[ExI] "Language gene" alters mouse squeaks

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Fri May 29 02:39:07 UTC 2009

At 07:17 PM 5/28/2009 -0700, Gina sent:

>Mice car-ry-ing a "hu-man-ized" ver-sion of a gene be-lieved to 
>in-flu-ence speech and lan-guage may not ac-tu-ally talk

Hmm, when I hit Reply, I see a lot of soft hyphens revealed in the 
citation above, make it look a bit like the way a mouse might talk.

But of course mice can talk. I reported on such a case in my (and 
Rory Barnes') novel THE HUNGER OF TIME:

<Something skittered across the card table. Something ran up one of 
the legs. Something jumped from an open deck chair.
             `What is it, Natalie?' Hugh crouched, tense, teeth bared.
             `Welcome to our chorus,' piped three absurdly shrill but 
perfectly clear voices, speaking in English. In the dimness, tiny 
eyes gleamed at us.
             `Oh my God!' My jaw dropped, and then I was laughing 
like a fool. `Oh my God, it's the three blind mice. No, I take that 
back. These are the three all-seeing mice!'
             `Mice? We have mice?'
             `This is a matter of gravity,' chorused the mice, 
leaning their furry shoulders together. `Levity is out of place.'
             My father slapped the side of his head, then rubbed his 
eyes in a corny gesture I could have sworn was only ever seen in 
melodramatic movies. And then I had it; I knew them. Straight out of 
my unconscious.
             `You're from Babe,' I said to the small visitors. `You're the--'
             `Chorus, as we stated. So act with some decorum, an it 
please you.'
             Hugh stared at me, bewildered. He could not abide motion 
pictures, let alone sardonic animatronic classics that made you weep 
even as you laughed.
             `Father, they're the singing mice from the Babe movies.' 
I snorted. `Talk about Pigs in Space--we're stuck in a fucking 
episode of Pigs in Hyperspace.'
             `You realize you're talking complete rubbish, Nat?' Hugh 
raised one hand above his shoulder, and I thought for a moment that 
he intended to slap me across the face, snap me out of it or 
something. The mice beat him to it.
             `T-theory did not go far enough,' they explained 
melodically, in their helium squeaks. `Gravity is propagated through 
all adjacent Dirichlet membranes. Do we need to dot the T's and cross 
our eyes?'
             Naturally, I said, `Wha--?' and simultaneously my father 
murmured, like a man in a dream, `Ahhhhh....'
             `By George, I think he's got it,' sang the mice, 
congratulating themselves. They did a little wriggly dance, paws 
across each other's gray shoulders, then skidded away and vanished 
down three of the legs of the table and into the wild blue yonder.>

Damien Broderick

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