Andjoli has begun to murmur in some softer, looser register than that found in ours- up from the deep and all of a sudden, there is a distorted echo in our midst.

She is far, still, from what we expect in the Germanic and Romance languages we encourage her to.  She lacks the precision of the sounds we include and exclude in language. She ignores the idea that language is human- meowing back at cats and humming with the noises rising from the gravel and cobblestone as she rides over them in the pram or bike trailer. She sings, loud and outrageous, along with the neighborhood band. She stuffs words- French, English, Spanish- with their vowels first, and then loads their ends down with the necessary consonants. Cheese is “eechs” and chaussures sounds more like “auuchssrs”

She borrows words that we give her, but turns them to her own needs. And so we learn our old words again. Mom is not a reference yet, for me. Instead it means “help me through this sorrow, whoever you are,” or “please can we go outside.” Papa is a tall thing- a man, a tree, a basketball hoop. Anu (her version of “andy”) can be self referential, but more regularly, it is a term used for another baby.  Language is slippery, loose, new for us all.

And it is a gift, to my writing, to the way I think about the world and the terms I think in, to realize there is room for redefinition, for a wild language of stones and animals, for new expressions- and a lot of laughter in all of the seams.

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