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First quarter at OSU; wherein I write for far too long on things about which no one but myself cares.

26 Dec

I’ve finished my first term at Ohio State and overall it’s been a great experience. I’m continuing Arabic, re-struggling through German, and I’ve started Hebrew. Next quarter I’ll be continuing with those and adding Syriac to the smorgasbord of language smatterings I can bungle my way through. My own particular interests are somewhat narrow and there are only a small handful of people studying things along the same lines. As it turns out, there’s another student at OSU now who’s interested in Muslim-Christian polemical interactions from the same period I’m interested in and it’s been/will be great to have someone to bounce ideas off and talk with. He, another girl in the department and I have decided to make our own way through a Syriac Primer since it’s not being offered next quarter and it will be useful in our research. Christians in the area and during this time were writing a great deal in Syriac and it can’t really be avoided. It’s going to make my life quite difficult taking Arabic, Hebrew, German and Syriac at the same time, but I actually do enjoy it. And even though I think German is a horrible language, one of the articles I had to translate for class was fascinating (but I won’t talk about it here).

Unfortunately, I think Hebrew is going to have to be my official second Near Eastern Language for the Phd so I’ll have to put quite a bit more time into it, despite the fact that it won’t be all that useful to my dissertation research. Oh well. Still, I’ve enjoyed Hebrew and it’s been somewhat easy thus far, already having Arabic (which is quite similar) under my belt. I’m sure it will get harder, but I’m hoping more interesting as well.


Paper topic.

26 Oct

I thought of a paper topic for my Study of Religion class. I’ve never written a religious paper as such, so this could be interesting seeing that the paper is due in two weeks.

I’ll be critiquing Marx’s functionalist/reductionist view of religion, using the birth of Islam as a case study. The only problem I have at this point is that I can’t find any literature that has commented on this topic. Either I haven’t looked hard enough/in the right places, or there’s a reason why no one’s worked on such an idea. It might just be all primary sources, which makes things harder in some ways but a bit more interesting as I’ll have to make all sorts of things up.

The wiches in my thesis.

8 Apr

I’m not gonna lie, i’m a fan of ‘which’.  Unfortunately, the wavy colored line that appears under that specific word almost every time I use it pressures me into changing it to ‘that’. I much prefer ‘which’ to ‘that’, which just sounds so uncouth, unrefined and strangely midwestern. ‘Which’, on the other hand, sounds much smoother and almost intellectual, as if a word alone can change the tone of a paper from ‘idiotic’ to ‘intellectual’

Yet, despite my preference of ‘which’ to ‘that’, i remain unsure of myself, microsoft word leaving nagging doubts in my mind that i am using ‘which’ in an ungrammatical manner and will forfeit any chance of success on my thesis simply for its inclusion.

As such, i’ve taken to tricking microsoft word into letting me use ‘which’ by adding ‘in’ and/or a comma before it. Always. Perhaps this is actually grammatically correct, perhaps it is not. It matters little at this point as the colored wavy lines disappear with the inclusion of that beautiful little preposition. If my examiners question my gratuitous use of ‘in’ or superfluous commas, i can blame it all on microsoft word for making me insecure about my use of ‘which’.

As an update on the thesis, i’m at just under 30,000 words and a few pages of editing away from having a completed first draft, in which is a good thing.

Done. ish.

9 Feb

I’ve finally finished the first draft of the translation i’m doing for my thesis.

Now on to revision.

the results…

4 Aug

I came to Tunis having spoken little to no arabic, and what I had spoken is the arabic equivalent of king james english.  On the other hand, i came with a year chock full o’ grammar. Given that, my focus here in Tunis was to better my listening and speaking skills while hopefully improving my grammar as a side project.

The test results seem to show that while i’ve significantly improved my ability to understand spoken arabic and speak it myself, i seem to have pushed out most grammar knowledge. I also spelled the name of the school wrong during the test and as it turns out, they don’t appreciate that very much.

I wrote yesterday about how i was frustrated with the numbers and the seeming impossibility of writing them correctly. As it turns out, I can write the number in the correct form I simply forgot to pluralize the subject.

Not as bad as i thought on some areas and not as good as i thought on others…but overall, i’m happy with the results.

it’s over, and just beginning again.

3 Aug

I just finished my last arabic test for the summer program and it went well. There were three tests in all; listening, speaking, and reading. The most difficult part is trying to write numbers in arabic. There are about 4 or 5 ways of writing each number depending on where it comes in the whole number, the gender of whatever the number is referring to, how you’re feeling today, and whether you want to spell it one way or the other (both of which are correct). Apart from that, I think I did well.

While the majority of vocabulary learned will prove completely useless as far as a degree in classical islamic history is concerned, the constant repetition of verb forms and prepositions will hopefully prove useful.

I’ve been doing a bit of translating for my thesis and the more I look at it, the more i realize how much work it will be. Why i decided to translate thirty pages of classical arabic on a complicated theological subject (the trinity), written in rhyming prose, is something I haven’t quite figured out. The difficulty i’m finding with the rhyming prose is that he ends sentences in the middle of thoughts, simply because at that point the end of the word rhymes with the end of the previous sentence. While it can be frustrating at times, it’s alot like a puzzle and is generally more fun in a horribly geeky sense.

Finals pictures.

19 Jun


In the Oxford tradition a student wears a white carnation for their first exam of the year, a pink carnation for the following exams and a red carnation for the last exam. Given I only had one exam, I was able to go straight to a red carnation. D flat was supplied with carnations by our Geordie friend.


Before the exam, in the infamous D flat hallway. Notice the smiling, happy, optimistic faces, Ed in the background near wetting himself with joy while Kristin in the left foreground presents a bold smile despite the Pilgrimesque attire she is wearing. Unfortunately the photo doesn’t show her feet, clad in buckled black shoes, in the spirit of thanksgiving.

I exit the exam schools, intent on not tripping over the rough shod cobblestone road while the building looms menacingly over, having just spat out its most recent victim.


We walk down Merton street, our hair sprayed stiff in orange and pink hair spray paint, Ed clearly gloating over his exam success while I stare straight ahead, disgusted.


A student, caught in the headlights of a nasty exam.