Greek doesn’t have to translate into gobbledygook in your genealogy software. Personal Ancestral File, the free, easy-to-use software from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), has added features designed to preserve foreign languages in your family tree.
LDS began adapting its products for more languages with a redesign of its popular FamilySearch Web site, www.familysearch.org (reviewed in the April 2001 Family Tree Magazine). PAF’s new version, 5.0, follows suit with language-related tweaks that let you computerize ancestors whose native tongue and culture don’t fit Western conventions.
PAF 5.0 accommodates all your ancestral languages through unicode, a standard that assigns a different number to every character in every platform, program and language. While most software’s programming allows for accent marks in many European languages, unicode lets you enter non-Roman characters, too—Japanese kanji or Cyrillic letters, for example. You can also include a “Romanized” or phonetic version of those names. Since some fonts don’t support characters in other languages, PAF 5.0 adds the ability to change font and size. You can press F7 to see all the unicode characters in your chosen font.
Another culture-inspired change is the single name field. Instead of using separate boxes for first and last names, PAF 5.0 surrounds surnames with slashes. This lets you preserve the true order of the person’s name: for example, an ancestor whose culture placed surnames first (such as Chinese) or used multiple surnames (such as French dit names).
PAF 5.0 includes a host of other improvements: unlimited notes, more match/ merge options, search and replace for dates, the ability to import and export multimedia links and templates to customize fields.
To try PAF or upgrade from an earlier version, you’ll need Windows 95 or higher, 32 MB RAM and 20 to 60 MB hard disk space. Mac users aren’t totally left in the lurch: PAF 5.0 is available for iMacs with a Windows emulator. Go to www.familysearch.org and click on “Order/Download Products,” then “Sofware Downloads—Free.”