How to Read Rocks: Old Norse Runes

"Learn runes," promises the cover of Viking Language 1. I figured it was a gimmick, meant to entice people who think runes are cool-looking, hard to learn, and brimful of magical power. (I myself only believe one of those things.) The rune lessons, I assumed, would consist of a tacked-on appendix.

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Build your vocabulary with anfractuosity

By default, my Anki flashcard decks of foreign language vocabulary show me words I've added myself (usually because I had to look them up and figured if I memorized them I could spare Future Tracy a riffle through the dictionary). When those run out, though, Anki switches to cards I've downloaded from the Internet. And as we all know, the Internet has a strange set of priorities.

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Goats in the trees

When I visited Morocco I was struck by the constant juxtaposition of old and new; men in djellabas talking on cell phones, satellite dishes atop centuries-old buildings, loudspeakers in the minarets of historic mosques. I wanted to get that contrast into a story, and wrote "The Seal of Sulaymaan", which sold to Fantasy Magazine.

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The Hobbit in Esperanto, Chapter 1: An Unexpected Locomotive

1. I like reading books in translation. I like seeing the translator's choices, whether that's a turn of phrase that seems perfectly equivalent to the original - which isn't to say it was easy to do - or a surprising but logical change to make a poem or a riddle work out correctly. Translations give you a fresh view of familiar stories. Reading one is like getting to read a book for the first time all over again.

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