Wednesday, March 28, 2007

German translation

A lot of numismatic books are written only in German. I don't read German, but I need to read German coin descriptions. Here's what I do.

The first step is to type in the German text. It's important to get accents right. Use Windows Character Map (Linux has something similar) or the 'Insert Symbol' feature in Microsoft Word. Then I feed the text to Google Language Tools for a very rough translation.

Google is lacking a lot of words. There are four dictionaries I use. For coins, Münzen Lexikon is useful. There are also two big general German-to-English dictionaries online, LEO and The New English-German Dictionary.

There is also a Wiki translating dictionary, Wiktionary. If none of the above dictionaries have the word I can go there and enter requests for English definitions of German words by volunteer translators.

The text that comes out of Google is often poor, especially because without a numismatic dictionary Google doesn't even know the parts of speech. However, I can hand-edit the text into something readable, especially if I have a picture of the coin being described to refer to.

Other multilingual numismatic glossaries are Wörterbuch der gebräuchlichsten Fachausdrücke für Münzsammler and Moruzzi Numismatica glossary, but I rarely have luck there.

For abbreviations, like "pkr" (= perlkreis) I have to ask for the full word on an ancient coin website.

No comments: