aUI (constructed language)
|Created by||W. John Weilgart, PhD|
|Setting and usage||Designed to dissolve the discrepancy between homonymous and synonymous words|
aUI (//) is a philosophical, a priori language created in the 1950s by W. John Weilgart, Ph.D. (1913–1981), a philosopher and psychoanalyst originally from Vienna, Austria. He described it as "the Language of Space", connoting universal communication, and published the fourth edition of the textbook in 1979; a philosophic description of each semantic element of the language was published in 1975.
As an effort toward world 'peace through understanding', it was Weilgart's goal to clarify and simplify communication. Ultimately it was his experiment in facilitating conscious thinking in that it is built from a proposed a set of primitive, possibly universal elements that are designed to reflect a motivated, mnemonic relationship between symbol, sound, and meaning. In his psychotherapy work, he sometimes used client created aUI formulations to reveal possible subconscious associations to problematic concepts. aUI can also be considered an experiment in applied cognitive lexical semantics, and Weilgart claimed it could serve as an auxiliary language.
aUI is built upon a set of proposed universal semantic primes or elements of meaning that are combined to create miniature definitions. Weilgart found these fundamental concepts to be at such a basic level that they likely could not be defined by any simpler concepts. Linguistically speaking, aUI attempts 'oligosynthesis' in which words are synthesized or composed from a minimal number of total morphemes or units of meaning. The motivated relationship between morphology, phonology, and semantics means that if words look and sound similar, they also mean similar; homophonous words become synonymous.
The phoneme /b/, for instance, meaning "together", is a bilabial stop, pronounced with the lips pressed together. "Light" is pronounced with a short /ɪ/, as the brightest, highest-frequency sound, while "sound", is pronounced with a longer /iː/, as sound travels slower than light.
Each phoneme also has an ideographic glyph or symbol that represents its meaning. The symbol for "human", /u/ is depicted by the two legs or arms of the human being, also suggesting his dichotomous nature. The "human" may be fulfilled by the whole triangular trinity of "spirit", a 'deep, mysterious' /uː/, (there are many possible trinities found in philosophy and religion). "Life", /o/, represented by the shape of a leaf, is photosynthesis forming the basis of life on Earth. "Feeling", /oː/ is a heart shape, blood pressure and pulse reflecting various feelings, and "action", a 'vibrant' /v/, is represented by a lightning bolt, the most active phenomenon in nature.
History and theory
Weilgart followed Gottfried Leibniz' proposal for an alphabet of human thought that would provide a universal way to analyze ideas by breaking them down into their component pieces—to be represented by a unique "real" character. In the early 18th century, Leibniz outlined his characteristica universalis, the basic elements of which would be pictographic characters representing a limited number of elementary concepts. René Descartes suggested that a lexicon of a universal language should consist of primitive elements. The history of this language philosophy is delineated in Umberto Eco's The Search for the Perfect Language.
As a young man, Weilgart observed the pervasive and insidious effects of state planned Nazi propaganda. In particular, he was struck by how double meanings, together with similar sounds in slogans often associated unrelated words into suggestive "stereotyped formulas", [that would] "arrest the attention and appeal to the hearts of the national masses" (Hitler, Mein Kampf, 1925). For example, in one of the most repeated political slogans, Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer! ("One people, One empire, One leader!") the word Volk sounds similar to folgt, meaning to follow or obey; Reich also means rich; so the phrase points to a subliminal association: that the populace obeys and follows their leader, who leads them to a wealthy empire. Blu-Bo from Blut und Boden (Blood and Soil) was also a key slogan of Nazi ideology, as well as of course Heil Hitler! (Hail Hitler! - heil also meaning salvation, safe, well).
Based on research in semantic conditioning from the 1950s, Weilgart theorized that whereas the conscious mind links synonyms (similar meanings), the subconscious mind associates assonance (similar sounds). That is, while we think about and distinguish similar-sounding words by their different meanings, we nonetheless feel at some level that they are (or ought to be) also related in meaning. Alliterative slogans may suggest a link in words unrelated by meaning but related by common sounds. Weilgart posited that such slogans were one of the many significant factors that could lead to war under desperate and incendiary conditions. Further, he believed that the general discrepancy between homophonous and synonymous words in conventional language would add to the disconnect with the subconscious mind.
Psycholinguistic research needs to be conducted to investigate some of these theories, now when so much more is known about how the brain processes language.
- Weilgart, W. John (1979). aUI, The Language of Space. Decorah, Iowa: Cosmic Communication Co. ISBN 978-0-912038-08-7.
- Weilgart, W. John (1975). Cosmic Elements of Meaning: Symbols of the Spirit's Life. Decorah, Iowa: Cosmic Communication Co.
- reykr (10 March 2006). "Another Birthday Yesterday: Dr. John W. Weilgart". LIVE JOURNAL. LiveJournal, Inc. Retrieved 8 April 2012.
- Eco, Umberto (1995). The Search for the Perfect Language. Blackwell. ISBN 0631205101.
- Luria, A. R.; Vinogradova, O. S. (1959-05-01). "An Objective Investigation of the Dynamics of Semantic Systems". British Journal of Psychology. 50 (2): 89–105. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8295.1959.tb00687.x. ISSN 2044-8295.
- Razran, G. (1961). "The observable unconscious". Psychological Review. 68: 81–147. doi:10.1037/h0039848.
- Razran, G. (1939). "A quantitative study of meaning by semantic conditioning". Science. 90: 89ff. doi:10.1126/science.90.2326.89-a. PMID 17798918.