Ideograms represent ideas expressed by means of a non-phonetic writing system. A sentence written with Chinese ideograms can be read in different languages, such as Cantonese or the Shanghai idiom. Each language will assign to each ideogram its own phonetic expression. Originally, ideograms consisted of sets of brush strokes. This system has existed in China for many centuries.
The concept of ideogram is one of the most brilliant achievements of the human kind and may serve as an essential reference for new inventions in the field of communication. Based on the ancient use of brush strokes, a new system is herein proposed, by replacing ideograms for series of numbers (digits).
An edeogram (or electronic ideogram) is herein defined as a number, that is, as a set of digits that represent a given morpheme. Each word of the lexicon of a language with a phonetic writing system is represented by a morpheme. Morphemes are often made up of smaller morphemes.
In general, the basic morpheme (root) is preceded or followed by another morpheme: a prefix (before the root) or a suffix (after the root). Structures like “prefix+root+suffix” are quite common. There are other formulas, such as “root+suffix” or “root+suffix+suffix”.
In Portuguese, there is the morpheme ‘desmemoriado’ (without memory), which is structured as follows: des-memoria+ado (prefix+root+suffix). By using digits randomly picked it would be possible to translate ‘desmemoriado’ by juxtaposed numbers: 395_204016_597, that is, 395204016597 (three digits for the prefix, six digits for the root, and three digits for the suffix).
In English, also as an example, consider the morpheme reck+less+ly (root+suffix+suffix), which could be expressed by series of numbers, as follows: 140284+338+582. This morpheme – recklessly - would therefore be recognized by the number 140284338582 (six digits for the root, three digits for the first suffix and three more digits for the second suffix).
To transform words into numbers will be something revolutionary, in the field of communication. It will greatly extend the horizon of present Internet search engines.
It will make possible to find new means to meet the growing demand for information, such as precise and simultaneous electronic translations of an original English text into French, German, and Portuguese texts (among other languages), provided their respective data bases (sets of edeograms) be available and synchronized.
This new system will need a large investment. It will require that the whole set of morphemes of a given reference phonetic language (English being the candidate of choice) to be initially converted into numbers. The resulting set of numbers (or set of edeograms) should be designated as ‘alpha set’.
To allow for the translation from the reference language (let us assume that will be the English language) into other phonetic languages it will become necessary to create one set of edeograms for each one of these languages. Those sets should be designated as ‘beta sets’. For instance, beta1 for French, beta2 for German, beta3 for Russian etc.
As to languages with writing systems based on ideograms, such as Mandarin, for each ideogram a specific number must be stipulated. Let us designate such number as a k-edeogram. For each language with an ideogram system should be assigned a proper set of k-edeograms, that is a set of edeograms to be identified by the Greek letter K (kappa). For example, K1 for Mandarim, K2 for Japanese etc.
Languages with ideographic systems may use morphemes as complements, by means of auxiliary phonetic alphabets. It is the case of Japanese, which resorts both to Kanji (ideograms) and to the Kana (Hiragana and Katakana), as supplementary phonetic systems. Specific supplementary beta sets will certainly prove necessary for such languages.
Furthermore, one must bear in mind that an edeogram system will require diversified work teams, made up of linguists, programmers, system analysts, mathematicians, and other specialists in different fields, such as medicine, law, commodities, agriculture, shipping, physics, finance, and so forth.
Another important feature of the edeogram system lies in the use of context markers. This is about reserving up to four digits to enhance certain words or expressions used predominantly in a certain context. For instance, in English the morpheme ‘writ’ appears typically in scripts related to legal issues. In Portuguese, the word ‘deflação’ (deflation) pertains to texts referred to the sphere of economic matters.
Context markers will play an important role to help the development of an algorithm that might render possible the use of edeograms. Those markers might also allow for a substantial reduction in search times, and for greater precision concerning search results.
© Antonio José Telles Bueno. All rights reserved. Written on December the 30th, 2012.