Study Guide

The Demon's Lexicon Language and Communication

By Sarah Rees Brennan

Language and Communication

Nick hates words; Alan loves them. Nick's never sure what certain gestures mean or when they're appropriate; Alan's a natural back-patter and hair-ruffler. As brothers, they're different as can be, and as communicators? Apples and oranges, mangoes and kumquats.

But what's the big deal? Well most people use words, and most animals don't (except for some species of birds and the characters in Animal Farm or Aesop's fables). And as we learn in The Demon's Lexicon, demons don't talk either—unless they're engaged through the communication lines of a dancer's circle. So is the ability to communicate with words (and gestures with verbal meanings, like a pat on the back for good job or a sad look for I'm sorry) part of what makes humans… human? Actually, that's a trick question, because no matter how you answer it, guess what: more questions. Don't believe us? Look below.

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. If language and communication are what separate humans from animals (and demons), where does that leave people who can't speak? People who are born without the ability to hear or speak and never acquire verbal language? Monks who take a vow of silence? People with dyslexia or dysphasia or other disabilities that inhibit their ability to communicate? Are these people less human than those who've mastered language and communication? Why or why not?
  2. In The Demon's Lexicon, which characters are good communicators? Which characters could use a little work in this area? Are the best communicators the most human? Are the worst communicators the least human? Explain your answers.
  3. How important are language and communication in the everyday lives of humans? How important are they in your life? Do you think you're a good communicator? Why or why not? Nick is described as being dyslexic and having such a hard time with words that they seem like lies to him when he sees them tumbling across the page. Should people like Nick, for whom words are a major pain in the butt, have to read Shakespeare? Complete four years of high school English? Why or why not?

Chew on This

The ability to communicate with words is a big part of what separates humans from animals… and demons.

Words, smords. Alan loves them, but he's not a great communicator; Nick hates them, but people always seem to know exactly where he stands. The characters in The Demon's Lexicon prove that there's a lot more to communicating than just speaking or writing.

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