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Soundex Coding Rules

Russell Soundex Patent application
Robert C. Russell originally developed the Soundex system in 1918 (US Patent No 1,261,167 Russell). It was further developed in 1922 by Russell and Margaret K. Odell (US Patent 1,435,663 Russel and Odell). This is an image from the original patent application.

The Russell Soundex Code, as it is sometimes known, consists of a letter and three numbers:

Number
Represents the Letter
Phonetic Description
1
B, F, P, V
Labial sounds and labio-dentals (require particular use of the lips).
2
C, G, J, K, Q, S, X, Z
Guttural sounds (produced in the throat) and sibilant sounds (requires a hissing noise).
3
D, T
Dental-mute sounds (formed with the tip of the tongue against the teeth).
4
L
Palatal fricative or long liquid sound (produced by a long contact of the tongue and mouth).
5
M, N
Nasal sounds (produced partly through the nose). M is labio-nasal and N is dental or lingua-nasal.
6
R
Dental fricative or short liquid sound (produced by a slight contact of the tongue and mouth).
Discard
H, W
Disregard consonants H and W.
Discard
A, E, I, O, U, Y
Disregard vowels.
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