What do words mean? When are they words at all? Sometimes they are definitely words, but they escape meaning, rather than enhance it. Sometimes words are about anything but meaning.
Whales engage in "whale song", ambient music which can travel for tens or hundreds of miles. Scientists who study matters cetacean debate, to a greater or lesser extent, whether these songs are like "language" or instead like more instinctive animal activity, such as mating ritual noise. Do the whales use words? If so, what do they mean? I don't purport to resolve any puzzles on that score, although I must confess that my own personal desire for additional intelligent life in the universe makes me hope that species of intelligent whales cruise the deepest oceans. I am a bit flurried and hurried today, as I have to squeeze five or more days largely into three days in order to spend Thursday and Friday travelling in connection with a family matter. But it seems to me sometimes that I understand the didgeridoo of a whale song a good bit better than I understand some people who speak to me in my native language. So often I feel I am not speaking to a person reacting to a concern so much as to a chess formation, set up as a stonewall, requiring me to exploit its weaknesses positionally.
When I wrote my "ten day" novel last November, I found the pointless subplot of the talking whales, which I called "the Goodall whales", to be a great vaudeville distraction from the problems of a boring narrator much like me, only more colorless, telling his story of cyberobsession. But on days like today, when I find myself spending my day an attorney trapped in a hermetically sealed world of attorneys and those who would be attorneys, I long to meet a talking whale, and listen to his or her song.