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

From:H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
Date:Friday, May 6, 2005, 21:25
On Fri, May 06, 2005 at 12:56:34PM -0700, Sai Emrys wrote:
> Ray - > > > Now - a 3d writing system would be interesting ;) > > *laugh* Agreed, and something I've proposed elsewhere - it would > probably have to be holographic, or sculptural, or somesuch. I've no > idea how it would work. ;-)
Or, one could just borrow the eyes of a 4D being and look at it as-is. ;-) [...]
> > Even if whole sentences are depicted as a single symbol construct > > (glyph/frame/ or whatever) the sentences will surely follow sequentially > > or linearly. > > Certainly... *if* one was transcribing sentences. But I see no reason > why one would need to do this, unless the sentences themselves match > an actually linear outside thing, like conversations over time... and > even those, one could argue about (that whole "linearity of time" > thing is rather traditional Sci-Fi fodder - viz. Heptapod B).
Even where time is involved, there's no need to constrain the representation to linearity. One could, conceivably, have a noun at the center of a circle, with lines connecting it to sub-diagrams (in my diagram-writing system :-P) laid out around the circle, each connected to a modifier node that indicates time (not necessarily in increasing/decreasing clockwise/anti-clockwise sequence). In fact, it doesn't have to be connected to the same central noun at all. With time specification modifiers, things can appear anywhere in the interconnected whole.
> Can you give me some other (i.e. not time-linked) example of something > that would necessarily be written linearly? Keep in mind that you're > aiming for writing the semantics, not exact translation / > transcription...
How about a description of carvings on a long totem pole? Of course, you don't *need* to use a linear description, but if you wanted to thoroughly describe it, a linear approach would seem to be the easiest choice. [...]
> So, then: what would be a good way to have two-dimensional syntax?
Perhaps using directions to represent different syntactic roles? E.g., symbol X on top of symbol Y means X owns Y; whereas X to the left of Y means X is the cause of Y, etc. One could also have symbols with free rotation, say an irregular hexagon with sides numbered (conceptually) 1 through 6. Side 1 represents genitive function, side 2 represents verbal function, side 3 represents locative, etc.. So to express its particular function, you rotate it so that the side corresponding to that function is what connects with other participants in that action.
> AFAIC, merely putting in 2d something that could function linearly > would be a bastardization - e.g. English "sentence diagrams" or > similar nonsense.
We're aiming at representing semantics, not syntax, I'd hope! (And especially not syntax of a natlang!) [...]
> I can see essentially two large concepts of how to do it: > atoms-and-relations (as I proposed) ... and a second system which > would have all be on the same level, i.e. not have distinct items that > are being combined but rather mesh together organically. The latter > would be quite a lot more difficult to develop, of course... but also > more interesting, if possible. ;-)
[...] The atoms-and-relations idea isn't as dull as you might think... for example, in existing (linear) writing, one often finds that repeated units over time tends to get shortened because people get tired of writing long strings of the same thing over and over. Over time, you get abbreviations that eventually turn into first-class citizens (e.g., much computer acronyms turning into verbs, such as "can you FTP that file to me?"). In non-linear writing, sub-graphs could get simplified over time, and become calcified graphical units get reused in brand new ways. Eventually, they *become* the atoms of the writing. To use a contrived example, say the picture of a face is an atom meaning "person". Say something connected to the north side (the "up" side) means it's an agent, something connected to the west side (left) means it's a patient, etc.. In a hypothetical parent writing system, these directions are fixed, and you draw lines from that particular side of the face to the other participants in the action. But over time, the line on the north side becomes a permanent feature of the face, so now you have "inflections" for the face logogram: the one with a truncated line on top is its agentive form, the one with a truncated line on the left is its patientive form, etc.. This then gives you freedom of directionality, so that other participants no longer have to be located to the north of the face in order to indicate agentive function of the face. Eventually, direction can encode something else. T -- Many open minds should be closed for repairs. -- K5 user