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QUESTION:

The more books of yours I read the more curious I get -- how many languages do you speak? And how well? Every time I read a book of yours I'm determined to go out and learn a new language!

-- Submitted by Dom Klyve

OSC REPLIES: - August 2, 2000

I speak English, more or less.

I speak Portuguese reasonably well, and read it reasonably well, though literary Portuguese leaves me with many words to look up.

I also studied Spanish and can read it almost as well as Portuguese. I can also speak it well enough to have frustrating conversations with very patient people.

Once you've learned one romance language, the others fall into place pretty easily. I can read newspaper French and Italian -- except that it often happens that there's one key word I don't know, and without it I have no idea what the whole article is about <grin>.

I do correct accents better than I do actual languages, so I can "fake" a few memorized sentences well enough that people think I actually speak languages that I don't.

However, my fiction is misleading. I use languages that I don't speak -- but I use them very carefully. And when I have to use them extensively, like Russian and Old Church Slavonic in Enchantment, I consult with an expert. <grin>

I also raid foreign-language dictionaries to find names for characters, naming them allegorically or ironically, but in a foreign language so my readers don't see the game I'm playing (unless I want them to, as when I named a character "Moozh" in the Homecoming series).

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