Translation, Multilingualism, and Writing Systems in HathiTrust – Translate Midwest

Translation, Multilingualism, and Writing Systems in HathiTrust

Professor Christi Merrill decided to teach Ayesha Kidwai’s English translation of In Freedom’s Shade, written in Urdu shortly after the violent Partition of India and Pakistan by her grandmother, Anis Kidwai. Learning of a Hindi translation available, Christi and Dr. Syed Ali agreed it would be interesting to teach all three versions in three different ALC (Asian Languages and Cultures) courses. Dr. Ali went searching for both the Urdu source text آزادی کی چھاوّں میں and the Hindi translation आज़ादी की छाओं में and was delighted to find the Urdu source in HathiTrust.

What happened next was a different kind of surprise than he expected: “When I clicked to open the book, it took me a while to figure out the reverse scanning is the reason that is creating the hindrance in connecting the dots. I faced two issues–scroll down to read and then scroll up to move to the next page and it was a very unique experience to see the text scanned in a very unlikely way. The issue reflects the need for a person who knows the language. It looks like Google translation–what the machine does is not always very sensical.” 

This fall, the Mellon Sawyer seminar Building Translation Networks in the Midwest with HathiTrust will explore the needs of scholars and teachers engaging in the study of texts in different languages and writing systems, and seek to develop solutions that would enhance the accessibility of materials such as In Freedom’s Shade / آزادی کی  چھاوّں میں / आज़ादी की छाओं में. 

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