On Semantic Family Trees

Play in the Wordy Woods, semantic maps that let you guess different combinations and meanings.

To begin and to keep track of your progress you’ll need to first create an account on this site, then return to this page and click “Explore this module” at the bottom of the page.
Start with any aUI symbol you like, when you complete one it will show in the “Module Content” section below as completed. Build your vocabulary and advance to the higher levels. “Semantic” means related to meaning in language or logic.  Our Semantic Family Tree activity let’s you guess what different combinations of aUI symbols mean.  You can practice your intuitive, aUI thinking and begin to make words out of aUI symbols.   As you play, you can earn rewards!

To make words:

Like designing chemical formulas, you can combine the basic elements of aUI into molecules of meaning. Each word becomes a mini-definition, which follows the general “necessary and sufficient” rule: it includes 1) all the essential elements you need, but 2) only enough to distinguish it from another, similar word. You can use simple, intuitive logic to create new definitions and custom fit standard words to your individual contexts.

fA | fA This Time = now
iA | iA Light-Time = day
yiA | yiA darkness-Time = night
fiA | fiA This-day = today
pfiA | pfiA Before-today = yesterday
fiAt | fiAt today-Towards = tomorrow
fu | fu This-Human = I, me
bu | bu Together-Human = the human one is together with = you
bru | bru Together-Good-Human = a human one has a good togetherness with = friend
brU | brU Together-Good-Spirit = peace
UI | UI Mind-Sound = word
aUI | aUI Space-word = space language (abbrev.)

Can you come up with more aUI words on your own?  You can share them on our forum by creating an account here.

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Andi's Notes - About aUI 'words' and meaning

About aUI “words” and meaning:

You may find in playing with aUI formulations that some fall short of full definitions; you may feel the urge to make some of them more complete. In a sense, this shows that aUI is working: by turning implicit meaning into explicit denotation it suddenly becomes open and vulnerable to question and critique. The design of aUI is to inherently stimulate question of commands and invectives (abusive names and language). On the other hand, a word can not be expected to carry its full load of meaning on its back – it would be too heavy to use efficiently. We do not expect this of words in conventional language.  If you were presented with an unrelated, foreign word, would you have any sense of its meaning? And further, would you critique it, saying it should be spelled differently? This is because we learn definitions merely by arbitrary association; words do not point directly to reality, and we don’t readily see a relationship to it in them, unless we are well versed in etymology (and even then the relationship is fully arbitrary).  aUI attempts to bridge this gap through motivated, iconic morphology and phonology.

My personal sense is that some of my father’s formulations may be a bit too minimal.  But the beauty of aUI is that it offers creative flexibility to adapt a formulation to context by adding one or a few more symbols to the root combination. In most cases several formulations are possible. So aUI should be taken as a short-cut language. Its formulations act as hints or sign-posts to word meaning, and should not be thought of as full definitions. As is the case even with conventional language, the rest of word meaning — which is actually highly idiosyncratic in many cases — is filled in by the mind. We are constantly filling in gaps of meaning with our own projections. And that is what much of meaning consists of, projections of our own mind’s experience. That is why it is possible to have a conversation about a subject in apparent agreement with someone, but end up with very different mental images of what the subject looks like or how it will be carried out. aUI tries to lead us a bit closer to reality, but it cannot account for the vast differences in people’s experiences.

If words contained their entire definition, denotative and connotative, they would be much too cumbersome to use. I think they are meant to function like the handle of an invisible pot or purse. And who knows exactly what’s cookin’ in each of our pots, what stories and experiences we carry around? As Dr. Arika Okrent concluded, “Ambiguity, or fuzziness of meaning is not a flaw of natural language, but a feature that gives it flexibility and that, for whatever reason, suits our minds and the way we think. Likewise, the fact that language depends on arbitrary convention or cultural habit is not a flaw…..language needs its “flaws” in order to do the enormous ranges of things we use it for.” (In the Land of Invented Languages, 2009, p. 258).

aUI is not fully free of the arbitrary character of language. (In Gulliver’s Travels, Swift found that the only solution for a full one-to-one relationship to meaning was to abolish words altogether, and instead “carry around all the things [one] might need to refer to and produce them from [one’s] pockets as necessary.”!) But my father’s language does make interesting progress toward relating to reality through its motivated design. So the game in aUI is to figure out what are the most essential elements contained in a concept — those absolutely necessary as well as sufficient to distinguish one word from another — and limit the formulation to them. (It’s surprising how few letters we need even in our ‘native’ language to still be able to understand what is meant when consonant or acronym abbreviations are used.)

But a word of caution: please fully understand and learn the existing vocabulary first. New combinations often contain existing formulations which you won’t realize unless you are familiar with them. And keep in mind, there are two ways of using aUI: communication and creative self-expression. For the former, we need a more or less standardized, agreed upon vocabulary. That means familiarizing oneself with the existing vocabulary (which is already highly expanded in the new lexicon I have developed that will be linked to this website at some point). On the other hand, for enjoyment on your own, self-expression allows you the freedom for creative novelty and experimentation!