learning "genealogical" Italian?

Having problems with the Italian language? Do you need help to translate or understand an old family document? There is always someone who can help you!
kencwalker
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learning "genealogical" Italian?

Postby kencwalker » 11 May 2016, 19:54

I've spent the last month learning enough Italian to read Nascita, Matrimonio and Morti records that use the "standard" format and language. The preprinted forms are "relatively easy" to follow, and I can usually decipher the older ones that are 100% hand written. Occasionally the handwriting still gives me trouble.

What throws me are records for unusual situations. I don't know enough to figure out what they're talking about. An Italian word list helps, but I don't understand well enough to be useful (like my request about the Atti di Nascita regarding corrections to a groom's name). Also, I will soon have to shift from the civil records to the church records for earlier generations.

My question: What's the best way to learn the Italian I need to continue my genealogical research back into the early 1800s?
I've considered Rosetta Stone, but fear I will learn to order dinner, buy train tickets and get driving directions, but not be able to read historical records.

Any advice from those that did this? Or is this a fool's errand?
Should I continue to depend on others to translate these documents?
(Your past generosity is greatly appreciated!!)

-Ken
Researching surnames Pedroncelli and Pilatti in Sondrio; Cantoia in Novara; Penna in Asti.

AngelaGrace56
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Re: learning "genealogical" Italian?

Postby AngelaGrace56 » 11 May 2016, 21:26

I think that you are doing well and have made a great start to reading Italian records. Records for unusual situations throw most people, and they do take time to transcribe and understand, especially when both the vocab is different and the handwriting hard to decipher.

I think the best way to learn how to read Italian records is to do it yourself, and then get it checked here. The first Italian records that I saw were from 1866, so hand written, and I honestly didn't know what they were saying. It looked like two ants had jumped out of a bottle of ink and played on the page. Then I could pick out the date and the names but didn't really understand everything. Everyday I practiced, using this site, by having a go and translating a document and then checking it off with the volunteers interpretation of the act. I then built up my vocab specific to the records and kept a list, which I still add to, because there are always new words popping up for us. Different towns use different words which mean the same thing. Sometimes dialect words pop in. Deciphering the handwriting is always the biggest challenge for most people.

Learning Italian would certainly help you with your grammar and reading some basic words in the record. A lot of people use Duolingo or Babbel. Babbel is probably the better one. If you are planning a trip to Italy it would certainly be helpful to know the language. It is a beautiful language.

Re: Church Records – they will probably be in Latin. They can be difficult because there are often a lot of abbreviations and there is often no order to them.

My suggestion would be, like I said at the beginning, specific to reading Italian Records, is to just immerse yourself. Spend time everyday practicing reading the records. It's fun, challenging at times, and really good for your brain.

Angela :)

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Re: learning "genealogical" Italian?

Postby kencwalker » 12 May 2016, 20:18

Hi Angela,
Thanks for your insights and positive feedback. Yes, I'm learning. I knew I was starting to get the hang of it when I found 23-Agosto-1904 in my notes (and it seemed normal). Yes, the language is beautiful. The similarity to Spanish is helpful (especially for numbers, dates and days). My grandmother occasionally spoke Italian with my mom and aunts, and our families continue to use certain idioms (none of which are any help reading civil records!). Also, she would sing opera the way we might sing a pop tune today. If I only realized then.....

Yes, the handwriting can be challenging (along with the film copy quality). Some is awful chicken scratch. Others have beautiful script (almost like calligraphy), but the writers formed their letters in unique ways. I have a word list and handwriting samples for reference. I'm also building a word list w/ unusual terms from "back in the day" as a supplement. (Example: "del giorno surriferito".) Another one that gave me trouble was "andante mese" as current month (instead of "corrente mese"). It took me awhile to figure out "that j thing" (example: "jeri" is the same as "ieri", for yesterday). So many things to figure out at the same time.

My family is all from Piemonte and Lombardia, so no civil records prior to 1866 (that I can find). I'm almost out of post-1866 family to research, so will soon be writing letters to churches and praying for responses. I can't wait to decipher the mixed Latin/Italian records.

Grazie / Ciao!
-Ken
Researching surnames Pedroncelli and Pilatti in Sondrio; Cantoia in Novara; Penna in Asti.

AngelaGrace56
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Re: learning "genealogical" Italian?

Postby AngelaGrace56 » 13 May 2016, 09:27

You are very welcome, Ken, and thank you for this very nice reply. I've enjoyed reading through it. I had to smile at your grandmother singing opera. Whenever my friends came round, dad would embarrass me by playing his Italian opera records.....as a teenager I would cringe. I now have them in my collection – but unfortunately no turntable. Yes the j/i thing gets us all in the beginning. The handwriting tends to swing from being very interesting and somewhat scribbly to being an absolute work of art. I wish I could write so beautifully. Yes, unusual terms from “back in the day” can be a challenge e.g. “del giorno surriferito” - what did that mean again?

You might find the following list for Italian Female Given Names useful: https://script.byu.edu/Documents/Nomi-Femminili.pdf

I have a pdf for Italian Male Given Names also, but I can't find the link to it at the minute. I'll do a search tomorrow and see if I can find it.

Just one question, why would you be going to Church Records for your pre-1866 records, and not to either the Comune or even the Ufficio dello Stato Civile (State Archives) which should have copies of civil records 1809-1865? I would go to Church Records for pre 1809. Why would there not be Civil Records prior to 1866? (I do realise they are not online, and that they possibly haven't even been filmed.) I was thinking that, if you did write to either the town or the State Archives, it would be great to order the Marriage Allegati/Processetti which "sometimes" provide documentation for several generations of a bride and groom's ancestry. It's just a suggestion - you would need to know the approximate marriage dates, I guess. (I've actually not had to do this myself, as yet, so don't really know what the requirements might be. I am very fortunate to have my records from 1809 on line now.)

Angela :)

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Re: learning "genealogical" Italian?

Postby erudita74 » 13 May 2016, 13:30

Angela and Ken
Here's the link to the pdf file of male given Italian names-
Erudita

https://script.byu.edu/Documents/Nomi-Maschili.pdf

sacesta
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Re: learning "genealogical" Italian?

Postby sacesta » 13 May 2016, 14:04

kencwalker wrote:My question: What's the best way to learn the Italian I need to continue my genealogical research back into the early 1800s?
I've considered Rosetta Stone, but fear I will learn to order dinner, buy train tickets and get driving directions, but not be able to read historical records.

-Ken


Ken,

I've been taking conversational Italian language classes at a local community college for about 2 years. A handful of others and I have been taking the same class repeatedly since there is little demand in my area for Italian and so only two courses are offered. I've also joined a Friends of Italy group that has a couple of native born Italian members, fluent in the language.

What's been helping me even more are the lessons I'm taking online at yabla.com. Yabla costs only $9.95 per month (less, if you commit to an annual subscription) and it provides hundreds of videos in Italian. You get to hear the language spoken by native Italians, see subtitles in Italian and English (or other languages), test yourself with a fill-in-the blank type video game or online flash cards. Too much for me to least all the features here.

You won't learn genealogical specific terms but you will quickly get a feel for the grammar and verb forms and build your vocabulary. I'll suggest that they produce genealogical related videos. That would be very useful to many.

There are free sample videos to try and if you commit for a month all it costs you is $9.95. I'm on Yabla several hours a week. Check it out.

Familiarization with Italian helps, but as others have said before, there is still a formidable barrier to deciphering the handwriting. And, of course, church records are written in Latin. Many of the members on this forum have helped me immensely.

Good luck,

Steve
Steve Acesta

Researching Calatafimi, Trapani
Surnames Aceste, Papa, Cusenza, Gruppuso, Sciortino, Sparacino, Zito, and Vona.

Researching Montevago, Agrigento (Girgenti)
Surnames Infranco, La Rocca, Mandina, Bilello, Cacioppo, and Cardino.

sacesta
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Re: learning "genealogical" Italian?

Postby sacesta » 13 May 2016, 14:39

Ken,

Here's a chart of various letter formations for the Italian alphabet.

I copied this from a website online for personal use and I don't recall where I got it. My apologies to the creator of this document for my not being able to give due credit. In the original spirit of sharing, I present it here.

This should be useful to many deciphering Italian (and Latin) records. It's helped me a good bit.

If someone knows who created this document, please let me know and I will credit it's creator.

Steve

Image
Steve Acesta

Researching Calatafimi, Trapani
Surnames Aceste, Papa, Cusenza, Gruppuso, Sciortino, Sparacino, Zito, and Vona.

Researching Montevago, Agrigento (Girgenti)
Surnames Infranco, La Rocca, Mandina, Bilello, Cacioppo, and Cardino.

erudita74
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Re: learning "genealogical" Italian?

Postby erudita74 » 13 May 2016, 15:30

Steve
Did you get it from this link?

https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Italy_Handwriting

Erudita

kencwalker
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Re: learning "genealogical" Italian?

Postby kencwalker » 13 May 2016, 15:59

Eurdita, Steve, Angela,
(Did I get everyone?)
Thanks for the feedback. The male/female name list will be helpful (maybe next time I will recognize Ambrogio when I see his name).
My handwriting chart is very similar to the one Steve shared. I've found a couple of resources on the internet. They all seem to come from an LDS source. In fact, this site has some nice info under the Italian Records Extraction link. Handwriting is Section A :)
https://cfhg.byu.edu/Downloads/Italian_ ... tion_A.pdf

A Italian genealogy video (or 2) at Yabla would be awesome! There's a "Basic Italian Research" video on the LDS site that was very helpful when I decided to learn how to translate Italian records:
https://familysearch.org/learningcenter ... search/246

It was pretty intimidating at first, then I decided to "just do it", and eventually figured out the birth records.

Steve, We have an Italian Club of Dallas that meets 4-5 miles from my house. I've thought about joining, except I think my wife would really begin to wonder what I'm up to. As it is, I disappear to the library and FHC for hours at a time in search of ancestors. :)

Again, thanks to all!
-Ken
Researching surnames Pedroncelli and Pilatti in Sondrio; Cantoia in Novara; Penna in Asti.

sacesta
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Re: learning "genealogical" Italian?

Postby sacesta » 13 May 2016, 16:26

erudita74 wrote:Steve
Did you get it from this link?

https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Italy_Handwriting

Erudita


Yes, that's where I found it! Family Search is a wonderful resource. Most of what I know of my family I found searching records at familysearch.org. The microfilmed church records from Calatafimi have been especially useful in my search. I just wish the FHC had longer hours.
Steve Acesta

Researching Calatafimi, Trapani
Surnames Aceste, Papa, Cusenza, Gruppuso, Sciortino, Sparacino, Zito, and Vona.

Researching Montevago, Agrigento (Girgenti)
Surnames Infranco, La Rocca, Mandina, Bilello, Cacioppo, and Cardino.

sacesta
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Posts: 255
Joined: 04 Mar 2016, 21:21
Location: North Carolina via Brooklyn and many places in between

Re: learning "genealogical" Italian?

Postby sacesta » 13 May 2016, 16:31

kencwalker wrote:Eurdita, Steve, Angela,
(Did I get everyone?)
Thanks for the feedback. The male/female name list will be helpful (maybe next time I will recognize Ambrogio when I see his name).
My handwriting chart is very similar to the one Steve shared. I've found a couple of resources on the internet. They all seem to come from an LDS source. In fact, this site has some nice info under the Italian Records Extraction link. Handwriting is Section A :)
https://cfhg.byu.edu/Downloads/Italian_ ... tion_A.pdf

A Italian genealogy video (or 2) at Yabla would be awesome! There's a "Basic Italian Research" video on the LDS site that was very helpful when I decided to learn how to translate Italian records:
https://familysearch.org/learningcenter ... search/246

It was pretty intimidating at first, then I decided to "just do it", and eventually figured out the birth records.

Steve, We have an Italian Club of Dallas that meets 4-5 miles from my house. I've thought about joining, except I think my wife would really begin to wonder what I'm up to. As it is, I disappear to the library and FHC for hours at a time in search of ancestors. :)

Again, thanks to all!
-Ken


Ken,

I can relate. Researching my ancestors has become all-consuming.

I sent a request for genealogical themed videos to Yabla this morning. Time will tell how that goes…

You should bring your wife the the Italian Club meetings. Here in Winston-Salem, the club is composed mostly of transplanted Yankees and their spouses looking for fellowship. Not everyone that comes to the meetings is of Italian descent. They just have to appreciate the culture.

The president at our club also teaches the Italian language classes at the community college.

Steve
Steve Acesta

Researching Calatafimi, Trapani
Surnames Aceste, Papa, Cusenza, Gruppuso, Sciortino, Sparacino, Zito, and Vona.

Researching Montevago, Agrigento (Girgenti)
Surnames Infranco, La Rocca, Mandina, Bilello, Cacioppo, and Cardino.

kencwalker
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Re: learning "genealogical" Italian?

Postby kencwalker » 13 May 2016, 17:12

AngelaGrace56 wrote:Just one question, why would you be going to Church Records for your pre-1866 records, and not to either the Comune or even the Ufficio dello Stato Civile (State Archives) which should have copies of civil records 1809-1865? I would go to Church Records for pre 1809. Why would there not be Civil Records prior to 1866? (I do realise they are not online, and that they possibly haven't even been filmed.) I was thinking that, if you did write to either the town or the State Archives, it would be great to order the Marriage Allegati/Processetti which "sometimes" provide documentation for several generations of a bride and groom's ancestry. It's just a suggestion - you would need to know the approximate marriage dates, I guess. (I've actually not had to do this myself, as yet, so don't really know what the requirements might be. I am very fortunate to have my records from 1809 on line now.)


Angela, GREAT Question!
I've just started digging into my family's Italian records. It's ironic, b/c it was an Italian ancestor that sparked my interest in genealogy. I quickly got stuck as a newbie, so shifted to the Scots and the Swedes. That could be a thread of it's own. Now I'm back and 100% focused on the Italians. :)

It was my impression that the start of civil records varies across Italy; the earliest ones being in the south and the last to start were in the north (when it was required after unification). Since I've only found the LDS Tribunale films starting around 1866, I "assumed" that's when the civil records began in Piemonte and Lombardia.

Unfortunately, "Images not yet available" on the Antenati site for the regions of Novara and Sondrio.

How can I determine when local civil records begin for each Comune?
Grazie!
-Ken
Researching surnames Pedroncelli and Pilatti in Sondrio; Cantoia in Novara; Penna in Asti.


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Re: learning "genealogical" Italian?

Postby AngelaGrace56 » 13 May 2016, 22:35

erudita74 wrote:Angela and Ken
Here's the link to the pdf file of male given Italian names-
Erudita

https://script.byu.edu/Documents/Nomi-Maschili.pdf


Great! Thank you, Erudita. This is the same list that I use, which I have downloaded to my computer. I hadn't saved the link to it.

I was going to fish out some more links today and I notice everyone has been very busy here, meanwhile, and already posted them, so that is great. Ken and Steve, you may already have the following but I will post anyway, they may be very helpful to others who are starting out in Italian Genealogy, who may chance upon this post:

Italian Occupations and English Equivalents:
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.anc ... ngocc.html

Italian Genealogy Terms (Occupations): http://c.ancestry.com/Affiliate/Knowled ... ations.pdf

I mostly use the first link. I have it saved to my computer, and it looks completely different since I first saved it, because I just keep adding to it. We are always coming across really interesting occupations that are not listed on either of these two lists, so I just keep adding the new occupations, and when our wonderful Erudita shares her research into various occupations, then I add her notes to the bottom of my list as well.

The second link, must be quite recent? I haven't used it myself. It looks like there are occupations listed there that are not on the first link so I need to look closer at this.

Books which you may like to get out of the library, which are very informative, and have lots of samples of Civil and Church Records etc:

Finding your Italian Ancestors – A Begnner's Guide by Suzanne Russo Adams, AG

A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Italian Ancestors” by Lynn Nelson

Italian Genealogical Records by Trafford R Cole (which seems to be very popular, especially in America)

The first two books are great beginers books but I still go back and refer to them. Trafford R Cole is possibly more indepth.

Personally, I have found the best place for learning about Italian Genealogy, is here at ItalianGenealogy.com. I have enjoyed reading the insights of those more experienced in Italian Genealogy, and I use the "Search" tool if I am not sure about something or need to refresh my memory. Most of my questions have been asked several times before so the answers are usually here.

Angela :)

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Re: learning "genealogical" Italian?

Postby AngelaGrace56 » 13 May 2016, 22:42

erudita74 wrote:https://books.google.com/books?id=YiyJIT48GbkC&pg=PA39&dq=civil+records+in+lombardia&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjWwtDpsNfMAhVMKB4KHRAeCBEQ6AEINTAA#v=onepage&q=civil%20records%20in%20lombardia&f=false


This a good article, Erudita. I like Suzanne Russo's book.

kencwalker wrote:How can I determine when local civil records begin for each Comune?
Grazie!
-Ken


Hopefully, this article that Erudita has linked us too will answer your question.

ciao
Angela :)


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