I just finished "A Picture of Freedom: The Diary of Clotee, a Slave Girl." The title is very apropos--as Clotee learns new words, she spells them out in her diary. When she writes a word, a picture is formed in her mind, and she sees very vividly who or what that specific word stands for for her. However, when she writes the word F-R-E-D-U-M, she sees no picture. Then she learns it's spelled F-R-E-E-D-O-M, but still, no picture. Not until risking her life and volunteering to be an Underground Railroad conductor does she truly understand what the word freedom means. And then the picture in her mind is formed--it is of herself.
This story made me rethink words. I have English and some Japanese, German, French, Spanish, and ASL all floating around in my brain. When I think of the word "dragonfly", I see in my mind a child's drawing of a smiling blue and green flying bug. But when I think of the word "tonbo", which is the Japanese word for dragonfly, I see myself and my siblings and our friends racing around Tenjin Park with our butterfly nets, chasing after dragonflies and butterflies. I learned about dragonflies from a picture book, but I lived tonbo in real life. No wonder Clotee had no picture of freedom until she lived it in real life.