Approximate Understanding


Garage Bakker

One of my favorite things about being in non-English speaking places is signage. I don’t always understand what a shop is selling based on the name, so the entire concept of a sign takes on new meaning.

With the internet creating various new ways of communicating with one another, more and more language is feeling vaguely foreign. I have particular trouble with emojis—I’ve never found them easy to understand or useful to communicate with. But for the most part I can get the general point when I see them.

Walking around Amsterdam, the signage is basically at the level of emojis for me: with context and a few surrounding words in near-English, I can get the point.

Do Not Walk

Electric Bread?

As the next version of the world approaches fast, it would be easy to see a future where everyone is living in a state of vague understanding. As factions of all sorts seem to rise through the world, specific languages using combinations of multiple forms and styles of communication are bound to develop.

(This is pretty unfortunate, as a common language is essential for society to function properly. I’m of the personal opinion some of our societal breakdowns are coinciding with a growing difference in basic communication points like language and medium.)

Koffiehuis

Words On The Street

Afresh

Obviously, some forms of language will remain direct and easy to understand. Yet it seems the age of English as a global standard for communication is being challenged: not by Chinese or Russian, but by the technology allowing for that transfer of information. With visual invention so easy to publish, what communication is has become a subject of debate.

It can be worrisome but also fascinating, where letterforms and pictures are less about the strict rules of direct meaning and more interpretive and artistic. The abstraction of language, while probably not the best for social institutions, has marvelous potential for creative exploration and interpretation.