Monday, January 21, 2013

Sometimes It Doesn't Have to be Pretty!

     (And you don't have to read the language to learn what the document says.)
     These are an Italian marriage record with a translation via Google Translate. No one at History & Heritage reads Italian. Latin, French, German, Middle and Old English - those we have covered. But Italian is out of our ken. So the first lesson is that you just have to be able to read the letters, not understand them when you have something like Google Translate available.
     Second lesson is that even if you can't read everything perfectly, you probably can puzzle out enough to understand if this is the right person. We couldn't read the handwriting well enough to understand everything in the certificate, and the translation might not be perfect, but everything makes sense and this document tells us what we hoped to learn, and more!
     Sometimes you have to use common sense and intuition for this. Don't know what a numeral one with a superscript letter "o" means? Type it into the translator and see what comes up. In this case we are looking at "Primo" and "Secundo."
     Numbers can be a bear to read, so find an ordinal (1st, 2nd, 3rd) and cardinal (1, 2, 3) list of numbers in that language to help you determine if that combination of letters might actually mean something.
     If you just can't read the handwriting, substitute some Xs for the missing word and see if you can determine the word after the translation. In our example we can figure out that the happy couple arrived to be married on the 26th DAY of November at 9:20 in the morning.
     Focus on the parts that have the words or names you seek. In this example we omitted the second paragraph (Avanti di me...) which simply tells us who this official is, and skipped down to the part that clearly said "BONGO ANDREA."
     Pay attention to the details you can figure out. The insertion of the word "fu" and the later insertion of "in vita" tells us that good old Giuseppe was dead by the time Andrea married Maria and that dad was a resident "in life" of Ariano. One more detail to add to our tree.
     Speaking of which, from this one record we learned that Andrea was a famer born in c. 1860, his father was Giuseppe Bongo who died before 1860, mom was Maria Rosaria Carpiniolla and they all lived in Ariano. He married Maria Tolino, a farmer born in 1874 and the daughter of Luigi Tolino and Maria Giovanna lo Blundo, all of Ariano. A treasure trove!
     So the next time you find yourself faced with a document in a language you don't speak or read, give it a whirl - try to translate it and see if you can learn what you need to know. It doesn't have to be pretty, it just has to be discovered!

PS - wondering about the "lo Blundo" in mom's name? there is a reason for it...see if you can figure it out!

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