Guide on How to Translate Old Records



Unless you have succeeded through palaeography for beginners and know where to start, translating the old records in a foreign language may sound confusing. A reason for that lies in the way such translation work is approached by the experts. Unlike most legal or research paper translations, the old records may relate to anything and present a wide range from the family letters to invention certificates or legal agreements. It brings up a necessity to cooperate with several experts that may check through the national archive first to determine the topic and the nature of the old records in question.

How to Translate Old Records Correctly

Be it ancestry translation or dealing with some real estate property archives for your business, the chances are high that you will have to determine the legal importance of each document and have an expert check through it. Unfortunately, it is not easy to do when you have to make a request to the foreign national archives or look through a lot of church records with the endless lists of births and deaths. Thankfully, you can have a look through the IsAccurate where they list various translation services, including the ones that work with the old records and the cases when they have to decrypt the meaning and recover the handwritten text. Remember that in some cases it may be necessary to connect several parts of the same document, the chapters of which are stored elsewhere. It is when you need professional expert assistance.

Before you approach a professional translator for your old records, follow these simple steps to get everything done right:

  • Look through the document headers and collect as much identifying information as possible. Knowing at least a little bit about the background of the old records will be of great help for you if you plan to start on your own or for a translator you may approach. There may even appear standard phrases that have been used internationally, so you know where to look next or what century it is.
  • Continue with the transcribing stage. You may use special transcribing software for this purpose or start your work letter by letter, which is also possible. As there is a risk of making a mistake or missing something, it is better to approach an expert in a foreign language, yet you can check several sentences and try to write them down without any changes. Even placing a phrase in a search engine may bring up interesting results and explain the whereabouts of the archive records.
  • Check the abbreviations. Another crucial part that should be considered when one works with such translations is writing down all the abbreviations and the strange symbols that may be unknown to you. If you do not have an opportunity to get a manuscript scanned or use your phone for text recognition purposes, browse through the list of old-time abbreviations for the names or locations to see if there are similar entries. It will not only keep you inspired but will provide you with the clues as you start the research!
  • Identify the spelling structure. It usually appears as the most challenging part for the beginners, yet there is a little trick that helps. Write down each word the way it is and check it through the search engine by adding the word “dictionary” in a language that your document is in. With a little bit of luck, you may encounter several phrases or similar examples that contain the same spelling style.

Now there are occasions when you may require a translation of the old records in a foreign language for a legal dispute. Even though you still need a palaeography specialist who explains the content, it becomes an official archive document where a legal advisor’s help is crucial since you cannot cope alone as there should be an authentication proof with an expert’s signature.

The Importance of the Old Records Translation

Looking through the old records is not only a way to discover something interesting but also a great socio-cultural experience that helps one to explore the history, see the roots of the family all through the globe, and inspire others to do the same. Regardless if you are coping alone or approach a professional translator, it is research that you can conduct during times of social isolation and uncertainty. Why not give your family members an opportunity to do something together and discover interesting facts or write a history of a family business?

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