The Quest for the Legends (IALCOTN)

Pokémon Speech

“Good morning, children,” said a chubby, middle-aged man cheerfully as he walked into the classroom. He was met by a chorus of children’s voices, returning his greeting; however, it was quickly silenced as the class caught sight of the reddish brown, fox-like creature that came after him, majestically holding its six curled tails into the air.

“My name is Darius Flintlake,” the man announced, looking around the teacher’s desk he was standing behind. Finding a piece of chalk, he wrote his name on the blackboard.

“And this here is Vulpix,” he said as the fox jumped onto the desk and sat down. “He will be teaching you much more than I will this year.”

A nervous hand was raised into the air in the back of the room.

“Yes?” the teacher said kindly, taking off his circular glasses to clean them with a handkerchief.

“Sir… how can you have a Pokémon in Sailance?” said a small girl’s nervous voice. “Isn’t Vulpix affected by the… the Effect?”

Mr. Flintlake gave the girl a smile as he put his glasses back on. “Ah,” he said, “you’re an attentive one. We live in Cleanwater City, you see, and teach all our classes on Wednesdays, so that Vulpix only needs to come within the area for one day a week. That way, he is barely affected at all. But if he stayed for a while at a time, he would, like any other Pokémon, be weakened severely by the Effect.”

He looked around the classroom; all the students were watching Vulpix cleaning himself with his tongue. After making sure there were no more questions, he cleared his throat to get the class’s attention again.

“Now,” he started, “we are here to teach you Pokémon speech. It is a language; however, it is different from all other foreign languages in that you will only need to learn to understand it, not how to speak it yourselves. Vulpix is right now listening to me and understands every word.”

“Pix,” the fox confirmed.

“Additionally,” Mr. Flintlake continued, looking over his glasses at the kids, “Pokémon speech is not structured like English or any other human language. As you might know, Pokémon speech normally consists of certain syllables exclusive to each species of Pokémon. Those species have later been named after the syllables that they use for their speech.”

“Vulpix,” Vulpix said, nodding.

“Despite this, all Pokémon species can easily communicate with each other. This made it clear, even before real research on Pokémon speech started, that the names themselves don’t matter; a Pokémon doesn’t care whether the word is ‘Pika’ or ‘Nido’.

“Therefore, Pokémon speech brings bodily language and vocal tones to important use. The stress matters, the length of the word matters; it may even matter which syllable of the species’ name the Pokémon is saying. This is what makes Pokémon speech difficult to learn.”

He looked around the class again; some of the children were looking nervously at each other.

“Technically,” the teacher went on, “you will get away with not having learned any Pokémon speech. Most of the more important things your Pokémon might say to you are rather easy to understand. However, most veteran trainers of today agree that they have often been in a situation where they wished they actually knew the language of their Pokémon.

“Of course, the only way to get good at Pokémon speech is to practice it, to regularly have real conversations with real Pokémon. That is why Vulpix here is so important.”

Mr. Flintlake gave a nod towards the fox Pokémon.

“Now, this class does not only teach the language, but everything concerning communication with Pokémon; therefore it is best to start with some basic rules of greeting a Pokémon.”

He walked around the desk to face his Pokémon; even though Vulpix was on top of the desk, the man stood considerably taller than the fox Pokémon.

“Pokémon’s battling instincts are very important to consider when talking to a Pokémon,” he warned, turning his head towards the kids. “When you meet somebody in the street, it is not your first reaction to assume they’re likely to attack you. For Pokémon, it is. Their instincts tell them to run when they meet a stranger much larger than them. When you greet a small Pokémon, the Pokémon knows very well that you’re not about to attack, but due to its instincts, it will not feel comfortable while you tower over it. Therefore, it is common courtesy when starting a conversation with a smaller Pokémon to bring your eyes as close to the Pokémon’s eye level as possible.”

After finishing this speech, he bent down until his eyes were on level with Vulpix’s.

“As soon as you’re in a conversation, you should be able to stand fully up again if you wish so. If you have talked to the Pokémon before, you will also not need to do this. But now we touch on the start of the conversation itself. Remember this: Pokémon don’t have names.”

Some of the kids looked at each other, seemingly puzzled.

“This is, of course, because names as we humans know them don’t quite work with Pokémon speech and culture. Instead, a Pokémon will be perfectly fine with simply being addressed by the name of its species, provided that there are no other Pokémon of the same species in the vicinity that could cause confusion; hence Vulpix just being Vulpix.”

Vulpix nodded.

“However, when there are more of the same species around, that complicates matters. Pokémon solve that with nicknames. Not quite names like we use; we have one certain name which just is our name. Pokémon, on the other hand, address strangers as simply the name of the species, and the ones they know by some kind of a word that has been given special emphasis that we call the name identifier.”

He wrote ‘name identifier’ on the blackboard and underlined it twice.

“Not everybody necessarily uses the same nickname for the same Pokémon; they consider it more important that the same Pokémon does not call two others by the same nickname. If you like to keep things simple and aren’t usually around more Pokémon of the same species, you can also just keep calling it by the species’ name; it won’t mind. As long as the nickname does not have an insulting meaning, the Pokémon doesn’t care what you call it; provided that it knows what name you use for it, of course.

“This means you don’t ask a Pokémon its name when meeting it, nor do you need to tell yours. The Pokémon will assign a nickname to you, like it would to a Pokémon, when it starts to consider you somebody it knows. Almost all Pokémon call their trainers simply ‘Trainer’ with the name identifier. Vulpix, what is my name?”

“Pix Vulpix,” Vulpix said. Mr. Flintlake turned back to the class.

“You do not need to think of it as what it actually is. If I were to translate what Vulpix just said, I would translate it to ‘Darius’, not ‘Trainer’. Vulpix cannot actually say ‘Darius’; his vocal chords are simply not able to make the sounds. There are known examples of Pokémon learning to produce different sounds and speak like a human, but that usually costs the Pokémon years of practicing and very few ever feel inclined to try, especially now that humans have gained an insight into their language. There is nobody else that Vulpix calls ‘Pix Vulpix’; therefore it is no less my name than Darius.”

The teacher smiled slightly as he saw that every child in the classroom was paying full attention. Then the bell rang, and within seconds the classroom was filled with the sound of chairs being moved.

“Read chapter one of the book for next class!” he shouted over the noise. “I’ll see you next week, kids!”

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