Blissymbol

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Blissymbols or Blissymbolics were conceived of as an ideographic writing system consisting of several hundred basic symbols, each representing a concept, which can be composed together to generate new symbols that represent new concepts. Blissymbols differ from most of the world's major writing systems in that the characters do not correspond at all to the sounds of any spoken language. In this it is like other similar constructed languages such as Zlango, Isotype (picture language), or Characteristica universalis.

Contents

Overview

They were invented by Charles K. Bliss (1897–1985) after the Second World War. Bliss wanted to create an easy-to-learn international auxiliary language to allow communication between people who do not speak the same language. He was inspired by Chinese characters (which are actually logograms rather than ideograms), with which Bliss became familiar while in the Shanghai Ghetto as a refugee from Nazi anti-semitic persecution. His system World Writing was explained in his work Semantography (1949). This work laid out the language structure and vocabulary for his utopian vision of easy communication, but it failed to gain popularity.

However, since the 1960s, Blissymbols have become popular as a method of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) for non-speaking people with cerebral palsy or other disorders, for whom it can be impossible to otherwise communicate with spoken language. However, Bliss did not approve of his language being used as an AAC; he sued the celebral palsy centers who employed it in this way, and they settled out of court.[1] Practitioners of Blissymbolics (that is, speech and language therapists and users) maintain that some users who have learned to communicate with Blissymbolics find it easier to learn to read and write traditional orthography in the local spoken language than do users who did not know Blissymbolics.

Whether Blissymbolics constitutes an unspoken language, whatever its practical utility may be, is a controversial question. Some linguists, such as John DeFrancis (The Chinese Language 1984, Visible Speech 1989) and J. Marshall Unger (Ideogram 2004) have argued that genuine ideographic writing systems with the same capacities as natural languages do not exist.

Examples

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