We’ve been spending a lot of time practicing talking.
At first, it was challenging for me to make that high, echoing sound like you do.
But once I discovered that if I spoke in a falsetto, and sort of filled my mouth with saliva and kind of gargled while I spoke, you seemed to think that I was intelligible.
You’ve been teaching me all sorts of words.
“Slicodoxnipaya,” that’s for a large-winged bird that soars, like a hawk or an eagle.
It helps that we’ve been developing that style of visual mental communication.
I get a flash of an image, you say the word, I repeat it.
Your smile is the best reward, but even without it, I’d still enjoy learning.
Your language is fascinating.
I like the syntax especially: noun-verb-verb-noun.
There are no objects: both nouns are subjects. Every action is met with an action.
This way of thinking promotes agency: I give-receive you.
Bizaabgotojo sopastillo-sacastillo bizoopagoto. The parent bathes-scrubs little kid.
Bizoopagoto spaskitaka-sploshtoki bizaabgotojo. Little kid splashes-soaks parent.
Beginning to develop the ability to communicate helps. But I still don’t have all the answers you want.
I understand what you’re asking now, even without the mental images you’re getting so good at flashing to me.
I still don’t know where your brothers and sisters are. Ms. Snyder wouldn’t say.
Neither would her superiors.
“?Bizoopagototogo-sipaxni-sitakni stallada? “
Yes, I know that means, “Little kids go-empties space.”
But I don’t know how to tell you that I don’t know where they are.
“How do I say that I’ll keep looking?” I wondered.
Then I thought for a while, as you waited, looking at me with expectation.
“Bizaabgotojo spiya…,” I tried, “Er. Bizaabgotojo spiyataka-spiyokaya, um, spikayti bizoopagotogo.”
“Sebationnoaccentgoesonsecondsyllable,” you said.
I repeated, “Sebastinnoacc— Wait. Did you just say, ‘Sebastion, no. The accent goes on the second syllable?'”
You little stinker! Do you mean you’ve been understanding me all along? What, did they have language tapes on your ship that you all listened to when you voyaged here?
I tried again, putting the accent on the second syllable in bizoopagotogo.
“OK,” you said, in your tiny echoing moon-river voice.
And we went inside for grilled cheese.
“I’ll keep looking,” I told you again, when I tucked you in for bed. “And I won’t stop until I find them.”
“Oh, squeegee,” you said, as you fell asleep. And while you slept, you smiled.
Sleep well, my bizoopagoto.