Margalit Fox is a public speaker and an award-winning reporter in the famed obituary news department of The New York Times as well a former New York Times Book Review editor. Fox has a master's degrees in linguistics from Stony Brook University and a masters degree from Columbia Journalism. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, the writer and critic George Robinson.
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In two interviews, Margalit Fox discusses her book Talking Hands: What Sign Language Reveals About the Mind which offers a fascinating introduction to the signed languages of the world with a particular focus on a small Bedouin village where everyone "speaks" a form of sign language that no outsider has been able to decode until now; and The Riddle of the Labyrinth in which she chronicles three key figures in the decipherment of Linear B, an ancient Mycenaean script.
In The Riddle of the Labyrinth, linguist and obituary writer Margalit Fox chronicles three key figures in the decipherment of Linear B, an ancient Mycenaean script.
Did the obsessive work ethic of the Linear B decipherers influence you as you wrote about them?
There does seem to be something about decipherment that if your life isn't messed up going into it, it kind of messes you up. It attracts obsessional types and there is something about it that just takes over your life and you have to solve it. And sadly, very often you can't, or even if it does, as you've seen from the Linear B story, it kind of destroys you. I have the advantage of 50 years of hindsight. So for me the obsessive work ethic came just in making sure I could finish the ...
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