"bringing color to human language"


conceived and developed
Richard Brodie

CPG is a new writing system for the English language which achieves a unified system, melding the best aspects of the world's two principal writing paradigms: Western alphabetic scripts and Eastern logographics.  It features three important innovations.  First, it introduces the concept of using colors (chroma) to represent vowel sounds.  Second, it treats consonant blends as letters in their own right. Third, it combines the phonetic (phono) principle of western alphabets, with the eastern practice of representing words as pictures (glyphics) which fit into uniform squares.

(The following expresses the same thing with CPG)



CPG is not intended to be written by hand. The variety of colored pens that would be required, as well as the extreme precision with which the various consonantal features need to be placed, make it unsuitable for manual use. This particular linguistic development has had to await the advent of computers. I have used Adobe's PostScript language to write the CPG software engine.

CPG is, in an abstract sense, featural. Vowels, represented by colors, form the two-dimensional central body of a syllable, with consonants being the enclosing one-dimensional perimeters. Visually, this is analogous to sounds produced by the vocal apparatus, vowels having a one-dimensional extension through time, with consonants being zero-dimensional (or as they are sometimes characterized, "the sound of silence"), bounding the extremes of a vowel's duration. A more concrete featural aspect is the use of two adjacent small interior open circles to indicate nasalized consonants, a design meant to suggest the human nostrils.

Syllables within a word are stacked vertically from top to bottom, with their heights compressed as necessary depending on how many a word contains. Words, on the other hand, extend in a horizontal direction from left to right.  Finally, punctuation is indicated by black-and-white pattern-filled shapes appended at the bottom (or top) of the word after which they would be postpended (or before which they would be prepended) in normal writing. Consonant blends occupy the same amount of space as pure consonants, and should be thought of as individual letters, just as in ordinary writing vowel blends such as long I (a blend of short O and long E) are regarded as individual letters. Thus the CPG "alphabet"  consists of 223 letters (25 basic consonants,  13 vowels, and 185 consonant blends). As you study the various kinds of blends you will be able to appreciate how the different basic consonant shapes were chosen so as to satisfy the constraint of having to nest within each other as necessary, based on their natural usages and sequencing in the English language.

The following links provide detailed descriptions of CPG's various components:

Consonants     Vowels
Blend Overview 
Leading Double Blends     Leading Triple Blends
Trailing Double Blends     Trailing Triple Blends     Trailing Quadruple Blends
Punctuation     Numerals

Sample Texts:

Tower of Babel    Gettysburg Address    History of Time

CPG and Linguistic Bandwith

Please note that I characterize eastern (kanji) writing systems as logographic rather than ideographic. This is in accordance with the modern understanding that in the Chinese system, characters represent sounds not ideas. I would prefer to call it syllabographic, since each character always stands for a syllable. But due to the large amount of syllabic homonymy, it is often the case that entire words do not require more than one character, and so it is largely, though not entirely, a logographic system.

The Western alphabetic approach may be regarded as a letter-serial linguistic data communication channel. A reader's eyes are marched along a one-dimensional line of letters, each one standing for a single phoneme of information. These individual letters have structure, consisting of a single line, or two or three connected lines, but the experienced reader does not have to visually retrace these lines each time they are encountered. Repeated exposure leads to perceiving them as units, primarily because they are distinguishable graphic figures laid out in a two-dimensional area.

Imagine if these sub-components were broken apart and strung out linearly in the same way we do with letters, the subcomponents of words. With the following 14 elemental stroke segments:

we can define an exploded version of the alphabet as follows:

a   f   k   p   u
b   g   l   q   v
c   h   m   r   w
d   i   n   s   x
e   j   o   t   y

It should be obvious which of the following two versions of the same phrase more readily communicates the informational content:

linguistic bandwidth reduction resulting from alphabetic fragmentation

Now imagine that we proceed, not in the direction of increasing fragmentation, but in the opposite direction of increasing amalgamation. Rather than segmenting letters into smaller sub-components, suppose that we instead treat letters as sub-components of words connected into a single two-dimensional graphic. Just as letter fragmentation resulted in a slowing down of the linguistic data transmission rate, we should expect to see a speeding up with lexical amalgamation - especially if, by using color, those retinal communication circuits associated with cones are opened up.

linguistic bandwidth enlargement resulting from lexical unification

To recapitulate, in the first example the subcomponents of letters (strokes) have been separated, resulting in 64 letter elements being replaced by 104 stroke elements. In the second example 61 letters have been unified into 7 lexical elements, not merely by interposing separating spaces, but by creating highly distinct, non-fragmented colored glyphics, recognizable at a single glace as perceptual units.

Jeffrey Henning's Langmaker - a constructed language resource currently in the beginning stages of 

Simon Ager's Omniglot - the internet's definitive compendium of natural and constructed writing systems

© 2006  Richard Brodie