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Translation & Adaptation

This is a linguistic survey of the written language used by protesters in the 2011 demonstrations in Egypt. The hypothesis is that Egyptian Colloquial Arabic (ECA), Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), and English are all used for specific purposes in specific contexts. As such, the literal messages across these three categories may differ, as they are aimed at different audiences. In addition, the case will be made that the specific linguistic situation of Arabic (especially the factors of Diglossia and English dominance as a global language that are not paralleled in other linguistic communities undergoing demonstrations. Twitter tweets, Facebook posts, and online blogs of the protesters will be the major sources of material. The Nile Valley variants will be the primary focus.

People

Eric Bartolotti
Researcher

Nader Morkus
Sponsor & Visiting Assistant Professor

Samuel Liebhaber
Sponsor & Assistant Professor of Arabic

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For thousands of years, the written word contained only streams of capital letters, with unseparated words and sentences. Punctuation appeared in only rudimentary forms in the early centuries A.D., and was invented specifically to prevent those who read aloud in church from misreading on misinterpreting a passage of the scriptures. Spaces between words did not appear until the 700s A.D., after the development of the Carolingian Miniscule and the establishment of Benedictine rule, and it was not until the 1100s that they became common place. Suddenly, readers no longer needed to mumble through passages to discern their meanings, and began to read as we do most commonly today: in silence. The new written form inspired the first alphabetized glossaries, made books more compact and personal, and made literacy a more widespread goal. But it also triggered a sense of independence and empowerment as yet unknown in medieval society, causing a rise of critical thinkers and skeptics, and, in turn, inciting fear of heresy in the church. Indeed, without punctuation and the space between words, would we have the same capacity for questioning that we do today?

People

Melissa Hirsch
Researcher

Louisa Burnham
Sponsor & Associate Professor of History

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As arguably the most famous playwright that Russia has ever produced, Anton Chekhov has written works that have been read and performed on an international level since their first publication in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His literary genius has helped to further the genre of realistic theatre with a tragicomedy of simultaneous humor and melancholy unique to his plays. In comparing three contemporary dramatic literature adaptations of Chekhov’s play Uncle Vanya to the original (Sam Holcroft’s Vanya, Howard Barker’s Uncle Vanya and David Mamet’s Uncle Vanya) I will prove that Chekhov’s particular use of tragicomedy creates a human universality that dramatists try to emulate to this day, while each individually adjusts the test to fit his own distinctive writing style and vision for the plotline. This comparison asserts that classic works of dramatic literature contain an isolated universal human element that compels playwrights to create modern adaptations.

People

Cori Hundt
Researcher

John Bertolini
Sponsor & Ellis Professor of English and Liberal Arts

Scene from Sam Holcroft’s Vanya performed as part of 10-Minute Plays during the 2011 Spring Student Symposium.

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