Grammar:   the image  (sentence)

Optical Principle

Basic principle of grammar:   The aim of forming ideograms (words) of the phonetic picture writing is it to portray things as well as possible by a series of letters. Correspondingly, it is the aim of the grammar to represent facts as well as possible by arranging ideograms into whole scenes.

The sentence (scene, image)

We already know: Writing direction is vertical, upwards. Thus a scene like "The sun is over a fir-tree" can be pictured easily:

       ai      lakikiti     efipe
there fir sun "The sun is over a fir"

You see: ideograms are written succeedingly to form a whole scene, just as letters are written succeedingly to form an ideogram. (Writing direction is vertical upwards, with small distances between letters, big distances between words (= ideograms). The result is a written column, which is read simply by reading the ideograms one after the other. To separate sentences (= scenes) acoustically, speak at the beginning of each sentence the not written word ' ai ', which means "there" or "there is".

But how can one show in the scene above, that there is a house beside the fir? Very simple: Another column, with a house, is written beside the first one. To separate this column acustically from the previous, speak at the begin of it the not written word ' i ', which might be translated as "to right of it, there is", "right of it " or simply "beside". (Remember: the sound 'i' does not represents a sign, it was used until now only as a filling sound, now also as a grammatic particle).

       ai      lakikiti     efipe                 i        omoke
there fir sun beside house "The sun is over a fir beside a house"

In this scene, more columns may be added. At the beginning of each further column, also the word ' i ' has to be spoken. (Just as one can add in an English text rows under existing rows, here one can add columns to the right of existing columns). So some columns with ideograms may be combined to form a bigger scene. The columns may differ in height, but they all start at the same basic line. (Similar to an English text, where all lines begin at the left rim).
The columns in the scene above differ in height. This might be estimated as wasting space. But in English, this space was necessary for words and expressions like "over", "under", "beside it", "there is", "there is standing", which is more complicated to read and write. Also an ideogram of phonetic picture-writing may be reduced in size more than an English word - because of its simply shaped letters, often only a single line.

Last end, one scene (=sentence) follows the other. As a column is placed to the right of the previous column, so a scene is placed to the right of the previous scene, with a distance of at least 3 empty columns. As already known, at the beginning of each scene the word ' ai ' is read, at the beginning of each further column the word ' i '. Thus a hearer, who doesn't see the picture-writing, can reconstruct the arrangement of words, columns and sentences exactly.

Instead of the word ' ai ' (denoting the beginning of a sentence) one could use the word ' i ' (denoting the beginning of a column), and use an additional ' i ' after the end of a sentence. This ' i ' would create a column containing nothing. As this empty column (like the other columns) would be separated from the previous and following column by an empty column, between 2 sentences there were 3 empty columns. So, instead   ' ai [scene 1]   ai [scene 2] '   one would speak   ' i [scene 1] i   i [scene 2] i '.   This was more systematical on the one hand, on the other hand the double ' i i ' between 2 scenes might be nasty after some time.

vertical   distance  between 2 letters of a word:       1 line width
vertical   distance  between 2 words  in a column:   1 max. width of sign
(maximal width (not height)  of a sign)
horizontal distance  between 2 columns:                 1 max. width of sign
horizontal distance  between 2 scenes:      at least  3 max. widths of sign
(better 4 or 5)

It is not necessary, when speaking, to visualize the ideograms in your mind - only the arrangement of the real objects (deciding the arrangement of the ideograms) is important. Thus it is possible to exercise the grammar of the phonetic picture-writing using words of your native language: For example, the english sentence "There's a man with a wine-glass at his face" then sounds so: "There wine-glass human-face". This sentence uses english words, but the grammar of the phonetic picture-writing. It may be translated word by word into the language of our picture-writing: "ai olifo ela". This sentence can be understood without knowing the ideograms, if you only know the meaning of the words.

More Examples of Scenes

               ai        ani    amimipi   ela           i             liliseni            i          liliseni
there legs cape face beside cereal plant beside cer. plant "There's a man in a cape, his face is visible, beside cereal plants"

              ai        fo            i       omimikine         i           olifo
there dish beside wine-bottle beside wine-glass "There's a dish, beside a wine-bottle, beside a wine-glass"

                                ai          opo          limili
there telefone sound "The telefone is ringing"

               ai           kileloma           i           kifo             i         fikihipinine
there music-stand beside kettledrum beside guitar "There's a music-stand, beside a kettledrum, beside a guitar"

  ai          o     efipe   i     o      i      o     i     folomoli      i     o      i  lilasi   i  lilasi  i    o
there water sun > water > water > sailing-ship > water > palm > palm > water "The sun is low over smooth water, a sailing-ship is near (an island with) palms" ( o = "smooth water surface", lilasi = "palm", > is a shortening for beside")


One could define more grammatical mechanisms for the optical arranging of words, columns and sentences, e.g.:

- An optionally bigger space between words in the same column: Like the beginning particles for sentences and columns, this space was a word, which is spoken, but not written directly. It would be used to avoid the word "e" "space" (short horizontal line) which often optically disturbs an image (sometimes it fits well).

- A beginning particle for columns, which lets a column begin a little higher than the previous column begins.

- A beginning particle for columns, which lets a column begin at the height where the previous column ends.

- A beginning particle for sentences, which causes, that this sentence is written above the previous one. ( One could achieve this also by using a word "over" or "behind" as single sentence, interpreting this as order to write the new sentence above the previous.) Then you have a picture, consisting of pictures one above the other (e.g. scene on ground, clouds), each of these pictures having its own baseline. By superimposing words in columns, maybe with the word for distance, you won't achieve that so precisely).

Above mechanisms, on the one hand, make a text optically more precise, easier to survey and acoustically shorter (less words "space" necessary). On the other hand, they make a text more difficult to read (no linear sequence) and the simple grammar more complex. That's why we don't use these mechanisms in the moment. Even without them, the grammar of phonetic picture-writing is efficient enough.

The use of the mechanisms described here is free                 last update: 28.7.2006