THURSDAY, MARCH 24, 2016
Eric Lee, A-SOCIATED PRESS
TOPICS: DIAGRAMMATIC LANGUAGE, FROM THE WIRES, LITERACY, UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE
Language learning could begin early. "Mommy," giver of milk and care, is not the "baby." "Daddy" who also cares is not the "Mommy." "Sister" and "Dog" share the home. Together we are "family." Visual symbols could be learned before spoken language.
TUCSON (A-P) — The Rosetta Book will be composed of pictures simplified into drawings and drawn images simplified to elemental symbols which will be pictographic where possible to abstract as needed. The book begins and will develop as best conceived, so let's start by outlining the book. What follows is one possibility. All possibilities that can be conceived should be considered.
Language, being for storytelling, is secondary to the telling, so the language should not be the focus, but incidental to the telling of a story. The story could be one of genesis, the story of generic stand ins for young but ever aging human beings. It could be the story of toddlers to school-aged children as parents might tell them about themselves and the things about them. The first concepts would be those developmental psychologists determine to be the first concepts the human mind forms, perhaps that of "self" and "other" or "baby" and "mommy." Each short story of a developing human could feature differing families in differing times and places, with the main character varying by alleged race and gender, merely increasing in age up to about fifteen.
As parents teach a child words, they would use Blissymbols along with the words and this could be pictured, illustrated as drawings, and a progression from simple picture to drawing to pictograph shown. No mention of specific spoken words would be made. Typically from the infant's point of view there is the mommy-thing as giver of milk and comfort. Perhaps start with a spare-the-details story of a future mommy-thing and daddy-thing forming a pair-bond and the mommy-thing gestating a future baby-thing and giving birth. Here is daddy when mommy and daddy first met. Here is your sister in mommy before she was born and as a baby-thing after she was born. And here is the mommy when you were inside. The story could begin with a birth event with a bit of retrospect added as if the story is being told to a concept forming toddler.
At first the baby only drinks milk from the mommy. Mommy and daddy protects and provide for the baby as does the house-thing. The sister-thing and dog-thing live in the house too, and together make family. The family endeavors to love baby, each other, and their home. All work to have enough. Pictures would become fewer as drawings replaced them to give the idea of what each Bliss character refers to.
As infants grow, as minds develop, concepts are added. The book tells of each as it might be added to a growing mind. The family would be kept simple at first; home could be a hut with no technology to distract as home is not a place to store stuff, but a place for a family to live and their life depends on food, water, protection from sun, rain, wind, and cold. Mommy could be a gatherer, daddy a hunter. So the story should be based on the best science developmental psychologists, anthropologists, and sociologist have to tell with elements of good storytelling and images artists can provide. It would be the story of an awakening mind learning about life, the universe, and everything. Philosophers may well have contributions to make.
Adults learning to read the Rosetta Book will just be thinking back further than a four-year old, but they can get through the book quicker, to such concepts as a five-year old might be ready to know of and so on. For a five-year old there might be supplemental learning material, their first schoolbook, Book01. The Rosetta Book would avoid repetition and just cover the basics, hitting the high points of such things a fifteen-year old might know of. Confucius said, "At fifteen I began my study, at thirty I knew where to stand." He began to think as an adult and a Rosetta Book could cover the basics up to then with a focus on early learning/language covering more advanced basics so as to cover the basics of Bliss literacy such that other books could be read. Book01 to Book10 could be schoolbooks expanding on the basics. Adults could use them to reinforce the Rosetta Book learning and filling in details. Additional information would be in Book11 to Book99, the Encyclopedia Bliss or Blisspedia. The average fifteen-year old should be able to read Book11 as should a close reader of Book00. By thirty, adults would have read to Book99 if they read one book every two months. This would be the reader's digest version of human knowledge and learning.
No one human would author any book, but that doesn't mean writing them by committee either. Writing is rewriting and the endeavor starts with one individual writing at their best, then rewriting with collaborative help. Others give it their best and in matters of taste, readers vote and in matters of fact, scientists and scholars determine what is true with educators determining on the basis of evidence what didactically works, what teaches best. All the books would evolve over time. The development of Wikipedia could be a model. More attention to being concise should be paid, both out of consideration of readers, but also to allow Blisspedia to be printed on durable material and to not depend on electronic information technology which may or may not be available everywhere or anywhere in a thousand, ten thousand, or million years.
Encyclopaedia Britannica is about 30 volumes (or what would be 88 volumes if 370 pages each) and Wikipedia, if printed, would be over 2,500 volumes, so 88 volumes of Blisspedia would be within reason for covering general information. Early editions might be 99 pages per volume, so more books than other encyclopedias, but with room to grow over the centuries. The content should focus on what is important to know, limited to that we think we know with good reason and supportive evidence, not minutia deemed important to current buyers of encyclopedias or that current web surfers might want to know. An article on celebrities might mention a few from over the centuries to illustrate the type, but otherwise everyone with a name known to "the public" or even "to history" would not be mentioned let alone have an article about them. The reader should not be assumed to be presently among the living. The living need to consider the basics over the tabloid offerings and take a long view of the present to put it in context.
Some books could be associated with Blisspedia to include the finer points and special information. The Handbook of Chemistry and Physics could be in Bliss. There could be yearbooks, decadebooks, and centurybooks to covers details of time and place with a human bias. The Encyclopedia Bliss needs to filter the immensity of information and present essential information, without giving excess due to humans. We need to know we are the environment, are part of nature, the cosmos, a very little part, and not the apex of creation. Bliss can be of service.