Back to the Future Reading

At a friend’s recommendation I started listening to a PRI podcast, “The World in Words” last week. I really liked the few I listened to—good variety, nice pacing, perfect length for one-way commute to work. The one that really grabbed me was the one on invented languages—”Beyond Elvish.” An unapologetic Tolkien fan and veteran of grad-school Old English (Beowulf in the original!), I am a sucker for this stuff. The podcast touched on Tolkien and a couple of other authors who used invented languages as plot devices or ways to play with ideas in their novels.

Ursula K. LeGuin talked about the language she invented for her novel from the 1970s, The Dispossessed. I had read the Earthsea Trilogy back then, but never got around to The Dispossessed. The podcast includes an interview with LeGuin, now in her eighties, about Pravic, spoken by a group of anarchists who “want to remove from the language anything that implies ownership.” I love that kind of talk, so I downloaded the audiobook and got to it. So far, I’m loving it. [more tk]

The real treat, from the website, was a New Zealand weather forecast delivered in Elvish.