OSC Answers Questions
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).