We were talking about translations in Humanities today while my students tried writing in cuneiform on Playdoh. They complained about the missing letters in the Ugaric script alphabet I provided (“There’s no E! What I am supposed to write without an E?”), and I explained how you just figure out what would sound the closest.
“For example,” I said,”in Russian they don’t have the letter J. My middle name is Jane, so on my passport my middle name is spelled D-Z-A-I-N.”
They mouth the D-Z combination, testing out the sounds. One kid looks up from his PlayDoh, curious. “So your name is Water Jane House?”
It takes all of us a moment; then, “My first name isn’t Water…” I said to the kid, not doing a great job of keeping my teacher poker face. “It’s Amanda.”
Happily, the confused kid joins in the laughter when he catches his mistake.