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

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Saturday, May 21, 2005, 17:55
It seems Sai's observation that more than 150 mails have appeared in this
thread since 4th May (with some 50 or so mails in related threads) has
cause the thread to dry up (sorry about the mixed metaphor). We can't have
that, so.....   :)

I read the other day that "Frege's _Begriffsschrift_ (1879) can also be
understood as an outgrowth of the desire to visually represent conceptual
relationships by exploiting the two-dimensional character of the printed
page." 'Great', I thought, 'that sounds like the sort of thing we want'.
But on investigating, I find that Frege's 2d diagrams can be written
linearly with the symbolism of modern logic. So not quite what we want  :=

I understand that earlier in the 19th century, Juan Egaña found that no
writing human systems were suitable fr expressing thought independent of
(spoken) language and in his 'Ocios filosoficos y poéticos en la quinta de
las delicias' he proposed a system base on 20 thought categories. A quick
Google search brought up stuff almost entirely in Spanish and I haven't
had time to sift through this. Does anyone know more about Egaña's ideas
and what the 20 thought categories were?

As I see it, all writing systems over the past 5 millennia have been
systems which encode (spoken) language. We humans have found linear
presentation (whether in rows, columns or both, or even spirally)
perfectly adequate for this purpose. Therefore, as I have said, I see no
purpose in 2d writing system for representing (spoken) language, other
than for novelty and/or aesthetics or for use in a conworld. There is of
course nothing _wrong_ or _heretical_ in being novel, aesthetic and
creating conworlds - it is just that I am not interested in developing 2d
writing for any of these purposes. (Certainly I just cannot see how the
representation of spoken language can be non-linear)

2d writing for me becomes interesting only if it can achieve something
which our hitherto linear writing is not able to do. Mapping thought
independently of (spoken) language seems something that might lend itself
'naturally' to 2d representation; and such representation would IMO of
necessity be non-linear.

Since Sai wrote the first mail of this thread on 4th May, the notion of
logograms and ideograms has cropped up from time to time. I see no point
in logograms for a NLF2DWS since:
- logograms represent words or morphemes of _spoken_ language, and as
Schopenhauer observed "thoughts die the moment they are embodied in words.
- the development of writing over the past 5 millennia has seem a move
from logograms to phonetic reprsentations, i.e. systems that need a
smaller battery of individual symbols.
(This does not mean that I am saying that logograms are _wrong_ per_se or
that using them is heretical; I am saying that they seem to me
inappropriate in a NLF2DWS as defined by Sai)

Now it seems to me that while ideograms (in the proper meaning) might be
usable in a NLF2DWS, they would suffer the same sort of drawback as
logograms: we would need a few thousand of them. What we probably need is
something more atomic. That is why I was interested when I read about
Egaña's 20 thought categories. What are the 'basic units' of thought?

It also seems to me that if one devised a NLF2DWS it would not really be
appropriate to 'translate' some existing text into it. On 12th May Sai
wrote that a NLF2DWS should "not [be] linearizable without loosing damn
near everything in the process in a way that's cognitively irrecoverable".
Existing texts are linear, so if what has been lost in the process of
linearization is cognitively _unrecoverable_ the translation to a NLF2DWS
is strictly impossible.
Anyway - just a few pensés - now back to researching thoughtwebs    :)

"A mind which thinks at its own expense will always
interfere with language."         J.G. Hamann, 1760


Sai Emrys <saizai@...>