Y Repwblic
Conversations with Wales' Republicans : Poblachiaethwyr - Repwbligwyr - Gweriniaethwyr

The Language of Bliss

Post new topic   Reply to topic    Y Repwblic Forum Index -> Hanesyddol - Historical
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message

Joined: 09 Feb 2007
Posts: 2594

PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 10:41 am    Post subject: The Language of Bliss Reply with quote

Just stopping for a coffee and I loved this story - on Radio 4 as I make notes : The Universal Language was an important project once for The Republicans in The World.


Charles Bliss was a remarkable utopian visionary, whose experiences as a young witness to the pogroms and then Dachau and Buchenwald made him determined to put all his effort into finding a means of bringing about peace between nations. His big inspiration was his belief that conflict arose when people misunderstood each other, or misinterpreted the other's language.

A new visual language based on ideograms would, he felt, prevent such misunderstanding - and he spent years both perfecting and then trying to sell his new system, which he named Semantography and which has become commonly known as Blissymbolics.

As Michael Symmons Roberts will explain, Bliss and his wife Claire sent thousands of letters to academics and librarians across the world without success, but then decades later his language was taken up in an entirely unexpected way - as a means of communicating with children with cerebral palsy. Sadly this apparent turn of good fortune did not lead to a happy ending, and Bliss died an apparently frustrated and lonely man.

Nonetheless, as Michael will explain, he was a great utopian visionary whose determined effort to change the world single-handedly might not have finally paid off, but he left a great legacy behind in his linguistic achievement and in the thousands whom he helped to communicate with the world. Michael meets one of those people, Peter Zein, as well as Shirley McNaughton, the nurse who was one of the key figures in applying Blissymbolics to special needs education, and Brian Stride, a personal friend and admirer of Bliss.

Presenter: Michael Symmons Roberts
Producer: Geoff Bird
Exec Producer: Jo Meek
A Sparklab production for BBC Radio 4
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 09 Feb 2007
Posts: 2594

PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Bliss was born Karl Kasiel Blitz, the eldest of four children to Michel Anchel and Jeanette Blitz, in Chernivtsi in the Austro-Hungarian Empire (current Ukraine). The family were impoverished and the senior Blitz supported the family as an optician, mechanic, and wood turner. ... Later on Bliss said that the symbols on his father's circuit diagrams made instant sense to him. They were a "logical language". He was similarly impressed by chemical symbols, which he thought could be read by anyone, regardless of their mother tongue. ... Bliss graduated from the Vienna University of Technology as a chemical engineer in 1922. He joined Telefunken, a German television and radio apparatus company, and rose to be chief of the patent department. ... In Shanghai, Bliss became interested in Chinese characters, which he mistakenly thought were ideograms. He studied them and learned how to read shop signs and Chinese newspapers. With some astonishment, he one day realised that he had been reading the symbols off not in Chinese, but in his own language, German. With ideograms for his inspiration, Bliss set out to develop a system of writing by pictures. At that time Bliss had not become aware of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz's "Universal Symbolism". ...

... Bliss and his wife migrated to Australia after the war, reaching Australia in July 1946. His semiotic ideas met with universal rejection. Bliss, without any Australian or Commonwealth qualifications had to work as a labourer to support his family. He worked on his system of symbols at night. Bliss and his wife became Australian citizens. ... Originally Bliss had called his system "World Writing" because the aim was to establish a series of symbols that would be understood by all, regardless of language. Bliss then decided an English-language name was too restricted and called the system Semantography. In Sydney in 1949 Bliss published the three-volume International Semantography: A non-alphabetical Symbol Writing readable in all languages. There was no great positive reaction. For the next four years Claire Bliss sent 6,000 letters to educators and universities, to no better effect. ... In 1965 Bliss published a second edition of his work, Semantography (Blissymbolics).

It was about this time that the increase in international tourism convinced many that only a pictorial symbol language could be understood by all. Bliss made sure his idea was attached to his name, hence Blissymbolics.

In 1971, Bliss learned that since 1965, a particular centre in Canada had been using his symbols to teach children with cerebral palsy to communicate. He was thrilled at first, but he became horrified when he learned that the center had extended his set of symbols and was using the symbols as a bridge to help the children learn to use spoken and written words in a traditional language, which were far from his vision for Blissymbolics. He badgered and eventually sued the center, at one time even threatening a nurse with imprisonment. After ten years of constant attacks from Bliss, the center came to a compromise with Bliss because it felt the publicity he drew to be bringing a bad name to the center. The world copyright for use of his symbols with handicapped children was licensed to the Blissymbolics Communication Foundation in Canada. ...


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. ... Since the 1960s/1970s, Blissymbols have become popular as a method to teach disabled people to communicate. In 1971 Shirley McNaughton started a pioneer program at the Ontario Crippled Children’s Centre (OCCC), aimed at children with cerebral palsy, from the approach of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). ... In spite of this, in 1975 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 1977 Bliss claimed that this agreement was violated so that he was deprived of effective control of his symbol system. ...

... Unlike similar constructed languages like a UI, Blissymbolics was conceived as a purely visual, speech-less language, on the premise that “interlinguistic communication is mainly carried on by reading and writing”. Nevertheless, Bliss suggested that a set of international words could be adopted, so that “a kind of spoken language could be established – as a travelling aid only”. (1965, p. 89–90). ... 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. It is not certain, however, that they have examined Blissymbols.


... The Blissymbolics language is currently composed of over 5,000 graphic symbols. Each symbol or Bliss-word is composed of one or more Bliss-characters which can be combined and recombined in endless ways to create new symbols. Bliss-words can 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 and because both abstract and concrete levels of concepts can be represented, Blissymbolics can be applied both to children and adults and are appropriate for persons with a wide range of intellectual abilities.

Blissymbols are quick and easy to learn and can be used at a pre-reading level, but are sophisticated enough to allow expression of thoughts, ideas and feelings
can be expanded as ability grows




In the Land of Invented Languages: Adventures in Linguistic Creativity, Madness, and Genius - Arika Okrent

ISBN-13: 978-0812980899, ISBN-10: 0812980891

Here is the captivating story of humankind’s enduring quest to build a better language—and overcome the curse of Babel. Just about everyone has heard of Esperanto, which was nothing less than one man’s attempt to bring about world peace by means of linguistic solidarity. And every Star Trek fan knows about Klingon. But few people have heard of Babm, Blissymbolics, Loglan (not to be confused with Lojban), and the nearly nine hundred other invented languages that represent the hard work, high hopes, and full-blown delusions of so many misguided souls over the centuries. With intelligence and humor, Arika Okrent has written a truly original and enlightening book for all word freaks, grammar geeks, and plain old language lovers.



The Art of Language Invention: From Horse-Lords to Dark Elves, the Words Behind World-Building - David J Peterson

ISBN-13: 978-0143126461, ISBN-10: 0143126466

From master language creator David J. Peterson comes a creative guide to language construction for sci-fi and fantasy fans, writers, game creators, and language lovers. Peterson offers a captivating overview of language creation, covering its history from Tolkien’s creations and Klingon to today’s thriving global community of conlangers. He provides the essential tools necessary for inventing and evolving new languages, using examples from a variety of languages including his own creations, punctuated with references to everything from Star Wars to Michael Jackson. Along the way, behind-the-scenes stories lift the curtain on how he built languages like Dothraki for HBO’s Game of Thrones and Shiväisith for Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World, and an included phrasebook will start fans speaking Peterson’s constructed languages. The Art of Language Invention is an inside look at a fascinating culture and an engaging entry into a flourishing art form—and it might be the most fun you’ll ever have with linguistics.



The Language Construction Kit - Mark Rosenfelder

ISBN-13: 978-0984470006, ISBN-10: 098447000X


Advanced Language Construction - Mark Rosenfelder

ISBN-13: 978-1478267539, ISBN-10: 1478267534

Last edited by dai on Sat Jul 22, 2017 2:04 pm; edited 5 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 10 Mar 2014
Posts: 200

PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

5000 glyphs and rising. No wonder only lunatics can learn it.

Esperanto estos la lingvo de l' mondo!

But you will never understand that.
Liberty - Equality - Fraternity : Aux armes, Citoyens !

War is Politics by other Methods - General von Clausewitz
Politics is War by other Methods - Some guy on the Internet
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Y Repwblic Forum Index -> Hanesyddol - Historical All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1

Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

© 2007-2008 Informe.com. Get Free Forum Hosting
Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group
PurplePearl_C 1.02 Theme was programmed by DEVPPL JavaScript Forum
Images were made by DEVPPL Flash Games