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Author Topic: Need help translating old German documents  (Read 1377 times)

Deozaan

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Need help translating old German documents
« on: March 14, 2018, 01:25 AM »
Update:

The documents have been translated. Thanks to all and especially to tomos who provided the most information. :Thmbsup:

Original message below:


Greetings to all, and especially to our German-speaking members!

I have a friend who has recently gotten copies of some genealogical documents that are written in German and since none of us know the German language, we have no idea what the documents are about or what they say. They're probably something rather mundane like birth/marriage/death certificates or something similar, but we can't know for sure until we've gotten them translated.

I'm not sure on all the details because I haven't gotten to look at the documents myself, but I think they may be from the late 1700s to the mid 1800s, so if German is anything like English, it (words, penmanship, spelling, etc.) may have changed a lot over the centuries, and may be hard to read/understand. So if anyone here feels like taking a stab at translating them for us so we can find out what kind of documents these are and what they say, please let me know and we can hash out the details via PM.

Thanks.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2018, 05:53 PM by Deozaan »

tomos

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Re: Need help translating old German documents
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2018, 04:27 AM »
Are they written in a legible script/font -- I mean legible to you/me ?
If it's anything like this https://en.wikipedia.../Blackletter#Germany or if it's handwritten and difficult to read, I wouldnt even try.
If it is readable, I would be willing to have a look at them and see if I can give an idea of they're about. Due to time it would probably take, I wouldn't offer to do a full translation.

Disclaimer: I'm not the best candidate, German not being my native language. I am fluent in "everyday" German, but this sounds like a different kettle of fish. Note also that translating documents can be *very* time-consuming -- why I wouldnt offer to actually translate everything anyway. Let me know if you're interested on those terms.
Tom

Shades

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Re: Need help translating old German documents
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2018, 08:41 AM »
Wasn't there also something like 'High-German' as a form of the German language in those centuries? Just to make the translation job from German to whatever even more difficult...

Deozaan

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Re: Need help translating old German documents
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2018, 11:19 PM »
Are they written in a legible script/font -- I mean legible to you/me ?
If it's anything like thisw or if it's handwritten and difficult to read, I wouldnt even try.
If it is readable, I would be willing to have a look at them and see if I can give an idea of they're about. Due to time it would probably take, I wouldn't offer to do a full translation.

Disclaimer: I'm not the best candidate, German not being my native language. I am fluent in "everyday" German, but this sounds like a different kettle of fish. Note also that translating documents can be *very* time-consuming -- why I wouldnt offer to actually translate everything anyway. Let me know if you're interested on those terms.

I asked my friend for a sample of one of the documents. It looks like it's handwritten in cursive. I can read some of it ("Kinder: Johan Ludwig"), some of it I can't. But I can't tell if what I can't read is due to it being illegible or due to my unfamiliarity with the German language/alphabet/geography.

Looks like some kind of census record or family tree, with dates going back as far as 1759. But I noticed there's a date stamped in ink in the corner showing a date as recent as 1902. It appears to be mostly names, dates, and locations, but there are a couple of paragraphs of text and of course a title that probably further explain what the document is.

I'd appreciate some help knowing what the document is, and deciphering the names and dates as well. I'll send you a PM with an image and let you decide for yourself whether it's worth your time. :Thmbsup:

tomos

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Re: Need help translating old German documents
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2018, 04:59 AM »
Sent you a link to a copy with some info/translations.
I see above you say you cannot read the names or dates in the document -- have another look, if you still cant, I can manage that as well (as said per PM I do have problems with handwritten German, not used to it, but names and dates were readable for me).
Tom

Curt

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Re: Need help translating old German documents
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2018, 09:11 AM »
are these private letters with secret informations, or why haven't you uploaded a page, so we can have a go?
I read German, as all Danes of my generation do, but old scripts and spelling (etc) are not easy at all - weather German or Danish...

Deozaan

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Re: Need help translating old German documents
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2018, 12:42 PM »
are these private letters with secret informations, or why haven't you uploaded a page, so we can have a go?
I read German, as all Danes of my generation do, but old scripts and spelling (etc) are not easy at all - weather German or Danish...

I was hesitant to post the image publicly because of the personal information contained within, but I've just asked and gotten permission. Please take a look.

https://www.dropbox....an_20180304.png?dl=0

I see above you say you cannot read the names or dates in the document -- have another look, if you still cant, I can manage that as well (as said per PM I do have problems with handwritten German, not used to it, but names and dates were readable for me).

I'll ask my friend to highlight any names/dates/locations that she can't read or doesn't already know, and I'll get back to you on that. Thanks again!
« Last Edit: March 16, 2018, 01:40 PM by Deozaan »

tomos

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Re: Need help translating old German documents
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2018, 02:02 PM »
Please take a look.

https://www.dropbox....an_20180304.png?dl=0

in that case I may as well share the little I did
https://www.dropbox....an_20180304.png?dl=0
I translated the important words (apart  from where unsure) in the lists.
In the middle there, there is a paragraph about Johan Franz, giving date of death, and then comes his wife's name, then their children.

I searched a couple of the locations -- they are around Bern, Switzerland.

Re the first two names, surnames are given first:
I cant read the first letter of his -- Tevahlen maybe? or is it a 'Z'? [his is Zwahlen]
hers is Dupuis
Tom

Deozaan

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Re: Need help translating old German documents
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2018, 05:33 PM »
Tomos (et al.) have satisfactorily transcribed/translated the document. Thanks a bunch!

I'll have another one to post within a few days for anyone who wants to take a stab at it.

mouser

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Re: Need help translating old German documents
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2018, 05:40 PM »
Always great to see when people here help each other!  :Thmbsup:

Deozaan

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Re: Need help translating old German documents
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2018, 08:46 PM »
Here's document #2:

https://www.dropbox....hlen%201831.png?dl=0

I think the top part says something about Rudolf B. Zwahlen being baptized on 2 May(?) 1813 in St. Saphorin, which makes it look like a certificate of baptism. But there are a few other names near the top that I can't read (I do recognize Dupuis, which is his mother's maiden name). And also, the document is dated 1831, which is a long time after his baptism, so I'm not sure exactly what this document is about or what it's saying. I tried typing it into Google Translate but there are too many words/letters that I'm not sure I'm understanding correctly, and when I try the other possible interpretations, it seems to completely change the meaning of the sentence(s). I see what appears to be the word "Copulation" near the center of the paragraph, but I'm unable to understand the surrounding words well enough for Google Translate to be of much use.

So anyway, any help would be appreciated.

tomos

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Re: Need help translating old German documents
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2018, 05:36 AM »
^ here a version where the bits of the page are lined up better:
https://www.dropbox....31_preview2.png?dl=0

It's a letter / certificate from the parish (or State: see last para below):
a bit of a mix between a letter of introduction and recommendation; it confirms baptism (no d.o.b. given); confirms citizenship (more below); and asks for good treatment of the subject. It also says they will always take him back (they use the word Aufnahme), which I guess, was a positive if he was emigrating somewhere, and they weren't sure whether to allow him in or not.

At the beginning it gives:
the name (see other document: the son born 1813)
the parents names (again as per other doc)

Of particular interest:
in the last paragraph, they call him a citizen of Bern Canton, and 'since ten years' a citizen of Switzerland --
I see wikipedia says "Switzerland has existed as a state in its present form since the adoption of the Swiss Federal Constitution in 1848". That could be a reason for him only being a Swiss citizen for ten years at that stage (aged ~18).

What confuses me a little is the mix of religion (parish / baptism) and state (citizenship).
It is signed by the 'Staats-schreiber'. This translates literally to the State-writer -- must have been some official position, seems to have been a government official as opposed to a church one.
I guess in those days religion and State were much more mixed. Dont know about Switzerland today, but they still are mixed in Germany -- if you say you are a member of one of the main Christian churches when registering (which you have to do when living here or on moving) the state collects a tax from your wage which goes to that church.
Tom
« Last Edit: March 18, 2018, 05:42 AM by tomos »

Deozaan

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Re: Need help translating old German documents
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2018, 05:51 PM »
Yes, by the sounds of it, it appears it was some form of documentation used for emigration.

Thanks again, so much!