Oral Genesis
Entry for 2017-03-16


Excerpted from Please and Thank You (filed under "Articles")
In the beginning is the word—the first word—ordinarily "Bap" or some such utterance, but Baby receives few smiles and precious little strained applesauce for that. Instead, Baby is given gentle, soothing, grinning suggestions from Mother and Father for alternatives to saying Bap. Say Ma-Ma? Say Da-Da?
Finally, Baby begins to learn: one is expected to say the expected, and that is what brings on most of life's rewards. Words other than the expected words are not words at all. They are noises. There is neither glory nor applesauce awaiting a person who merely drools and makes noises.
If Baby says "Glrrch" or "Syzygy" or "Cogito ergo sum," those are just noises—failures to pronounce Mama or Dada or Bawbaw—and thus education begins. Out of the mouths of babes, wisdom is recognizable only when it is the wisdom rehearsed there by prevailing adults: parents at one stage, teachers and preachers at another, and greater authorities later on.