Douglas Crockford




2021 Appearances





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Charles K. Bliss was an Austrian Jewish refugee who spent much of World War II in Shanghai. While in China, he attempted to learn to read the Chinese Language. Frustrated by the complexity of the language, he designed a 20th Century ideographic language that could be read and written by people of all languages. Bliss was a chemist by training, so he based his design on a small set of ideographs (idea symbols) that could be combined to express complicated ideas, much as atoms could be combined to create complex molecules. This language would use images and icons instead of words. The language is called Blissymbolics, or Blissym (without the bolics).

There are many artificial languages, Esperanto and Klingon being the most famous of them. A claim made for virtually all artificial languages is that they are easier to learn than foreign languages because they are more regular. A much stronger claim can be made for Bliss's language:

It is easier to learn to read and write with blissymbols than it is to learn to read and write your own native language.

This is a remarkable claim. Blissym has been proven in work with handicapped children in Canada and other countries. This has been documented in a film from National Film Board of Canada and Film Australia called Mr. Symbol Man.

Blissym is a visual language. It can not be spoken except by first translating to another language. This contributes to its ease of learning because no tongue or ear training are required. Blissym's symbols are memorable and easy to learn. It can easily to extended to handle the jargon of specific fields and applications. It can be subsetted for applications with children. It has the expressive power of natural languages.

Blissym is not pictorial English. It is an international language that can be taught to speakers of any language. Its universality suggests applications in travel, business, and entertainment. Its simplicity suggests applications in education and public service.

Type Encoding Plain Grid
OpenType Unicode
U+EBA1 thru U+EBFD
blissym.otf blisgrid.otf
WOFF2 blissym.woff2 blisgrid.woff2
0xA1 thru 0xFD