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    Towards a new Concept of Literacy


    An attempt has been made in the paper to present alternatives to the Roman alphabet which can be used to program computers, in telecommunications and substituted for numbers in mathematics.  As will be apparent on reading the paper, the first of the two alternatives requires the memorising of about 33 basic symbols which are used to express 65 consonants and 15 vowels.  Vowels and consonants are combined in the system so that, through positioning, each symbol is used to express two consonants and 15 vowels per consonant.  Therefore the 33 symbols express 32 multiplied by 33 i.e. 1056 letters.  In this alternative, there is only one way to spell a word which makes it difficult to distinguish different meanings of a particular word.  The second alternative presents two letters per sound.  It has 33 symbols.  Hence there are 1056 letters.  The letters of the two alphabets can be combined two or more at a time to form phonetic ideograms. 
    In addition, an electronic terminal designed using seven keys has been conceived. 
    Work on this paper started when a successful attempt enabled the writer to eliminate the line for connecting letters to form words in the Nagri alphabet.  This was achieved when it became clear to the writer that the alphabet could be written without the need for a connecter line.  This was done as there were two letters which did not involve drawing the line on top.  These two letters were similar to two others which had the line on top.  The writer resolved the problem by just inserting lines above the two letters thus distinguishing them.  When the alphabet was written in this way, as the letters are all the same size, it became a little difficult to tell when a word was ending and the next beginning.  Hence dots were placed at the right of the letter ending the word.   Eventually the writer realised that he had by eliminating the line created new letters.  Similarly, the alphabet has two letters which are identical except that one has a dot below.  The writer realized that each symbol expressing the alphabet could be used to form four letters.  The writer then practiced writing the alphabet from right to left instead of the usual left to right.  He discovered that most of the symbols could be laterally inverted.  When he tried writing the alphabet from bottom to top as in Chinese, he realized that most of the symbols could be vertically inverted.  The writer realized that each symbol of the alphabet could form four positions each involving a 90 degree turn as could its inverted form.  Hence each basic symbol could express 32 letters with its eight positions and four letters per position, by using lines and dots.  It became clear to the writer that an alphabet involving 33 basic symbols could express 1056 letters and that these could be programmed into an electronic typewriter or a computer terminal with the help of six keys and one for registering.  In the original Nagri alphabet there was a letter which was formed by combining two other letters.  This gave the clue that if two basic letters are combined, they can be used to form a number of letters which are equal to the square of these letters.  Hence the original 1056 letters could be combined two at a time to form over a million.  The clue as to the use of such a large number of letters was provided by the Chinese idiographic system whose letters expressed concepts rather than sounds.  If each of 1056 letters are given a particular sound, then the secondary alphabet involving two letters can be used to form phonetic codes uses of which may be many in telecommunications and computers.  Another clue towards developing this system from the Nagri alphabet was that one particular sound is allotted two letters.  It became apparent to the writer that if each sound was given two letters in the alphabet, then a word combining three letters can be written in eight ways and still maintain its pronunciation.  Hence words with the same pronunciation but more than one meaning can be distinguished.  Though the root to discovering that symbols could be inverted was not achieved through an examination of the alphabet, the alphabet nonetheless provides clues that the symbols can be inverted.  This alphabet is a blend which achieves a level of unity of science and art which will perhaps never be surpassed.  Though the phonetic range of the alphabet is incomplete, it becomes evident on examination that it has every sound that can be enunciated without jaw movement or having to pout the lips I. e.  Any sound that necessitates downward movement of the lower lip or an opening of the jaw is not included in the system.  Hence if Sanskrit songs are sung without jaw movement each line of the song clears the lungs and a deep breath has to be taken before the next line begins.  Five minutes sung singing a Sanskrit song gives the same amount of scientific yogic breathing.  Moreover the tighter the vocal chords are stretched singing in this way, the better the voice sounds.  Singing thus becomes easy.  
    An attempt has been made to suggest an alternative alphabet which can be incorporated into most languages.  The alphabet has 33 basic symbols.  As is apparent from table 1 the symbols can be laterally and vertically inverted.  Hence on turning the symbols 90 degrees at a time the symbols acquire eight positions.  There are four positions each for the straight and inverted rotations.  In addition, by inserting or deleting a line from the top or similarly a dot below, each position of the symbol acquired four letters.  Hence each symbol incorporates 32 letters. 
    In the alphabet, 16 letters have been earmarked for each consonant.  This is so because most letters marked for a particular consonant have a built in vowel sound.  There are two alternatives suggested for the alphabet.  In the first alternative, a letter has one sound and in the second each sound has two letters.  As there are 33 symbols the first alternative can handle one set of symbols for vowels which are not used in conjunction with consonants I. e.  Pure vowels.  There are therefore 65 sets of symbols for consonants and as has already been mentioned, each basic symbol can incorporate two consonants and 15 vowel variations per consonant.  In the second alternative, there are 32 letters per consonant.  Each basic letter in table 1 has a corresponding similar sound represented in its inversion.  In the first alternative there is one set of vowels with two rotational variations per sound and 32 consonantal variation, each attached with a set of vowel sounds except one for combining consonants.  The first system may be used as an alternative to the International Phonetic Alphabet, whereas the second may be used in particular languages which normally do not have more than 33 consonants. 
    The first 12 letters for each consonant have been marked with cardinal vowels.  There letters have been marked for diphthongs and the 16 for combining consonants which do not have a vowel sound in between.  
    According to the International Phonetic Alphabet there are a total of 20 vowels.  Cardinal vowels have been indicated for each consonant.  In addition there are a few diphthongs.  The balance can be expressed by combining cardinal vowels with the 12 pure vowels marked in the non inverted first symbol in table 1.  There are 62 consonants mentioned in the International Phonetic Alphabet.  There are 33 basic symbols specified in table 1.  As each basic symbol incorporates two consonants apart from the non inverted first symbol which is used to mark vowels, the alphabet is capable of handling 65 consonants.  Hence the International Phonetic Alphabet can be incorporated.  Each phonetic sound can have phonemic variations.  Hence sounds which begin a word may be slightly different to the same letter in the middle or end of a word.  For instance in the sound marked P when used in pup, the sound starting the word is different from the sound ending the word.  If the final p in the word is pronounced, there is a vowel sound produced which is kept nearly silent.  If there is no vowel sound then the final p in the word is not expressed.   A glottal stop may be used in this case.  In speech four factors affect each sound.  These are consonants or vowels, pitch, amplitude and length.  The phonetic sound in this connection is expressed through the symbol marked for that particular sound.  Variation in pitch are expressed by rotating the symbol through a range of 90 degrees.  Amplitude variations of which three are significant in English (Gimson 1970) can be distinguished by varying the colour of the letters.  A possible way in which the colour variations may be achieved is by equipping a terminal with a ribbon consisting of different colors to move vertically.  Variations in length of vowel sounds could be marked by two dots to the right when they are long.  This need not be marked when they are short.  Alternatively variations in length may be distinguished by light and bold print. 
    (1) If this alphabet is adapted in a language, it could if the hardware to incorporate the system is produced, be used for dictating letters and other materials to computers or dictating machines.  The alphabet once written could be used by scans in reading machines to aid the blind.  
    (2) The alphabet has about 1056 letters.  Most of the letters can be combined two at a time to form words.  Thus, if the letters are combined we can have approximately a million different words which can be used for concepts, just as in the Chinese idiographic alphabet, for aiding in computer translation.  
    (3) When the alphabet is combined to form words or codes,  six at a time there are about a million trillion variations.  There can be more than a thousand synonyms per concept hence making the code impossible to decipher.  If a decoded version falls into enemy hands, a new code based on the same pattern can be developed in a matter of hours with the aid of a computer. 
    (4) Another possible use could be in telecommunications.  Instead of numbers, codes from the alphabet may be used by voice recognition machines which do away with the need for dialing. 
    (5) If a modified version of the alphabet which does not incorporate pitch and amplitude variations is used in languages, it could go a long way in which languages are spoken uniform hence enabling computers to understand us more economically.  
    (6) The alphabet could be used instead of numbers in mathematics hence making computer terminals even simpler.  Computers can incorporate accounting systems of any complexities and this system offers considerable economies. 
    The work attempts to find applications in telecommunications and electronics especially for knowledge intensive artificial intelligence computers.  Its nature is exploratory and the writer is aware that significant modifications have to be made in order to exploit its full potential.  He is not aware of how computers distinguish phonetic sounds in terms of electronics and physics, and welcomes enquiries and comments from interested readers.  The work if accepted will alter the way and systems of literacy.  In short it is an equaliser. 
    There is more that one way to pronounce vowels in the Roman alphabet.  In certain cases there is more than one way in pronouncing consonants.  A word or name can be written in many ways as can a word spelt be pronounced in many ways.  If a specific word has more than one meaning then if each meaning is given a specific spelling, it becomes possible to decipher.  The arbitrary way in which spellings of words are formulated leads to problems in programming computers to understand any language, which uses alphabets which are not perfectly phonetic.  
    As can be observed from table 1 two alphabet systems have been suggested.  They are basically similar except that in the first 33 symbols are used to form 1056 letters.  Except with words which begin with vowels each consonant is equipped to handle 15 vowels through positioning and each symbol has two consonants.  The symbol,  which is used in the four vertical positions,  with each position through lines above and dots below enables 4  letters per position thus forming 16 letters each with built in vowels.  The horizontal position similarly formed another 16 letters. 
    The second alphabet is similar to the first except that there are 33 symbols.  Each symbol has 32 letters.  The difference is that the vertical positions have corresponding letters in the horizontal position with the same pronunciation.  Hence there are two letters for each sound and 1056 letters.  Hence as there are two letters per sound it becomes possible to spell words with more than one meaning differently and still have them pronounced the same way. 
    Since writing the paper I have remembered that there are pitch and amplitude variations in speech, specially pitch in Chinese dialects and amplitude in stressing word patterns in English. 
    As will be apparent from table 1, the symbols with the corresponding international phonetic transcription, forms 4 letters per position after which the symbol is rotated 90 degrees clockwise.  Pitch variations could be accounted for by rotating the symbols as the computer can recognise these.  Amplitude variations can, if the technology is available be earmarked by varying colors or brightness of the impressions
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       CONCEPTION OF ELECTRONIC TERMINAL DESIGN
    The terminal requires 6 keys with an additional one for registering. 
      For illustration purposes the keys are called A, B, C, D, E, F, & G is for registering. 
    If A or B or C (inclusive) are depressed there are seven combinations.  If D or E (inclusive) are depressed, there are 3 combinations.  As specified earlier, there are 7 combinations for A or B or C (inclusive).  So if A or B or C (inclusive) are depressed after D or E (inclusive) the terminal gets a further 21 combinations.  Now if F is depressed after D or E (inclusive), then A or B or C (inclusive) get further 21 combinations.  These 49 combinations can be used for earmarking the primary symbols and punctuations.  If key F is depressed,  and after that A B or C (inclusive) are depressed,  overlooking D & E then the 7 combinations from A or B or C (inclusive) can be used for positioning the primary symbols.  The eighth position of a symbol can be obtained directly.  If E or D (inclusive) is depressed at any time after A or B or C (inclusive) then D can be used for marking the line on top and E for placing the dot below.  Now if F is depressed then D or E (inclusive) can be used for marking a line on the right and dot to the left.  Once the letter has been completed and flashed correctly on to the display, key G can be used for registering.  In short anyone who knows how to play a musical instrument with little training of the 49 combinations marked for symbols 33 are for linguistic phonetic symbols, 8 are for marking the lines pointing to the zenith and center of the circle enclosing the symbols and 8 for numerical phonetic rotation.     
    The symbols in table 1 provide further clues.  As the symbols can be laterally and vertically inverted they yield 8 positions on 90 degree turns.  A line inserted to its right, yields a total of 16 positions by inserting or deleting the line and dot on the left thus yielding a total of 32 positions.  As specified earlier, line on top and dot below, yields 4 combinations, thereby inserting or deleting lines or dots a symbol which can be laterally or vertically inverted yields 128 combinations. 
    Another symbol in table 1 can only be vertically inverted but when a line is inserted to its side, a symbol which can be laterally or vertically inverted (exclusive) yields eight positions on 90 degree turns.  Therefore by inserting a line on the side and by inserting or deleting lines on the top or right and dots at the bottom and left side, 128 combinations are possible.  Also if the rotatable concentric circles enclose these combinations, many more combinations result, depending upon the number of positions the arm of the circle can rest.  
    In the development of languages, the first developments were simple vocal sounds, thereafter there emerged grammar which became more sophisticated with the passage of time.  Finally, writing developed to preserve ideas and thoughts.  
    The present work attempts to start with the alphabet and in the future based on the alphabet,  develop a language which incorporated modified grammar and structure of Sanskrit and concepts of the Chinese idiographic character writing so as to eliminate the linguistic limitations of present languages specially the problems posed by attempts to make computers understand a language.  The emphasis will be on economy, simplicity and clarity.  
    Another possible avenue of research could be the development of an alternative numbering system, and based on this a new mathematics.  The emphasis once again is on economy, simplicity and clarity, so as to eliminate limitations of the present system and in easing memory constraints.  
    Before commencing this work,  an attempt will be made to ascertain whether linguistic limitations of present languages in making computers understand a language,  can be eliminated or reduced,  by equipping it to distinguish pitch or tonal,  amplitude and length variations.  
    Another attempt will be made to see whether this alphabet can express music accurately.    
    As specified in the table one is marked by a line on top, two with a dot below, four with a line to the right and eight with a line to the left.  Sixteen is marked with by a line pointing to the center of the circle enclosing the lines and dots, Thirty two by a line pointing to the zenith from the top of the circle.  Sixty four is marked by a line pointing to the center of the circle from the right and so on till the number reaches 4095.  
    If there is no line or dot in the correspondence, then leave the correspondence as it is.  If there is a line and no line then leave a line.  If there are two lines, then carryover a line to the next set of correspondences and so on till the addition is complete.  If there are two dots in the correspondence, then leave a dot and carry over two lines to the next correspondence and so on till the operation is complete. 
    It is similar to addition except that it is regressive.  Similarly, rules for multiplication and division can be worked out.  When the basic number system is complete, the system can combine two numbers at a time to complete numbers till infinity.  
    DATE:  10th.  July 1987. 
    ADDRESS:  B-126, Amend Vicar, 
         Delhi-110092 INDIA Copyright. Ashwini Kumar Puri vide Indian Copyright No L11322 do 10th Day of July 1987. 
     Afterward: Without this paper there would have been no internet or computers as we know them today.