At the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz and in cooperation with the Technical University of Darmstadt, a digital dictionary of surnames is being developed. For the first time, this dictionary records all currently existing family names Germany (also foreign names) lexicographically, maps them and etymologizes them with the help of maps.
Previous dictionaries of surnames record only a fraction of the existing names (less than 10%), are often contradictory in their interpretation, and mostly outdated. Because of the mapping program, that was developed for the project, precise distributions of the names in Germany become visible for the first time. Thereby, numerous new findings for the etymology of names arise. First of all, all surnames with at least 10 telephone connections are recorded, including their variations. The project serves the interested public as well as scientific matters, by systematising the current stock of surnames according to criteria of form as well as the content and theme (simple vs. complex names, grammatical peculiarities, linguistic origin, initial motive for the name, assignment to a thematic group like clothing, hair style etc.). This is the first project worldwide, that includes the current stock of surnames of a country comprehensively and makes it easily digitally accessible for all users.
Under the direction of the linguists Prof. Dr. Damaris Nübling (Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz) and Dr. Nina Janich (TU Darmstadt), about 200.000 articles of surnames should be made accessible in the long-term project, that is planned to last for 24 years. The project was launched in 2012 and articles have been displayed online since 2015.