Researching–and Translating–the CQ

by Falk Hagelstein
I’m currently writing this text in the De Mesa-Sánchez House (St. George Street No.43) of the Colonial Quarter, and actually, this is a funny coincidence because my main project here concerns this specific structure. Over the past couple of weeks I have done research about the history of the De Mesa-Sánchez House, and its own special story of historic preservation. This may sound a bit weird, but it makes sense if one knows that I’m  currently attending a historic preservation class at Flagler College and the husband of my professor was one of the architects who restored the facility in 1977. So after I acquired my position as an intern at the Colonial Quarter it was quite obvious to me that I should work on a topic that was connected to the museum. The De Mesa-Sánchez house is the only historic building in the Colonial Quarter, and writing about this special building while sitting in it is truly sublime.
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Today, the first floor of the De Mesa-Sánchez is a museum which contains an authentic reconstruction of the life of the first owner, Antonio de Mesa, who lived here in the 1750s. The museum also explains the complicated building history of the facility with the original house and its three additions and alterations. For my purposes this is the most important part of the museum.
While researching here in the last couple of weeks I found out that the museum contains a lot of information, but the archive of the Colonial Quarter does not contain adequate sources to check this information. So I decided to write a research paper about the history of historic preservation at that facility. I also plan to utilize this knowledge to form a project that will make the presentation of information  in  the  museum  more comprehensible for the visitor.
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Before I started working on that big project I had another task to fulfill for the Colonial Quarter: translating the museums tour guide script into German. As a German native speaker who studied English for four years I had an advantage in such a task in comparison to English mother-tongues who learned German. Additionally, I’m an intern, and so I wrote it for free. But nonetheless I had several problems, of course. Do you know exactly how a musket works in a technical sense? Before I had to translate the script, I didn’t know either. The technical terms were hard to translate because first one had to find out the exact mechanics of the weapon, then find proper German words and descriptions for it. Also the translation of units like feet to meter and Fahrenheit to Celsius sounds easy at  first, but what do you do with a sentence which states that the forge is ‘thousands of degrees’ hot if there are no German words for such an idiomatic expression? This showed me another big insight which I’ve already made (and still make every day): that the big values and ways of thinking are not so different and difficult on a both sides of the pond, but the small distinctions and tiny deviants are the most decisive, but also the most interesting.

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