In bed Uncle Binyamin studied Hebrew grammar.  The permutations of

the triple-lettered root elated him; how was it possible that

a whole language, hence a whole literature, a civilization even,

should rest on the pure presence of three letters of

the alphabet?  The Hebrew verb, a stunning mechanism: three letters

whichever fated three, could command all possibility simply by a

change in their pronunciation, or the addition  of a wing-letter

fore and aft.  Every conceivable utterance blossomed from this trinity.

It seemed to him not so much a language for

expression as a code for the world design, indissoluble, predetermined.


Paraphrases from The Puttermesser Letters by Cynthia Ozick.