The Word Group Guide

Volume VII, Number II

Artwork by Amy Liu

How does language evolve? What do the words we use say about the cultures we come from? In this issue, KidSpirit contributors examine prose and poetry, perception and power. Writers share discoveries about the origins of symbolic texts, the lasting influence of ancient poetry, and the meaning of the word God.

1. How does language change our perception of reality? Anya Dunaif grapples with the Editorial Board’s Big Question in her article, “100 Trillion Connections.” She explores two examples to help readers understand linguistic influence: how a native tribe communicates about colors and how the Mandarin language describes time. Choose a topic that represents your culture’s values (freedom, love, etc.), and write down some words or phrases that illustrate your ideas. Then, share your findings. What do these phrases tell you about your culture and its values?

2. In “Immortality, Poetry, and a Whole Lot of Spinning,” Noorjehan Asim describes the impact of Sufi culture on her country, Pakistan. Noorjehan writes, “Sufi influence lives on in poetry and music, and in the lives of people who follow its path.” What artistic creations have had a lasting impact on your life? Brainstorm a few songs, poems, artwork, or books that represent one phase or aspect of your life, such as a favorite summer or a hobby. Share this list with your friends. What do you notice? What does the list reveal?

3. In a PerSpectives article called “Mother Tongues,” Gary Eberle shares his belief that just as humans are wired to understand language, religious belief systems are ingrained from a young age. He calls for readers to understand “religions as dialects of a great universal language,” and suggests that for increased harmony, we must learn to become polyglots of culture and religion. Consider the ways in which we might become more global in our thinking and practice. Discuss your ideas with the group or with a friend. Do you have ideas in common or are your approaches dissimilar?