Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Use Google Language Tools to aid Hispanic Research

I wondered in the post Are There Genealogy Research Aids in Spanish? if there were books or articles available in Spanish to aid persons doing research in Mexico and other Latin American countries. I received several useful tips from Drew, Pat and Eileen, but when I followed up on them, there wasn't much already available online. I did find that the Chula Vista Public Library has three of George Ryskamp books about researching Hispanic heritage, but they are all in English.

Our problem was that a young lady came in to the CVGS Table Talk several weeks ago who did not read English - and we didn't have anything in Spanish to help her.

Gena Ortega described Google Language Tools during her talk at CGSSD last Saturday, and I decided to "play" with it today to see if I could turn a useful English article about Hispanic research into a useful Spanish article. I chose Kimberly Powell's excellent two page article titled Mexico Genealogy 101 -
Tracing Your Family Tree in Mexico.
The screen showing Kimberly's article is below:

I highlighted the URL and went to Google Language Tools, and entered the URL in the "Translate a web page" box, and picked "English" to "Spanish":

The resulting page - in Spanish - looked like this:

The neat thing is that you can run your cursor over a translated sentence and see the English equivalent, as shown below:

That's wonderful, isn't it? I wondered how well the text in Spanish would translate back into English. So I highlighted and copied two paragraphs of the Spanish text:

I went back to Google Language Tools, pasted the highlighted two paragraphs into the "Translate text" box, and checked "Spanish" to "English," as shown below:

Voila again, the next screen showed both versions (Spanish on the left, English on the right):

Comparing the two versions in English - the first two paragraphs from Kimberly's article in the first screen and the two paragraphs in the last screen - shows just minor differences.

OK, that looks like a useful tool to help persons who have Internet access. How can I use it to help the young lady, or some other inquirer, with a Spanish translation if they don't have Internet access?

Ah, I could print out the Spanish translation from the Google Language Tools page! I did that, and now have a nice little handout for anyone who comes along and doesn't read English well. At least we can get them started.

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