In the writings of Gottfried Leibniz can be found many elements relating to the possibility of a universal language. Specifically he was working on a constructed language as a concept which would gradually come to replace that of rationalized Latin as the natural basis for a projected universal language. Leibniz conceived of a ‘characteristica universalis’, an “algebra” capable of expressing all conceptual thought. This kind of algebra would include rules for symbolic manipulation, which he called a calculus ratiocinator. Read more
Jan Tschichold, who was a typographer, book designer, teacher and writer who along with Bauhaus typographers such as Herbert Bayer and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, as well as El Lissitzky and many others are all major contributors to graphic design as we know it. Typography is an oft understated contribution to knowledge, like architecture, combining both form and function to produce a carriage of information and language. Read more
This is an essay on the history of written language, it starts with a look at the mysterious figure of Socrates and his discussion of the god Thoth, reputed in myth to have created language. This has been chosen as a starting point as this essay is already out of its depth in suggesting that such a subject can be tackled adequately. We find ourselves confronted with the study of history and the art of historiography – what stories are told and how truely they hold any facts. The most useful tool here will be a helping of doubt upon which a healthy scepticism to question things.
When I started this small, amateur study, I had no idea how much of a complicated subject it was. It seemed on the surface simple. As I went on trying to find the bottom of this endless story, the narrative(s) kept on revealing to me a million more roots and avenues to pursue. Neither did I understand that it was so much of a political question to pursue either, and that, in my pursuit for the antique origins of written language I discovered the sage guidance of Wendy and Warwick Ball – friends of history, who were kind enough to guide me towards understandings that I have chosen to try and fit an ocean in a cup… Read more