A Fun Exercise

     Once in a while, someone in your sphere offers an interesting glimpse into their or your own psyche through some sort of exercise. Be it Rorschach’s ink blots or some open-ended question, these exercises can sometimes offer you moments to slow down and really ponder an issue.

     Such is the case with the 123 Meme exercise that blogger Michele posts at http://writingthecyberhighway.blogspot.com. It’s simple. The rules are:

     1) Pick up the book nearest you
     2) Open to page 123
     3) Find the 5th sentence
     4) Post the following 3 sentences
     5) Tag five others (I skipped this one. I don’t tag people.)

     The book nearest me at the time was The New Nation by Joy Hakim. It’s the fourth book in the series A History of US, which is part of my eldest daughter’s course on American history. It is an excellent series, by the way; thoroughly researched and written just for the child’s ability. Page 123 speaks of Sequoyah’s attempts to understand written language and create just such a working system for the Cherokee nation, in the hopes of preserving their history and knowledge, as well as learn to speak from a distance, through the use of correspondence.

     Here are the sentences following the fifth: “A white man would take words, turn them into shapes, and scratch them on a slate or draw them on a piece of paper. Then another man could look at those shapes and say the first man’s words. Was it magic?”

     It took Sequoyah more than a decade to succeed in creating a writing system for the Cherokee language. What an incredibly lofty goal, to create “talking leaves,” yet what an amazing success to have a written language, something we perhaps don’t often consider amazing.

     May we all cherish the gift — in every language.

3 replies
  1. Rebecca Laffar-Smith
    Rebecca Laffar-Smith says:

    What a wonderful book and those three lines seem to truly pull out that wonder and magic of language, particularly written. We don’t take the time to reflect on the beauty and amazing achievement that is written language when it seems such a common every day thing. I love the power of words and hope none of us forget that the ability to read and write is a gift that every person deserves to be given.

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