Ringscripts, Starscripts and Tunnelscripts
by Thomas Heller
- ringscript noun
- A ringscript is an alphabet whose characters are designed so that they can be arranged along a circle without modification or ambiguity.
- starscript noun
- A starscript is subset of ringscripts, with outward facing characters only.
- tunnelscript noun
- A tunnelscript is subset of ringscripts, with inward facing characters only.
For a lack of better existing terms, I define ringscript, starscript, and tunnelscript as abstract terms for classes of scripts. Circular scripts look beautiful, a common example being Loren Sherman's Gallifreyan script.
To simplify the discussion of such scripts, this article focuses on three specific types of circular scripts: A ringscript is an alphabet with single letters that are arrangend along a circle, using one circle per word. A ringscript might also be an abjad, abugida or syllabary, but they cannot be typical logographic writing sytems, where one glyph already represents a whole word.
To demonstrate this – the letters of the Latin alphabet, in contrast, are not well suited to fit on circles. The letters have no intuitive attachment points for circular shapes. Looking at the letters it becomes clear that they are designed to fit on top of a straight line, not onto a curved line. The capital letters L and T can both be confused with capital I when written onto a circle, and so would E and F look pretty similar, too, because their presumable attachment points would blend with the circle's circumference.
For the Latin alphabet, for example, the attachment problem cannot be solved unambigiuously without putting the circle itself as a new line directly through the letters, even though no line actually belongs there. As you will see from the examples below, ringscript characters attach to circles intuitively and the presence of the circle does not introduce any ambiguity.
In addition to that, a starscript – named after the outward facing points of symbolic stars – can now simply be defined as a subset of ringscripts, where no characters reach into the circle. Characters of a starscript must provide the same features as ringscript characters. Theoretically, starscripts are capable of dealing with smaller circle diameters, as they don't need to leave room for possible inward facing characters.
A tunnelscript is the opposite of a starscript: A subset of ringscripts, with inward facing characters only. Tunnelscripts are more space-efficient when arranging text in higher order rings, something we'll discuss in a moment.
This is a sentence in ring
script written in Linear1's
ringscript variation, from left to right and clockwise
from the top of each ring:
Each character is attached at an proportional angle depending on the number of characters in the "word" (on the ring). The circles' diameters increase with the number of characters in each "word".
To serve as a starscript, Linear1 can simply be limited to its "upper" characters. With the "lower" and "symmetric" characters ignored, all characters would face to the outside of a circle, no matter which way they are turned when arranged clockwise around a circle:
This example shows a sentence in a fictional language that uses Linear1's "upper" characters only, effectively turning Linear1 into a starscript.
The opposite effect is achieved by limiting Linear1 to its "lower" characters, turning it into a tunnelscript that represents words more densely:
This example shows a sentence in a fictional language that uses Linear1's "lower" characters only, resulting in a horizontally shorter representation.
Superrings, Megarings and beyond
A ring as discussed previously is only the smallest possible structure inside a – theoretically – infinitely large hierarchy of rings. Ring-"words" can themselves be arranged into rings, to serve the purpose of grouping words in a sentence together. This second-level ring would be called a superring.
This principle can be extended analogous to the way linear texts are usually printed: The next layer would be a megaring, a collection of sentences, commonly known as a "paragraph" in linear text. Paragraphs themselves could be arranged in circles as well, forming a chapter of a book, article, or short story. That structure would be called a gigaring.
"This is a sentence in ring
script" written in Linear1's
ringscript variation, arranged clockwise from the top, forming a
Following a self-similiar pattern, each "word" (ring) is positioned in the bigger ring at an angle proportional to the number of words in the "sentence" (superring). The size of the superring is determined by the number of "words" in the "sentence" and the "words'" (rings') individual size.
Five phrases written in Linear1's ringscript variation as a "paragraph", with each "sentence" (ring) arranged clockwise from the top, forming a megaring:
The example text reads as follows:
"This is a sentence in Linear1.
The purpose is to demonstrate ringscripts.
Each word is arranged as a ring,
and so is each sentence arranged.
With another sentence we get five rings."
Finally, a tunnelscript example using Linear1's "lower" characters only to form a megaring that is more space-efficient, because it does not need to leave room for possible outward facing characters of neighboring superrings:
This example shows six sentences in a fictional language:
"Sekeny veke peske vyne vynbe.
Ksyne ebeke sy,
bekeny ykepes kenpen ysyne be.
Pebesky ykevene ne pe syve.
Yveke peny ypyny pene.
Hebesy kyseve me ensy he beke."
For the sake of completeness, this is a list including possible higher ring layer definitions:
- ring: word
- superring: sentence
- megaring: paragraph
- gigaring: chapter/article/short story
- teraring: book
- petaring: series
- exaring: bookshelf
- zettaring: library section
- yottaring: library
- omniring: everything that has ever been written
Please let me know if you have more examples for ringscripts, starscripts, and tunnelscripts, I would gladly mention them here. Other circular scripts would also be of interest, to see how they might be classified in contrast or in addition to the three types defined here.
Copyright © 2021 by Thomas Heller [ˈtoːmas ˈhɛlɐ]