What is the correct spelling of the name of the brother to the Swiss mathematician Johann Bernoulli? I've seen it spelt both ways, which one is the correct one?

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    $\begingroup$ Correct in what sense? In Switzerland you can use German (Jakob) or French (Jacob). Since the family was of Belgian origin, they may have preferred the French spelling. $\endgroup$ – Gerald Edgar Mar 20 '17 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ @GeraldEdgar interesting. I didn't know it was just a difference in translation. Is "Johann" French or German? $\endgroup$ – UniStuffz Mar 20 '17 at 17:40
  • $\begingroup$ @GeraldEdgar in French we would rather call him Jacques Bernoulli. His brother would be Jean. Jacob is a French surname but not the one the said Jakob was bearing. $\endgroup$ – VicAche Mar 20 '17 at 18:24
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    $\begingroup$ Jacob Bernoulli is also called James or Jacques, Johann Bernoulli is also called Jean or John. All names are of Biblical origin, but naturalized into national languages long time ago, there is no "correct" spelling. $\endgroup$ – Conifold Mar 20 '17 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ Jacob and Johann. $\endgroup$ – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Mar 20 '17 at 19:48

It is simply the difference between German and Latin spelling (German Wikipedia calls him Jakob).

The correct spelling (by definition) is how the person wrote his name himself. And here is how:


(Jacobi in Latin means "by Jacob"). Of course it is possible that it was spelled Jacob in Latin and Jakob in German. But all mathematics was written in Latin at that time. (He could probably write Jakob in his financial or legal documents).

  • $\begingroup$ The answer by Jan Peter Schäfermeyer has shown that he spelt his name as "Jacob" even when writing in German. This settles the issue, me thinks. $\endgroup$ – fdb Mar 27 '17 at 22:34

There is an extensive Latin correspondence between Leibniz (addressed, by the way, as "Leibnitz") and Jacob Bernoulli, in which Bernoulli writes his name "Jacobus" or declensions thereof. A letter to Clüver written in French is signed with "Jacques Bernoulli".

An astronomical treatise published in German in 1681 bears the name Jacob.

Johann signed his Latin letters as Johannes and his French letters as Jean.


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