A letter of mine got published in Birder's World in 2004. As soon as you started talking about "words that shimmer," I related it to that story. I exactly what you mean about power. Even parrots can discern it ...
"In response to Eldon Greij's December 2003 article (p.76) asking whether Alex [the famous african gray parrot in Dr. Irene Pepperberg's studies] is thinking, let me say this: For 10 years, I've kept an aviary with 23 birds. I'm not teaching them to mimic humans. I want to experience birdness, not train performers. So acquiring a talking Timneh [African] Gray from a person who has moved to Alaska has rocked my world. The Gray has all my other birds trying to talk. They see how it works for him and they want that power. They're no longer satisfied with clicks and whistles.
My new bird tries to lure me to his cage using tone of voice, correct language, and novel word usage. He says, "Birdy. C'mere. C'mon. I no bite you. I really mean it. C'mon." Who taught that avian creature a few rungs down the evolutionary ladderl to use pronouns? He recognizes 'power words' that achieve a desired effect. I have to be careful not to get emotional around him because it teaches him how to manipulate me. As it is, he laughs in the right places using that funny little extra sigh people add when their stomachs ache: "Ha ha ha, ahhh." Lord only knows what that room will sound like in a few years when all those birds can talk and giggle."
I wanna add a little insight into what the second decade of living with parrots has taught me. I have rescued two more talking parrots --a macaw and a cockatoo. I came home from work after accidentally leaving the Gray's door unlatched last week. He mowed all my hanging plants (which are bird safe) and the whole aviary greeted me with kissy noises. I took it as a sign of how far we've come. Although I've only made the mistake of leaving a Senegal parrot unattended once before, it resulted in a very dramatic scene born of passion and revenge. Since then, I've spent a lot of time showing them how to let go of strong emotions and it really pays off.
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