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

From:Schuyler <conlang-l@...>
Date:Sunday, May 22, 2005, 18:31
I'd like to introduce myself to this list.  Hello! Sai directed me to this
community due to a post about my conlang (with 2d writing) on livejournal:

I'm in the middle of revising what's changed since I last setup my
website, but I invite you to take a peak with the proviso that it will be
substantially updated in the near future:
A quick look at two translated texts that are works in progress:

Excuse me if any of this is redundant, because I've read a good amount of
the thread, but it's enormous!

Some theoretical points:
1. Anything finitely representable (including anything with finite inputs)
can be represented by a 1-dimensional string.  There's no use making a
definition that says something is irreducible to a 1d string.  However,
we can make a weaker requirement that our 2d communication cannot morph
into a topological 1-d thread.  That is, there must be at least one loop
(where ends reconnect) or one branch.  From this, for it to be
interesting, loops and/or branches must have additional communicative
value in the 2d writing system.

2. With that, I'd like to propose a more general definition of 2d-writing
that turns some of the past debate in this thread into a variable of the
writing system:  The loops and branches can be most common in a writing
system at either:
    a. the word level (including iconographic languages,
 	like cuneiform and Chinese)
    b. the phrase level (a la sentence diagramming)
    c. the sentence/multi-phrase level.

I'm most interested in (b) and (c), because the advantages therein have
gone largely unexploited.

Ray Brown wrote:
> 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.
2. Personally, I'm interested in human-usable 2d writing, which adds a host of constraints. With that, I think 2d writing can be interesting even if it doesn't do something unique that 1d writing can also do. It just needs to do something *better*. 3. Some things that I think 2d writing can do better than 1d: a. comparing abstract concepts or arguments to each other. b. Since computers have 2d screens, 2d writing is a perfect opportunity to add computer-context additions to the writing system. Generally, this relates to the easy mutability of computer texts--so change-logs, and identifying many authors in a threaded text (like conlang-l archives, for instance :-) c. Giving a text map-like qualities--this is something that outline form does for linear writing systems. 2d writing can give us the opportunity to 'zoom in' and 'zoom out' d. Related to (c) is that related ideas have another axis to nuzzle up to each other. e. 2d gives more freedom to the reader in what order they want to read the text. 1d largely gives a single order. 2d gives at least as many ways as there are loops and branches (and more likely 2^n ways). My 2d writing system was developed somewhat before I knew I wanted to do all these things, so I'm still working on including them in a way that is satisfiably integrated. Nice to meet all of you! cheers, sky


Steg Belsky <draqonfayir@...>
Joe <joe@...>
Joseph Bridwell <zhosh@...>
Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>