Friday, February 19, 2010

It's About The Question, Not The Answer.

I've been trying to figure out translation for my Norse players for a while. In the historical portions of my book, I thought it would be nice to flavor it with some early Icelandic (for my purposes it will serve me just as well as Old Norse would). Anyway-- I realized today I've been asking the wrong questions. (And this is hilarious to me.) I kept searching for English to Icelandic translation sites-- of which there are precious, precious few. But what I should have been searching for was English to Old Norse.

A quick google search for "Old Norse dictionary" produces three different sources for my translation needs! Even a downloadable pdf with searchable text and special coding to allow for the easy search of characters that we don't use in English, like the þ and the ð without having to copy and paste them out of a wordpad cheat sheet or memorize the ctrl-alt shortcuts. (I happen to have a wordpad cheat sheet only because I am in the process of learning Icelandic--very slowly.)

The oddity is, trying to find a decent English-Icelandic dictionary is next to impossible, and it's a living language. But Old Norse? No sweat! This seems like an example of exactly what that linguist was talking about in the article I read a while back discussing endangered languages.

Computers are smart, but you still have to know what question to ask in order for them to find the answer you need. The only problem now is trying to find out how to make singulars plural-- which is definitely not something the Old Norse dictionaries I've found address. Every time I add an "s," it decides the word doesn't exist at all. It might be time to try and find an Old Norse specialist in Academia, and shoot them an email unless I can find an Icelandic substitute.

In other non-Norse news-- I have joined the ranks of the twitterverse. You can find me over yonder at:

I'm also engaging in a bit of rebranding, as you'll see on Twitter. I figure it's time to let the story speak for itself.

In other non-book news: The movie Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief? Guys, I have to say-- one of the things I really admire about Rick Riordan's books is how he updates the old myths and brings them into the modern world in accessible ways (I'm just starting book four today!). I'm sad to say that the powers-that-be responsible for this film did not take advantage of that excellence, and chose instead to strip all the modern updates back out again. I wouldn't have minded the liberties they took with the plot and the characters and the relationships themselves if they had just kept that one element which made these books awesome.

P.S. I'm so disappointed that I'm missing all this Olympics coverage-- the digital revolution left me without NBC because the rabbit ears don't pick it up anymore. Online coverage is NOT the same. Those of you with television coverage, watch some for me!


  1. I mean to start the Percy Jackson books and you're not the first person who said the movie lost something-thats too bad.

    I haven't watched a lot of the Olympics but the little I did see was pretty good-Apollo Ohno's silver was edge of the seat-so close to a pile up of bodies in the speed skating.

  2. David: I'm pretty forgiving about movie adaptations, but this movie might as well have not been called Percy Jackson for all the resemblance it bore. I wonder what Rick Riordan thought of it...

    Definitely read the books!

  3. My students and I were just talking about how sad the movie version of Percy Jackson was. Those who hadn't read the books loved it. For those who had... well, we all hated it. And it definitely felt like a one-movie deal- there was nothing left unanswered.

  4. Stephanie: My husband hadn't read the books, and he was totally underwhelmed by the movie-- but he's kind of a mythology buff (and if he hadn't been before we were married, he would be by now!) so he didn't like the liberties they took.

    I was definitely wondering about the sequel-- if they were intending to make one. Maybe they were just going to wait and see how this one did before planning for one?

  5. I'm always afraid of movies made of books, most times I'm disappointed. So I haven't gone to see The Lightning Thief.
    And, I'm without cable, too. So sad not to see Olympics.
    I'm amazed at your researching. Fantastic work.

  6. Tricia: Some of the program is online-- and it looks like all of the hockey. but it isn't the same not being able to watch it on tv! Next olympics, I vow to have cable! If only for the single month during which they take place!!

    and thanks! I love doing the research--at least when I can find what I'm looking for!

  7. Very cool! Isn't funny how we sometimes just keep asking the wrong question? You should do a post on how that relates to writing. I bet it would be fascinating!

    I haven't read the books yet, but I am looking forward to them. Off to follow you on twitter!

  8. Thanks, Nisa! That's a great post idea! I'll have to think about it! and Thanks for the twitter follow, too :)

  9. You joined Twitter just as I left it! I had one too many strange request, and I never used it. :( Oh, dear.

    I didn't watch the Olympics much, either, in part because of my TV reception (I get two channels well--ABC and PBS), but in part because I just haven't.

  10. I actually got a chance to watch some today. It was very exciting!

    Did you see the people who tweet in Latin during your sojourn?


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