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Blissymbols as Charles drew them: Blissymbol Tables Introduction

This section is an English “dictionary” of Blissymbols as drawn by Charles. I scanned the symbols from every document, book, Semantography Series that I have in my possession and compiled a table of all of those symbols. I will add to the tables as I continue to review the material in my possession and discover new symbolizations.

Each Blissymbol has been created by Charles. I have resisted the temptation to edit (such as adding an indicator or a synonym). In situations where I cannot be sure of the provenance, the Blissymbol has not been included. Other omissions include those where Charles provides a multitude of meanings. In these cases I have included a few of the more common and omitted the rest (for example pages 673 and 674 of Semantography Blissymbolics give multiple meanings for the Blissymbols: Man, Bad and Woman, Bad.)

This work took a lot of time. As an aside I would like to thank the team from Mystery Science theatre 3000 for helping me get through this project.

Click here to go to the dictionary

Each symbol is presented as follows:

English definition, the Blissymbol, comments (these are from me; some have been copied from Charles’ explanations, others I have created to help explain the Blissymbol), the reference document (book, Semantography Series, etc.), for example:

addition, the (with indicator) addition, the (with indicator) The thing added. Semantography Blissymbolics pp. 270

Please note that the numbering referenced in the Semantography Blissymbolics book refers to the third edition, large bold numbers.

Before proceeding to the tables I would ask the reader to review the following points.

Would Charles approve of what I have done?

No. Charles would have wanted the Blissymbols to be displayed in a uniform size. In this case they are the size as I have scanned them. Also, he would have wanted the dotted upper and lower lines (to show the Blissymbol’s relative position), along with indicators. I have just copied the symbols as they appear. Finally, he would have wanted the Blissymbol explanation to appear underneath the Blissymbol. In this case I have placed the explanation in the column on the left, given that the tables are organized alphabetically.

Note: The Blissymbols from the Blissymbol Picture Book all have the dotted upper and lower reference lines.

Faded Images

Some of the images are faded, especially those that have been photocopied multiple times. I tried to tweak the colouring to bring out the Blissymbol, but was not always successful.

Blissymbol Line Thickness

Charles was a stickler for adhering to rules concerned with line thickness. For example, the thickness of lines that comprise a pointer or an indicator should be half that of the Blissymbol proper (to show that they are an adjunct to the symbol). This symbol for foot shows the pointer lines "thiner" than the Blissymbol foot.

Blissymbol appearance

Some of the symbols are free-form hand-drawn by Charles. Others are drawn by me using a very old Blissymbol template. I have drawn these symbols in situations where Charles has explained a symbol but not actually put it down in sequence. I have also drawn the symbols in situations where Charles has scratched out a symbol and written over it with his corrected version. In all cases the symbols are what Charles has produced.

Male and Female

In his early books Charles often wrote his examples as male, as in musicianmusician, male. I believe this was following the old tradition of using the male form to represent either gender. Over the years this changed to that of his symbol for either gender (unless specifically talking about a male or female), as in this symbol for musicianmusician.

Multiple Versions

Over the years Charles devised different ways of symbolizing certain meanings. I think this demonstrates that he was not rigid in his approach to his symbols (although he was definitely rigid in applying the rules governing Blissymbols). In my experience Charles was always willing to consider arguments for or against symbolization. Sometimes you would get a reply days or weeks later stating why a combination worked or, more often, did not work. Most frequently you received the answer straight away. In all cases there was a reason to justify his decision.

In the following tables I have included all versions of a meaning represented by Blissymbols.

Blissymbol Typewriter

A bit of an anachronism in these days of digital machines, but Charles always emphasized that his symbols be able to be typed on a Blissymbol typewriter. He altered symbols so that they would adhere to this limitation.

Plethora of Auxiliary Symbols

Charles wanted to avoid a “new Babel of symbols” by limiting the number of auxiliary symbols. He felt that ~100 auxiliary symbols would be enough to complement the 100 symbol elements. His first approach to any new symbol was to derive a symbolization from the 100 symbol elements.

Blissymbols: Grammar

Charles used a few symbols to demonstrate how his grammar system worked. Below are links to some of those symbols:

Click here to go to the dictionary