As opposed to reading a Spanish language newspaper, the reading of old handwritten records in Spanish requires being aware of certain unique features that may complicate this task. The average reader with an intermediate knowledge of the Spanish language will quickly realize that, in older records, scribes may have included words that do not match their modern equivalents, either because they were misspelled or because they were not Spanish words but words in a dialect of Spanish or influenced by another language spoken in the area. These variations could also be the result of Latin influence when writing the Spanish words, for example using “th” instead of “t” or “ch” instead of “c”, such as in “Thomas” instead of “Tomás” or “Cathalina” instead of “Catalina.” These are examples of the challenges that the researcher may face when reading old Hispanic handwritten records. This section includes the following main challenging features:
We recommend studying these sections thoroughly before reading old manuscripts. Doing so will help you be more confident in your ability to understand these records and minimized misinterpretations or missing the information you are searching for. The other topics under TECHNIQUES AND TOOLS section of the Sidebar are for your reference as you develop your personal paleographic expertise.
It is very helpful to have an alphabet open while transcribing a record.
Below is a sample record from Catalonia, Spain that illustrates the types of challenges one could find while reading old manuscripts.