The Three Languages

The Three LanguagesSummary

The Three Languages is another short tale that seems to involve idiots, but the idiots in this tale aren’t as hardcore as some of the other idiots we’ve encountered.

Once upon a time a count lived in Switzerland. Why Switzerland? I have no idea. They have good chocolate? The count knew his son wasn’t the brightest crayon in the box. He couldn’t get him to learn anything so he sent him away to a great master for tutoring. The son spends an entire year with this tutor.

When he comes back home his father asks him what he has learned. He tells his father that he has learned what the dog says when it barks. The dad is pretty much like, “Oh my Gosh!  I can’t believe I wasted all that money on a fancy tutor for my idiot son only to learn that a dog barks.” The count doesn’t stay too angry for too long and decides that his son should have another tutor. So the son goes off for another year.

When he comes home his father asks him what he has learned. The son tells his father that he has learned what the birds say. Again, “Oh my gosh! All that money down the drain! I thought this other guy was supposed to be a good tutor.” The count calms himself down, but he tells his son that if he comes back from a third tutor and hasn’t learned anything that he is going to disown him. The father finds another tutor for his son and he spends a year there.

When the son comes home the father asks him what he has learned. The son tells his father that he has learned what the frogs say when they croak. Well that does it, the count sends his son away. Actually, he wants to kill him, but the would be assassins feel pity for the boy so they tell him to leave and they cut out the tongue and eyes of a deer to take back to the count.

The boy wanders for a while and comes to a fortress where he asks to spend the night. Whoever answered the door says, “Of course…but there is this terrible packs of dogs that might eat you and we have to feed them a man every single day at a specific time.”

The boy is like, “I got this, just give me something I can throw at them.” The boy spends the night with the dogs and they do not harm him. In fact, they are quite playful and they ate what he gave them instead of eating him. Everyone was amazed. They asked the young man why this was so. He tells them that he spoke to the dogs in their own language and they said that they were bewitched and always would be unless the treasure they were guarding was taken away.

The lord of the castle was like, “Treasure, what treasure?” He tells the young man he will adopt him if he can get the treasure. The boy does get the treasure and no one heard the terrible dogs howl anymore. I don’t know how the whole adoption arrangement worked out.

After a while, the young man decides he wants to go to Rome. On the way there he heard some frogs croaking and became very concerned. The pope had just died and all the cardinals were deciding who should be the next pope. They weren’t in agreement and were waiting on a miracle of sorts. The young man walked in with two doves on his shoulder, who whispered to him what was going on. All the cardinals were like, “Well, we found our pope. He just walked in here with two doves on his shoulder like David Copperfield.” The young man is a little reluctant to be the next pope, but the doves tell him that it’s ok, he can totally do this. He says, “Yes.”

The big ceremony happens and the young man was worried because he had to sing a mass and didn’t know the words. The birds told him all the words and things went smoothly. He had been worried all the way to Rome because the frogs said he would be the next pope.

The End

The Three LanguagesObservations

Here’s that heavy Catholic influence again. I used to know something about how a new pope was picked, I do know that they send up white or black smoke each time they vote to indicate if we’ve got a new pope or not. I have forgotten about the other specifics though. The choosing of a pope hasn’t always been as democratic as it is now. Remember, I’ve mentioned that the office of the pope wasn’t always this holy position. Popes were very powerful and did not hesitate to wage wars. There was more than one pope who had mistresses installed in the papal palaces.

This idea that the cardinals chose this random boy to be the pope because he walks in with two doves on his shoulder should be far-fetched, but it’s not. I know it sounds weird and fantastic, and it kind of is, but it’s not that weird and  fantastic.

We also have this talking to animals thing going on again. We’ve mentioned this in another Grimms story so far. This young man learns to talk to animals and it profits him abroad, but not at home. It does seem that it was much the same situation in The White Snake. Sure talking to animals is all fun and games until someone disowns you, then nobody feels good.

I do find it interesting that the animals this young man learns to talk to come from three different kingdoms. Dogs, birds, and frogs and far apart in an evolutionary aspect, but those areas comprise a large part of the animal kingdom, so I guess he has his bases covered for a large part of the world.

I have no idea why Switzerland is specifically mentioned in this tale. That is a bit unusual as far as the Grimm’s tales we have encountered so far. The only other tale that has mentioned a specific place is The Bremen Town Musicians. Because a specific place is mentioned, I do have to wonder if someone was trying to poke fun at Switzerland at some point in time with this story. Who wants to make fun of Switzerland? They have the large Hadron Collider, good hot chocolate, and good watches. There is no reason to make fun of Switzerland, they’ve got it going on, especially with their special bank accounts.

The Three LanguagesThemes

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Well, let me be more specific. The knowledge the son gains is worth nothing to his father. The dad is pretty much like, “Great, I spent $40,000 for my kid to learn how to paint soup cans.” He doesn’t think this is a good investment and he also thinks his son is wasting everybody’s time. Does everyone think that? No, they don’t. The son doesn’t think his knowledge is worthless at all. It has actually given him some courage. Other people benefit from this young man’s knowledge. They don’t think his abilities are stupid or worthless.

What education may be deemed worthless to some is actually quite valuable to others. Let me give you some advice, knowledge is always worth it, but if you do want to actually bring money into your life, it’s not a good idea to major in history or English. You can still major in those subjects, but don’t expect jobs to be thrown at your door upon your graduation. Even if you do get a nice history degree and are as a result unemployed, your knowledge is not worthless. You may be feeling pretty low, but you still learned a lot. It’s not helping you get a job, but you still have that knowledge.

It’s also just a good idea to take up English and history as hobbies and put your butt in the medical or technology fields so you can actually afford to live in something besides a refrigerator box in an alley or in your mom’s basement.

We have three challenges in this tale. That’s nice. My goodness people are obsessed with the number three. I’m going to write stories with five challenges or with 2.5 challenges, or maybe it’s just one question. I’m getting tired of all this number three stuff.


I wonder where you find a person to tutor you in dog? I am sure those were some interesting tutoring sessions. Why couldn’t that have been in this story? I can imagine it now, “Now repeat after me, “Yip, ruff, growl, growl, ruff.””

About The Author


There's way too much to write in this tiny space, but let's be short about this. Ashe is the creator, maintainer, and writer of One-Elevenbooks and has been since 2011. She likes to make artwork and write novels. She also likes the outside, in general. Ashe has a BA in Fine Arts and a BS in Information Technology.

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