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Blissymbols or Blissymbolics is a constructed language conceived as an ideographic writing system called Semantography 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. Blissymbols was published by Charles K. Bliss in and found use in the education of people with communication difficulties. Blissymbols was invented by Charles K. After the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in , Bliss, a Jew , was sent to the concentration camps of Dachau and Buchenwald. His German wife Claire managed to get him released, and they finally became exiles in Shanghai , where Bliss had a cousin.
Bliss devised Blissymbols while a refugee at the Shanghai Ghetto and Sydney , from to He wanted to create an easy-to-learn international auxiliary language to allow communication between different linguistic communities. He was inspired by Chinese characters , with which he became familiar at Shanghai. Bliss's system was explained in his work Semantography ,  2nd ed. In I named my symbols World Writing, then chose in an international scientific term Semantography from Greek semanticos significant meaning, and graphein to write My friends argued that is customary to name new writing systems after the inventors Blissymbolics, or Blissymbols, or simply Bliss Bliss then adopted the name Blissymbolics in order that no researcher could plagiarize his system of symbols.
The ultimate objective of the OCCC program was to use Blissymbols as a practical way to teach the children to express themselves in their mother tongue, since the Blissymbols provided visual keys to understand the meaning of the English words, especially the abstract words. In his work Semantography Bliss had not provided a systematic set of definitions for his symbols there was a provisional vocabulary index instead  , pp. For example, they might interpret a tomato as a vegetable —according to the English definition of tomato— even though the ideal Blissymbol of vegetable was restricted by Bliss to just vegetables growing underground.
In spite of this, in Bliss granted an exclusive world license, for use with disabled children, to the new Blissymbolics Communication Foundation directed by Shirley McNaughton later called Blissymbolics Communication International, BCI.
Nevertheless, in Bliss claimed that this agreement was violated so that he was deprived of effective control of his symbol system. According to Okrent , p. Easter Seals, the charitable foundation Bliss spent the money on a big publication run of his own Blissymbols teaching manual.
Blissymbolic Communication International now claims an exclusive license from Bliss, for the use and publication of Blissymbols for persons with communication, language, and learning difficulties. The Blissymbol method has been used in Canada, Sweden, and a few other countries.
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.
So, whether Blissymbolics constitutes an unspoken language is a controversial question, whatever its practical utility may be. Some linguists, such as John DeFrancis   and J. Marshall Unger  have argued that genuine ideographic writing systems with the same capacities as natural languages do not exist.
Bliss's concern about semantics finds an early referent in John Locke ,  whose Essay Concerning Human Understanding prevented people from those "vague and insignificant forms of speech" that may give the impression of being deep learning. It would contain small figures representing "visible things by their lines, and the invisible, by the visible which accompany them", as well as adding "certain additional marks, suitable to make understood the flexions and the particles. Bliss stated that his own work was an attempt to take up the thread of Leibniz's project.
Finally there is a strong influence by the work The Meaning of Meaning by C. Ogden and I. Richards ,  which was considered a standard work on semantics. Bliss found especially useful their "triangle of reference": the physical thing or "referent" that we perceive would be represented at the right vertex; the meaning that we know by experience our implicit definition of the thing , at the top vertex; and the physical word that we speak or symbol we write, at the left vertex.
The reversed process would happen when we read or listen to words: from the words, we recall meanings, related to referents which may be real things or unreal "fictions". Bliss was particularly concerned with political propaganda, whose discourses would tend to contain words that correspond to unreal or ambiguous referents. The grammar of Blissymbols is based on a certain interpretation of nature, dividing it into matter material things , energy actions , and human values mental evaluations.
In an ordinary language, these would give place respectively to substantives , verbs , and adjectives. In Blissymbols, they are marked respectively by a small square symbol, a small cone symbol, and a small V or inverted cone.
The main manifestations of our world can be classified into matter, energy, and Matter is symbolised by a square to indicate that the structure of matter is not chaotic The symbol for energy indicates The symbol for human evaluation All words relating to things and actions refer to something real, which exists outside of our brain.
But human evaluations When a symbol is not marked by any of the three grammar symbols square, cone, inverted cone , it may refer to a non material thing, a grammatical particle , etc. The symbol above represents the expression "world language", which was a first tentative name for Blissymbols. It combines the symbol for "writing tool" or "pen" a line inclined, as a pen being used with the symbol for "world", which in its turn combines "ground" or "earth" a horizontal line below and its counterpart derivate "sky" a horizontal line above.
Thus the world would be seen as "what is among the ground and the sky", and "Blissymbols" would be seen as "the writing tool to express the world". This is clearly distinct from the symbol of "language", which is a combination of "mouth" and "ear". Thus natural languages are mainly oral, while Blissymbols is just a writing system dealing with semantics, not phonetics. The individual symbols of the system are called "Bliss-characters"; these may be " ideographic " — representing abstract concepts, " pictographic " — a direct representation of objects, or "composite" — in which two or more existing Bliss-characters have been superimposed to represent a new meaning.
Size, orientation and relation to the "skyline" and "earthline" affects the meaning of each symbol. In the case of multiple character Bliss-words, the main character is called the "classifier" which "indicates the semantic or grammatical category to which the Bliss-word belongs".
To this can be added Bliss-characters as prefixes or suffixes called "modifiers" which amend the meaning of the first symbol. This sentence means "I want to go to the theatre. Since it was important that the children see consistent pictures, OCCC had a draftsman named Jim Grice draw the symbols. Both Charles K. In , a new organization named Blissymbolics Communication Foundation directed by Shirley McNaughton led this effort. BCI is an international group of people who act as an authority regarding the standardization of the Blissymbolics language.
It has taken responsibility for any extensions of the Blissymbolics language as well as any maintenance needed for the language. BCI has coordinated usage of the language since for augmentative and alternative communication. BCI received a licence and copyright through legal agreements with Charles K. Bliss in and Limiting the count of Bliss-characters there are currently about is very useful in order to help the user community.
It also helps when implementing Blissymbolics using technology such as computers. In , BCI published a reference guide  containing vocabulary items and detailed rules for the graphic design of additional characters, so they settled a first set of approved Bliss-words for general use. After many years of requests, the Blissymbolic language was finally approved as an encoded language, with code zbl , into the ISO and ISO standards.
However, at the end of , the Blissymbolic script is still not encoded in the UCS. Some questions are still unanswered, such as the inclusion in the BCI repertoire of some characters currently about 24 that are already encoded in the UCS like digits, punctuation signs, spaces and some markers , but whose unification may cause problems due to the very strict graphical layouts required by the published Bliss reference guides [ citation needed ].
In addition, the character metrics use a specific layout where the usual baseline is not used, and the ideographic em-square is not relevant for Bliss character designs, that use additional "earth line" and "sky line" to define the composition square. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Linguist List. See also: Transfer propaganda.
This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Glottolog 3. A Great Australian. The Inventor of Semantography Blissymbolics. Retrieved 18 October Semantography, a non-alphabetical symbol writing, readable in all languages; a practical tool for general international communication, especially in science, industry, commerce, traffic, etc. Sydney: Institute for Semantography.
OCoLC: Semantography Blissymbolics. Archived October 4, , at the Wayback Machine. Sydney: Semantography Blissymbolics Publications. Semantography: Blissymbolics. Sydney: Semantography-Blissymbolics Publications. Marshall Ideogram: Chinese characters and the myth of disembodied meaning. University of Hawaii Press. Retrieved 25 July An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Richard The meaning of meaning; a study of the influence of language upon thought and of the science of symbolism.
Blissymbolics is a symbolic, graphical language that is currently composed of close to 5, authorized symbols - or Blisswords. Bliss characters are semantically based and can be combined and recombined in endless ways to create new Blisswords. Blisswords can in turn be sequenced to form many types of sentences, and express many grammatical capabilities. Simple shapes are used to keep the symbols easy and fast to draw. Blissymbols or Blissymbolics was conceived as an ideographic writing system called Semantography 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. Edit this category.