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Old prints, family stories and diaries

old prints translation

There is no doubt that the texts that we most often deal with in the translation industry are usually in the form of agreements and instruction manuals. However, there are also non-standard projects involving the translation of family history books, archive documents or diaries from the last century or even older. The latter are most often handwritten, often in Latin, Gothic script or Cyrillic. These can be quite a challenge, often requiring historical knowledge, but some of our translators specialise in such translations. What is more it gives them the opportunity to demonstrate their passion or interests. Translating handwritten texts is often a time-consuming and laborious task, but one that ultimately gives us great satisfaction.

old prints translation

We recently received a diary, the notes of a family elder from his youth, which had to be translated from Polish into English. It was a valuable keepsake for a generation who live outside our country, and who are not fluent enough in Polish. It may seem that short notes are an easy thing to translate. However, they require linguistic and cultural adjustments so that the recipient can feel the atmosphere of the time. We had to select a translator who was not only able to decipher the handwriting used in the diary, but who could also reflect the style and intentions of the author in the translation. The one who carried out this task excelled at it, thanks to his many years of experience and the understanding that a one-to-one translation would not work for these texts. A considerable amount of skill was also required to ensure the translation read as if the author actually kept his diary in English.

We recently also received official documents in German that we needed to translate: a marriage certificate and a death certificate, as well as an extract from a newspaper. There would be nothing unusual about this, if it were not for the fact that all these documents were written in a Gothic typeface and the newspaper dated from 1788. Gothic typeface ceased to be used at the beginning of the 19th century, and there are few translators who can decipher such texts. At Skrivanek we work with a number of specialists, such as this one who is passionate about German written in the Gothic style. This allows us to provide translations that seem impossible to prepare.

Due to the history of our country during the partition period, we very often receive archival documents written in a Cyrillic script. An example of such a document is a birth certificate, which is also a baptismal certificate, and one was submitted to us by one of our customers, a law firm. This act was drawn up in Russian in 1911, on the territory of the Kingdom of Poland, by a priest responsible for keeping a register of vital records. The difficulty in translating documents of this type is in deciphering the handwriting, which is not always clearly legible, especially as such old documents may often be damaged. Because of the full description of the situation used in these documents and the specificity of the wording used, such as ‘he presented us with a male infant’, they have a less than official character than found in modern documents, so that in reading them you feel as if you were witnessing the event described.

At Skrivanek we can always meet your needs, including handling non-standard translations. If you also need the translation of archival documents or documents drawn up in languages that are no longer in use, Skrivanek is always happy to help!

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