By: Mira Jundi
The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, "The limit of my language means the limits of my world." Many people think of language as a mere tool of communication, but I beg to differ. Language entails ideas, literature, culture, inventions and so much more. It is simply at the center of it all, and we wouldn’t have created things of much value if it weren’t for language.
Think of the different and diverse civilizations we know today, and look deeply into their societies, regulations, and relationships. Now imagine our tragic loss of cultural individuality and uniqueness if we all spoke the same language – a universal one! Fortunately, humans held on to their singular and diverse identities. However, the rise of hundreds of unique civilizations and cultures led to the emergence of more than 7000 spoken languages, something that could have resulted in many wars and conflicts across the world due to the lack of communication and the impossibility of understanding. Luckily, great thinkers said "let there be peace and harmony", and there was a translation – ready to save our lives!
Although translation first gained its importance after the interpretation of literary texts, it has grown into a multidimensional field to encompass the economic, political, martial, and, most importantly, scientific fields. Fast-forward our history to the present day, and you shall see how translation paved our way and made our lives much easier. Think of the cultural heritage, the wide variety of knowledge, and the captivating ideas we possess today by the exceptional profession of translation.
Influential, operative and history-changing as it's always been, translation is still badly needed to fulfill its duties towards many widely spoken languages. A huge example of such languages is Arabic. With an estimated number of speakers that surpasses 300 million; it’s considered the 5th most spoken language worldwide. Nevertheless, it only represents, as of today, 1.1% of the online content. If I try, for example, looking up information about the first translated text in the history of the world using Wikipedia, I wouldn’t find it written in Arabic. So what about millions of Arabic-speaking students and learners who simply don’t know other languages, especially English? Who can help those people in their quest for knowledge? The answer is Bayt Al Hikma 2.0!
My name is Mera Jundi. I studied English language and literature in college, and have always been interested in the translation field. I spent my undergraduate years trying to help others using what I know: language. I joined Bayt Al Hikma 2.0 – a project by Ideas Beyond Borders, knowing that this project will change the lives of many Arab students and knowledge-seekers, and I saw the dream of a FREE Arabic online content coming, finally, true.
Bayt Al Hikma 2.0's role isn’t limited to offering free translated articles on Wikipedia. Exposing young learners to accurate and crucial information in countries flooded with false and pseudo-information, helping in triggering their critical thinking, is also a main concern of the project.
If Bayt Al Hikma 2.0 manages to challenge the condition of one person, I would consider that a big success. However, our articles have been read not by hundreds or thousands, but by MILLIONS of people! Can you imagine the future of young learners exposed to Arabic articles in the fields of hard sciences, philosophy, economics, psychology, literature, and feminism? We can! This is what keeps us motivated as a team, and what keeps ME going forward as a human being ∕ woman ∕ translator living in a dark side of the world.