In this edition, we’re happy to announce a new language edition to the website: Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). MSA is the official language of the Arab world spanning from Morocco in the West to Oman in the East. It is the literary standard of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and one of the official languages of the United Nations. Vernacularly, the language is uttered using a variety of local dialects by some 300 million speakers in the region.
The eight new translated annotations on the website were written in MSA by two students of Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) and edited by our one of our new language copy editor Dr. Ghada Salama of Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMU-Q).
The two students (Aisha AlQadi and Layan Abdul Shakoor) took my Spring 2016 course “Science, Technology, and Society.” The course introduced students to the study of science and technology in social context by exploring several case studies that highlight the function and factors shaping the development of science and technology in different societies around the world and in different time periods.
One of the case study we discussed was science and technology during the Abbasid Caliphate. Students in the class learned that during the Golden Age of the medieval Islamic Empire (between the eight and thirteenth centuries), there was long tradition of learning and great technological and scientific achievements. One of the factors that enabled this flourishing of scientific activities was the so-called Translation Movement in which medieval Arabic scholars sought, collected, and translated ancient Greek, Persian, Syriac, Sanskrit, and other foreign language texts into Arabic.
The center of such translation and research was an institution called the House of Wisdom (Bayt al-Hikmah) where these ancient and translated books were kept, critically studied, commented, and revised. One result of having this accumulated knowledge was the synthesis of different learning traditions such as the one made by the ninth-century Baghdad mathematician Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi who combined the Greek tradition of geometry and the Indian tradition of arithmetic into algebra.
A class exercise in translating a page from a graduate level Heat Conduction text from English into either a student’s native or second language (Arabic, Urdu, Pashto, etc.) enabled me to persuade a few of my students to do an extra credit opportunity to translate some annotations from the website. Two ended up completing them. With the help of Dr. Salama’s feedback, we now have several new Arabic translations of annotations of books, articles, books, articles, teaching modules, and a film.
Anto Mohsin (Liberal Arts Program, Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q))