Who would think of doing that? Or, I bet Tolkien would have been pleased.

So, I just saw this interview of Marie Brennan at tor.com.

This is Liz Bourke interviewing Brennan because of Brennan’s THE VOYAGE OF THE BASILISK coming out this month.


Now, I am a great admirer of Marie Brennan, which doesn’t mean I necessarily like all her work. I didn’t care for MIDNIGHT NEVER COME (though let me just add that that is one of the best titles ever). Somehow it just did not grab me. I gave it to my brother because he’s into history, though I don’t know if that period is one of his favorites, but he often likes books I don’t much care for, so I thought he might appreciate it more than I did.

Of course you all know that I love her current series.

Given her past work, I can sorta see Marie Brennan doing a short story like this, but I would never, never have thought of it:

I have a short story coming out in the fourth Clockwork Phoenix anthology this summer; it’s called “What Still Abides,” and it’s written entirely in words derived from Germanic roots (no Latinate terminology). On a per-word basis, it is probably the most labor-intensive thing I’ve ever produced: I had to look up everything in the Oxford English Dictionary, and struggle to find synonyms or other ways to phrase things when I ran afoul of Anglo-Norman vocabulary.

Seriously? I will NEED to look at that. I may not be very interested in short stories generally, but that will be an amazing story to take apart. What kind of story do you suppose it will be, that this use of language makes sense? I know that Tolkien was thoroughly involved with the old Germanic languages; I wonder if we’ll see Brennan draw on some of the same heroic traditions that influenced Tolkien and if so, how recognizable that influence will be.

Please Feel Free to Share:


4 thoughts on “Who would think of doing that? Or, I bet Tolkien would have been pleased.”

  1. Have you ever read Poul Anderson’s short essay, Uncleftish Beholding? It describes atomic theory using only Germanic-derived words. It is very cool and also quite amusing. If you are interested, the text is here.

  2. Perhaps an alternate history without the Norman Conquest?

    Years ago, Poul Anderson wrote a brief essay on atomic theory, from a parallel universe in which English doesn’t use Latin or Greek loanwords, coining a bunch of new terms. “Uncleftish beholdings”: the full text is probably out there on the internet.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top