• How to decipher a 4,000-year-old tax return

    Gandhari, Sogdian, Rongorongo... Meet the elite group of academics determined to translate scrolls in long-lost languages - one painstakingly slow syllable at a time.

  • Yiddish-speaking wizards and dragons invade the Shire in ‘Der Hobit’

    For one of his first translation projects after his retirement, Barry Goldstein, a former computer programmer, found an empty table at his local Starbucks in Boston and settled in to work on the “Treebeard” chapter from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. But Goldstein soon realized that he needed something more sizable to occupy his time: 95,022 words later, he had translated the entire text of The Hobbit, the prequel to the Ring series, into Yiddish.Only a little more than 130 copies of Goldstein’s translation have sold since it was released in December. But as Goldstein tells it, he always knew Der Hobit wouldn’t be a best-seller, and the sales were still double his original two-figure estimate.