“corie did not simply learn etuë; she changed it.”

Resolved: Two nerds fall in love at a constructed language conference, develop their own private language, then bear and raise its only native speaker. It is going somewhere, and I know roughly where, but I’m not totally sure how to get it there yet. It seems to involve staring at a glowing rectangle of light, then pressing many of the buttons below it in certain mystical sequences. For a very long time.

Corie did not simply learn Etuë; she changed it.

This was true, first, in the sense that she motivated top-down changes. The finely tuned system of affixes denoting intent was immediately vexed by the unknowable motivations of babies; at first, Noah and Dorcas used the system they had developed to describe random events, then the acts of the insane, but neither sat right with Corie’s mix of fierce intentionality and incomprehensible fixations. (The marriage went through a troubled period immediately after Dorcas finalized the morphology of baby-intent, because neither Dorcas nor Noah could resist using it to describe the other’s actions; after three days on the brink of separation, they imposed a strict taboo on derisive use of Etuë’s semantic richness. Forthright insult and invective were still permitted.) Corie learned to use the new affixes to describe other children her age, but she always rendered her own intentions with the rational adult construction except, occasionally, in knowing play.

Her influence was subtler than that, though. She soon grew able to speak faster than Noah, and to correct his errors—of which, it emerged, he made spectacularly many, and Dorcas even more, since she did not speak it every day. When Corie started day care, Dorcas switched to Etuë at home for practice. More, though, she expanded the language’s use. Dorcas and Noah enjoyed constructing brief one- or two-word declarative statements, similar to Noah’s “Etualoïn.” Corie, full of ideas, was not content with such simplicity. She fixated early on the adjectivizing affix “do,” an easy way to apply an idea of considerable precision to a person or thing; her toys developed highly articulated personalities, perhaps best exemplified by Akaïjado Jo, the barking-but-not-with-sincere-intent-to-harm dog. It took Noah and Dorcas minutes to figure out, one night, the subject of a sentence, which turned out to be friends of hers who didn’t like the kids some of whom intentionally and some unintentionally tore the ear from Akaïjado Jo.

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