I came across this article http://tinyurl.com/58envr in Infosthetics.com regarding a medical iconic language. This lead me to think about iconic languages in general.
What would happen if we developed non-text languages where icons were not just “terms” but were used as “definitions” as well?
Iconic mechanio (pressure)
Iconic olfio (smell)
Iconic gustio (taste)
Iconic thermio (heat)
Iconic nocio (pain)
Iconic equilibrio (balance and acceleration)
Iconic proprio (body position)
Such languages already exist. Chinese Hanyu for example. But what if a new global iconic language were developed?
In my reading I am discovering that even words are treated by our minds iconically as symbolic clusters. If the first and last letter of a word is correct the remaining letters in the word can be in any order. In fact, we do the same things with words themselves. We create word clusters and shuffle them around to create sentences. I think language does not have the formula Chomsky came up with using random sets of words arranged syntactically. Words are symbols and sentence fragments are symbols that we connect together. We do the same thing with lists which are basically paragraph fragments. All these fragments are are arranged according to the rules of a scale-free network not a hard wired linguistic structure. I think that would shake Steven Pinker up.
The thing that is necessary to point out is literacy and numeracy does not make us any more or less intelligent. It is a symbolic system like any other that trains us to think in certain ways to process language and quantities. Whatever we do we are simply learning another, perhaps more efficient way of processing symbols representative of reality. Plato thought that literacy was dumbing down his students because they did not memorize and meditate on what they learned, choosing to write it down and put it on the shelf instead. Are our children any different if they choose to let computers deal with the mechanical aspect of literacy and numeracy so they can concentrate on higher order operations? Do we agonize over our children being unable to weave cloth and tailor clothing?
If Marshall McLuhan is right, we are not past the point where we are pumping old media through the new internet media pipe. Text will always be with us, I think because it is just too darned useful. But we will utilize it differently as we become able to record, replay, produce, publish, communicate and collaborate using non-textual, non-numeric media and move beyond linear and tabular networks and into netular scale-free networks.
Something that occurred to me about phonetic language like English and syllabic language like Arabic versus iconic language like Hanyu Chinese is a phonetic or syllabic language enable you to encode or decode words according to their sound and store and retrieve them based on a simple index. Hanyu on the other hand provides no association between code and sound. You are dependent on the person you hear the word from to provide the association making coding and decoding author dependent. Iconic storage and retrieval indexes are not always obvious either although they do exist based on the subordinate symbols from which words are composed. The internet poses the remedy to this by enabling the automation of the association between sound and icon and definition.
It seems to me that iconic languages as a technology are undergoing a major evolutionary change that could not be achieved without the internet.
Computing is going through an interesting process:
Note: PL means programming language
Nodular Computer: Mainframe: Priesthoods operate
Nodular Network: ARPANET: Priesthoods connect
Nodular Data: Variable: Noun: Priesthoods Query
Nodular Language: Variable PL: Assembler: Priesthoods Manipulate
Nodular Communication: Variable Packet: TCP/IP Priesthoods Communicate
Nodular Schedule: Sequential Batch
Linear Computer: Minicomputer: Scribes operate
Linear Network: Ethernet: Scribes connect
Linear Data: String dbms: Verb: Scribes Query
Linear Language: String PL: 3GL: Scribes Manipulate
Linear Communication: String Packet: HTML: Scribes Communicate
Linear Schedule: Multi-Tasking
Tabular Computer: Microcomputer: Educated operate
Tabular Network: Internet: Educated communicate
Tabular Data: Relational dbms: Noun Set: Educated Query
Tabular Language: Relational PL: SQL: Educated Manipulate
Tabular Communication: Relation Packet: XML: Educated Communicate
Tabular Schedule: Multi-Threading
What is over the horizon and will accompany Iconic Languages I call “DemocraNet”
Netular Computer: Scale-free CPUs: Laypeople operate
Netular Network: High Frequency Gravity Wave Network: Laypeople communicate
Netular Data: Associational DBMS: Verb Set: Laypeople Query
Netular Language: Assocational PL: Iconic Language: Laypeople Manupulate
Netular Communication: Association Packet: XMPEGML: Laypeople Communicate
Netular Schedule: AlwaysOn
High Frequency Gravity Wave Networks will make available bandwidth several factors larger.
Associational DBMSs will allow us to modify databases on the fly without concerns regarding referential integrity or normalization.
Iconic Language will Internationalize visual communication.
XMPEGML as new form of markup language for the standardization of iconic language exchange awaits development.
AlwaysOn would mean that you are always connected to democranet and always processing data.
Everything is in the mix to varying degrees, but each successive community is larger.