I cannot recommend Torhild Shirley with Scandinavian Research Services enough! After receiving more than two dozen letters handwritten in Norwegian about 1950, I turned to her for translation services. She provided me with a typed version of the documents, with the translated text side by side with typed copy of the original Norwegian. Torhild also assisted with the translation of notes that had been written in margins of parish and land registers, as well as clarifying words that stumped me in Norwegian farm books. She communicated with me throughout the project and provided her help at a very reasonable price. I simply cannot thank her enough for her help with my research, and through her services I have a more full understanding of my Norwegian ancestors. I will definitely be reaching out to Torhild again as I continue to delve into my Norwegian roots.
Translating Old Documents
When translating old documents and letters, I first make a transcription which is an exactly typed copy of the document with all its spelling, grammar, and sentence errors. The spelling and sentence structure help relay the personality of the writer. Therefore, as I translate Danish, Norwegian, or Swedish to English, I try to stick as closely to the original sentence structure as possible. (See prices.)
Most Scandinavians who settled in the US chose to live in Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish communities where they could speak their native language. The newspapers were written in their language, and they received sermons at church in their mother tongue. With time, English words would slowly enter their language. Hence, many of their letters and documents were written in their native language, mingled with a few English words here and there.
With that in mind, the partial letter below from Elisabeth is a prime example of the typical language of a Scandinavian living in America. Elisabeth’s letter is written in a mix of English and Norwegian, mostly spelled phonetically. I added some punctuation and supporting words in brackets ([ ]) during translation to help the letter flow. However, I kept the word choice and sentence structure as close to the original as possible.
Letter from Elisabeth
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