Tonight’s lesson was recursion; I had explained it a few days ago, and was testing her memory now.
“It’s like a picture inside a picture,” The Girl said. “Or a play inside a play.”
Absolutely right, I said. What would it be in language?
“If you say something like this, and inside this is something else like this, and so on,” she said.
Right, I said. Instead of just saying ‘The child got sick’ and ‘The child gave me a gift,’ you can say ‘The child that got sick gave me a gift.’ It’s one of the things that make human language different from other animals’.
“How do we know?” The Girl said.
Great question, I said – as far as we know, because we haven’t seen other animals do it, and because it lets us make technology, and no other animals do that.
“Do we know any other animal languages?” she asked.
The only one we speak fluently is bee, I said. We know exactly what they are saying to each other – you remember how?
"They do a bum-wiggle dance!” she said, imitating it.
That’s right, I said – they don’t have voices, but they have sign language.
“I can’t wait to get bees,” she said. “Then we can peek in and see what they’re saying about us behind our back!”