THURSDAY, DEC 31, 2015


For the 23d Century
[for T@ 23d sEnturi]



TUCSON (A-P) — To communicate meaningfully in writing is Semanto-graphy. There are over six thousand spoken languages. The human memescape is an expanse of Babel. Over 60 spoken constructed languages have been devised (e.g. Esperanto) in an attempt to create a shared language to unite humanity. Alternative to spoken are diagrammatic languages. Visual symbols replace sounds, so 1 2 3 replaces one, two, three, uno, dos, tres, ichi, ni, san....and six thousand Babel variants. Mathematical symbols, a diagrammatic language (symbols for concepts independent of sound), allow for universal numeracy regardless of what the symbols are called. If humans could only do math in spoken symbols (natural language words), advanced math would not exist or if a few managed to do more than rudimentary computations it would be in spite of their natural spoken language and not because of it.

Rudimentary concepts can be expressed in natural language, all 6,000+ of them, but advanced thought may be achieved only by a few in spite of the spoken language learned secondary to an accident of birth and not because of it (the Liebniz conjecture). Spoken language learned as a foreign language is typically achieved, if at all, at the price of great effort over a period of years, and an ability to write clearly is rarely achieved even in one's native language. In the endeavor to think well, natural language may not be the best tool as it clearly is not for being numerate. Imagine a lecture on quantum chromodyamics in which only words were used without visual diagrams or symbols. Now imagine the lecture is in one of the 6,000+ languages you do not speak.

Advanced thought without diagrammatic languages would not be advanced. Bohr's model of the atom is a diagrammatic language, Feynman's diagrams is another diagrammatic language. Odum developed a system of energy-based diagrams to help think about complex systems too complex to think about by stringing words or even words and numbers together. Charles K. Bliss created his ideographic language, Semantography (Blissymbolics), to do for literacy what math symbols do for numeracy — make advanced thought possible for more humans. All diagrammatic systems (Semanto-graphy) are potentially consiliant and may, by the 23d century if not before, dominate communication and enable humans to think well. Those who are multilingual will know several diagrammatic languages that preform non-overlapping functions. All who consider themselves "educated" will have a passing ability to be semantographically literate, mathematically numerate, and systems ecolate. Universal education for literacy, numeracy, and ecolacy is achievable to some degree for all humans functioning within normal parameters. The more talented could learn more diagrammatic languages and continuously improve their grasp of each.

Diagrammatic languages typically incorporate currently used character sets (Arabic numerals, Latin letters, X-SAMPA typable 7-bit ASCII characters for IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), symbols used in science, and internationally used symbols. Latin is used to taxonomically name organisms, and ideographs for proper names are not needed and could be italicized (like Latin in English writing) and used per current international convention although SAMPA would allow all words to be written as spoken and eventually might replace Latin names for organisms or place names used in English. Ideographs for common plants and animals would be used, but for taxonomists and biologists, the Latin names could be used and written in SAMPA.

What is needed is a shared alternative to natural languages, all 6,000+ of them, to allow for an overarching diagrammatic language. There is already one, Bliss's Semantography system. For universal diagrammatic literacy it, or one very much like it, would have to be used. Since Bliss has already invented the diagrammatic literacy wheel, we might as well use and build upon it.

Bliss is dead but users make Semantography a living language that can evolve and self-organize as our collective need for a meaning-based universal language is realized. Semantography would be primarily written but could also be spoken if need be. Since all ideographs would have one and only one speakable form that reflects the sub-symbols used to construct the concept, Semantography that could be typed on existing keyboards in ASCII would be fast to input, and on computers the associated ideographs could appear above the typed text. The typable code would include a programming sub-language to allow new ideographs to be constructed.

If all one has is pen and paper, just draw the ideographs. If no paper, speak the ideographs. This would be suboptimal as the listener may have to reconstruct uncommon ideographs in their mind's eye. This would require a two step parsing of speech to ideograph, less efficient than just looking at the ideograph and getting the message. So the SAMPA characters could be spoken and or used for fast ideographic writing input. The result could be printed on paper, signs, or screens and would be universally understood by the literate whose native language would serve its evolved purpose, and most humans, the educated ones, would be multi-diagrammatically literate, numerate, and ecolate. Physicists could still have fun with Feynman diagrams and electrical engineers could use their diagrams.

Literacy Diagrams

Bliss, the inventor's name, is short for Semantography (Blissymbolics), an ideographic/pictographic writting. The Friends of Bliss have created a free ebook: here.

Numeracy Diagrams

Math to Wolfram

Ecolacy Diagrams

Odum Diagrams

phoneme Diagrams

Spoken language characters


28 phonemes for Universal Spoken Language based on Semantography

Consonants: 19

n, neat
m, meet
k, coat
g, goat
p, pike
b, bike
h, hype
w, wipe
t, tote
d, dote
s, sue, si (Spanish)
z, zoo
r, ray
l, lay
f, faint
v, vain
j, yet, so j = English y sound as in yes [jEs]
N, after vowel as in bring [brN] or ring [rN]
S, sh as in she [Si], ch in English is [tS], so shin [SIn] chin [tSIn] rich [rItS] fish [fIS}

So for English speakers only the last three are unusual. N is short for ng, S is short for sh, there is no jay sound and per international usage j is the y sound in you [ju].

Characters c, q, x, y and most capitals are not used for semantographic speech sounds but may be used to write native language proper names as historically spelled. So you could be going to 'Rome' or [rom].

Note: To write phonetically, to record every sound humans can make, requires being able to write over 900 sounds. These sounds, however, are not used to create distinct spoken words. Most languages use 30 to 40 distinct sounds, phonemes, to create words that sound different enough to have different meaning. No one sound is used by all languages. The m sound is found in 94% of languages and all other sounds are less shared, such as the 'jay' sound in English which is why, in Semantography, it is not used.

The 28 speech sounds used to speak ideograms are among the most commonly used. All happen to be in English, but the omitted 'th' sound is not common in human language though it is often used in English. All speakers of all natural languages will have to learn a few new sounds or X-SAMPA symbols for phometic sounds that may or may not be in their native language.


Open sounds that can themselves be syllables/words or come before, after, or between consonant sounds that modify vowel sounds.

i     beet, peat [bit, pit] (not as in English, but Spanish si)
a    bought, padre, father [bat, padre, faTr]
@  but, putt [b@t, p@t]
u    boot, pool, food [but, pul, fud]
o    boat, pole [bot, pol]
O   boy, join [bOI, jOIn] used only in oi [OI] sound
e    bait, mate, el bebe [bet, met, el bebe]
E   bet, depth [bEt, dEpT]
I     bit, dip [bIt, dIp]
r     Bert, bird, butter, Ray, nurse [brt, brd, b@tr, rei, nrs]

Letter 'r' is by convention considered a consonant, but it functions as a vowel. So "beer" is [bir] and the [ir] is a diphthong. In "Bert" a spoken [@rt] is possible but would likely go unnoticed. Typically there is only one vowel. Say [brt] without a [@] vowel. Sounds almost the same as [b@rt]. You can say [brt] because [r] is a vowel, but a deeply held belief that [r] is a consonant maybe overlooked. In diphthongs [i] and [I] are a blended vowel as is [o] and [O].


Consonant blends:

tS is the 'ch' sound as in chief, t+S, e.g. French [frEntS]. Say French without S and hear the t.
dZ in 'jet' is d+Z, the Z sound being the zh sound in measure [meZr], so major [medZr], but Z not used other than to write place names, so no dZ sound either.
nj in 'onion' [@nj@n or @Y@n] or million [mIlnj@n or mIlY@n]. So n+j (n+y sound) or X-SAMPA Y.
hw in 'when' [hwEn] may or may not have an h sound to make it sound different from went [wEnt], but h comes first though in English spelling it is wh and the blend may be heard as a separate sound indicated by X-SAMPA W.

The tS blend is the only consonant blend used to speak Semantography symbols as it is used in over 40% of languages. Other blends may be used to write phometically in natural languages.


Diphthongs (Vowel blends):

au bout [baut]
ai bite [bait or baIt]
ei bait [beit or beIt] or [bet] if i sound not emphasized
iu butte [biut]
OI boy [bOI] but Bowie [bowi or boi if w not pronounced]
ir beer [bir], fear [fir]
Ir bur [bIr or br] fir [fIr or fr], bird [bIrd or brd]
@r bird [b@rd or brd]
er Bayer [ber], fair [fer]
ar bar [bar], far [far]
or boar [bor] or [bOr]
ur brewer [brur]
Er bear [bEr or ber]
rr perro [perro]

In diphthongs two vowels blend and each vowel may not be heard distinctly. The I or i sound is used interchangeably as in syllables like English 'boy, bite, beer, butte' the sound can change depending on if an I or i follows. So 'being' is biIN or biiN, but both forms would be heard as the same word and so in diphthongs the two sounds are considered equivalent and are therefore not used to indicate different semantographic words. The sounds o - O, and u - U are similarly blended. In writing, the lowercase form may be used to simplify input.

The vowel sounds in bat [b{t], bull [bUl], foot [fUt], father [fATr], strut [strVt], and bawl [bQl] are not used. A few characters are borrowed from X-SAMPA, a typable form of IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). Words from all natural languages can be typed using 7-bit ASCII X-SAMPA to indicate speech sounds not used in Semantography (other than @ E I N j S O which are used). One difference with SAMPA where r is for trilled r as in 'perro' and r\ is for consonant r in "red" [r\Ed] is that, for simplicity in semantographic writing, r is r/ and rr is trilled r, but otherwise use X-SAMPA to phonetically spell natural language words. Historical words and place names are as used historically or as pronounced locally. So in "I'm going to London then Paris" the place names are not necessarily ideographic concepts ('I', 'going', 'then' are) and so would not necessarily have an ideographic form. So in writing semantographicly, proper names can be as written per convention or as pronounced, thus 'London' or 'Paris' could be used, or 'l@nd@n' or 'peri' (or 'per@s' as the English say) could be used to indicate the spoken sound. For English words add:

T = th in thin [TIn]
D = th in then [DEn] or use [T] for both 'th' sounds
{ = vowel in bat. Common in English but not many other languages.
A as in father, arm or use a [faTr, arm for fATr, Arm] as it is functionally the same.
C as in human or use h as it is also functionally the same.
L as in onion (@L@n] or use nj [@nj@n]
O as in thought, [TOt] or use a [Tat], off [Of or af], pot [pOt or pat] boy [bOI or baI] join [dZOIn or dZaIn]
U as in foot [fUt], put [pUt]
Q as in hot [hQt], rock [rQt] or use a [hat, rak]
V as in strut [strVt] luck [lVk] or use @ [str@t l@k]
W as in when [WEn] or use hw [hwEn]
Z as in vision [vIZ@n], measure [meZr]

Or simplified from phonetic to phometic for English:

T = both [boT], the (T@], think [TINk], this, thistle [TIs, TIs@l or use the more correct DIs, DIs@l]
O = boy [bOI], join [dZOIn]
U = vowel in foot [fUt], put [pUt] similar to u sound but not the same, luck [l@k] look [lUk] Luke [luk] lick [lIk] lecture [lEkSr].
{ = vowel in bat, [b{t], pan p{n]
Z vision [vIZ@n], measure [meZr]

The X-SAMPA characters to pronounce natural languages need not specify every possible sound humans can make phonetically, but only those actually used to construct words having different meanings, which are the simplified sounds or phonemes of a natural language. In Semantography only E I N S @ O and j differ from convention. For English add T D { U Z which is the short list of phonemes without A C L Q V W. Punchuation marks can be used in X-SAMPA to make fine distinctions, such as using a period within a word to indicate syllable breaks, but semantographic writing tends toward simplicity and avoids over-complicating things.

On average each speech sound in English has 13 different ways to spell it which is why champion spellers will eventually misspell a word. Using SAMPA (to add U { Z T D to @ E I N j O S) every English word that sounds different can be written differently with only one way to spell every word phometicly [tu spEl Evri wrd fomEtIkli], so if you could pronounce a word you could spell it correctly without a spell checker. Traditional orthography, however, prevents useful innovation [tredISInal orTografi, hauEvr, privEnts jusf@l InoveS@n]. Neither Chinese, English, Arabic, or pick one from the thousands makes for a reasonable universal language, and constructed spoken languages merely attempt to regularize the unsemantic nature of natural languages that evolved to serve socio-political ends (sex, wealth, power, ideology...) which are other than the endeavor to express or convey evidence-based meaning about the nature of things or to think well. Our best hope for thinking and communicating clearly is to convey meaning (semanto) in writing (graphy) clearly. Those who manage to think clearly in natural language may be doing so in spite of rather than because of their mother-tongue.

Many companies refuse to do business in writing, demand that you 'call ###-####' if you have an issue or complaint perhaps because they don't want a record of what they tell you in weasel words to exist. If you call and tell them the call is being recorded "for quality control" they won't talk, and if you don't tell them a call is being recorded their lawyers will have your evidence dismissed on the off chance that you can afford one of your own. We recently had to change internet providers because COX refused to reply meaningfully during online text-based chat that could be copied or reply to email other than by perhaps sending email to the local office who merely kept sending voice messages to call a certain phone number. I refused and they terminated service per their business as usual practice. We had frequently been told things, verbal promises were made, that proved false, and when we eventually, after an hour on hold, spoke to a supervisor they said they were not accountable nor responsible for what their employees may not have said on the phone or in person, meaning we failed to understand what their employee had actually said or were making false claims.

Semantograph: n, m, k, g, p, b, h, w, t, d, s, z, r, l, f, v, j, N, S
i, a, @, u, o, O, e, E, I, r

English: n, m, k, g, p, b, h, w, t, d, s, z, r, l, f, v, j, N, S, T, Z
i, a, @, u, o, O, e, E, I, r, O, U, {


treat [trit]
trip [trIp]
tear [ter]
tern [trn]
torn [torn or tOrn but torn is easier to type]
Semantography [sEm{ntagr@fi or could be pronounced sEmantagr@fi]
supercalifragilisticexpialidocious [suprkalifr{gIlIstIkEkspi{lIidoSIs or with syllable breaks for extra clarity:{g.Il.Is.tIk.Eks.pi.{]
terrarium [trreri@m or tr.rer.i.@m]
character [kErEktr or as indicating syllable breaks is an option] (note: no ch sound in 'character')

The Friends of Bliss are working to develop a spoken form for Semantography. Early adapters can start by reading the ebook and perhaps becoming Friends of Bliss.


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