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I see people with names like Something-dorf but then also Something-dorff. Why are there two f's when the actual word Dorf is just one f? I understand surnames can be strangely spelled, but this seems intentionally wrong.

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    Why does it seem intentionally wrong to you? Jan 11 at 20:38
  • Because Dorf is being misspelled.
    – 147pm
    Jan 11 at 20:44
  • This is like asking why both "Newton" and "Newtown" exist in English. The spelling of basically the same proper noun can be different for different things because of "historical reasons". Spelling changes over time, and often names don't keep up.
    – RDBury
    Jan 12 at 9:54

2 Answers 2

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Your idea that the spelling is intentionally wrong is misled. Names and their spelling usually exist much longer than orthography. As they are treated as names and not as words, their spelling does not necessarily change when spelling rules are introduced or changed.

Dorff just seems to be a different historical way of spelling, as is indicated by the existing surname Dorff, a town called Dorff near Aachen, another town called Dorff-Platz, another town called Wahrendorff in Lower Saxony. I am sure if you dig deeper, you will find more instances of this spelling.

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  • I've heard the extra f was added to indicate aristocracy. For example, I just saw someone with the last name Wendorff. But then there is a place Wendorf in M-VP. Something intentional must have happened. So perhaps a person who is aristocratic from Wendorf goes by the name (von/zu) Wendorff? This Wendorff family is/was a Freiherr?
    – 147pm
    Jan 11 at 22:38
  • @147pm I have extended my answer to address the theory in your comment. Jan 11 at 23:29
  • The observation that some nobility families have -dorff names might be explained by the corresponding town having adapted the name to modern spelling, while the family name was left unchanged. The observation would then be explained by nobility family names being quite old. Jan 11 at 23:35
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Simply put, we have different ending in ablative vom Dorfe and nominative das Dorf. The way case has eroded over time, it is difficult to guess what names have meant at the outset, bit it is quite possible that -dorf and -dorff represent different layers of abstraction in different dialects, for lack of a better word. Calling it “misspelled” while miss-spelling mispelling is not at all justified.

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  • "vom Dorfe" is Dativ (not Ablativ) and "-e" is the old marker for Dativ, like in "am Golde hängt, zum Golde drängt doch alles" or fixed phrases "zu Hause". A misinformation wie sie im Buche steht.
    – bakunin
    Jan 13 at 16:48

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