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

From:Sai Emrys <saizai@...>
Date:Thursday, May 5, 2005, 9:15
> 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. But I would strongly disagree that a writing system *need* do so at all, and cannot exist entirely separate of a spoken language.
> We could consider human languages and scripts to be bidimensional: the > dimension of different movements (of the vocal tract in the case of spoken > languages or of signing organs in the case of sign language) and the > dimension of time (also known as the paradigmatic and the syntagmatic > dimensions); scripts have the dimension of different signs and the dimension > of the writing line (which might also be called the paradigmatic and the > syntagmatic dimensions).
Mind translating that into common English? I would agree that speech is multidimensional; again, that is obvious. But viz. the above about that having to be encoded in writing. And, for that matter, the writing itself is *not* bidimensional - it is a purely linear string of discrete symbols. What the symbols *represent* is irrelevant to this - I am arguing that the linearity could be changed into something else. (And again, you'd have to grant that, at least in possibility, writing != code-for-speech for that to be true.)
> It may be different with non-human languages.
Sure, but I am talking about a language intended for human use. - Sai