Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Silence Experiment

The difficulty of learning any new language is learning pronunciation. With all of the excessive silent letters, it is no easy task to wrangle words into sentences. In the English language, one can fairly admit there are a surplus of vowels that are wallflowers of a sort. They are present but seldom accounted for unless you are in a spelling bee. 
Well now, someone has visually demonstrated all of the matter that these silent but surplus letters visually make when printed in three different languages. In the project Silenc, developed for a recent Data Visualization course at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, students Manas Karambelkar, Momo Miyazaki and Kenneth A. Robertsen took on this challenge. They present a visual display of an interpretation of silent letters within Danish, English and French, and it is based upon the concept of find-and-replace. A database is constructed from hundreds of rules and exceptions, and an open source processing code then marks up the silent letters.
To visualize the collected data, it is displayed in different methods. In a graphic display, a common text written in 3 languages is created using the same fonts and style. All of the silent letters are then assembled at the bottom of the page as a measure of their enormity. In the book, the silent letters are all in red, and when viewing this with a red-filtered 3D lens, these letters disappear entirely. The results of these demonstrations are compelling. Just think of all the space, paper and ink we would save, by not printing or reading all of these surplus letters. Less is always more. 

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