Saturday, January 26, 2013

"In the Land of Invented Languages," "Blissymbolics," and the new Radiolab episode, "Bliss"

The first story in a recent episode of Radiolab ("Bliss": follows a character named Charles Bliss, who is one of many subjects in this book...:

In the Land of Invented Languages: Adventures in Linguistic Creativity, Madness, and Genius (by Arika Okrent)
(Previously titled: In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and the Mad Dreamers Who Tried To Build A Perfect Language)

...Charles Bliss turns out to be an incredibly interesting character who, after having experienced the Nazi propaganda machine and the concentration camps, decided to create a universal language that he thought would cure the world of all its social ills. He published his ideas and a guide to learning his universal language in this book:
Semantography (Blissymbolics): A Logical Writing for an Illogical World

"Bliss believed that war was often caused by the misuse of language, and he believed it could be overcome if we could create a way to communicate the truth without the trickery of words. Having lived through the hell of Nazi concentration camps, he set about creating the perfect language, based on symbols and logic." (Quote taken from the Radiolab website.) 

It is an extremely fascinating story that takes a bit of a sad and ironic turn. I highly recommend listening to it!

I'm just about to order and read the Arika Okrent book...the Charles Bliss book is now a rare out-of-print book -- maybe I'll find a copy of it one day. Anyway, check it out!


Mr. Watson said...

I just heard the Radiolab episode and was totally taken in by this story. I'm a songwriter and theatre/English teacher in Austin, TX, looking for inspiration to write a musical --- and this has lit a fire. I too hope to find a copy of Bliss' original book --- it would be great to really hear him spell out his argument (no pun intended). If you find a copy, let me know!

Ray Bonetti said...

Agreed, it's a fantastic story.

Robin said...

Not sure I agree with it but the thinking behind it is pretty interesting. In many ways a sad story

Anonymous said...

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Chris said...

This is a great story! We all need to agree that the invention of new words or words that are popularized online should not be readily accepted as it might affect our learning from which is right from wrong.

Junu Jinnie said...

This is really a great story. I never heard this story. It is really a fantastic story. Thanks for sharing us.
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