I hope serve to justify choosing “Glintz” as the root form of the original spelling. Choosing one spelling for the  purpose of reference to the family name, I hope simplifies references as they apply to this document.

Social Factors

There may be several reasons that the newly arrived Glintz’ began to change the spelling of their last name. When the German speaking Glintzfamily spoke their name to those predominantly English-speaking Canadians making written entries, such as census takers and registry officials, the person writing most likely wrote what they heard, which phonetically sounded like “Glintz” or “Glints” or “Glince”. If the writer failed to ask the Glintz family member to verify spelling, there would then be a phonetically spelled entry, in official and other records, most likely using the “Glintz” spelling, and as human nature would have it, many people writing a name just are not very concerned with the correct spelling of someone else’s name. A case in point can be observed in some of the included articles from the Walkerton newspapers. The headline for one obituary shows the name as “Glintz”, but the body of the article repeatedly records it as “Glinz”, as it is recorded on the person’s tombstone. This demonstrates the lack of concern shown by many people, even civil clerks, and religious clerics, to verify intended spelling. This all took place in an era of evolving literacy and cultures in Canada.

We don’t know yet when the change in spelling took place, but most likely may have begun around 1910 as tensions leading to the First World War began building. The change in spelling may have been done in an effort to have the name look and sound less Germanic. Obviously this is a common occurrence with many names. As people migrated around the world the names often added and deleted letters as well as changed form by translation etc.

Numerous official records, including census, birth, marriage and death entries record the last name of Frederick, William and Ernest as “Glintz”. These records however are of the era 1871 to early 1900’s. This would seem to support the above hypothesis that the spelling change may have taken place around the time of the First World War.

A comment on the accuracy of spelling in these various official records is required. The spelling entered into official records cannot be considered as accurate, and was subject to the degree of concern for spelling of the person making the official entries. Some entries appear to be almost “made up” on the spot. Various records for Erdmüthe Bohland, wife of John Carl Frederick Glintz show names such as “Erd Mute”, “Almoota”, and “Ermatha” as first name, “Palund”, “Boyland”, and “Boansh” and others for last name. As you can see, it was up to the imagination of the recording clerk.

Regional Issues

The possibility has been suggested that the spelling of the name Glinz was a regional issue, with the observation that the Swiss Glinz family appeared to have spelled the name without the “t”. Closer examination of Swiss records shows however that the name “Glintz” (with the “t”) does appear with regularity in the Swiss records also. With German being one of the official languages of Switzerland we can now refer back to the above paragraphs entitled “German Spelling and Phonetics” to understand why the Swiss German language records show the name spelled both ways.

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Copyright © 2003 Paul Frederick Glinz, London, Ontario, Canada
Last modified: February 11, 2003