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Re: Non-linear / full-2d writing systems?

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Friday, May 6, 2005, 19:24
I've been trying to follow this thread which is steaming ahead. But there
is a feeling of deja_vu in all this  :)

Non-liner/full-2d writing systems?

_All_ writing systems surely have to be fully 2d otherwise we'd not be
able to see the darn things? Sure, things like radio and electronic
transmissions are not 2d - but *writing*?

Now - a 3d writing system would be interesting   ;)

On Wednesday, May 4, 2005, at 07:47 , Sai Emrys wrote:
> By "full-2d", what I mean is something akin to a thoughtweb - rather > than a serialized / linear sequence of characters, it would > interconnect concepts in 2d (or greater) space. For example, copular > forms - equation, adjectives, subset, etc. - could probably all be > written by connecting two (symbolic) ideas with a line of a particular > kind, representing their relation.
That sounds very much like the 'box analysis' we used to do in English lessons way back in the 1950s. 'Twas certainly 2d - with 'boxes' on different levels (the positioning was important) and the use of different types of connecting lines. I guess if one replaced the boxes enclosing English words with Chinese logographs it would be something like you have in mind above.
> Another idea is from frame semantics - one could create a > frame-foregrounding (rather than word-foregrounding) language with > this fairly easily. That is, to take the generic cogsci example, one > would have a symbol for "commercial transaction", and then emphasize > particular roles of it - which could be connection-points on the > symbol - to express verbs like buy, sell, cost, bargain, etc.
Umm - sounds more radical and possibly more interesting :) But whichever approach is used, one cannot, as far I can see, avoid some linearity/serialization. Even if whole sentences are depicted as a single symbol construct (glyph/frame/ or whatever) the sentences will surely follow sequentially or linearly. Even if complete paragraphs are written as single symbol construct, the paragraphs themselves will be linear - or if comlete chapters or - the mind boggles - a complete book is written as a single symbol construct* cannot surely dispense with linearity? *Whether the symbol construct maps to the spoken version of the paragraph/ book or whether it rather represents its ideas & concepts is beside the point as far as my question is concerned. Surely what we are on about is a written system that conveys much more information in its symbols that just approximations to the segmental sounds and, indeed, is not related to sound. ========================================================= On Wednesday, May 4, 2005, at 03:31 , J. 'Mach' Wust wrote:
> On Tue, 3 May 2005 23:47:29 -0700, Sai Emrys <saizai@...> wrote: > >> Has anyone other than me attempted to make one, or theorized about how >> one would do so & the consequences thereof? I'm fairly sure this is >> true, but I can't find any examples thereof via Google.. > > You might have a look at that discussion we had some months ago (and I > have > still the feeling I participated in another similar discussion before...) > : >
We did - and I'm fairly sure you participated in it; I certainly did. IIR it was initiated by Sai when he joined the list :) Let's not simply repeat all the old arguments over again - that would be tedious in the extreme. ============================================== On Thursday, May 5, 2005, at 10:15 , Sai Emrys wrote:
> Human languages are essentially linear (they are sequences of "words"). > Ergo, > writing sytems for human languages are essentially linear as well. > > Your argument is circular here, if you intend it as one of 'purpose'. > Certainly, I would agree that a writing system *intended* to 'fix > language' as you call it - and I presume that you make the common > equation that "real language" = "speech" - would need to be linear. > That's obvious.
Please, not this silliness again! Why does real language have to quoted. The plain fact is that for many, many millennia, ever since Homo Sapiens emerged somewhere in Africa and before s/he csme 'out of Africa', the primary medium of human language has been speech. But speech is a _medium_ of language.
> But I would strongly disagree that a writing system *need* do so at > all, and cannot exist entirely separate of a spoken language.
It hasn't been achieved yet IMO except in limited domains such as mathematical notation - but we have argued all this quite recently ad_nauseam. =============================================== On Thursday, May 5, 2005, at 03:53 , Joe wrote:
> J. 'Mach' Wust wrote:
>> You can do that, but it's rather unusual. Most would consider e.g. maths >> or >> formal logics a notational system, but not a writing system.
I agree entirely
>> Writing systems >> are usually considered the subgroup of notational systems that represent >> languages.
Nor do I consider computer programming languages to be languages, except by use of metaphor in the same sort of way that by metaphor computers have memories, think etc. But I've argued all this before, quite recently.
> You're rather limiting the use of 'language', there. I'd suggest that > language can be independent of speech -
Obviously, a person who has a speech and/or hearing impediment can sign - and signed languages are very highly developed and expressive.
> it's anything that can > theoretically convey any meaning, given appropriate vocabulary.
But a discussion of what language is could take us into quite a lengthy thread. On my shelves I have a complete book of some 216 pages written by Robert Dixon in 1965 called "What _is_ Language?" I have no doubt that even weightier tomes have been written with similar titles. ============================================== On Thursday, May 5, 2005, at 09:25 , Sai Emrys wrote: [snip]
> Why yes, yes it is unusual. Especially if it is to be used that is > something that is *not* merely a notational system that is suited only > to an extremely limited domain. > > But we're in the business of *creative* linguistics, are we not?
We are - and on this point I do agree with Sai.
> I for one am not interested in constraining what language can do > merely because it hasn't been done before in a natural language.
Nor are or have been many other Conlangers - just take a look at the various experimental languages devised over the past few years (I am sure I mentioned some of them in the previous discussion).
> If > you can argue that there is something to the *idea* that is > impractical, impossible, or unsuited to human cognition, that would be > an interesting argument.
We don't know, do we? The *idea* is certainly not new and similar ideas can be found at least as early as the 17th century. Leibnitz had ideas about an "algebra of thought" but never implemented this. Bishop Wilkins did attempt to produce a 2d writing system that represented concepts & idea quite independently of any spoken language in his "Real Character". That after some three centuries or more of experimenting this still has not been achieved does suggest that "is something to the *idea* that is impractical, impossible, or unsuited to human cognition", but it no way proves it. As I said in the previous discussion arguing about its possibility or otherwise is not going get us very far IMO. The best thing surely is to attempt to do it! Presumably, that's what Sai wanted when he asked: "Comments / links / amazingly better and well-thought-out ideas?" One or two links were given - but amazingly better and well-thought-out? Ray =============================================== =============================================== Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight, which is not so much a twilight of the gods as of the reason." [JRRT, "English and Welsh" ]


Sai Emrys <saizai@...>
H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>