Of course, it originated in France.

Everything is interpretable and the world is laden with meaning, any semiotician could tell you this. As we navigate through our waking hours we are bombarded with stimuli, some of which we take at face value, and some of which we choose to read as representation, symbol, code. When I look at an abstract painting, or listen to classical music, I often hear more than just the sounds, and see more than just the colors or shapes. I might hear a battle being waged, I might see anxiety or logic or some ridiculous joke. But for the most part, these interpretations are very subjective. Imagine however, a scenario such as this: You go to the theater to see a violinist perform, and though you like music, and the violinist is world-famous, you are not there primarily to enjoy the music, but because the performer has an important secret message to transmit to you and - oh, let’s say, two - other unidentified people in the audience. You have all been trained in a particular musical language, which allows you to interpret a specific meaning from each phrase played on the performer’s violin. After the concert, you and the other two people from the audience leave with instructions as to when and where you will meet up later, what you should be wearing to identify yourselves, and a set of tasks to accomplish in the meantime. The violinist, you, and the other two audience members are all from different countries and speak different languages. This musical language is the only one you have in common, and it will be your mode of communication at the rendezvous. But then let’s say that a fifth liaison is also going to be there, and this person is both deaf and blind. No problem. This particular musical language is a language of touch as well. The four of you will communicate with the fifth by pressing specific points on his/her hand, and the difference between the words expressed this way and the words expressed through the violin tones is no greater than the difference between the spoken word “war” and the written word “war”.

In 1817 Jean Francois Sudre (1787-1864) began developing an artificial interlanguage that he named Solresol. (In Solresol, the word “solresol” means “language”) Sudre’s “Langue Musicale Universale” is based on the seven tones of the diatonic major scale, and their internationally recognized names; do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, and si. Words are formed by combining different permutations of these seven root syllables. So we have 7 one-syllable words, 49 two-syllable words, 336 three-syllable words, 2,268 four-syllable words, and 9,072 five-syllable words, resulting in a total of 11,732 primary words. Still more words, or grammatical variations, are formed by stressing different syllables. These words, which make up the language of Solresol, can be spoken, sung, hummed, or played on an instrument, written out in any alphabet, as numbers 1-7, or as musical notation. It can be communicated by taps or knocks like the Morse code, with do=1 tap, re=2 taps, etc. Each of the seven syllables corresponds to one of the seven colors of the rainbow – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, and so each word can also be represented as a combination of colors. Solresol has its own sign language based on seven hand signals. Sudre also took into consideration the necessity of communication in situations where vision and hearing are not options, and developed a system wherein each of the seven notes could also correspond to different points on the hand, and so words could be made by pressing these points.

I imagine that any person fluent in Solresol could very quickly be overwhelmed by the possibilities of meaning in each random assortment of colors, groups of numbers, combinations of tones, etc. When you board a bus on your way to work in the morning, does the number printed on the side of the bus really mean what it says? There are so many seats on the bus, some in groups of two, some in groups of three, and two rows of single seats side-by side. Should you be offended by the resulting offensive phrase? Can you ignore it? Once you learn to read can you ever stop? And every time someone pulls the cord to make the bus stop…
and the little beeps from that business man’s cell phone…
and the stop-lights, and the neon lights, and the headlights, and the flashing lights,
and the radio and the sirens and the


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