Word Watching

paschkis wordwatching
Several years ago Julie Larios introduced me to the concept of chiming (as opposed to rhyming).
When two words rhyme they have  the same ending: river and sliver.
Chiming is looser. Chiming words bounce off each other in all kinds of ways. They could have similar sounds at the beginning, middle or end: sliver, silver, swindle, windless, windswept. Chiming allows you to experience the meaning of the words and the pure sounds.
Since childhood I have loved the book Ounce Dice Trice. Those words chime! The book is all about word-watching: delighting in words for their sounds and meanings.

ounce dice trice

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Learning a new language is a way to hear words from the outside as well as the inside. I wrote about that in this post about my new book Flutter and Hum, Aleteo y Zumbido.

In 1955 Antonio Frasconi came out with See and Say – A Picture Book in Four Languages. Frasconi was born in 1919 in Argentina to Italian parents. He grew up in Uruguay and then settled in the US in 1945. His wonderful woodcuts shine a light on the words in all of the languages.frasconi 1955frasconi008frasconi006frasconi007frasconi005The struggle and delight of language is to describe things and evoke feelings that exist beyond language.  Here are two poems by Pablo Neruda, illustrated by Frasconi, that dip their toes into that river. I shiver.

frasconi011frasconi013

p.s. -Thanks to Jennifer Kennard for lending me Frasconi’s See and Say. Please explore Jennifer’s wonderful blog Letterology.

p.s. -Please click on the events page to find out about upcoming events and sales.

p.s. – To read a blogpost about words on quilts click this link to Mooshka – a patchwork blog.

13 responses to “Word Watching

  1. our music librarian introduced us to the concept of ‘sound poems’ where we spoke poems which were designed for the sound and not the meaning of the words. I had never heard of this but there are poems officially composed in this way. It’s a fascinating thing to be a part of. We called ourselves ‘text-nicians’…

    • Interesting idea. I would imagine that some meaning creeps in even to sound poems. I think we are hardwired to hear meaning in words and to see images in abstract shapes!

  2. Stunning image, and I love the chiming concept!

  3. ampaschkis@juno.com

    If anyone wonders if the books which surrounded you in preschool days have any effect….they don’t know you were read “Once,Dice,Trice” in a rocking chair and that it still echoes in what you do. I wonder if ANY writers have more influence than the writers and illustrators of children’s books…….even if the children forget what they were read and loved when a child. The library books don’t stay around to remind you (do you remember “And Rain Makes Applesauce” now?) as the books which were in your family bookcases all your childhood do. Love, Momma

    • I think this is true, and similar to the effect on children who are counted to all the time. Walking up stairs, pushes in the swing, ears and nose and fingers and toes… There is a rhythm to the counting that is as important, I think, as the numbering itself, a poetry, perhaps.

  4. I love every inch of this, including the comments. Thank you, Julie!

  5. Deirdre O'Sullivan from Australia

    It’s so true that you never love a book as an adult, as much as you did when you were a kid. Perhaps it’s because children’s minds are a clean slate, and they feel everything so intensely, that kids books just seep right into their souls. It’s like your first love, really – you never forget. The other day, I suddenly remembered the first book I ever learned to read by myself – A FISH OUT OF WATER, by P.D. Eastman – I had to rush out and buy a copy. It still makes me chortle – Poor Otto! Suddenly, I was 4 years old again – ah! The power of wistful nostalgia! So, now I’m going to see if I can buy OUNCE, DICE, TRICE – so I can understand the power it still has over you, Julie.
    I’m sure I’ll fall under its spell, too…even though I’m world-weary and middle-aged!

  6. I remember the first moment when I realized that I could READ. A previously unknown whole switch in my brain just clicked to BEGIN. To me, it seems so improbable that this could happen. (How does that happen?!) After that, I read every book in the library.

    • I also learned to read (fairly late) in a flash – words were opaque and then suddenly they weren’t. It must have been a more gradual process, but it didn’t feel like it.

  7. I don’t so much remember the first book I ever read on my own but I do remember tmy Dad’s childhood copy (a huge book!) of Babar’s Christmas that was at my Grandad’s house and always having to ask my Dad to read it to me because I couldn’t decipher the curly/cursive font it was printed in – and then the glorious evening I was finally able to read it myself! I’ve never come across Ounce Dice Trice so I’ll have to seek it out. I love what you say about words chiming – I think it’s what makes prose poetic sometimes too. And can I ask about the beautiful word picture at the top of your post? Is it one of yours?

    • I love that Babar script! The picture at the top is an excerpt of an illustration that I painted in 2009 for a story that Laura Kvasnosky wrote about a girl and her grandmother birdwatching.

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