Jul 19, 2019 10:22 AM
Margaret in Medallion
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"No, nothing. I don't even recognize the voice. That makes sense, that there'd be guesswork involved in figuring out how to pronounce things." She orders one of the variants on veggies-in-sauce.

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Her food comes pretty fast. The professor starts the tape recorder, listening intently to the recording.

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Margaret eats her food and fidgets with the loose plastic on the corner of her menu, hoping the professor knows something about whatever family this language is from and doesn't know too much about the workings of old tape recorders.

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"Do they all sound similar?"

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"They do, yes. I'm pretty sure it's the same voice on all four tapes, and if it's not the same language it's at least similar enough that I can't tell."

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"All right..." She switches through the tapes, listening to each of them, one twice.

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Margaret listens too, though she's not expecting any insight.

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"I want to say Arabic. Old, old Arabic. I don't know Arabic, though, all I can be really certain of is that it isn't Latin."

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"Arabic, huh? That's cool. Do you know anyone who speaks Arabic? Or I guess studies how it used to be, if it's old."

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"Well, there are Arabic classes at the university but I'm not personally acquainted with the professors. I have a friend in the econ department who's from Jordan but no reason to believe she knows ancient versions."

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"Getting in touch with the Arabic professors sounds like a good next step. And maybe your friend if this is old like Chaucer rather than old like Beowulf."

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"I'm not even certain of my guess let alone the age."

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"Fair enough. I'll still take your friend's email if you think she wouldn't mind my asking."

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"Sure." The professor scribbles it out.

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"Thanks! I don't suppose you have the emails for the other professors? The class websites don't always say."

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"Most of them will be first initial last name at the same domain as mine and this one."

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"That's convenient! Thanks again." She finishes off her veggies and asks for her check.

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They get the bill split and part ways.

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Margaret sends the Arabic professors emails very similar to the one she sent the Latin professor, and also emails Bella:

Good news! The Latin professor thinks the incantations are an old form of Arabic, and the university has Arabic classes I can bother the professors of. And the cassette tape disguise worked perfectly.

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It might be more complicated with anyone who doesn't feel like meeting in person but I guess you can always claim computer problems. Or talk on the phone.
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Yeah, I don't think it will be too suspicious not to want to put the tapes in the mail or anything. Good thing we've already determined they're audible over the phone just fine.

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Let me know if you need any other checks like that.
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I will, thanks!

While she's waiting on an answer from the Arabic-speakers, Margaret starts researching places a high school student can learn to design a research study. Her parents are going to be so happy that magic is inducing her to accelerate her education.

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An Arabic speaker writes that he has time for a phone call between seven and seven thirty this evening, will that work?

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That will work fine! She sends him her phone number, eats an early dinner, and has the tapes ready to go when he calls.

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