Thursday, June 02, 2011

You should know that this is the strangest thing I've ever done.

There's this part in Tangled where Flynn finds himself using a frying pan to fight a horse that has a knife.

I've been having a lot of "you should know that this is the strangest thing I've ever done" moments recently. I have a burgeoning side business going in editing the master's theses of AUS students in the Arabic/English translation and interpretation program. It is sometimes tedious work, but at least the subject matter has been interesting.

I edited one thesis about newspaper article translation issues from the can of worms that is MEMRI. Wow, did I ever get an earful (computer screenful?) about ulterior motives at play in both the selection of articles to be translated by MEMRI into English and then the manner in which said translations were carried out.

There was another thesis about the translation of the scandalous Girls of Riyadh novel from Arabic into English. It was quite the story, actually. Apparently, the US publisher hired someone aside from the original author to translate it from Arabic into English (this is standard practice in the industry - it is rare for an author to translate his/her own work). The official translator did so, but the original author apparently decided to translate it, too, and that's the version that got published. She added a lot of parts and took away others and rephrased still more, and this thesis analyzed the whole situation to determine the final effect. Very interesting.

I had a small sense of "this is something I never expected to be doing in my life" when I found myself correcting some Islamic typos, including when the thesis author inserted the requisite "P(eace)B(e)U(pon)H(im)" after mentioning the Prophet Mohammed (OF COURSE she mentioned the Prophet Mohammed in her thesis), and she mis-typed it as BPUH instead of the correct PBUH. Yeah, fixing that was kind of a bizarre moment for me.

This last thesis I edited was where it got really strange. The subject of the thesis was the translation of - wait for it - the cartoon Timon & Pumbaa into - wait for it - Egyptian Arabic. It was actually the most fun I've ever had while editing because I got paid to look up episodes of Timon & Pumbaa on YouTube to double-check that the English script excerpts in the thesis were properly transcribed.

But yes, editing theses for students at the American University of Sharjah is definitely a "You should know that this is the strangest thing I've ever done" kind of job. And so far, I love it!


Liz Johnson said...

I really, really, really love Tangled.

I am so impressed with your editing skillz, and with the unique and amazing stuff you get to do. But I am very, very, very sorry that it is 117 degrees today.

Susanne said...

Those topics sound fascinating! I've heard about MEMRI....wonder if it's true stuff! :)

I "had" to edit a masters thesis recently for something so boring -- it was talk of wireless mesh networks and such information and communication engineering stuff. Blech. I could only make sure the words were spelled correctly and the grammar was correct. For the record, Samer did great! There was hardly anything that needed changing.

But I sure wish the paper had been about one of the topics you mentioned instead. :)

Steve said...

My experience with MEMRI is pretty negative. Once they were claiming that a Hezbollah video showed children talking to a mickey-mouse like figure saying something along the lines of "We should kills the Jews."

It's true that it was a terrible propaganda video exploiting children for the sake of an armed conflict, but the kid in question actually said, "the Jews shoot us."

Jen said...

The only masters thesis I've ever edited was Joe's.

And now I'm scarred for life.

You. Are. Amazing.


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