old family photo of babies in washtub old family photo of babies in washtub MyHeritage has expanded its translation function to make it easier to find ancestors. (Photo: Elzbieta Sekowska / Shutterstock)

It's easier than ever to discover your family's roots

Global genealogy giant MyHeritage has removed language as a barrier to a successful search.

When we first wrote about genealogy website MyHeritage, it had just launched its Instant Discoveries campaign, which allows people to discover scores of ancestors by entering in a few basic pieces of information. Now they’re helping users discover their global roots by removing language as a barrier from search.

Global Name Translation is a new technology that’s been integrated into MyHeritage’s search engine, SuperSearch. Say you know that your great-grandfather was born somewhere in Italy, but you don’t speak Italian. This service can help you track down his birth certificate, and translate it into English.

With 80 million users around the world, MyHeritage has family trees enveloping more than 1.5 billion people. That's no small feat, and it takes more than 200 employees spread out across offices in the U.S. and in Israel, where the company is headquartered.

“One of the things that makes MyHeritage so powerful is that we have a massive global community. We’re available in 42 languages and people have been creating millions of family trees in different languages,” MyHeritage's Aaron Godfrey told From The Grapevine from his office in Tel Aviv.

“When I write about my grandfather Jack, and my long-lost French cousin has written about Jacques, you want to make sure that the results you get are relevant. We’re all about making it easier for people to find people, and we don’t want language to be a barrier.”

With MyHeritage's new Global Name Translation technology, a search for "Tatiana" will return results in Russian translated into English.With MyHeritage's new Global Name Translation technology, a search for "Tatiana" will return results in Russian translated into English.

The technology is especially helpful between languages that use different scripts, like Russian and Hebrew. It also searches names found in other family trees on the site, and generates all the plausible translations of those names to help facilitate matches. For example, a search for Alexander could return results for the Greek version of the name Alexandros or the Russian nickname for Alexander, Саша.

“SuperSearch doesn’t only search historical documents; you can also search other public family trees. And if someone has added that person to a family tree using a nickname, you want to be able to find those results,” said Godfrey.

MyHeritage created Global Name Translation from its massive international database of some 6 billion family tree profiles and historical records. Now it can help family members with family trees in different languages find each other, leading to exciting family reunions that stretch across the globe.

The technology rollout is initially focusing on names in more than a dozen European languages including English, German, Dutch, French, Spanish, Norwegian, Greek and Russian, and hopes to soon add Chinese and Japanese. Additional languages will follow as the program expands.

“Most families have family members who have emigrated or immigrated at some point," Godfrey said. "And we want to make sure that the borders of the country they are currently in are not restrictive to them in terms of how far and wide you can search."


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