From an article by N. Scott Momaday: When dogs could talk: among words in a state of grace.
My friend, the late Vine Deloria Jr., once chided me for remarking too often a time when dogs could talk. I had to admit that he was probably right. I had discovered that Kiowa elders used this formula to indicate something that had happened far back in time. This or that happened a long time ago when dogs could talk. It seems to me a charming and appropriate expression. It is the kind of thing that reveals more and more of itself in the fullness of time. That, by the way, is a mystery which distinguishes the oral tradition, and it is a foundation of language itself. Language seems always to exceed itself, and certainly it exceeds our grasp of it. We know that a certain province of experience is ineffable, that there are limits to what language can express. But the fact is, we have no inkling of what those limits might be. Lewis Thomas has told us that we are at the beginning of language. I suspect that to be true. [continue]
N. Scott Momaday – Wikipedia