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The Annex of Universal Languages

Source collection Annex of Universal Languages

Lingua Ignota by St. Hildegard von Bingen

The Lingua Ignota — Latin for unknown language — of Hildegard von Bingen is the earliest documented invented language. The German Benedictine abbess, also Saint Hildegard (1098-1179) already had visions as a child and was therefore offered by her parents to service God in a monastery. There she would write music, books, poetry and even construct her own divine language that was written in an alphabet called litterae ignotae, containing 23 letters that she designed particularly for this language.

Philosophical Language by John Wilkins

John Wilkins (1614-1672) created a new universal language that was intended for international communication among academics but was also supposed to be used by diplomats, merchants and travellers.

The Alphabet of Nature by Francis van Helmont

In Van Helmont’s theory, the ancient Hebrew writings are basically illustrated diagrams of the tongue and lips position when vocalising the language.

Visible Speech by Alexander Melville Bell

In 1867 Alexander Melville Bell published an alphabet representing the speech organs when articulating sounds.

Esperanto by Ludwig Lejzer Zamenhof

Esperanto was created as an international auxiliary language by the Polish-Jewish doctor Ludwig Lejzer Zamenhof (1859-1917).

Isotype by Otto Neurath, Gert Arnts & Peter Alma

The visual communication system Isotype (International System of Typographic Picture Education) was initiated in the Social Democratic municipality of Vienna and spread later to the Netherlands, Russia and the UK.

Olympic Pictograms by Otl Aicher

For the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Otl Aicher took the depiction of all sports in a unified visual language one step further by trying to eliminate any racial and gender signifiers in his pictograms.

Blissymbolics by Charles K. Bliss

Bliss created his own true language based on symbols that could be internationally understood and is actually one of the few happy constructors of a language that has seen his invention put to use during his lifetime.

Language of Space aUI by Ph.D. W. John Weilgart

The philosophical language of space aUI was created in 1950 by John Weilgart, Ph.D. (1913–1981) who studied languages und philosophy in his hometown Vienna.

International SignWriting by Valerie Sutton

Valerie Sutton (*1951) is an American dancer who started developing DanceWriting in 1966 as a stick-figure notation to teach dancers of the Royal Danish Ballet.

Genesis by Juli Gudehus

Juli Gudehus (*1968) is a German graphic-designer that experienced sudden fame with an art school project. Initiated through an assignment, she started to collect everyday symbols, which led to the idea of translating the Book of Genesis into contemporary hieroglyphics

LoCoS by Yukio Ota

According to the Japanese graphic and signage designer Yukio Ota we will all speak LoCoS by 2065.

Universal Language of Pain by Mercedes & BBDO Bangkok

In 2018 collaborating with the Thai Health Foundation and Mercedes-Benz, BBDO Bangkok designed a universal sign language to communicate pain across language barriers.

Pictoscript by Jochen Gros

Inspired by how hieroglyphics communicate complex sentences when combined into a string, Gros started to develop his own pictorial script based on existing symbolics but with his own coherent design.

Emoticon by Scott Fahlman

Emoticons short for “emotion icons” are pictorial representations of a facial expression or a writer’s mood.

Emoji by Shigetaka Kurita & Apple

Emoji is a combination of the Japanese words e “picture” and moji “character”. The resemblance of the word emotion and emoji are purely coincidental. When extending the iPhone market to Japan, Apple was advised to include emojis into their operating system.

iA Writer's Roger That by Information

In 2015 the Swiss tennis star Roger Federer started to publicly share his diary in emoji form on twitter. Fans with enough insight, where able to get a pretty detailed recap of Federer’s busy days.

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