When to Use Google Translate for Genealogy–And Best Translation Websites for When You Don’t

 
You can often use Google Translate for genealogy to help you translate single words or phrases. But what if you need to translate an entire passage or document? Here’s why you might want to use a different web tool–and a list of top translation websites from expert Katherine Schober.
 Best translation websites

Thanks to Katherine Schober of SK Translations for this guest blog post.

Google Translate for Genealogy–and its Limits

Google Translate is a good tool for translating individual words and short, non-complex sentences. But it works better with basic words rather than long sentences or paragraphs. This tool often ignores idioms, or words and phrases that mean something different than the actual words imply.

Mistranslations of idioms can completely change the meaning of a document and leave you confused about certain aspects of your ancestor’s life.

In German, for example, there are multiple idioms using the word “sausage,” a food that is a large part of the culture in Germany. If you type in the German idiom “Jemandem eine Extrawurst braten,” which literally means “to fry someone an extra sausage,” Google translates it word for word, coming up with the translation result “to bake an extra sausage.” This may leave the non-experienced person confused, thinking their ancestor was discussing cooking a meal. However, an experienced translator would know that this phrase actually means “to give someone special treatment,” and has nothing to do with cooking. (See my blog post, “10 Hilarious German Sausage Sayings to Try on Your Friends.”)

Google Translate can also be unreliable if a word has multiple meanings. For example, think of the word “run” in English. It can mean “a fast jog,” “a tear in your stocking,” “to be a candidate for an election,” and so on. Google Translate could easily pick the wrong English translation of your of your word, leaving you with a falsely translated document or simply very confused.

Beyond Google Translate: Best Translation Websites

Here are three websites I recommend when Google Translate just isn’t up to your genealogy translation needs:

  1. Linguee.com: This is a very helpful translation site. Unlike Google Translate, it shows you words and phrases translated into English by actual translators and not machines. You receive the definition of the word, plus pages of various sample sentences that include your word/phrase in a contextual format (in both the foreign language and in English). This means you can scroll through the examples to see which translation is the most accurate English word for your document.
  2. WordReference.com: This is an online dictionary with multiple language options available. Depending on the word, it may provide sentence examples and other entries where your word is found. This helps you to ensure the translated word is the right option for your text.
  3. Google.com: Although Google Translate can’t always get the meaning right, the Google.com search engine is a wonderful reference. If you can’t find your foreign word on the sites above, try typing it into a Google search with the word English after it. Sometimes you will find forums where your word is discussed by various family historians. If this doesn’t work, try adding genealogy after English, or taking English out and just writing genealogy. Playing around with your search request may very well give you different results. And Lisa Louise Cooke recommends putting quotation marks around the word in order to ensure it appears in every search result. Here’s an example of how that search would look: “Geburt” English Genealogy

Katherine Schober head shotI’ve previously recommended top websites especially for German translations on this blog: click here to check it out. Good luck to Sue, who commented after reading that post: “Great article! I can’t wait to try some of these websites. We have a large stack of German letters written to my husband’s mother that look impossible to read. Thank you!”

Katherine Schober of SK Translations specializes in translating German genealogical and historical documents. She has recently joined Lisa Louise Cooke on the Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast: catch her creative, use-in-any-language translation tips in episodes #151 and #152. Not a Premium member yet? Click here to see what you’re missing out on in the Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast: Premium members get a year’s worth of access to all episodes! (Time for a binge-listening weekend??)  And if you’d like to learn how to learn how to read the old German handwriting check out her online course here

Google Keep versus Evernote for Your Note-Taking Needs

organize app Evernote google keepGoogle Keep, Google’s note-taking app, is getting better. According to a post on an unofficial Google blog, “Google Keep now lets you add labels to your notes. Just click the 3-dot icon below the note and select ‘add label.’ There are 3 default labels (inspiration, personal, work), but you can add your own labels.” The post goes on to describe the navigation menu, show how to export notes to Google docs and create recurring reminders.

According to the post, “The new features are available in Google Keep’s web app, Chrome app and Android app (Google Keep 3.1).”

Google Keep Versus Evernote

How does Google Keep compare to Evernote? Well, I’m a longtime Evernote user who wrote a genealogist’s quick guide to using Evernote (see below) and provides the Ultimate Evernote Education to my Genealogy Gems Premium members. I might be just a bit biased when I say I still whole-heartedly prefer Evernote–but that’s because of what I do with Evernote, which is full-scale organization of my life and genealogy research across all my devices.

One tech writer’s post on Google Keep v Evernote indicates that she likes the simple functionality of Google Keep for quick notes. Yet, she writes, “I’m a big fan of Evernote as well, because of its strong organizing options–tags and saved searches, notebooks and stacked notes–but it can be overwhelming for simple note-taking. It is, however, cross-platform and, unlike Google Keep, more likely to stick around (former Google Reader users might be afraid to sign up for a new Google app that could be pulled suddenly).” I have to agree with this last comment. Actions speak louder than words, and they are evidence worth pondering.

Another post, though it’s a little older, sings a similar tune: “While there is some overlap [with Google Keep], Evernote is still a much more robust product with a bigger feature set and far greater device compatibility. Google Keep has an attractive user interface and is being met with a pretty positive response—an average rating of 4.4/5 stars in the Google Play store so far, but it’s presently nowhere near Evernote’s capabilities.”

Still a third writer has figured out how to use both apps, just for different tasks. For my part, reading through all these opinions reminded me how fortunate we are that technology gives us so many options to help us meet our needs. The challenge is figuring out how to use the powerful tools we have at our fingertips. That’s what we specialize in here at Genealogy Gems.

For me, I’m sticking with Evernote. One of the most compelling reasons in addition to many (cross-platform functionality, synchronization to all devices, OCR…) is that note-taking is Evernote’s primary focus. It’s not one of dozens of products (which is the boat that Google Keep and OneNote are aboard.) Instead, it is the singular purpose of Evernote’s research, development and execution. I like that kind of dedication when it comes to something as precious as my genealogy research notes.

Resources

Evernote for Genealogy Quick Reference GuideMy Evernote for Genealogy laminated quick guides for Windows or Mac will get you started right away and keep you going as an everyday quick reference guide.

How to Get Started in Evernote, and the Ultimate Evernote Education

How to Add Text to a Web Clipping in Evernote

Should Evernote be my Digital Archive?

Can You Believe Google Earth is 10 Years Old?? Are You Using Google Earth for Genealogy Yet?

Google Earth 10 years old invitationTen years ago in June, Google Earth was born. The world put it right to work. Within months, recalls a Google Earth employee, “Hurricane Katrina showed us how useful mapping tools like Earth could be for crisis response efforts. Rescue workers compared before and after Satellite imagery in Google Earth to better locate where people were stranded.”

“In the years after,” the blog post continues, “with more than 2 billion downloads by people in nearly every country in the world, Earth has enabled people to discover new coral reefs, journey to the Moon and into deep space, find long-lost parents, clear landmines and much more.”

What about YOU? How have you harnessed the power of Google Earth for good?

What about using Google Earth for genealogy?

Google Earth for Genealogy classIn honor of Google Earth’s birthday, we invite you to watch a free video recording of a special presentation of Google Earth for Genealogy! Check out these blog posts, too:

Google Earth for Genealogy and Toolbox bundleReady to take Google Earth to the next level? Pick up your copies of the video CD series Google Earth for Genealogy at the Genealogy Gems Store.

FamilySearch App Maps Ancestors’ Birthplaces

A new app for FamilySearch.org  users lets you map your ancestors’ birthplaces. It retrieves information about your ancestors from your data at FamilySearch.org. It’s called Family Map and it looks like this:

Family Map app for FamilySearch.org users.

Family Map app for FamilySearch.org users.

While there are lots of maps online, it’s fun to see your relatives all mapped at once (with no extra effort from yourself). This tool is especially great for sharing your family history with relatives. They can see at a glance your family migration patterns,  remark on the number of people who stayed in the old hometown (or didn’t) and put themselves in context.

Thanks to Devin Ashby at FamilySearch for tipping me off to this app. The app is  FamilyMap – Scoutic and is available
on iTunes for $1.99.

Start Digging! New Worldwide Records Added to FamilySearch

Millions of new images and indexed records are added to FamilySearch.org every week. But here’s one that particularly caught my eye: 5.6 million records from Massachusetts Land Records dating  from 1620 to the 1980s.

Massachusetts Land Records, Hampshire County, sample deed from browsable record set at FamilySearch.org.

It’s a browsable collection of “land and property records from the Massachusetts Land Office and county courthouses. Records include land grants, patents, deeds, and mortgages. This collection includes all counties in Massachusetts.” Though these images aren’t indexed in FamilySearch per se, I noticed that when I clicked on a sample county (Hampshire), there were alphabetical deed indexes dating back as far as the records themselves. So it looks like in at least some cases, you’ll be able to browse those indexes and then find the deeds you want.

Looking for other new records just added to FamilySearch.org? Check out the table below.

Collection Indexed Records Digital Images Comments
Austria, Seigniorial Records, 1537–1888 0 237,988 Added images to an existing collection.
Brazil, Piauí, Civil Registration, 1875-2012 0 116,423 Added images to an existing collection.
China, Cemetery Records, 1820-1983 0 72,747 New browsable image collection.
China, Collection of Genealogies, 1239-2011 0 204,422 Added images to an existing collection.
Honduras, Civil Registration, 1841-1968 0 337,367 New browsable image collection.
Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 0 84,251 Added images to an existing collection.
Peru, Amazonas, Civil Registration, 1939-1995 0 5,417 Added images to an existing collection.
Portugal, Beja, Catholic Church Records, 1550-1911 0 94,902 Added images to an existing collection.
Portugal, Braga, Priest Application Files (Genere et Moribus), 1596-1911 0 69,030 New browsable image collection.
Portugal, Évora, Civil Registration and Miscellaneous Records, 1554-1938 0 5,708 New browsable image collection.
Portugal, Viana do Castelo, Catholic Church Records, 1537-1909 0 83,446 Added images to an existing collection.
Switzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1811 0 2,387 New browsable image collection.
Switzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1818 0 2,369 New browsable image collection.
Switzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1834 0 2,436 New browsable image collection.
U.S., Hawaii, Honolulu Passenger Lists, 1900-1953 0 191,701 New browsable image collection.
U.S., Idaho, Gooding County Records, 1879-1962 0 52,108 New browsable image collection.
U.S., Maine, Piscataquis County, Deed Books, 1838-1902 0 56,970 New browsable image collection.
U.S., Massachusetts, Land Records, 1620-1986 0 5,766,135 New browsable image collection.

 

Pin It on Pinterest

MENU