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Just to be clear, I'm talking about something like typography, though in most cases typography relates to the redesigning of a set of symbols, not the designing of a set of symbols.

I'm guessing that someone has done research on this when creating a constructed language, but I've never found any, or been able to discover any factors that would be best practices.

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Please explain where the UX question is in your post. –  JohnGB Sep 23 '11 at 14:20
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Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra. (Translated: Be more specific or I don't know how this relates to UX design) –  Ben Brocka Sep 23 '11 at 14:24
    
@JohnGB: A written language is an interface to unspoken words. All languages have a set of visual rules, which one would hope were designed to support clear expression. What are these rules? –  blunders Sep 23 '11 at 14:33
    
@JohnGB - I'm still trying to find the question in the post period, UX or not. –  Charles Boyung Sep 23 '11 at 14:34
    
@Ben Brocka: See comment above to JohnGB. It's still not clear, please add clarification. Thanks! –  blunders Sep 23 '11 at 14:34
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closed as off topic by JohnGB, Charles Boyung, Todd Sieling, Ben Brocka, ChrisF Nov 20 '11 at 18:54

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1 Answer

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Glyph shapes are actually fairly arbitrary and probably aren't tied to innate readability. Most of the glyphs you and I know as Latin script came about from ancient Phoenician, which chose character shapes not for scanning, but for their similarity to a range of animals, plants and everyday objects.

The letter A, for example, comes from the Phoenician character aleph enter image description here, which is modelled on an Ox's head (and as you'd expect, can be used to mean a cow, bull or calf).

Even individual fonts don't show as many innate readability features as we once suspected. Early studies in the 50s and 60s indicated that users could parse serif fonts far faster than sans-serif, but in the 80s and 90s that trend had reversed. The usual explanation is that familiarity, not glyph shape, is what principally determined readability.

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+1 @Jimmy Breck-McKye: Agree that most visual interfaces to languages were not "designed" - but that does not mean it's not possible. –  blunders Sep 23 '11 at 15:36
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