uhura: fierce

Ficlet: How Feeble Our Vocabulary (Uhura, gen)

Title: How Feeble Our Vocabulary
Character: Nyota Uhura
Rating: G
Summary: A young Nyota takes a stand on her linguistic education.
Notes: For the prompt "Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning" at where_no_woman's drabble tag last week. Title from a Billy Collins poem.



Nyota got in trouble when she was twelve for deleting several gigabytes of language texts from her padd and replacing them with several terabytes of songs in Italian, Czech, Mongol, Japanese, and Russian. That weekend, instead of completing the assigned worksheets, she sang the songs over and over again, at the breakfast table, in the shower, while she washed the dishes and scrubbed the floors. Her mother confiscated her headphones at lunch time, but by then, Nyota had enough of the songs memorized to repeat them under her breath, savoring each word on her tongue. After lunch, she stole her brother's headphones and started on the next batch of songs.

Next week at school, she irritated her teacher by handing in none of her homework but answering every question correctly in class. Fortified by her success, she downloaded more songs the next week and did not even bother to copy the homework assignment on the board. She got away with it for almost a month because her parents had stopped bothering to check her grades ages and ages ago. That was when her teacher called home to report that she was failing, and Nyota got her first spanking since she had put bubblegum in her sister's hair when she was six.

Her mother was going to delete all the music and revoke Nyota's downloading rights.

Indignant tears pricking at the corner of her eyes, she snatched the padd back from her mother's grasp.

"It's not fair!" she shouted. Then, as decorously as she could manage, she said, "Words mean more than what's written down in a data file. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning. And I'm tired of doing worksheets."

Her mother sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose.

"What do you want to do with her, Baba?"

Her father sighed.

"Do your homework, then listen to your music, Ny." He looked at her sharply. "Is it a deal?"

She nodded, still feeling a bit resentful even though she knew she had won the war.

"And no more headphones at mealtimes," her mother added.

"Of course not, Mama," Nyota answered, so sweetly that her mother instantly looked suspicious. With good reason. "If I get my grades back up, can I do the language exchange in Ulan Bataar?"

Her father looked at her warily.

"It's a long way, Nyota, for such a young girl..."

"I know. But I need to talk to real native speakers."

Her mother rolled her eyes.

"This conversation started because you are failing your language classes. And now you are asking us to send you on a language exchange program by yourself halfway across the world. A very expensive language exchange program, I might add."

"I'll pay for it." The words tumbled out of her mouth even though she wasn't sure a twelve-year-old girl could earn that many credits.

Her mother's gaze softened.

"If you can come up with half the tuition, we'll talk."

Nyota landed her first baby-sitting job the next day.
I like this picture of young Nyota, already knowing what's important to her.
I loved this when you first posted it, I love it now. Just wonderful. :)
Haha, this sounds exactly like me when I was a kid, except it was bargaining more time to read novels. My parents almost wouldn't let me go to camp b/c I was reading instead of doing homework.

Oh, Nyota, you were the smart one though; yours was a much more marketable skill.

This was lovely :)