A/N: I consider this a companion piece to "Hush, Little Naomi" but it can also stand alone. Set around the time of "Real Life" and written for Caesar's Palace shipping week, prompt "foreign". Also uses CP prompts "precocious" (Silver Challenge) and "formation" (Panem Challenge).
The Importance of Vocabulary
Sam had always done her best to be as prepared as she could for every new milestone her daughter would achieve. Naomi was precocious and incredibly curious, and her somewhat limited environment onboard Voyager didn't inhibit that curiosity in the slightest. Whether listening to her lessons or spending time exploring the few areas of the ship she was allowed in, the little girl seemed determined to learn anything and everything.
Naomi's favorite lessons revolved around words. She loved to be read to by anyone who would take the time to do so and would often interrupt reading to try to sound out various words that she recognized. Sam never cared for the idea of baby talk, refusing to use it even when Naomi was tiny—and thus her language skills developed early.
Of course, Standard and Ktarian Basic was not enough for the curious mind of Naomi Wildman. She wanted to know more words. So Sam pulled up language learning programs on her console. That appeased Naomi for a short time, but she soon learned that questioning the other adults was a far better source of new words.
Naturally, Neelix was her first source. At first, she tripped over the various x's that were a liberal part of the Talaxian syntax, but it didn't take long for her to find ways around it.
Tal Celes became her next target. The shy Bajoran was all too happy to provide additional material in basic Bajoran that wasn't a typical part of the learning programs. The tale of the Three Brothers' greed became her new favorite bedtime story.
A week after Tal had given Naomi the Bajoran texts, Naomi descended upon Joe Carey in the mess hall. The engineer waved Sam off with a reassuring smile that the child wasn't bothering him, and invited them to sit with him.
"So, Naomi, Neelix has been telling us that you've got a pretty good handle on Talaxian." Joe met Sam's eyes, mouthed "bragging" and winked; Sam smiled back in understanding.
Naomi nodded vigorously. "And Bajoran. Crewman Tal gave me a story padd last week. But I want to learn yours next."
"Mine?" Joe repeated.
"The songs you used to sing to me. I want to know those words. Like the one that goes 'bond in any, dimming go galla'."
Sam bit her lip to keep from laughing and was amazed at Joe's ability to keep a straight face. "So it's Gaelic you're wanting to learn, is it? Well then, I suppose we can start with 'Báidín Fheilimí' and go from there."
Sam excused herself on the pretense to refill Naomi's juice, but mostly so she could take the opportunity to let out the giggle she'd been holding in. Once she'd composed herself, she started to head back to the table when an innocent comment from Lieutenant Paris set her off all over again.
"I'm telling you, Harry, it's like kids have their own foreign language."