Why the Art of the Word is More Important Than Ever

By Gaynor Strachan Chun
By Gaynor Strachan Chun

Wired Magazine, UK, recently published an interesting article, “Humans May Speak a Universal Language.” The article explores how the sounds we use to construct basic language are similar around the world. The Oscar nominated movie, Arrival, also explores the concept of a universal language.

Dov Laimon’s rendering of one of the most profound words in the Hebrew language: shalom, which means many things — not only peace but also harmony, completeness, prosperity, and tranquility. photo courtesy of Dov Laimon

We seem to be uncommonly interested in the power of words these days, which is hardly surprising given the current political climate, at home and around the world.

Which brings me to the Spring Issue of Craftsmanship Quarterly, “The Art of The Word”, hot off the press. We have had this issue in the works for many months, but its publication couldn’t be more timely. Think about how we converse, write down our thoughts, and then store what we learn. These are the ways we humans have made meaning for centuries, and it’s all changing very quickly. For better and for worse. And, in case you are wondering, neuroscientists have now confirmed that physically writing words helps your brain process and retain the information. Typing does not offer the same connection.

“The Art of the Word” begins our journey into words by examining The Architecture of Trust. A quick glance at today’s hyperventilated political climate delivers an unmistakable message: We don’t know how to talk with each other anymore. In our article a linguistic expert searches for ways that Americans of different beliefs can start believing in each other again.

We also go inside Tomorrow’s Library – The Internet Archive. Which can be found in a residential neighborhood of San Francisco, in a former church for Christian Scientists. Our article explores the world’s only repository of the Internet’s 279 billion web pages—and the Archive’s many other delights.

And our third story, The Power of the Scribe explores how, for centuries, spiritual faith has been shaped in part by how its scribes form the letters of their sacred texts. This is particularly the case with Judaism. We visit with three scribes in three very different corners of Jewish faith — Jerusalem; the Hasidic neighborhood of Williamsburg, in Brooklyn, New York; and the liberal enclave of Berkeley, California.

We hope you put your world on pause for a short time and immerse yourself in these insightful and thoughtful explorations of how we use language. And the next time you hear words being thrown around, stop and do what my Grandmother always used to tell me to do: “Think before you open your mouth and let your belly rumble.”

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