This afternoon, my 11-year-old daughter walked around the house saying 0namonapia, over and over, desperately trying to drive her sister nuts, by repeating this beautiful word, richly rolling off her tongue.
Years ago I used to nurse this child at the farmers market where my then-husband and I sold maple syrup. One afternoon, I nursed my baby on the grass behind our tent, leaning up against a pole. A couple sat down somewhat near me, in the shade beneath a poplar tree. Eating, they casually spoke in a slavic language I didn’t recognize. I generally knew they were talking about the day, but I couldn’t really piece together much more than that.
My baby fell sleep, and I pulled a blanket over her soft little limbs, then leaned my head back against the pole and closed my eyes. While the couple kept eating and talking, I listened to their words, this beautiful language I couldn’t precisely understand, but I knew the language tied them together.
Surely, 0namonapia relays much more than cluck or moo. This is a word whose meaning can stretch to entire languages: an audible beauty that makes us human.
Hear the sledges with the bells—
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
– Edgar Allen Poe