I offer the following excerpts from a story that might be mildly humorous, original, or possibly neither. Anyone who wants to read the whole thing can send me an email (it's in the profile):
“Well, they are different, darling, I don’t see how you can get around that, and if we are right then they must be wrong, but that doesn’t mean…”
“Yes, it does, Mummy, it means they can’t really be like us because they are Theroglossans.”
“Bow-wowist is a perfectly good word, dear: it served my parents and theirs. These new expressions are just an attempt to avoid talking about things. And it does matter about the difference- it affects one’s whole way of speaking, we can never be quite the same.”
Myrtle was pleasantly surprised to learn that the near neighbours were Theroglossans. There were plenty around, of course, but she didn’t really know any, somehow. Now was her chance. Having been brought up an Ergoglossan- she thought of herself instinctively as a Hee-hoer- she found it refreshing to find there were people who believed other things quite naturally and more or less sincerely without being struck dumb.
Despite her own frequent doubts, and her casual approach to the whole matter anyway- typical of a cradle Hee-Hoer- she was annoyed to discover in herself an instinctive sense that she was righter than they were. A superiority, as though she were better for being what she was.
She immediately bought a book that claimed to explain what they believed in. She found the whole idea of language coming from animal sounds odd, and had to fight again her instinct which kept telling her it was wrong. She set her mind to open. It actually made a lot of sense, she thought, but her father did not see it that way.
Daddy put down his paper and removed his glasses automatically.
“Nothing undignified about work, my girl, I do a lot of it. And don’t tell me I work in an office; your grandfather was a bricklayer as you well know. He used those sounds every day of his life. Don’t tell me there’s anything unspiritual about that. Animals. What’s so spiritual about animals? They don’t talk, and they never will do.”
“So you see, Daddy, it’s just a different way of looking at it.”
“Exactly. They aren’t like us.”
Myrtle waved her arms about impassionedly. “But Glossogony is just another detail, interesting but not important”
“Don’t let them hear you saying that at the golf club, my love." He returned to his paper, having said all that needed to be said.
Myrtle sat in a slightly unusual café with her friend Sue.
“This is where they eat, you know.” Her excitement remained, or had been reactivated by her surroundings. “Isn’t it wonderfully atmospheric?” Sue looked around, “Whiffs a bit, certainly, but isn’t that the spices rather that the glossology? I can’t see your neighbours eating here, except for a bit of fun, like you. Does their house smell like this?”
“Of course not, they’re… I am not here for fun; this is very serious. I want to find out more about them. We need to understand each other.”
“Yes, well, sounds like a good idea, but how exactly are you getting to know them? By studying Indian cooking? And bad Indian cooking, I suspect. Wouldn’t it be easier on the stomach just to go and talk to them?”
“Its not Indian cooking, well, it is, but the point is its run by Theroglossans, and you get a feel for them.”
As Myrtle’s eyes opened wide Sue’s began to narrow. “But you said the
“Not exactly, they eat normal food, I mean they’ve assimilated our style of cooking and so on,”
“Perhaps because their grandparents were born three streets away.”
“Is it just this lot,” said Sue, having not succumbed to instant liver failure, “or are you interested in everyone whose not like us? ‘Cos there’s this thing my father does on Thursday nights that no one’s supposed to know about. Very popular with all sorts, as far as I can tell. There’s this couple he often sees, pretends he knows them from somewhere else, but who’s he kidding? Where else would he meet Ta-taists socially? Anyway, they’re nearer our age than his, and they don’t mind talking about anything. Except Thursday nights, of course.”
“Ta-taists! I mean, Dramatoglossans, well, I mean of course, why shouldn’t they believe what they want, but it’s a bit farfetched, isn’t it, I mean, Ergoglossianism makes sense, I don’t think I’m the only one who’s right but it’s got to make sense, hasn’t” “And doesn’t it? Why should vocal speech be superior to gesture?” “I’m not saying it is.” Myrtle’s hands began to wave about. “I just think it doesn’t make a lot of sense to bring them both into your Glossogony. It begs the question. After all, gesture is language, isn’t it. That’s my point.” She brought her hands together on the table again. “So you don’t have anything against Ta-taists, then, ‘cos I’d like you to meet them. They’re fun.”
Myrtle felt a terrible jealousy, not to mention a sense of monstrous injustice, that she was taking all this trouble to understand people, and Sue could speak casually of Dramatoglossans as ‘fun’....
She had the inspiration of talking to the Catholic priest who wandered about the town handing out leaflets. An obscure sect, about whom nobody seemed to know much, beyond the fact that there contempt for Glossogony put them outside society. What they actually believed in nobody cared to know, but it was reputed that they thought acts, rather than speech, were the key to righteousness, and that what mattered was to believe in the origin of the division of acts into good and bad. Even this was more than Myrtle knew about them before looking at a reference in an encyclopaedia, but it also said they were usually harmless and their priests tended to erudition. She thought this might give her a different perspective on the matter, perturbed as she was to discover the effort it took her to stop thinking the way she wanted other people to stop thinking.
How did you talk to someone who didn’t just have different glossogonic beliefs, but actually despised speech and considered it the tool of animals, to be used if necessary, but of no moral value? And the pleasantness of his manner was belied by the shocking symbolism of his robes, for they were black, the colour of silence.
"And why do you wear black.”
“It’s just a habit, you know.” His eyes sparkled, but Myrtle missed the point entirely. He went on. “A tradition, I mean. Black is just a colour. It means what you think it means. To us these robes mean I don’t look like anything but what I am. If I wore normal clothes, now, you might be thinking I was a film star.” This time Myrtle got it, and smiled.