Scott Bird's Family Tree

The Language of Genealogy

The tracing of ancestors often leads to countries with a culture – and language – very different to your own. Fortunately there are a number of online resources to help you decipher the occasional piece of information which isn’t in your mother tongue, or any other language you know.

Whilst a number of these resources are free, bear in mind that automatic translation of text isn’t perfect; however it is generally good enough to give you an idea of the meaning. Specific items, such as dates and names, are usually fine.

Google Language Tools

Offered here are a search tool looking at pages written in a specific language (or located in a particular country), a text or web page translation tool, and links to the numerous versions of Google around the world (each in the language of the host country).


In addition to the free text and web page translation tools, the site features a browser tool, an email translator, text and page translation tools (paid services) which can be added to a website, and a translator API for programming use (from $29.95).

The browser tool facilitates automatic translation of the current web page, allowing the page to be viewed in any of a dozen languages. Unfortunately this tool is only available for Microsoft Internet Explorer v5 and up, and costs $19.95 per year.


Moji is a japanese term meaning ‘character’. The tool here is a Mozilla Firefox extension which allows japanese characters on a page to be highlighted and automatically translated. Note that this is designed to translate individual words rather than sentences or entire pages; although long strings of characters are sometimes given a reasonable translation.

Babel Fish

Free text and web page translation tools are available here, as well as an automatic translation tool for your site (also free).

NB : I'd love to find out more about these people, particularly those from the last 200-300 years.

If you can help flesh out their stories, please get in touch via my personal site, at / contact . Thank-you.