Thursday, March 15, 2012

Reading & Dotsies

A new conscript popped up on Omniglot today: Dotsies. The premise: Why do we use letters that were designed for writing instead of reading? They're clunky. Dotsies, though hard to adjust to at first, is pretty darn efficient when it comes to space. I'll talk more about how much I love it after some cool stuff about my FAVORITE THING: reading!

Remember this forwarded email you got in 1998 right after the ones with the puppy gifs, the modern day parable with the biblical overtones, and the bad luck threats?
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe. ceehiro. 
Nobody remembers where this exact text came from, but it does such a good job illustrating and explaining the phenomenon at the same time that it'd be silly of me not to copy/paste it.

One of the neat things about Dotsies is the experimental curvy version (or would you prefer full-figured?). Words end up looking like a cross between Arabic, Thai and Tamil scripts. Very pretty, but you'd have to have a lot of reading experience under your belt to recognize the shapes.

The article "The Science of Word Recognition, or how I learned to stop worrying and love the bouma" not only gets the award for Awesome Wordplay While Making a Kubrick Reference and Simultaneously Referencing a Groundbreaker in Your Field -- but is also a lovely historical jaunt into the study of word recognition. The conclusion is that of course word recognition is more complex than word shape, which brings me back around to Dotsies. (Actually, the conclusion was that typefaces should not be designed solely for a pleasing or exaggerated bouma shape.)

Now I haven't spent time learning it (yet!), but I assume that shape plays a very important part in picking up on Dotsies. Like sight-words for toddler, memorizing common wordshapes (the, at, for, idk) or morpheme-shapes (-ing, -er, -est, etc.) would surely pay off.

But to be honest, my knee-jerk reaction was something like, /le sigh, if only I could rearrange the order of the dots to make something a little more sensical/phonetic (like the Korean Hangul script; big up to Sejong the Great!), then this would be a great conscript. Well, I was wrong:
  • I just want every alphabet to be a phonetic alphabet instead of an alt-English alphabet. So sue me.
  • It's not perfect, but the dots do fit onto the English letters in a pleasing, kind-of-makey-sensey way. Check out the letter mapping at
  • I CAN REARRANGE THE DOTS to make whatever I want by modifying the character mapping, and that is a beautiful thing. And also a great resource for cryptographers. If only I could download this remapped version as a ttf... 
In short, thank you, Craig Muth, for making something so pretty and flexible. I mean, you can't write it, and nobody knows how to read it (yet!), but it sure is pretty. See it in action.

Finally, speaking of nobody reading, I just wanted to say thanks for reading this blog. (Hi, Mom! Hi, Dad!)

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