After my rant yesterday about the stereotypical TV bookish smart girl, I had my own moment last night when I started reading one of the books I got from the library that may help me in developing something I’m working on, and after reading the introduction, I actually said out loud, “Ooh, I’m going to learn so much from this.”
However, I feel like such a slacker because I only read well in one language. I could probably make out an article in Spanish, though a whole book might be a bit of a slog. I can deal with signs and restaurant menus in German, French, and Italian, and that’s about it. Despite what they show you on TV with the bookish person being able to read a foreign language because she likes books, that just hasn’t come up for me, and I generally read more than a hundred books a year.
It actually was more of a thing in the past, when there weren’t readily available translations, and someone had to do the actual translation. That wasn’t something a publisher would hire someone to do. It was generally something someone did for fun. The upper crust were taught multiple languages and could read, write, and converse in something like six languages. They have documents written by Elizabeth I as a child in which she did translations to and from French and Latin. It might have been a little less common for women to be educated like that, but there were enough cases of highly educated princesses that it wouldn’t have been that startling. The daughters of James I’s daughter did things like correspond with Descartes to discuss mathematics and philosophy.
Thinking about all this is giving me some good character ideas and some worldbuilding for some future fantasy novel.