Insofar as language involves conveying meaning through objects and actions,
Insofar as dialect is formed through consistent, meaningful communication with another,
In the winter with my sister I make grilled cheese sandwiches and powder-mix hot chocolate. She heats the milk, I butter the bread, in the kitchen, we pass each other on the left, the right, effortless harmony. Language in this moment is wordless, is the sound of mugs and plates against tables, sitcom T.V. in the background, the stove clicking off. We have between us shaped a dialect: here, care is the way we fight to give the other the better meal. She offers to wash the dishes, and this, in translation, is love at its finest. We speak, we understand, here I am at my most fluent.
What is my native language? I say my sister, there is no other word for it.
This article is a part of The Ubyssey's 2023 language supplement, In Other Words.