JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Almost Magical Translations #general

Bob Fitterman

Today I had a bit of insight to combine two things together that had
never crossed my mind. It might be of use to some of you in your research.

In looking at the email >from Logan Kleinwaks to Carol Rombrol Rider's query
about directories, I decided to try . In my case, I put
in my maternal grandmother's maiden name and up popped dozens of listings in
Cyrillic. I had cast a very wide net and there were too may listings to be
of use, plus while I can sound out Russian, I have no grounding in vocabulary
and grammar. To me it's just phonetic. Nonetheless, I clicked through a few
of them and found a listing I was curious about.

I tried to copy the text, in hopes of putting it into .
Like many sites with full-text searching, the thing on the screen is an
image, so it's either impossible to select the image or if you do select an
image, there's no way to put it into the web-based version of Google
Translate. What I did that was new was I picked up my phone, where I have
installed the Google Translate App, and pointed it at the screen. (My exact
steps were to choose >from Russian to English translation, then press the
camera icon at the lower-left corner.)

Having told the app it was searching for Russian, it started translating
words >from the computer screen onto my phone screen. It wasn't all entirely
readable, but it was enough to figure out section headings of the document.
(It felt like that magic moment in the movies of the 1930s when the Chinese
signs temporarily melt into English and back.)

The pages I found did not help, yet, in my particular case, but I think this
might help some of you navigate through documents in unfamiliar languages.
It's no substitute for a fluent translator. Note that some languages support
this instant translation while others only support a scan feature that
requires tapping the screen and then selecting an area to translate which is
much more cumbersome. Yiddish is unsupported and handwriting will not work
either. I'm sure that things like headstones will completely confuse the

Maybe I'm sharing something very obvious, but I had never thought to put the
two things together.

Bob Fitterman
New York City

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