Wednesday, November 7, 2018


Pitch first today, then some commentary:

Erin is a linguistics professor who translates obscure languages over the summer, and she’s one of the most respected linguists in her field. She loves her life and never intends to do anything else, but on return to the university one autumn, her whole life is flipped upside down. She’s summoned to a secret government compound with no chance to contact anyone and no way to leave once she’s there.

At the compound she learns that she’s to begin work on a new job immediately. The compound is home to several dozen Americans of all ages, ethnicities and genders, but they all have one thing in common: within the past year every one of them has begun speaking fragments of a strange new language. Erin’s job: figure out this language and how it works as quickly and safely as possible.

Because the language isn’t only strange and unexpected: every utterance lets loose a different form of magic.


Back in college I minored in linguistics, which involved taking a course on deciphering the grammar of Korean based on hearing English sentences translated into Korean. We could make requests for sentences to be translated, but we couldn't ask, say, "How do you do past tense?" It was such an engaging class and one of the most memorable of my four years.

Now a lot of books with magic systems involve a magic language that makes the spells work. I've always thought it would be fun to read a book about a linguist coming across a language like that and trying to figure out how it works. So... hence today's pitch!

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