Introducing Cross-Language Record Matches

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As many genealogists already know, among the major commercial genealogy websites, MyHeritage is the website of choice for international genealogy — that is, for finding ancestors and relatives all over the world, particularly in Europe. It is also extremely useful for U.S. genealogists as many of them have ancestors who arrived in the United States from other countries. This strength comes from the fact that MyHeritage is translated into 42 languages and, since its inception 17 years ago, has become the most popular and heavily-used genealogy website in most non-English speaking countries, in addition to its popularity in the English-speaking world. A huge number of international users who built millions of family trees on MyHeritage, found nowhere else, plus exclusive global record collections, and unique technology dedicated to overcoming language barriers, have all made MyHeritage an international genealogy powerhouse that is not to be missed.

We are working constantly to improve the technologies on MyHeritage even further. Today, we’re delighted to announce a significant innovation: our Global Name Translation Technology™ has been extended to apply to Record Matches as well!

Individuals researching their heritage often face a language barrier when trying to learn more about their ancestors who lived in another country. MyHeritage pioneered Global Name Translation Technology™ to help users overcome this barrier. This technology automatically translates names between languages. This unique capability, originally conceived by MyHeritage’s Founder and CEO, allows users to locate records that mention their ancestors in different and often unexpected languages (as well as in synonyms in each language). Initially, this was available in our search engine, SuperSearch™, but now this capability has been extended to automatic Record Matches as well.

For example, if you search for an ancestor you know as Alexander, the algorithm may uncover a Spanish record where his name is listed as Alejandro (a Spanish version of Alexander), or a Russian record with the name written Александр in Cyrillic characters (the Russian way to write Alexander), or its common Russian nickname Саша (Sasha).

Record Matches are records that are automatically found that match people in your family tree.

With this new addition, translated Record Matches are now calculated on an automated and regular basis. That means you will receive Record Matches with historical records and family tree profiles in other languages. When you view them, the names will also be conveniently spelled out using your own alphabet. You may already have noticed some records from other languages appearing in your matches.

This feature will help you easily locate records that would otherwise have been very difficult for you to find.

Unique to MyHeritage

This unique technology is only available on MyHeritage and works hand in hand with our huge database of international records.

For example, perhaps your American family has Greek roots. Your family tree is in English and you may not speak or understand Greek, making it difficult for you to locate information about your ancestors. With the new expansion of Global Name Translation Technology™, not only do you not need to search for records in Greek to find all information available about your ancestors, we now automatically bring you Record Matching results in Greek, along with a transliteration of the names into English. That is, the Greek names will be spelled out using the Latin alphabet, so you will be able to read them. Similarly, if your American family has Jewish roots, and a distant ancestor of yours was buried in Israel, you may now receive a match between a profile in your English family tree, and a burial record in Hebrew (which is very likely, because MyHeritage photographed and indexed all the gravestones in Israel and put them online free of charge).

How it works

Global Name Translation™ includes advanced algorithms and is based on MyHeritage’s massive multilingual and international database of 12+ billion historical records. The Global Name Translation Technology™ automatically translates names found in historical records and family trees at very high accuracy, generating all plausible versions of the name to facilitate matches in different languages. Technically speaking, it transliterates non-Latin-based names to English (e.g. from Hebrew, Russian, Ukrainian, Greek, and other non-Latin scripts). English serves as the common ground behind the scenes. Without modifying data that is entered into MyHeritage and stored in its original language, this technology is able to match similar names written in different languages with each other.

The technology covers both given names and surnames and tackles names previously encountered in the past, in addition to new names never seen before, by using machine learning. It also utilizes extensive dictionaries built by MyHeritage to cover synonyms and nicknames. This means the technology can find a complex Russian name in Greek, even if that name has never been seen on the Internet in Greek before (but it was spelled out this way in a specific record that could be valuable for your research).

A few years ago, we implemented this technology for searches in our historical record database. Any search would yield results in other languages, automatically translated into the language of the query. At the same time, the technology was integrated into our matching technologies — but only for new information added to family trees. Users received translated matches with very high accuracy, but the matches were only calculated once for each family tree profile, shortly after they were added to the family tree.

We are now taking this technology one step further and processing matches using this technology on a regular basis every few weeks. Our users will now benefit from new matches as they add new information to their family tree, and as we continue adding millions of new historical records from around the world to MyHeritage. With the first round of processing, about 25 million new matches from other languages were produced for MyHeritage users, and “injected” into MyHeritage for their benefit.

Accessing your Record Matches

Record Matches are found automatically and delivered directly to you. They can be found under the “Discoveries” tab on your family site. You can either select “Matches by people” or “Matches by source” to view Record Matches found for you.

Record Matches are matches with records (as opposed to Smart Matches that are matches with family tree profiles).

To view only Record Matches, click the “Record Matches” filter as shown below:

Record Matches can also be accessed directly from your family tree. Family tree cards will display a brown icon for every individual who has Record Matches. Click this brown icon to view the Record Matches found for this individual.

Indication of Record Matches on a family tree card

If you receive a Record Match in another language, it will appear just like any other Record Match that you receive. You will see the name in the record in the same language as your family tree. You will be able to tell that the name was transliterated because it will appear in its original form, with a version in your own alphabet next to it in square brackets. Just as in the example below, in which a user with a Greek family tree received a Record Match to a U.S. census record:

The cross-language matches will also be included in the regular Record Match email notifications delivered directly to your inbox every few weeks.

Examples

Carol Kostakos Petranek, U.S. researcher at Hellenic Genealogy, is passionate about researching her Greek roots and helping other genealogists do the same. She recently received dozens of Record Matches with the new important Greek record collections on MyHeritage: Greece, Electoral Rolls (1863–1924), Corfu Vital Records (1841–1932), and Sparta Marriages (1835–1935).

This is one example of a Greek record that was matched to her English family tree:

Danielle from Australia received the following match for Michael Misroch/Mizrach in her family tree (in English) to a burial record in Billion Graves (in Hebrew).

Danielle wrote to MyHeritage that she would not have located such a match on her own. “This match gives me Michael’s wife’s name and date of death!”

Hebrew speakers will be able to notice that the parents of the interred from the burial record are called Yeshayahu and Rachel, which precisely matches the parents from the user’s family tree.

Miriam, a MyHeritage user from Israel, received the following match from the collection Netherlands, Civil marriages.

What users are saying

The release of Cross-Language Record Matches, along with the many new record collections we are adding and updating regularly, has inspired very enthusiastic feedback from users.

“Today was the first time I have ever been able to research Greek records without the assistance of any of my Greek friends,” wrote one user. “This is amazing!”

“I just spent 5 hours poring over these records and I am blown away by what I am finding,” another user shared. “This has completely upended my research by showing me family in other areas. I am taking my research in entirely new directions now!”

They’ve been calling it a “game-changer” and a “mega gold mine,” and thanking us for all the incredible discoveries they’ve been making. We are so grateful that our technology was able to connect these people with records they would never have found otherwise.

Conclusion

Anyone with a family tree on MyHeritage now enjoys Cross-Language Record Matches with our online database of billions of international historical records, to find their ancestors from around the world. This capability is unique to MyHeritage.

Our Record Matching technology will notify you automatically if any of the records on MyHeritage matches an individual in your family tree. You’ll then be able to review the record and decide if you’d like to add the new information to your tree. To fully access Record Matches or to view or save records from the other collections, you’ll need a Data or Complete subscription. However, some matches are found in free collections and can be viewed without a subscription.

We pledge to continue to innovate technology for genealogy to make family history more enjoyable and easier to use. We hope our users will enjoy this new innovation. People who are not using MyHeritage yet can start today to discover what they have been missing.

Enjoy,
The MyHeritage Team

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  • Carol Kostakos Petranek


    June 2, 2020

    The accuracy of the Global Name Translation is amazing! It is a game-changer for people doing cross-language research. Congratulations to the MyHeritage team for initiating this process, which opens new worlds of records in foreign lands. 🙂

  • HY Chiam


    June 3, 2020

    I hope there will be more records for Asian researcher, especially a Chinese Surname will be translated into different English version.

  • Gyongyi Borhegyi


    June 21, 2020

    I am a member, like to find a Tree for my Mother’sFather .

  • Katie Klemas


    June 22, 2020

    It’s wonderful what you’ve done here so far! I’m impressed! Are Lithuanian names included?

  • Mark Nightser


    June 22, 2020

    nice new was for the search