Friday, January 16, 2009

Tip: deciphering handwritten place names

When doing legal translations, I sometimes find myself trying to decipher badly handwritten text. Usually I manage to puzzle out the text, and only seldom have to resort to the [illegible] tag. Names of people and places, however, are often more challenging, as context offers no help.

When a badly handwritten place name includes a ZIP or postal code, however, there is usually help: you can search for the ZIP or postal code to determine the name of the place. For example, Linderburst, NY or Linderhurst, NY? By looking up the 11757 ZIP code in the USPS web site, I can see that the correct spelling is Lindenhurst, and not Lindeburst.


  1. Maybe it is just me, but I am getting very upset with myself when I have to handwrite anything these days. Since I don't write with a pen on a regular base, my penmanship has gone to hell. In Germany I was a licensed surveyor - drawing and labeling maps was my bread and butter in 1989.
    Now wait until the "laptop kids" grow up, who haven't handwritten a paper since elementary school. I am all for technology, but I don't think computers should be the sine qua non before grade 10 or even higher. I strongly believe that you can fully immerse in computers and technology even when you start using it casually and as a hobby. It worked for "our generation" (though I don't really know what your generation is). Wow, from penmanship to the "wired classroom" in just a few sentences :-)

  2. Good article!

  3. or... you just put [text illegible] in the translation - better to do that than to guess no?


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