It is not something we give a lot of thought but it's amazing following the changes a name goes through when borders are involved, My Maternal G Grandfather was called Joseph Donofsky, we had no other leads except my grandmother (who has long since gone!), some family folklore and an address that may or may not be relevant in Warsaw, Poland. So as usual we started with what we knew.
He came here around 1908 but soon after arriving he and My G Grandmother Rachel Donofsky (nee Zeitman) split up. we believed he moved to another part of London and had another family so it shouldn't be that difficult to track them down.
After trying the usual sources, web searches, current phone books, online electoral rolls. I had found my Great Grandmothers (Rachel Donofsky) burial place from a search engine search. So we continued looking for Joseph Donofsky and after a LONG WHILE we where again at a dead end. Until it suddenly dawned on us that who actually spelt Donofsky and could it be spelt in another way.
May I introduce soundex searching the short version. Genealogists have collected names or people who legally changed their name and created an Index of similar sounding names with places of origin and lots of cross indexing. They base this on simple assumptions for example Donofsky could be from Poland or Russia in which case it would be spelt Donofski, but this is only half of it, sounds are also added so f and v are interchangeable gives you Donovfsy, Donovski and o can be misunderstood so we get Danofsky, Denofsky also we could have Denoffsky, Dannowsky, Danowsky and on and on so you may not be looking for the name you have written down!!
Smith and Smyth are usually found in any type of soundex search because the letters `i' and `y' had the same sound. Especially when uttered by an Immigrant..
Of course as our understanding of language has improved the original soundex system has been expanded as the places that immigrants came from expanded and so variations have been developed In 1985 The Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System was an enhancement that included 28,000 Jews with Germanic or Slavic surnames.
So my advice is say the name with an accent and write down the results...
It's only a tip