January 22, 2016
This week, the WordPress Photo Challenge takes on the theme of Alphabet
In his children’s book “From on beyond Zebra!”, Dr. Seuss writes about a character whose alphabet does not end with the letter Z, but goes on to include a smattering of the fanciful words and creatures Dr. Seuss is known for. At the end of the alphabet, little Conrad Cornelius o’Donald o’Dell is just learning his letters. When he reaches the letter Z, the narrator takes him on a tour of the letters beyond Z, the ones that most people don’t bother to learn. As the narrator explains:
“You can stop, if you want, with the Z.
Because most people stop with the Z.
But not me!!!
In the places I go, there are things that I see
That I never could spell if I stopped with the Z.
I’m telling you this ‘cause you’re one of my friends.
My alphabet starts where your alphabet ends!”
From On Beyond Zebra! by Dr. Seuss (1955)
Themes like the arbitrary nature of language and the alphabet itself, the importance of creativity, the value of imagination, and the importance of continuing to look beyond what is known. Dr. Seuss is an incomparable genius of children’s literature, surreptitiously drawing the reader through several entertaining and thought-provoking elements.
When I read this book, I realized that like the narrator, my alphabet has expanded, through the study of language and travel. My thoughts are peppered with phrases and letter sounds that far exceed the 26 letter alphabet I was taught in grade school.
The Austrian-born philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote “Die Grenzen meiner Sprache bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Welt“. The boundaries of my language signify the boundaries of my world.
Learning new languages has provided an opportunity for me to expand my alphabet, and my understanding of the world around me.
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