A Wrinkle in Time
Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"What are they singing?" Meg asked excitedly.
Mrs. Whatsit shook her beautiful head. "It won't go into your words. I can't possibly transfer it to your words. Are you getting any of it, Charles?"
Charles Wallace sat very still on the broad back, on his face an intently listening look, the look he had when he delved into Meg or his mother. "A little. Just a very little. But I think I could get more in time."
"Yes. You could learn it, Charles. But there isn't time, We can only stay here long enough to rest up and make a few preparations."
Meg hardly listened to her. "I want to know what they're saying! I want to know what it means."
"Try, Charles," Mrs. Whatsit urged. "Try to translate. You can let yourself go, now. You don't have to hold back."
"But I can't!" Charles Wallace cried in an anguished voice. "I don't know enough! Not yet!"
"Then try to work with me and I'll see if I can't verbalize it a little for them." (4.85-92)
It's mysterious how the process of learning this strange language works – it's not as if Charles Wallace is thumbing through a dictionary or putting a babelfish in his ear. It seems that all that's needed for him to pick up this new language is time and attention – it's almost as if it's something he already understands, he just has to match up the new means of expression with what he already knows.
Silence again. Not a word. It was as though the shadow had somehow reached out with its dark power and touched them so that they were incapable of speech. (4.138)
This might be foreshadowing the way that the humans fight against IT with words: nursery rhymes, snatches of historical documents, etc.
Mrs. Whatsit sighed. "Explanations are not easy when they are about things for which your civilization still has no words." (5.10)
How do you explain something without words? It seems like Meg & Co. are engaged in a perpetual game of charades, trying to figure out what's going on around them without being able to just talk it out.