Understanding – word by word

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." (Augustine)

Barbara Schmidt-Runkel


"It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago – she outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them.
She is always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time." (Mark Twain)

I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, into a German-speaking family. I grew up juggling languages in a setting where dozens of ethnic groups were waiting outside my front door. That led to degrees in German and linguistics. My first work experience, with Encyclopaedia Britannica in Chicago in the copy editing department, gave me a solid base on which to build any future work with words.

Working on the translation of the Bible – the Book of Books – into Sierra Leone Krio from 1983 to 1989 gave me the chance to learn a language without textbooks or formal teaching, to train translators and manage a translation project. It also led to another academic degree, this time in Hebrew, acquired in Israel.

From 1993 to 2003 I worked for a publishing house in Germany, which specializes in publications on comparative religions. I was able to put my previous experience to good use translating several of their standard works into English, including The Position of Women in Islam by Hamdun Dagher.
This expanded to other fields as the list under Publications shows.