This morning I decided to see what I could find out about a 1905 Russian edition of the works of Methodius of Olympus (d.311 AD), which I obtained in PDF form from a library in Chicago a year or so back.
Now I don’t know any Russian … not even the alphabet. But I have tools at my disposal to help me!
First of all, we have Google Translate. This will give us something, and we can even enter corrections as we go along. We also have the ability to enter unicode using Charmap. Finally modern software like Abbyy Finereader 12 does a remarkable job.
I started with the title page. I didn’t actually get much from this, except for a reference to “complete” and “Greek”. So it’s probably an edition of the complete works, translated from Greek or something.
On the reverse of the title page, I got this:
Отъ С.-Петербургскаго Духовнаго Цензурнаго Комитета печатать дозволяется. С.-Петербургъ, 27-го іюля 1904 г.
Цензоръ, Іеромонахъ Александръ.
Сиб. Типолитографія М. II. Фроловой. І’алерная, 6.
So I popped it into Google Translate. I got this:
Ot St. Peterburgskago of spiritual Tsenzurnago Committee is permitted to print. St. Peterburg, 27th іyulya 1904
Tsenzor, Іeromonah Alexandre.
Sib. Tipolitografіya M. II. Frolova. І’alernaya <5.
OK… But hang on…
Surely “Ieromonah” is “Hieromonk”? And I wonder, O I wonder, what “Tsenzor” could mean? It must be pronounced “Censor”! Which means that “Tsenzurnago”, combined with “Committee of spiritual Tsenzurnago” is probably “Committe of spiritual censorship”!
So the notice must mean that this is permission to print, issued by the St Petersburg committee for spiritual censorship, signed by the Hieromonk Alexander, Censor.
The text has not scanned perfectly. “I'” should actually be Г, and “<5” is actually “6”. That makes the last line:
Sib. Tipolitografіya M. II. Frolova. Galernaya 6.
Which is probably something to do with the address of the printer.
Now this is a little thing, in a way: except consider what it means. All we need to make progress is some industry. If I started looking words up, and learning a bit about the language, I would soon learn even more. All I need is time and industry.
And … candidly … it’s quite fun!
7 thoughts on “Playing with a 1905 Russian book, Finereader 12, and Google Translate”
I think you missed your calling in life, Roger. You should have been a cryptologist!
Yuk no! But better than crosswords!
It turns out that there was a spelling reform in Russian in 1917. I’ll try to understand it – might improve results
Bolsheviks ruin everything.
Well it eliminated the last traces of Old Slavonic. But it does make Google Translate sweat! So if I can figure out the rules, I can probably get more info.
Cheat sheet: http://www.indiana.edu/~libslav/slavcatman/RussianSpellingCheatsheet.html