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Latin to English translation facilities

  johndrew 15:13 28 Nov 2013

I am researching my family history and have purchased a document from the National Archive in an attempt to unravel the circumstances surrounding a Will. The document which records the findings of a court case is dated 1721, is written in script and in Latin - a language I have no knowledge of - by (I think) an ecclesiastical court.

Attempts at trying to decipher the script and use on line translation has failed either as a result of me not recognising written letters, misspelling words or the service not recognising the words used - or more likely all the forgoing!

Searches of the internet have revealed a few commercial translation facilities most of whom are quite expensive. Is there anyone here who is able to suggest a service that would be reasonable for translation of a single A4 sheet of script or perhaps has the ability and is willing to look at the document for me.

With thanks in anticipation.

  john bunyan 18:34 28 Nov 2013

I did Latin "O" level but am out of date now except for simple stuff. I agree that a local RC priest may be a help, as would any local University or school that has Latin "A" level teachers. Do you live near any Universities?

  VCR97 19:27 28 Nov 2013

This has phrases from old Latin legal and historical documents.

Latin phrases

  VCR97 19:29 28 Nov 2013

Sorry, it seems to be mostly words rather than phrases but it should help.

  johndrew 10:23 29 Nov 2013

Many thanks to you all for coming back.

Unfortunately, both schools and universities are a no starter as no school around here does Latin (no one uses it these days apparently!) and there are no universities in easy reach (the nearest is over 40 miles away). I shall try my local library as there may be someone there who either has the skill or knows someone who does. A priest is also a good idea which I shall follow up on (even though the church may fall on me on entry!!).

The link to the dictionary is very helpful. There are several of these around, but this is the only one for genealogists I now know of - wish I had found it before. I think (assuming I can make out the script letters) this will be my first source. I should get a lot of satisfaction if I can achieve at least an understanding of the document on my own.

Many thanks again for all your suggestions.

  johndrew 14:44 29 Nov 2013

Another failure.

The list of words in the link are not compatible or fails to contain a lot of the words in the text I have. It is possible that some spellings are different as well - ecclesiastical text from Rome?

I did find a site that offered translation to members but the facility has now been withdrawn and no more registrations accepted. I feel this would have been ideal if it was still operative.

Looks as if I shall try the library next and if that fails my local priest.

  johndrew 15:05 29 Nov 2013

Good point. But it may be easier to access the Diocese via the priest?

  Blackhat 15:50 29 Nov 2013

Perhaps you could fill in between Brumas on a Friday with ‘Unidentified Latin script’ thread and give us one new sentence each week. I’m sure there are some of us that could do a bit of work on it for you.

  johndrew 20:25 29 Nov 2013

Thanks for you input.

I totally agree with the problems associated with both the ecclesiastic manner of writing and the alphabet. I have a number of books and documents with examples of old handwriting going back to the 16th century. These have comparisons of ancient to modern upper and lower case and combination letters used from that time but only some look like those in the document. It could be, as you say, more ancient or influenced by other language script. It doesn't appear to be written in Latin letters but some may be included and I'm not able to decipher them from 'normal' script of the period involved. I suppose there may also be an element of 'personalisation' involved as I feel the document was written locally to the court and a 'writer' may not have been involved; especially as it is in Latin and writers mainly wrote in English.

Perhaps when I get to my local library they will be able to advise on any facilities within easy reach and these may include a Records Office.

I would be more than happy to upload a copy (I have it in both PDF and .jpg formats) but again do not have the experience and would need guidance. Attempting to provide a text copy of the content would more likely cause more problems due to my inability to provide exact modern letter equivalents.

Once again thanks for your input and suggestions.

  amonra 18:41 30 Nov 2013

My grand daughter is studying medieval history and the use of latin is a must. From what I gather during various conversations with her, a lot of scribes used their own "shorthand" in documents written in latin and can be a pain to translate. If you can upload a file for us to look at and I can possibly persuade her to take a look ?

  johndrew 10:38 01 Dec 2013


Many thanks for your kind offer. The only help I need now is how to upload and where. I have both PDF and .jpg copies so hopefully there is an easy way.

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