Grandpa’s letters

I belong to that period when toys were very basic; so were the means to buy them. Thus, I would find all kinds of items at home, and “invent” creative games: rubber bands, cloth pegs, and some more. I would also try painting quite a lot. But above all, as befits a little linguist, I would dream of letters. Since I can remember, from a very young age, nothing pleased me more than the thought of holding a book, or a newspaper, and reading.

The age of 2.5 was more or less the time when I asked my parents to teach me how to read. They took me seriously, and they taught me the Hebrew alphabet. But I had no way to practice basic reading. That’s when my creative grandfather came up with a brilliant idea. He had a large plywood in his home-storage. He also had a saw there. He carefully and meticulously drew 2.5″x2.5″-sized Hebrew letters on it, and with his saw, manually – he stood for hours and sawed out carved wooden letters for me to play with. They looked very different from today’s magnificent and colorful toys. They were unpainted, and came in a very basic form. And yet — that was my favorite childhood game. I used to sit on the carpet for hours, combining these letters together into complete words, then phrases, practicing reading and writing.

Many years later, I grew up to be the linguist that I am today. Yes, I still love to play with words, and letters. Grandpa has been gone for over 20 years now. But his letters, which have already been used by me, my sisters, my cousins, and my daughters, are still in my possession, waiting, in their basic, authentic, form, for the next generations.

About the Author
Holding a PhD degree in linguistics from the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, I am the Principal Linguist in an Israeli Hi-Tech company, dealing with artificial intelligence. Also, I give enrichment lectures in language issues to all audiences. I have a previous experience in writing several guest-columns for various Jewish journals in the US and Canada. I am based in Israel.
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