Lesson One: An Introduction to Blissymbols. Douglas Crockford cс Blissym Language Institute It is easier to learn to read and write in. From the book: A simple system of logical pictorial symbols which can be operated and read like 1+ in all lanuages. It can be typed and printed and used. The Book to the Film ‘Mr. Symbol Man’, Charles K. Bliss with contributions by Shirley McNaughton, Semantography-Blissymbolics Publications.

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The Book to the Film ‘Mr. Charles’s work was discovered by Shirley McNaughton, a teacher in Toronto who was searching for a symbol system that could be used to give the tools of language to severely handicapped children.

It turned out that Charles’s language actually worked. Children could learn Blissymbolics more easily than learning to read and write their own native languages. A documentary film was made about Charles and the work in Toronto, called Mr. Charles produced this paperback, hoping to use the documentary to generate broader interest in Blissymbolics. Charles was a chemist in Vienna. He was captured by the Nazis and sent to the concentration camp at Buchenwald.

Semantography (Blissymbolics): A Logical Writing for an Illogical World

He managed to get released and escaped to England. His wife was a German citizen, so could not join him there. The only place on earth that would accept both of them without documentation was Shanghai. In Shanghai, Charles was a filmmaker. Some of his footage can be seen in the documentary Port of Last Resort. Charles attempted to learn Chinese. He loved the pictographic and ideographic aspects of it, but was frustrated by its complexity.

He got the idea to make a 20th century ideographic language that could be produced with a modified typewriter. It would be easy to learn, and could become an international second language. He called it World Writing. After the war, they moved to Sydney.

In his spare time, Charles haunted the libraries, reading on language and semantics, and wrote the first draft of his book. Unable to find a publisher, he self-published the first draft in three volumes. Julian Huxley and Semantography. This is a reprint in one volume of International Semantographywith some new material and an index.

The Encyclopedia of Semiotics. Oxford University Press, Martin Krampen observes rightly that there is a continuous scale from highly schematic to highly pleromatic pictures and that this scale is independent of the one going from high degrees blisshmbolics iconicity to total conventionality, as are the corresponding processes of historical change.


It should be noted, however, that decreasing pictoriality does not necessarily mean decreasing iconicity.

In addition to mere depictions, Blissymbolics contains at least two types of iconic signs. Indeed, rounded, bpissymbolics shapes as well as triangles pointing upward have been shown universally to indicate femininity, whereas the opposite shapes stand for masculinity.

I find it surprising that a well respected encyclopedia blissymbolisc a discipline which has its origin in the science of signs is almost completely devoid of illustrations. In this article, Sonesson has three columns in which to present Bblissymbolics. He does not show any blissymbols. Instead we get a petroglyphic penis and vagina, respectively, and an argument between Wallis and Krampen, who I am sure are fine scholars, but I can’t find any evidence that they are knowledgeable about Blissymbolics.

The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language. Cambridge University Press, Bliss developed his system in the s. The first edition of Semantography was published in Dreyfuss generously gave Bliss two pages at the front of this book to introduce his symbol system.

Bliss was not happy about this. He felt that the whole book should have been devoted to him. He displays a good set of basic symbols and shows how they can be combined to make more. But he was careless in putting the display together. Bliss used the last half page to introduce his ethical science-religion, which caused some people to dismiss him as a crackpot. The Search for the Perfect Language. Semantography Blissymbolics does not belong to the class of visual alphabets that Eco is dismissing.

Blissymbolics Communication Institute Blissymbols for Use is designed to meet the needs of a wide range of people who are interested in Blissymbols. The book offers the reader three approaches to gaining information about Blissymbols.

Semantography (Blissymbolics): A Logical Writing for an Illogical World by Charles K. Bliss

It gives the reader the opportunity to find symbols and symbol meanings quickly; to learn more about a specific symbol; or to explore the semantic and structural relationships among symbols within the Blissymbolics system.

Signs and Symbols Around the World. This delightful book has eight pages on Blissymbolics. This book led to the founding of the Blissymbolics Communication Institute in Toronto. Happily, it is now back in print. Before she died, the she gave me permission to reprint the chapter containing Blissymbolics.

Those pages can be seen here: In the pages of his book, Bliss details how to combine these basic symbols to express thoughts that are more complex, more subtle, and more abstract. Semantography shows how to represent many varied ideas by combining a few simple symbols.


Teaching and Using Blissymbolics. It is important to understand that Bliss did not anticipate that his symbols would be used by communicatively handicapped persons, including many who function at a low cognitive level. Adapting Blissymbolics, which was developed for mature and sophisticated language users, to the needs of communicatively handicapped persons has necessitated some revisions and additions to the symbols and symbol system.

Blissymbolics has many characteristics that give it special advantages as an augmentative or alternative system of communication. It’s a dynamic system, able to represent abstract concepts.

The meaning of each symbol is learned in relation to the logic underlying the system as a whole. It allows for the production of varied types of utterances and is capable of continued growth.

It is stimulating and rewarding not only for the user, but for those with whom the user communicates and those who provide instruction.

In addition to permitting users to make their needs known and talk about objects in the environment, Blissymbolics enables users to express emotions, thoughts, and dreams.

Users can explore concepts, produce new combined symbols and vary utterances to suit communication contexts. This makes for enjoyable language learning and the development of several styles of expression. Messages can takes the form booj one-symbol and two-symbol utterances telegraphic or complete sentences, which follow the pattern of native language.

Blissymbolics Bibliography

The form selected is determined by the particular capabilities of the user and the total context in which the communication takes place. Handbook of Pictorial Symbols. Also outside the scope of this volume are experiential graphic languages, the two best known of which are Blissymbolics and LoCoS, although Jansen’s Picto preceded them. Modley introduced Elizabeth Helfman to Blissymbolics.

Modley worked with Margaret Mead on the design of a glyphic international language.

Semantography Publications

In the Land of Invented Languages. And this changed their lives trendously. On my Toronto trip, I asked another of Shirley’s bok students how he used to communicate before he learned Blissymbolics. He typed out a one-word answer on his computer: This is the successor to Blissymbols for Use. It lacks the charm and beauty of its predecessor.