“Verba Volant, Scripta Manent”

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“SPOKEN WORDS FLY AWAY, WRITTEN WORDS REMAIN”

Most of us have heard this expression in a more modern version: “Spoken words are like the air, written words are forever there.” Either way, the expression gives us something to reflect on. Those of us who have the privilege of writing in the public arena should think about the effect our words will have on those reading them.

Whether we are writing to educate, inform, entertain or just express our opinion, our words will have an influence on others. Proverbs 18:21 says: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” I view the pen (or the keyboard) as an extension of our tongue. We are either bringing something negative (death) to our readers or we are bringing something positive (life) to those who read our words.

I consider this a heavy responsibility. Our followers live in many different countries and are of different ages. We have no idea what their living conditions are and what they are going through at the time they read the things we write. We need to be thoughtful about what we post on our blogs and on others’ blogs as well.

Have you ever Googled your name? If you do, you will be surprised to see your comments on the internet for everyone to see. When people read those comments they will get to know a little bit about you and who you are. Now, in the age of the internet, this expression is even more true…”our words are forever there.” Who knows who will be reading them in the future…prospective employers or possibly committee members who will be deciding on scholarships, grants, fellowships or that doctoral program you have been wanting to get accepted in to?

I have read several blog posts where the writers use profanity to make a point or just express their feelings. Although it may seem appropriate at the time, as writers we need to think about how we will feel in a few years when we go back and reread our posts. Are there any other words we could use that will get that same point across as well?

As someone who has lived several decades, there have been plenty of times when I have said things I regret. I’m glad they weren’t written down for all the world to read. At this point in my life, I don’t want to be writing things that I cannot take back and that will remain forever on the internet. How about you?

Will Cursive Go the Way of Cuneiform?

Cursive is on the chopping block in several school districts today. Common Core has taken it out of the curriculum and forty-one states do not require it being taught. Many educators do not believe we need to teach children cursive and that the time could be used to teach them more relevant subjects. So it got me to thinking, will cursive soon go the way of cuneiform?

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Cuneiform was developed by the ancient Sumerians between 3000 and 3500 B.C. It was the primary script in Mesopotamia for over thirty centuries and was used by at least eight different people groups including the Assyrians, Hittites and the Babylonians. If you lived in one of those cultures, you might have thought that the use of cuneiform would continue on indefinitely. However, about 100 B.C. it was abandoned in favor of the alphabetic script. 

In the 19th century, British archeologists discovered about 30,000 cuneiform tablets near the Assyrian capital of Nineveh but they had no idea how to interpret them. Scholars worked on deciphering the tablets but it was slow going. They could make out the names of kings, but that was about it until Henry Rawlinson, a British soldier assigned to the Governor of Persia, decided to scale the Rock of Behistun. Darius the Great had written an autobiography and had it carved into the rock face of the cliff in three different languages. Rawlinson copied part of the cuneiform in 1837 and then went back in 1844 and copied the same part of the inscription in another language. By comparing both scripts, he and other scholars were able to piece together parts of the language. By 1872, a noted cuneiform scholar, George Smith, was able to translate the Epic of Gilgamesh. Soon other translations followed and men were once again able to read cuneiform.

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Will it be that way with cursive? Within another century, will there only be a few people who will be able to read it? Will people have to dig out a primer on The Palmer Method in order to read an old letter from a deceased relative or examine documents written before the twentieth century? That begs the question, should we continue to teach cursive? Do we really need the skill in our society today?

As long as a person is required to sign his name on a legal document, cursive will be necessary. Perhaps students should take an elementary course in cursive in the third or fourth grades so that they are able to at least sign their names when required to. Other than that, hours drilling them in forming loops and circles might not be so productive.

Do I hate to see the skill go away? Yes, but I can understand why many educators do not see the value in it anymore. Children are taught printing at an early age and then keyboarding; those are the skills they will need most in their lives. Children need to be educated and prepared for the digital society they are living in.

 

References:

http://www.ancienthistoryencyclopedia., “Cuneiform”, article by Joshua Mark.

http://www.mcadams.posc.mu.edu., “The Rock of Behistun.”