September 04, 2013
The sentence above says “I want to go to the cinema” in Blissymbolics, a language composed entirely of symbols. The word “I” is created by combining the number 1 and the symbol for “person,” while “movie theater” is formed by the symbols for “film” and “house.”
Blissymbolics was invented in 1942 by Charles K. Bliss, an Austrian engineer who believed that language was the root of all human conflict. As a result, he spent seven years creating a self-proclaimed “perfect” international language based on symbols, logic, and Chinese characters. The language is comprised of symbols that can be put together to express more advanced concepts and ideas. Because it is a visual language and cannot be spoken, it can be understood by anyone.
Bliss’s universal language never caught on at the time. However, twenty years later, a special education teacher began using the system to communicate with her students. The kids in her class had communication difficulties, yet were able to understand and use Blissymbolics because it was simple and memorable. While it never turned into the universal language Bliss hoped for, it did turn into the “perfect language” for people with disabilities.
Learn more about Blissymbolics here.
(via Blissymbolics Communication International & Radiolab)