LINGUIST List 6.376

Thu 16 Mar 1995

Sum: Soundex Code

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. , Response to The Linguist List query...

Message 1: Response to The Linguist List query...

Date: Tue, 07 Mar 1995 17:46:51 Response to The Linguist List query...
From: <>
Subject: Response to The Linguist List query...

Several weeks ago, I submitted the following query to the The Linguist

)Do you know of any written description of soundex code and its rules
)I'm writing a software program to help my wife decode surnames in her
)genealogical research. The only description I've located to date is a
)summary leaving lots of unanswered questions.

I received 12 responses, including two from Australia and one from the
UK. In total, they included the code for two C language programs, access
to a third C function, a BASIC program and an offer of a Pascal program,
all which reputed to perform soundex translation.

The origin of soundex was attributed to the 1880 US Census as well as to
Odell and Russel in 1920.

Nearly all respondants referred to or paraphrased pages 391 through 392
of "The Art of Computer Programming, Vol. 3 Sorting and Searching",
Donald Knuth, Addison Wesley, 1973 for a description of the soundex
algorithm. [Knuth attributed his description to 1918 and 1922 U.S.
Patents by Margaret K. Odell and Robert C. Russell.]

The respondants were:
 (included the code for SOUNDEX.BAS, published in "PC Magazine
 29 Sep 92, offer of a Soundex routine in Pascal, and direction
 to a C function METAPHON() "which claims to correct flaws in the
 original SOUNDEX routine" in the C Gazette, June 1991)
 (included the code for two C language programs, one employing a
 table lookup, the other a switch statement)
 (included Knuth's references: US Patents 1261167 (1918), 1435663
 (1922); J.ACM 8:538 (1961); Commun.ACM 5:169 (1962); Federal
 Population Censuses 1790-1890 (National Archives, 1971), p 90.
 (included a source for C code on the Internet)

Thank you all for your interest and effort to respond.
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