Another excerpt from Jarn’s Journal, the Journal of the R’il’nian stranded on earth 125,000 years ago. This is the early background of my two SF novels, Homecoming and Tourist Trap. Earlier parts of the Journal can be found on my author website.
This excerpt is continued on my main blog.
It’s a good thing I have spied on the sentients enough to have learned a little of their language, as the child seems unable to learn mine. Hers is a pretty simple one: specific sounds for specific objects, more specific sounds for specific actions, various other sounds that describe objects and actions. R’il’nian might have been that simple, early in our evolution, but her brain does not seem wired to understand R’il’nian as it exists today.
They do have individual names, and her only difficulty in understanding me when I tapped my chest and repeated “Jarn” seemed to be that the particular sound meant nothing to her. Her own name is also the sound her people use to designate a small bird, dull colored but a beautiful singer. I find myself thinking of her as “Songbird.”
In some ways she is remarkably quick. She rapidly grasped that I did not understand her language very well and set about teaching it to me, and demanding that I give her the names for things strange to her in the shelter. Rather a turnaround from what I expected, but a surprisingly pleasant turnaround! In the day and a half since she awoke, we have established far better communication than I have with Patches.
Oh, Patches. There was some initial fear, but once she understood that Patches was friendly to me and willing to be friends with her, she managed to tell me that her own people now and then tamed young animals from the wild. In fact, they seem to have a religion of sorts, and the shamans always have some kind of tamed animal – or claim to. I must confess I have my doubts about invisible animals no one but the shamans can see!
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