Connect with Your Ancestors through Professional Translation
While many of our ancestors spoke English, a vast majority of them did not, creating a language divide between American born children and their deep cultural roots. If you have been given the care of something precious and old like your great grandmother's diary, an ancient family cookbook, or love letters penned long ago in you family's mother tongue, there's no need to let language keep you from connecting to your heritage.
You're Not the First
With so many families having come over the ocean or across distant borders to settle in America, there's no need to feel like you're the only person with ancestral artifacts you can't make heads or tales of. Many people feel the longing to connect with their long dead relatives, especially when there's something so tangible as personal possessions and compositions to hold on to and it can be frustrating not to know what they say.
Translation is something that humans have been handling with various levels of success for a very long time. You have a number of options for cracking the deeply personal messages hidden in your collection of family heirlooms. You can try translating for yourself, see if an automated translation program can help you, or hire a professional translation service to help understand not just the words but the meanings behind each translated phrase.
When Self-Translation Isn't Enough
One of the biggest challenges of translating the letters and even recipes of you ancestors is that language evolves, moreso with every decade. Depending on how long ago your relative lived, the way they spoke and wrote may not line up with modern uses of their language. Using antiquated phrases and word meanings can mean that even if you translate accurately word-for-word, it can be difficult to parse their actual meaning.
This is also why using an automatic translation program may not be as helpful as you would hope. If you don't understand the grammar structure of the language or the cultural meanings behind certain phrases, you could be missing important messages in your ancestor's writings that would give you a greater understanding and connection to them.
Working with a Translator
The best way to understand not just the words your ancestors wrote but what they meant by them is to work with a professional translator who understands both the language and the root culture your relative came from. You need someone who is willing to pour over each page and create a translated document that conveys the feelings and concepts behind the literal translation. Ideally, you will find a translator who will sit down with you and explain the cultural references or write a set of helpful footnotes to explain certain phrases and cultural references to help you better understand your long dead relative.
Finding the Right Translator
Even among human translators, there is a wide range of service styles and some won't be suitable for this very personal kind of translation. Some translation agencies, for instance, section up a document and have several translators work on it in parallel in order to finish a job more quickly, however, you're looking for quality rather than speed for this project. To find the right translator for the job, look for agencies that advertise assigning a single person to each document or project to ensure consistency and full preservation of meaning from one page to the next. With this kind of service, you will get a translation that allows you to follow the story of your ancestor or ancestors built by every page and document.
Keeping the Translation
While you may be in it for the exploration and explanation, what you will find yourself with at the end of any project with a professional translator is a printed translated copy of your documents. These are incredibly valuable and should probably be kept with the original diary, letters, or other items you have translated as a useful point of reference. With a printed copy of your translation, you can read the two side by side and become familiar with the language of your ancestors by comparing the meaning in the translation to their original written words. Because you've purchased a translation, not just the time of a translator, you can keep the two together and always have a printed translation ready whenever you want to explore the thoughts of your past relative.
The final benefit of getting a professional translation for your family heirloom books and documents is the gift you give your own descendants. You can be the last generation to feel disconnected from the items of your family heritage just because you don't speak the language of your family's country of origin. Your children and grand children can explore the past just as you have, comparing the translation to the original words and connecting to a world that is long gone but not forgotten.
At Tech Language Solutions, we pride ourselves on offering a comprehensive translation service with cultural understanding and careful message preservation from one language to another. When you're ready to translate the diaries, letters, cookbooks, or historical documents of your ancestors, we're here to help. If you'd like to know more about our translation services or request a consultation, contact us today.
Teck Language Solutions Inc. with seat in Miami, FL, offers professional translations in numerous language combinations, including all languages of the EU and all major languages. More information: www.teck-translations.com
Teck Language Solutions, Inc.
444 Brickell Avenue, Suite 51132
Miami, FL 33131, USA
phone: (786) 408-5672
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