Quick tip – Don’t rely on automatic translators

Automatic translators like Google Translate can be a big help if you don’t speak Dutch. However, many older records use terms that no longer exist in modern Dutch, or that have shifted meaning. Automatic translators are also notoriously bad at translating words that may have multiple meanings.

An example is the sentence: “Zijn neef was zijn getuige” which Google translates as “His cousin was his witness.” However, the Dutch word “neef” can mean both cousin and nephew, which can make a big difference in how you interpret the record.

Dutch-French dictionary, circa 1587-1589. Credits: Rijksmuseum (public domain)

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She has been doing genealogy for almost 25 years. Her expertise is helping people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.

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