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Blissymbols, an Ideographic Writing System (wikipedia.org)
13 points by keiferski on Jan 23, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 4 comments



What a delight to see this here! Charles Bliss's book, Semantography: Blissymbolics was absolutely mind-blowing when I first discovered in the 80's while browsing the 000 section of the library (where the computer stuff is). It was hand-typed and self-published because he couldn't find anyone to publish it.

Bliss's work has been adopted by international signmakers and icon designers around the world, but his purpose was much greater than that. He believed that, through clear and unambiguous writing, we could change how people think. A phrase such as "we support our troops" would, in Bliss, contain a built-in contradiction. In Bliss, that phrase contains a symbol that means "holding up" and one that means "falling down." There are hundreds of other examples in the book, which I highly recommend.

You can find and order rare books like this (or any other books US libraries) to be delivered to you free by your local library. Ask about Interlibrary Loan and use the WorldCat website (http://worldcat.org) to find them.


He believed that, through clear and unambiguous writing, we could change how people think. A phrase such as "we support our troops" would, in Bliss, contain a built-in contradiction.

These symbols are very interesting but I'm not sure that we should be choosing writing systems based on the presence of comforting oxymorons. That doesn't seem like a valid form of reasoning at all.

I mean, I hate to bring up Orwell because it's so cliche, but that's really Orwellian.

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”


I definitely see your point. Since Bliss didn't really take off, we don't have to worry about it becoming Newspeak, lol!

This is a good place to point out that the symbols were not meant to replace spoken languages; there is no verbal component to Bliss. It's more like a Tower of Babel idea, that misunderstandings between people and obvious falsehoods might be more easily spotted and corrected.

Check out the book if you get a chance. He can explain it much better than I did! :-)


That brings back memories! One of my jobs as a teenager was to help a teacher at a school for disabled children with Bliss training software for an Epson HX-20 handheld computer.




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