By degrees I made a discovery of still greater moment.  I found that these people possessed a method of communicating their experience and feelings to one another by articulate sounds.  I perceived that the words they spoke sometimes produced pleasure or pain, smiles or sadness, in the minds and countenances of the hearers.  This was indeed a godlike science, and I ardently desired to become acquainted with it.  But I was baffled in every attempt I made for this purpose.  Their pronunciation was quick; and the words they uttered, not having any apparent connexion with visible objects, I was unable to discover any clue by which I could unravel the mystery of their reference.  By great application, however, and after having remained during the space of several revolutions of the moon in my hovel, I discovered the names that were given to some of the most familiar objects of discourse: I learned and applied the words fire, milk, bread, and wood.  I learned also the names of the cottagers themselves.

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, Volume 2, Chapter 4 (from the creature’s tale)