alien tongues

if we received a message from an alien civilization, would we know how to read it?
the 6000-odd human languages have universal syntactic structure, defining a family of possibilities for language. alien tongues takes this same structure, and imagines languages in which syntax is geometrical.
syntactic structure

language is `infinite use of finite means’ [Humboldt]. complexity is created by the astronomical number of combinations afforded by even a modestly sized vocabulary, or alphabet.

in `alien tongues’, all characters are drawn from a global alphabet of 30 symbols

each language has a unique `grammar’ -- a set of rules of how the symbols can be connected, and with what probability.

additional rules govern their rendering -- does an upturned symbol denote happiness? does a monstrous width denote rage? does physical distance denote tense?