Icon Language

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Zlango is an icon-based “language” (actually a logographic writing system) built for web and mobile messaging.

Zlango Ltd., the Israeli company which created and owns Zlango, has released a Java and Brew application for mobile phones which uses the Zlango icon language to create a new form of SMS, called ZMS, using Zlango’s icons instead of words . Zlango for iPhone and BlackBerry soon.

Zlango was created in 2004 by Yoav Lorch, an author and playwright, as an attempt to shorten text messages. When he found that abbreviated texts only removed 20% of letters, he decided to enter the field of pictographic language. The name Zlango is a combination of lingo, slang, and language, with the letter Z as homage to Esperanto creator L. L. Zamenhof.

Online, Zlango is available for composing messages and then sharing them in e-mail, publishing them on the Zlango site, embedding them in blogs, spaces, sites, and more.

Apart from Zlango’s website, Zlango also has an ICQ plug-in in several languages and countries that allows you to use Zlango icons to chat with your contacts.  Zlango also appeared in the Israeli Children’s Channel as a game show.

Zlango currently includes more than 300 icons in several different categories, but according to Zlango representatives, Zlango will eventually include the option for users to add their own icons, and that unused icons will be cycled out.

Zlango icons are also not definitive, and most icons have multiple meanings: for example, the icon for “me” can also mean “I“, the icon for “go” can also mean “come“, and the icon for “car” can also mean “drive“. The meanings that Zlango intended for each icon are only suggestions as Zlango encourages users to invent their own personal meanings for icons.

The Zlango web page includes several new icons that aren’t in the mobile application such as basketball and gold.

According to Zlango Ltd., the Zlango icons were created to be memorable, rather than recognizable. For example, the “want” icon is a bird in a nest, but once you find the icon’s meaning, it is difficult to forget.

Zlango has released several Zlango versions of classic stories which show the potential for more than just picture messaging:

and more.

You can download Zlango for:

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