Ikon

Category
Languages in the world

In search of perfect

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash + IKON
Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash + IKON

Who are we? — Humans!

What do we want? — Perfection!

When do we want it? — Since the dawn of time...

The search for the perfect language is, on the one hand, a depressing story because numerous attempts and experiments with its creation have rarely yielded significant results. However, despite it, enthusiasts keep inventing new variants. Today we're talking about one of the youngest candidates, the language IKON (pronounced "ee-kon").

IKON is a project for an international visual language that can freely express the maximum number of concepts using only specially designed icons.

The idea of a pictographic language is as old as the world (literally, if we think of Egyptian hieroglyphics). Chinese characters have existed for thousands of years and still function more than well in modern language. Road signs, being different in some details from country to country, remain kind of universally clear. Finally, the famous Emoji. The closest embodiment of a "language" understood by absolutely everyone in the world (with a couple of exceptions though) and has the estimated maximum number of users of about 2.5 billion. However, Emoji is still not a full-fledged language — it is hardly possible to express a complex thought with its means. That's where the IKON comes from.

The main task of the IKON creators is to convert as many concepts as possible into icons, in the strict proportion of "one concept = one icon". For example, the icon for language.

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The central condition is to be naturally recognizable to everyone on the planet, regardless of cultural background. At the same time, the icons must distinguish very subtly between details, let's say, the verbs "to listen" and "to hear".

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In an ideal world, each icon is so flexible that it can fit in with others and create a whole sentence in a single image.

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The authors haven't forgotten about acute social issues, such as diversity and inclusion — the project already includes icons for different gender identities or none of them.

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However, like any global idea, IKON has its difficulties, which are the subject of further development. In particular, it remains questionable how to represent personal names. They are certainly specific to almost every culture and sometimes troublesome to translate into another language.

In addition, some reasonable objections are getting raised in the direction of icons like these.

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The blue square, according to the idea of the IKON inventors, should symbolize the adjective. To put it mildly, it is not obvious and requires preliminary explanation.

At the moment, IKON is being created by an international group of polyglots, enthusiasts and scholars of linguistics. On its website, we can take a look (though only in video format) at the model of a smartphone app that functions as a translator from human language into IKON, and find translations to these sentences.

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