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My Language


by marthajill

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"Look," I said, exasperated. "I really do not want to go. You could have just left me at home."

     At my words her face broke open into a smile, reconfirming to me that she didn't even understand the tone of voice I was using- much less the words.

     It was hard to believe that my family, the people closest to my own genetic makeup, could be so terribly stupid. I was merely a baby Peophin and yet, at least in my humble opinion, I was far more intelligent than any of my relations. None of them could understand even the most basic words, and they appeared to spend their days scrawling tiny shapes on pieces of paper or staring, transfixed, at a screen filled with coloured light. Not the signs of a particularly intellectual family.

     My family wasn't the only one, of course. Often a baby Kacheek my age would come to visit, bringing his mother with him. According to him, his was just as unintelligent as mine. Whilst our parents sat at the table, burbling at each other over mugs of the foul asparagus scented liquid they were so fond of, my friend and I bounced theories for our superiority off each other.

     Some we discarded quickly. We were definitely the same species, and it was completely impossible that they were robots sent to enslave us; although it took several days to convince my paranoid friend of this.

     One thing that we had noticed that the intelligence of a neopet was inversely proportional to their age and directly related to language use. Both grown up pets and half grown ones - our families included- seemed to communicate by burbling at each other nonsensically. Baby pets, however, could speak perfect Neopian. These results- confirmed by the many other babies that we had met, showed clearly and simply that neopets as a whole were getting more intelligent. When we were just a few years older, my friend and I had decided, babies would be running the world.

     The only thing stopping us from doing it right now was our ability to communicate; or rather, our parents lack of it. It was all very well being twice as intelligent as your predecessors, but it was a useless skill if you couldn't make them understand that you really didn't want to go to another petpet zoo. Which was, by the looks of it, where we going today.

     My brother, a half grown red Kyrii, made a squeaking noise as he looked at my mother. He seemed to be repeating the same collection of meaningless syllables a lot this journey. It was almost as if...

     I sat upright in my seat with a gasp. What if he was trying to communicate?

      "Awey nerey deir yhet, Dahrd?" slurred my brother again, looking intently at our father with soft hazel eyes; eyes that seemed to hold a spark I hadn't seen before. It wasn't intelligence exactly, but it was only a few books short of it.

     "Nerey, Cahrl, jush ahfehw mhinuts narw," replied my father.

     My brain spun with the ramifications of this discovery. If their voices weren't just meaningless collections of syllables, then they must have some sort of could surely be taught to comprehend the basics of my tongue. Even a simple grasp of the language would benefit me enormously. There would be no more visits to zoos, no more of the vile green baby mush, and certainly no more keeping me awake with the noisy light show suspended from the wall.

     Of course, there was no way they could be as clever as me or my peers. Not to sound smug, but when we got old enough to rule the world, there was no way that we would spend our time running around and worrying about what colour we were, or whether we had scales or fur; or what scraps of material or pieces of metal we chose to cover ourselves in. When we were older, all the petty things that our elders spent their time chewing over would be unimportant. But I digress.

     I started my plan to educate them in the real language the moment we arrived at our destination; the dreaded petpet zoo. I had decided that the best way to go about it would be to use a simple reward based teaching system. I would point at an object and say the name of it; starting with the simplest of words and eventually work my way up to proper sentence structure and more complicated ones. When they repeated the word I would reward them with my most dazzling smile. They seemed to like it when I smiled.

     "Imbecile," I said slowly, pointing at my brother. "Go on, say it. I-M-B-E-C-I-LE."

     My efforts continued for the rest of the afternoon, but my parents kept getting distracted by the petpets or my brother. It looked like it was going to take longer to teach them than I had first thought.

     ***

     The next morning, I tried to get my mother's attention so lessons could begin again.

     "Mother, over here," I called to the island Hissi. She turned her scaly head and smiled, but then carried on burbling to my brother.

     I sighed; it looked like I was going to have to approach the language barrier in a different way. I listened intently to the conversation between my brother and mother. My brother kept repeating one word. It was a guttural slur of a sound that felt hideous as it gurgled up my throat and flopped from my lips.

     "Murmm," I spat. She looked up sharply and came over to me. Pleased with the reaction I'd got, I said it again. It was easier for the second time.

     Unfortunately, this time my mother's reaction was a little too good. She hugged me and kissed me and wouldn't concentrate on any of her lessons. It seemed, I concluded with a sigh, that I was going to have to learn to speak significantly more of their tongue than I first thought.

     ***

     It's now been about... about three months, I would say, about three months since that summer when I realised that my family weren't the dumb beasts I had taken them for.. It seems that my percep.. percep.. sense of time is deteri... de.. getting worse as I learn the new language. My eloquen... el.. It's getting harder to speak this language. Somehow though, I don't seem to mind as much as I think I once would have done. The new language is so pretty now, in a coarse and stacat.. sharp way. I'm learning it as much as I can, even trying to think in it sometimes. I'm still going to teach the family mine, of course, but I think it would be rude not to learn theirs properly first. Of course.

     ***

     It's been... weeks, or maybe months since I started to... to... It's so much simpler and clearer than this one, my old. I... I'm finding it hard to think in this language anymore. The memories I have are... my memories are all tangling up. But... Somehow I don't... don't care. I'll make... make new ones. In my new tongue.

The End

 
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