> This is useless.
Who cares? It's super cool!
> This is not well-suited for use case X.
Did you read the page? It's so great that someone thought of this and did it.
> This has been done before.
> It's hard to read.
I don't know what you aren't getting about this.
> What if it implemented improvement X?
I don't know, I didn't write it. Maybe the author would appreciate the suggestion!
More in-depth, yes, a lot of posts here are criticizing - but it seems to me, a lot of it is constructive criticism from someone who actually did find the idea interesting.
I personally would find a HN where each post is just a variant of "woah that's super cool!" a lot less interesting.
Creator of Dotsies here. I've been using Dotsies to read books since 2012 (maybe around 100). At first on a Kindle and then on a Kobo after Amazon stopped letting you add your own fonts. I reached my normal reading speed a few years ago, and now reading it is fairly second nature. I now prefer it to normal fonts, and have the feeling that my eyes are racing unnecessarily from side to side when I use them. With normal fonts I'm also less likely to "seek" to different parts of the page, and thus feel a bit handicapped with them.
> the brain uses a hierarchy of constructs like circles, lines, corners, etc
It's a little counter intuitive if you haven't tried it, but the shape-seeking aspects of our visual systems do come into play with grids of dots. As others have said below, the words jump out at you as shapes. Sort of in the way that letters normally do. Just to approximate it, consider: :..'. But you may have to look at words a few thousand times before you get the full effect of this.
In general, the less visual noise and redundancy there is, the easier it is to recognize shapes. Consider looking at a pile of sand vs a pile of boulders, to get a sense of the extreme ends of this spectrum. Pile of sand: high complexity, harder to make out visual shapes. Pile of boulders: low complexity, easy to make out shapes. It is possible to map each letter to unique arrangements of 1000 disordered grains of sand, but clearly a few boulders per letter would be better. Consider that it takes about 20 pixels to represent each Latin letter. We scrapped reading fancy calligraphy because they would take more like 40px or so pixels to represent. And the extra flourishes really just added superfluity to the page. Only that was difficult for us to see, since we were so used to the calligraphy as the norm. I think it's naive to think the current state is the apex. Let's get rid of the remaining flourishes! Calligraphy is sand. Latin is marbles (or spaghetti might be apter). Binary grids are boulders. Just stare at the equivalent paragraphs under "How much better is it?" on dotsies.org for a while and you'll get a sense of this. (Especially if you can do so while imagining you're unfamiliar with Latin letters.)
I think I made a joke in 2012 about cave-men waving their spears at the stone-age version of hacker news claiming their bison heads and triangles couldn't possibly be improved on :).
Just wanted to give a quick summary. Will reply to other comments directly.
Btw I'm also the creator of Xiki, which has been discussed on HN as well, and has a stronger claim to originality/practicality. I did 2 kickstarters for it, which didn't get much hacker news attention, much to my disappointment. I'm doing a third soon and am hoping for more interest/abuse :). My new version will switch to using the markdown format, and will hopefully revolutionize the command line.
I'm also packaging the fonts up for Void Linux but was unable to find any licensing information. Do you have dotsies under Creative Commons? Did I just miss something?
Positivity is fine, but blind positivity is not helpful for anyone..
I'm with you on that one, but at this point I'd even take blind positivity over the usual constant blind negativity to anything new on HN. Maybe that's the actual remedy to that, a bit of blind positivity in every thread to counteract the immediate all-around pessimism.
George Bernard Shaw worked out a new alphabet too. Tolkien built a language for books about goblins and elves. I can't image how they would be greeted. But perhaps it's just a bad day or hour or something.
you can see this effect in action on your own posts : 10 upvotes, 1 critique. From the outside however, it just looks like “HN is at it again!”
Sure, people could say “this is good because X”, just as they should with critique , anyway. But that’s not how we think : it’s easier to motivate why you don’t like something than why you do.
I think HN is much more positive than it seems. We just need to find a way to stop hiding it.
Mean comments allowable:
0 --x--------- 100
If you think about how the human vision system is constructed (similar to convnets in deep learning), the brain uses a hierarchy of constructs like circles, lines, corners, etc. Recognizing letters requires the triggering of multiple layers of these constructs.
A dot, and another dot 1 pixel higher or lower is easy to get conflated. There's going to be a high degree of uncertainty. We have a hard enough time distinguishing '1' and 'l', and 'O' and '0'. This makes it so every letter takes on that trait. We usually must rely on context of the surrounding letters and words to fill in the missing information.
I think the concept of this idea is valid, but we need more than moving pixels up and down to distinguish letters. If instead a form existed that mixed various small primitive shapes it might work.
I'm not an expert on the vision system but I would think, sticking to at most 2 different locations instead of 5, and mixing in vertical lines, horizontal lines, diagonals, corners, and circles might be work exploring.
There's also color but lots of people are color blind.
What you proposed here turns out very similar to the elements of Korean Characters.
As an East Asian who is native to Chinese Characters, two-dimensional symbols are always more appealing to me. I started
to learn English 25 years ago while Japanese 10, but I read Japanese much more faster than English even without any Kanji.
Though, as a native English speaker of course my English (alphabet) reading speed is faster than my Japanese (Hiragana/Katana) speed.
What I do find very interesting though is that given I know all/most of the words in a Chinese dialogue, I have noticed that my Chinese reading speed is close to on-par with my English reading speed. I find Chinese very efficient to read/parse. I think there are many factors that contribute to this such as well defined word roots, similar sized characters, relatively small number of radicals (larger than alphabet of course), very simple/clean grammar.
The more I study, learn, and use Chinese, I really wish Chinese was the international language. It's power and elegance always amazes me. Even more so as I get further into Chinese literature, poetry, culture, humor, etc.
I've studied Japanese/Chinese both for a long time (10-15 years). Nowadays, I use Chinese everyday as that's the language my wife and I use.
As a pure alphabet goes, I really like the Korean implementation. I was able to mostly learn and retain it with only 1-2 hours of study.
> I really wish Chinese was the international language. It's power and elegance always amazes me. Even more so as I get further into Chinese literature, poetry, culture, humor, etc.
It had been a dominating language/writing system for part of Asia, and we can still find its legacy in Vietnamese, Korean, Japan.
But I think "legacy" is the keyword here. As a software engineer, the Chinese writing system is not in a ideal shape at least for me. There used to be systematic ways/principles to create characters, but there has never been any sustainable approach to "maintain" some of the internal consistency. It's like stacking workarounds one after another, and it becomes what we see today. Users can just accept it without any efficient way to modify or even refactor it, not mentioning the burden and effort to create just one beautiful font design.
I initially learned traditional Chinese characters (lots of Taiwanese friends), and the traditional variant that Japanese used. Even though initially I was stubborn and would claim that traditional characters are more beautiful or pure, I have to admit that simplified Chinese is definitely a major language improvement. My one exception is I still like to write 龍 instead of 龙 :)
I agree with you that there must be a newer/better way to construct a Chinese-like writing system that isn't quite a burden to both learn as well implement in computers (fonts, etc). I.e. Words could still be built up of logic word roots , similar to current system but more consistent/logical. More advanced words could be built of simpler words. Some of my favorite examples are words like "skull" that are in Chinese 骨头 (literally "head bone"). These sorts of constructions for me as a foreigner learning Chinese are amazing. I'm able to memorize so many Chinese technical/science terms that are a pain even for natives in English.
I sometimes have imagined training a neural network to generate "word vectors" that are actually just small 32x32 colored images, just to see what they would look like. Sort of like the word2vec generations, but using images as the input and the output would be a sort of viewable "character". I also imagine "hyper-intelligent" beings developing languages like this, only with higher dimensionality of input and not only images.
Improvement or not? I argue that it depends. Once in an international situation, Mr. Xi wanted to speak a seldom-used and very old idiom in his draft, which was "通商宽农", roughly standing for the meaning that farmers (农) can live much better (宽) if economy is getting good. However, he spoke it as "通商宽衣"， which is not a established phrase but can still be reasoned as "get economy better and get undressed (宽衣)"。
As a reference, the traditional version of this idiom is "通商寬農"。"農" (farmer, agriculture) has a very different shape compared to "衣" (cloth, surface) in traditional Chinese, but obviously they looks similar when you become a important but nervous guy.
If we regard the Chinese language/writing system as a huge project, I would say that simplified Chinese was a hard fork without much testing but soon widely adopted, and its design was based on some novel but destructive compression algorithm without any peer review process.
> I sometimes have imagined training a neural network to generate "word vectors" that are actually just small 32x32 colored images, just to see what they would look like. ...
Cool idea! Sounds like some kind of esoteric language. Looking forward to it.
Regardless, I’ve always been impressed that the Chinese can make such a bold change as their written language yet here in the United States, I’m still arguing with people who don’t know how many feet are in a mile as to why we should switch to metric. :)
If I ever get around to making my “hyper language”, I’ll be sure to post or let you know. I imagine it will likely be “not-very-user-friendly”. haha
People who propose new writing systems would benefit from studying existing systems a bit more. The Latin alphabet is not the only game in town.
Interestingly, when you read Dotsies quickly and at a smaller font size, the scripted versions appear indistinguishable from the square (unmodified) versions. Because of this I didn't end up pursuing this aspect.
For example, in Year 1 that useless letter "c" would be dropped to be replased either by "k" or "s", and likewise "x" would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which "c" would be retained would be the "ch" formation, which will be dealt with later. Year 2 might reform "w" spelling, so that "which" and "one" would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish "y" replasing it with "i" and Iear 4 might fiks the "g/j" anomali wonse and for all.
Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants. Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez "c", "y" and "x" -- bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez -- tu riplais "ch", "sh", and "th" rispektivli.
Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.
I believe german writing is also close to phonetical. That's why it works.
> There's going to be a high degree of uncertainty. A dot, and another dot 1 pixel higher or lower is easy to get conflated
I initially thought that would be a big issue as well. Turns out in practice it almost never comes up when reading paragraphs. For headings or words on signs that could be more of an issue.
* No baseline or other orienting structure, so vertical shifts easily change meaning ("ab" turns to "bc"), same for rotations.
* No redundancy to allow for recognizing incomplete / garbled / damaged letters.
Both features are prominent in any machine-readable encoding (like bar codes or QR codes), and are relatively easy to find in any human script.
The idea behind making more compact visual representation of letters has merit. This particular implementation of it is impractical, though. It only looks acceptable on a demo page.
(While at it, I know two well-designed phonetic writing systems: Tengwar and Hangul. Neither is super compact, but both are easy to learn and read, because of the internal logic. Dotsies are way more arbitrary; they don't exploit any connections between letter or sounds they represent.)
The only way I can think of to do it is if all phones and computers had really good voice control systems that nonetheless only understood the standard pronunciation (like early versions of Dragon dictation). The voice system makers have a vested interest in not doing that, but in understanding everyone as they talk. Arabic has tried for centuries, with the full force of a major religion, and yet still the language is splintered into mutually unintelligible dialects.
People talk how they talk, and it's constantly changing. I don't think anyone can control that.
Also, English has many pronunciation variations, and links between many words may be obvious in writing but not as much in sound (breath / breathe). English needs something more of a morphology-based writing system, not a pure phonetic representation (like Spanish).
For each letter, we can build a histogram of contexts that letter occurs in for a sufficiently large corpus. An example is the letter "o", whose occurrences in the previous sentence have the following contexts: f_r (twice), t_g, c_n, _c, c_r.
Each letter's context histograms have some similarity with each other letter's. We want different letters that have similar contexts to have widely differing appearances, because if their appearances were similar, their contexts will be of less help to the reader in disambiguating. And letters with sufficiently different contexts may be allowed to be more similar in appearance (note e.g. the archaic long "s", which despite visual ſimilarity to "f" is easily distinguished from it by the different contexts it appears in).
Another way to use language statistics would be to make the font variable-width (which may help with legibility) but make commonly-occurring letters thin.
I'm not convinced I could differentiate M N and O without context, having a known vowel to differentiate the heights you're looking at would help?
Try it yourself!
Hit the "random" link a few times and you'll get an idea of the possible variations. In the Dotsies pattern, vowels are at the tops and bottoms of words. The variations can look grainy, chunky, loopy, checker-board-ish (you'll see what I mean if you try it). The version I picked is a balance that leans toward being sparse and loopy, and is one of the many variations that has an intuitive letter ordering. Here's a decent one, but with a crappy ordering.
Surprisingly, none of them jump out as significantly better than the others (the overly dense ones being exceptions).
[from another comment]
> I am pretty sceptical that an "optimized" alphabet glyph would be one dot for a b c d e, two adjacent dots for f g h i, etc.
There are other mappings that looked marginally better to me, but I deemed picking one with a nice ordering was worth doing. A and E happen to be the 1st and 3rd most common letters, which works out if you want to lean toward the sparse end. Also O (the 4th), A, and E all stick to the top and bottom edges of words, so if you want your words to tend to have holes in the middle they are a good fit. Getting a decent mapping for the commonest letters seems to be key, but by all means, try the above link and post an alternative that you think is better.
It doesn't really make sense to optimize for screen space like this.
However, the teaching style along with a symbol alphabet that IS trying to solve for better legibility (without necessarily any allegiance to dyslexic fonts), could be pretty interesting.
In middle school when bored once I made my own symbolic alphabet, I found it really is extremely easy to learn a new symbol set for language you already know, so, changing away from the traditional symbols isn't even that massive of an endeavor.
I think they did do an OK job with using screen space well, but at the cost of legibility to a degree. That said, the more I think on it, maybe the author did too. Sure, individual letters aren't as legible, but the point is almost more that words become single characters, more like Mandarin. If those characters are legible, than it doesn't matter that the individual letters are not. If you don't know a word, you're already going to be individually inspecting the letters. (of course, it will still be mildly more difficult with dotsies)
At the same time it would be interesting to see it implemented based on letter frequency rather than order in the alphabet.
It was great fun to read!
Optimizing for legibility as opposed to screen space is a distinction that isn't very meaningful in practice. Because if words aren't legible enough, people increase the font size until they are. If something is extremely legible (like latin letters at a 40pt font size) people will naturally tend to decrease the size. So screen space and legibility are largely different labels for the same concept. With some wiggle room but not that much.
Can anyone who uses https://www.dyslexiefont.com/ comment on how hard it is to have it everywhere?
But Dotsies seems to be solving the wrong problem: using the fewest pixels. I think the right problem is being able to skim large amounts of text quickly, for which typical fonts are pretty good. You can find whether there are any numbers on a page, for instance, in well under a second.
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14825571 (2017, 22 comments)
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3601687 (2012, 98 comments)
In any case, it's sad to me how when people on HN see someone having a bit of fun or messing around, their first instinct is to knock it down.
The comment threads, unfortunately, are subject to the tendency (perhaps common among technical people?) to point out discrepancies, gaps, claims that aren't true, and so on. I don't think it's out of a desire to knock anything down. It's just that the mind is quicker to notice those things and then there's a "hey I noticed something" impulse to report them. The intention is helpful, but these comments don't compose very well... or rather, they do: into a sourpuss mélange.
I'd love it if we could get this community to really grok the value of inquisitive or playful comments that have an opening-up effect instead of a narrowing one. That would be much better for the spirit of intellectual curiosity. Perhaps it awaits us in the evolution of the hivemind.
Making such very strong claims ("I've come up with something better than what civilization has produced thus far...") naturally invites debate, especially when they seem implausible on their face and aren't backed up by a very solid argument. There would be a lot fewer negative comments if this were presented like "hey, look at this neat game I made up..."
It's a super fun idea, though. I would 100% put this in the background, or even the foreground, of some future scifi scape.
You're going to need damn good eyes to read Dotsies at anything like 13px, and I suspect even the sharp-eyed are going to misread a lot. Size Dotsies text up to the point that people of average vision can read it as reliably as a normal font at a reasonable size, and I don't think you're going to get much, if any, greater information density.
I'm reminded of Speedtalk, a language from Robert Heinlein's story "Gulf", which had every combination of phoneme and delivery (pitch, length, etc.) represent a word in the Basic English vocabulary. So, every spoken "word" in the language is actually a full sentence. But, it takes intense futuristic training just to be able to speak vaguely intelligibly in it, because all the normal imprecisions of speaking (much less speaking in a new language) take any tiny error from "You used 'record' as a noun, but with a long 'e' and the stress on the second syllable." to "You have a hovercraft, and it's full of what???"
Now imagine trying to follow speech in such a language if the speaker's out of breath, alarmed, surrounded by background noise, etc. Just not enough redundancy for reliable communication.
Dotsies seem to make a tradeoff where they optimize for higher information density at the cost of much higher error rate (or requirement for precision and accuracy if you will). I also definitely see your point about font sizes. Basically it’s a valiant attempt at a reimagined alphabet but I don’t think it actually achieves higher info density in the real world.
“Designed to be represented either in binary or symbol-written form, Marain is also regarded as an aesthetically pleasing language by the Culture. The symbols of the Marain alphabet can be displayed in three-by-three grids of binary (yes/no, black/white) dots and thus correspond to nine-bit wide binary numbers.”
Here are some examples of Marain symbols designed by Iain M. Banks:
[cite needed][original research?]
Reading chinese is basically the human version of attempting to read a .zip file.
A couple of design values:
- vowels 1 dot seems like a good plan
- ending with s / y should be easily recognizable
- tall letters should be tall (tlbdk etc)
To learn, read one word from the top paragraph and see if it "looks" like the bottom dotsies. Then gradually try to read the paragraph without looking at the next word.
Open to improvements!
Do you think "Fußgängerübergänge" can be read as "Fussgangerubergange" or "zażółć" as "zazolc"? (German and Polish respectively)
Also, often those "accents" are different sounds. Ș in Romanian is sh, ț is ts, ă is uh, â is a sound which is not present in English (at least not explicitly). You can get rid of them but there's definitely ambiguity. Even French has é which sounds nothing like the French e.
If we could start from the scratch, Hangul style syllabic blocks that combine alphabetic and syllabic systems might be the ideal.
Right you are.
It took me a while to be able to shrink it down. You have to start large and gradually shrink it down.
> If I could watch someone reading fluently in dotsies
I wonder if I'm the only one who would find it easier to read if it was just ASCII printed in binary instead of its own symbol-set. ASCII has some patterns which make it easy to memorise, and it's something a lot of developers have indeed memorised already. That would make a great "1337 hax0r" font.
...and why not go the whole hog and make it 8 bits, so you can encode all of Unicode (as UTF-8)...
The most trivial is omission of vowels, instead relying on context or vowel marks (or some combination). Wrds r srprsngl lgbl wtht vwls. Anotherisomissionofspaces.
Lots of western (and other) scripts have been written these ways in the past. Neither can be said to have evolved to make text easier to write! Including the vowels is more difficult to write and both are more costly because they take up more space, which means larger tablets or more animal skin and ink required.
We settled on including vowels and word spacing to make text more legible, so I'm not sure where the author's claim about latin working the way it does to benefit writing comes from. If the OP wants to claim letters like b/d/p/q, m/n, w/v/u, etc are to the benefit of writers OK but "dotsies" is even worse in lacking distinct shapes.
Humans like symmetry and patterns so it seems far more likely some letters are variations on a pattern or mirror images because it is visually pleasing or easy to stamp new letters out of existing known shapes. If you think about it a/b/c/d/e/g/o/p/q are arguably variations on the same pattern, with g -> j, and j -> i following.
Also, if you go so far to create a new alphabet, you could also make it phonetic. Rather than this one, I'd like to see a phonetic syllable alphabet (like the Korean one) for English.
Perhaps the characters could be colour coded, too? As we are not limited by having to switch out pens, why not? I think it would make reading much faster and it would be easy to disable/enable.
I dislike the implementation of punctuation, I would prefer a font that uses a monospaced grid and sticks with it, so you can render the font on teeny tiny displays.
I guess I should hold any comments until I actually try it properly, but that would take me years :)
And then I see this, and despite some of the valid criticism of this particular set I now understand how english or some other recognizable written language might not be a guarantee for labeling in the future.
Maybe should have used some Gestalt design to differentiate vowels and common vs. uncommon characters. It's the difference between a QWERTY (or Dvorak) keyboard and an ABC...XYZ one.
I think, real hackers lose interest in monoalphabetic substitution ciphers by junior high.
Take a look at the shavian alphabet for another interesting take on written text.
This came up in the Robinhood checking thread a few days ago. "Do you really think that you're going to outsmart a financial institution that employs people like you (but smarter) because you happen to be better at math than your facebook friends who studied polysci?" The hubris of people in tech who think they're the only people who notice things is getting really tiresome.
Having said that, I think that's a slippery slope of a stance to take, because it stifles creativity and novel solutions, which history shows often come up when they're not looked for. But I think that's kind of the sentiment of embarrassment they were expressing: "groan, another techie is going to disrupt something that doesn't need disrupting."
Edit: To the people responding to this (and downvoting): this person asked for an explanation for why someone would feel embarrassment at this. I was trying to give what I thought was a reasonable explanation. I don't actually feel embarrassed by this, I was just trying to understand and articulate someone else's feelings on this. I'm sorry if the explanation didn't do it for you.
I don't know all the fancy names for logical fallacies but this seems to be deliberately misrepresenting the argument. The website clearly states that the problem with the Latin alphabet is that it has to be able to be written efficiently as well as read. Your trillions of humans over a few thousand years have had to both read and write this alphabet. In the past few hundred years we've had technology that allows someone who made a huge investment to produce massive amounts of text without writing, and in the past few decades the ability to produce text without writing has become completely ubiquitous. Does it still make sense for this alphabet to optimize for hand writing? Are you arguing that the constraints that made the Latin (or any handwritten) alphabet have remained unchanged over thousands of years? They want to redesign an alphabet to fit modern constraints. We consume a lot of text on devices that need to have screens that fit in our pockets. Perhaps a two-thousand year old alphabet isn't still the optimal solution?
I also don't think the authors necessarily expect to disrupt anything. They just made something cool and put it on the internet. I'm happy people like this exist.
Given how different some international alphabets are (Russian, Hebrew, Katakana) it's not self-evident that the conventional Latin glyphs are optimal.
I don't see a reason for the negativity, because I don't see a single disadvantage in trying. If the author wants to waste their time, let them.
This isn't a unique aspiration of tech. Folks have been trying to achieve better othographies than the one we grafted on as a colonizer's comprimise for a long time. Projects like Shavian , Read Script (Quickscript) , and Deseret  come to mind as prior art in this space that predate the invention of the modern tech community and its current perceived class distinction.
I'd argue it's the supreme arrogance to assume that in a modern world populated with people who's average intelligence, nutrition and education was only accessible to the richest and most powerful 0.001% 200 years ago that NO progress can be made on a common linguistic platform. The classical alphabet we use has ALSO been revised and has literally hundreds of variants.
On a personal note, I don't at all regret the decision to learn to read and write in Shavian. Having a semi-private notation with which to take notes, form signatures, etc. The only thing I am sad about is that so few people in this community (and others) decided to put in the modest effort required to do the same. If I do occasionally offer thoughts in ·𐑖𐑱𐑝𐑾𐑯, 𐑐𐑰𐑐𐑤 𐑸 𐑩𐑯𐑜𐑮𐑰, 𐑮𐑧𐑕𐑧𐑯𐑑𐑓𐑳𐑤 𐑰𐑝𐑧𐑯! 𐑤𐑲𐑒 𐑞 𐑧𐑒𐑕𐑦𐑕𐑑𐑧𐑯𐑕 𐑝 𐑩𐑤𐑑𐑺𐑯𐑩𐑑𐑦𐑝 𐑹𐑔𐑪𐑜𐑮𐑩𐑓𐑰 𐑦𐑟 𐑩𐑯 𐑦𐑯𐑕𐑳𐑤𐑑. 𐑲 𐑛𐑪𐑯𐑑 𐑜𐑧𐑑 𐑦𐑑.
I'm debating if dotsies would be valuable to learn. My biggest complaint about it is that it's a reproduction of our current alphabet, and that means you'll end up with a lot of our weird di-and-trigraphs. If you're going to to the trouble of a con-script, why not use a phonetic base?
: 𐑮𐑰𐑛 𐑥𐑹 𐑣𐑽: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shavian_alphabet
: 𐑢𐑦𐑗 𐑲𐑥 𐑒𐑳𐑥𐑓𐑹𐑑𐑩𐑚𐑤 𐑢𐑦𐑞, 𐑕𐑴 𐑮𐑧𐑤𐑰𐑕𐑛 𐑱 ·𐑤𐑦𐑯𐑳𐑒𐑟 𐑒𐑰𐑥𐑩𐑐 𐑣𐑽: https://gitlab.com/endomain/xkb-shavian-variant
Ya know, the marquee sign does say Hacker News. If this seems like silly "tech people" nonsense to you, maybe you're not the intended audience.
Without knowing it, you've taken a weirdly extreme and limited perspective - and deprived yourself of anything remotely close to a complete understanding.
I assume you're probably proud of your "optimism" or something here, but it's absolutely silly.
I find shavian particularly interesting since it is based on phonetic pronuncation with which I've had many issues and embarrassments!
[Sad that this tops HN.]
It's lossless unless you consider the possibility of symbol confusion, as it's pretty easy to produce strings that appear identical but are different, like how O and 0 are easily confused in many fonts.
How so? The entropy looks (dangerously) low to me.
"aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa" is low entropy, "JkjgpUBn74AREExy" is high.
I'd like to be able to change it for my needs. I'd try making vowels round, so that I'd have more visual cues.
There are tons of ways to describe the sounds that a human mouth can make, and you can find very detailed nomenclature about it but generally it is useful to think of a spoken language as consisting of a set of phonemes, which are fundamental sounds. I looked at a list of the most common phonemes and just decided to use the top 20 in order to make the pronunciation and recognition of all the sounds of this new language as easy as possible. Between all the languages of the world, there is considerably more overlap of some sounds than others, so I believe it’s useful to use the most overlapped ones.
Most languages consist of open phonemes and closed phonemes. Most languages include words that end on a closed sound like the word “stop.” Notice that actually saying this word without making an open sound and the closed “p” sound is impossible. In reality the word sounds like “stop-ah” because of the physics of the mouth. In this new language, all words start with a closed sound and end with an open sound, for example “gah” “dah” “dee” “nee” and so on.
If you take a bunch of common closed sounds and open sounds, and have none that sound similar to the others in any way (distinctive sounds are necessary for easy learning and understanding by learners because after a certain age, discriminating between similar sounding sounds is impossible.) then you have a list that can create around 40 or 400 “base combinations” of one closed sound and one open sound, like the examples above. I can’t remeber the exact number but I have it all written out somewhere. Limiting words to 20 or 30 combinations of these base combinations, you have a word space that is larger than a human can memorize probably, even after cutting out all the bad combinations like “dee-dee-dee-dee-dee.” So in the end you have words that might look like “nah-kah-too-nigh.” You give up compactness compared to English but gain advantages in other areas. Namely clarity and truer correlation between how a word is spelled and pronounced which is key for learning a new language. Also it’s impossible to have something like two words that sound the same like “two” and “too.”
The language would cross of several base combinations as I mentioned earlier. These singletons “dee” “dah” “nee” and so on, would not have any meaning. The next level up, two of these combinations together like “dee-nee” or “too-goo” would have meanings that are fundamental and common and would act as root words to form other higher level words just like in English with Latin and Greek. So for example the root word “dee-soo” means to finish, to terminate, to end. There is a joke in there by the way. And the root word “vigh-tah” might mean life, animation or prosperity. So the word “dee-soo-vigh-tah” might mean death. And so on. I think the root word system is very good in English and doing it very deliberately in a new language would be good.
Often in English we make up words with other words. Or we start to use two words, a phrase, as it’s own word. This would be formalized into this new language with vocal and written markers to insert in between individual words that when spliced together form a good word for some new thing. This might act both as a staging tool for new concepts before they are formally introduced into the dictionary but also a better way of improvising combinations on the spot to meet strange or funny one-off combinations.
Unlike thai and a few other languages, written words have delimiters (!) and unlike English, it isn’t an empty space that can easily be interpreted incorrectly.
The alphabet would consist of very carefully designed letters, each one representing one of the aforementioned base sounds. Each letter would be designed so as to be very difficult to write or read in a way that causes it to be mistaken for another letter. In English we cross our zeros to not confuse them with The letter O. This language would effectively do that in advance for all letters.
Still haven’t thought of what conjugation method would be best. Or other higher level stuff.
Once again, Silicon Valley "discovers" something that was already invented.
"Please don't post shallow dismissals, especially of other people's work. A good critical comment teaches us something."
"Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith."
Please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and follow the rules when posting here.
As to the originality, most computer science students have looked at a binary versions of ascii charts at one time or another. Turning them sideways and making a font out of it isn't discovering relativity. On the other hand, even Braille had its percursors (see your Wikipedia link), and Braille users don't reject it on that account, do they?
> Silicon Valley
You're assuming I'm from Silicon Valley. I am here now, but was actually in Ohio when I came up with Dotsies :)
But of course, that's a specialized skill. To judge for yourself how conducive braille is to visual reading, when presented as black on white (or the opposite) instead of raised dots on a page, you can grab a braille font here:
They could maybe do better on legibility, or maybe it isn't that big a problem...the more I think on it, the more I get where the author was going (and feel they may have successfully reached it, or at least made strong progress)