I could see he wasn’t accustomed to consulting a civilian. “Only that establishing communications is going to be really difficult because of the difference in anatomy. They’re almost certainly using sounds that the human vocal tract can’t reproduce, and maybe sounds that the human ear can’t distinguish.”

In one of the early scenes of the story, Louise is called in by the U.S. military to consult with them about communicating with the heptapods. This quote reveals Louise’s intellectual prowess and holistic sense of thinking and problem solving. Her thought process here shows that she immediately understands that this assignment will be unlike any other linguistic analysis she has ever attempted. Her clear and concise explanation for why indicates she is up for the job.

“Linguists describe writing like this—” I indicated the printed words “—as ‘glottographic,’ because it represents speech. Every human written language is in this category. However, this symbol—” I indicated the circle and diagonal line “—is ‘semasiographic’ writing, because it conveys meaning without reference to speech. There’s no correspondence between its components and any particular sounds.”

Shortly after seeing heptapod writing for the first time, Louise has a small breakthrough in understanding it. The quote here illuminates Louise’s intelligence and intellectual curiosity. It demonstrates that she is able to use comparative analysis deftly in order to unlock Heptapod B. Moreover, the quote highlights Louise’s ability to communicate her ideas so that non-linguists can understand them.