Translation from handwritten Yiddish
Translation from handwritten Yiddish “case of fraud by a translator, when it is almost impossible to figure out the essence of a document”.
One of the most difficult aspects of translation from Yiddish is the fact that most texts are handwritten. In other language pairs many translators will not even touch a handwritten text, as they consume a lot of time and strength to decode. But when a translator works with Yiddish, a written text is his punk and plaster.
Yiddish is usually written by using Jewish symbols, but also there are about 10 million people is the world who can read Hebrew, most of these people cannot read an old text in script. In reality even people who today are fluent native speakers of Yiddish, cannot read it. The whole complexity of translation of a handwritten text from Yiddish lies in its interpretation. Why old Yiddish written text is so hard to read? Here are some obvious reasons: writers were not educated and had a poor manner of writing; there was no standardized spelling; writers enunciated their words altogether, to save on ink and paper; words from other languages were mixed.
There was a visual case in our work that confirmed that not every translator can cope with a written text in Yiddish. We at бюро переводов received an order to translate a letter dated 1941 from Yiddish to Russian. It is a rather rare language and of all two Yiddish translators in our country none wanted to undertake a translation. And yet, our employees decided to take an order. It is not clear why they did it – was it greed, love of work or an unbeatable desire to help people. In any case, one of our managers decided to undertake this order, previously finding a translator in one of translators groups in social networks. In the heat of work no one paid any attention to, so to speak media, parameters of this translator, who supposedly appeared to be from Makhachkala (he had a lot of subscriptions to groups like “Typical Makhachkala” etc.)
He offered us to pay him a full price for the work on a bank card after he sends us a screenshot of a translation. In turn, we proposed to prepay 50% and other 50% after job delivering, which he agreed to. Our translation agency prepaid to this translator on his Yandex wallet, as we need full details of his operating account. Although for a translator to receive payment via Yandex wallet he had to “identify” it and provide his personal data. Until he does so, he could not receive a prepayment.
So, we made a prepayment. Translator finished his job (he actually did not) in time and send us a document, which clearly was different from the original text.
At first, there was no date – day, month and year of writing a letter.
Secondly, general time of editing was 0 (!!!) minutes.
Thirdly, paragraphs duplicated in the text. It is not necessarily a mistake, but it raised certain questions and suspicions.
Swindler-translator could not provide sane explanations on either of the above mentioned positions.
But what was to do to us, managers? Order is accepted but is not finished and we do not have a translator! In the end half the weekend managers spend searching for a translator of Yiddish all over the Commonwealth of Independent States space and beyond.
To our happiness we managed to find a major specialist of Yiddish on one of forums, in the section, dedicated to this language. She gave her answer soon enough and it turned out that she likes to translate exactly handwritten texts and research various dialects. Not to mention that she is a professional linguist and a lector in one of the best philological universities. It was just what we needed!
She did not just translate us this little text in less than few hours, but also she inquired our customer on the history of this letter, namely how Ukrainian dialect ended up on 1941 so far in Belorussia, in Lida city.)
There is a thought that the main problem is that Jewish scene in prewar Europe was just different, compared to any Jewish scene we got used seeing today. Yiddish translators have to work hard to study this way of writing. Many of them find that they can read the oldest handwritten Yiddish documents (although some of them with a lot of effort). Styles of handwriting vary drastically from age to age and are linked to location. And this is a main problem, explaining why Yiddish handwritten text is hard for most of people not just in reading, but also in translation.
We thank certain employees of our translation agency for an excellent job, high professionalism and right decision, made in critical situation.