A Logographic Script for Europe

Like Europe, China has many languages ​​and cultures. In contrast to Europe, everyone in China communicate with each other through a common script: Hanzi. A text drawn up in Chinese characters for every literate Chinese to understand, even if they don’t share a common language. Europe has tried to forge unity through a common currency, the market, regulation and parliament. These elements have so far not delivered a broad common identity. Europe is separated by language.

logographic script for europe

Babel is a project initiated by Monnik and Studio Rooiejas in which they design and develop a logographic script for Europe. With a logographic writing we could read (and write) each other’s newspapers even if we can not understand each other. A design solution through which one could instantly create a truly European public space. In a logographic writing each word or concept is represented by a separate symbol, called a logogram. Because these characters have a symbolic and not a phonetic value they can be used universally, even by people who do not speak each other’s languages.

A logographic language as a solution to Europe’s “confusion of tongues” sounds far-fetched and obvious at the same time. It would be practical if it existed, completely impractical to implement, and most of all insightful and evocative food for thought.

See and read more at Monnik and Flickr.

People Are Knowledge: The Oral Citations Project

“The Oral Citations Project is a strategic research project funded by a Wikimedia Foundation grant to help overcome a lack of published material in emerging languages on Wikipedia. The idea behind the project is a simple one. Wikipedia privileges printed knowledge (books, journals, magazines, newspapers and more) as authentic sources of citable material. This is understandably so, for a lot of time and care goes into producing this kind of printed material, and restricting citation sources makes the enterprise workable. But books – and printed words generally – are closely correlated to rich economies: Europe, North America, and a small section of Asia.”

Oral citations“In India and South Africa, for instance, (to take just two countries in the rest of the world), the number of books produced per year is nowhere close to, say, the number of books produced in the UK. What this means for indigenous language Wikipedias from India and South Africa is that there is very little citable, printed material to rely on in those languages; in turn, it means that it is very difficult for any of those languages to grow on Wikipedia. (There is a related problem: writing this local knowledge on English Wikipedia is a task similarly hampered by a lack of good printed sources).”

“As a result of this disparity, everyday, common knowledge – things that are known, observed and performed by millions of people – cannot enter Wikipedia as units of fact because they haven’t been written down in a reliably published source.This means that not only do small-language Wikipedias in countries like India and South Africa lose out on opportunities for growth, so also does the Wikimedia movement as a whole lose out on the potential expansion of scope in every language.”

Description of the project, audio files, movie and links to news articles can all be found on this page. Via Appropedia.

When Low-Tech Goes IKEA

when lowtech goes ikea

What happens when two industrial design students from Sweden end up in Kenya creating a pedal powered machine for small-scale farmers who are often illiterate and speak more than 60 languages? You get a do-it-yourself design that seems to have come out of the IKEA factories – pictoral manuals included.

“Made in Kenya”, the bachelor project of Niklas Kull and Gabriella Rubin, is a textbook example of low-tech made accessible to everybody, regardless of their native tongue and language skills.

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