Now that we have a very effective Latin translation in Google translate, it occurs to me that we can also use this to read a great deal of patristic Greek. For as we all know, the Greek fathers were all translated into Latin at the renaissance and after, and were nearly always printed with parallel Latin translation, right the way down to the 19th century.
The obvious example of this is Migne’s Patrologia Graeca, our standard reference collection of texts. It’s never been worth transcribing the Latin side. But maybe now it is, just as a reading aid for those of us without fluent Greek?
This isn’t a new situation, in a way. Indeed the reason why all these Latin translations even exist at all, is that knowledge of Greek was always rarer than fluency in Latin. The translations are not always reliable; but something is better than nothing.
On the other hand it won’t be all that easy to OCR the Latin of Migne…
The low quality of Migne’s printing is something that we have all struggled with.
But there are workarounds. The last time that I needed to OCR the Latin of Migne, I went and found the edition that he was reprinting on Google Books. This, needless to say, was far better printed, and created many fewer errors in Finereader 15.
So it is possible, and it’s worth bearing in mind if we need to work with a large patristic text for which no modern translation exists. Spend some time creating an electronic text of the Latin translation, and push it through Google Translate!
Update (5 Aug 2023): Note that it is actually possible to copy the OCR’d text from Google books itself, for both the Greek and Latin sides in the PG. Go to the page in question. Hit the cut-and-paste icon so it goes dark grey, then drag a rectangle over the area that you want to copy the text from. As you release the mouse, a dialogue will pop up, and the text is in the top box. It looks as if its monotonic for Greek. The results are quite respectable.