How to Describe a basic term

This tutorial provides an example of modifying a 'Created' term using the elements from the Description layer of a glyph. The images are taken from the Instrumentation game.

The blue or black elements in the examples below are present while the yellow or invisible elements are absent. The 'hint' colors (blue and yellow) indicate that adding or removing that element will lead to another valid term.

The 'dots' in the examples below show the locations of absent elements. The dots are a typographical aid used while creating a glyph (with a mouse). The dots are not really part of a glyph and can be ignored when reading glyphs and omitted when drawing glyphs on paper.

FYI: Ideally, you should read this tutorial on a "full sized" device (like a personal computer) and follow along by duplicating the glyphs (on a hand-held device or using the game in a separate tab or window) for each example.

Let us start with a simple basic term from the Creation layer. The Creation layer 'Creates' singular entity nouns. This first step uses the only image in this tutorial that shows the hint colors and octant types for the Creation layer. The names of elements are bold for emphasis.

A 'record' is an Object that involves both Thought and Meaning. This can be a record of anything. It can be written (a journal), visual (a picture or movie), audible (a 'recording'), something else (telepathic perhaps) or some combination thereof.

The glyph for record

The glyph for record

To get the plural of 'record' we add the Dimension lath and make 'records'. The Dimension lath implies an increase in the number or magnitude of the term.

This image and all the following images of glyphs in this example show the octant types for the Description layer.

The glyph for records

The glyph for records

To get the person, place or thing that uses, creates or embodies a 'record' we add the Action lath and make the 'active noun' (recorder) from the entity noun (record). The Action lath specifies the intent to 'do' something.

Incidentally, adding the Dimension lath to the glyph below would make the active plural 'recorders'. 'Recorders' would be pronounced "KUH BO KAY" because RAY (#8000) plus WAY (#4000 see example above) equals KAY (#C000). You can verify this using the game.

The glyph for

The glyph for recorder

To get the adverbial form from the active form of 'recorder' we add the Format lath to make 'recordingly'. The Format lath implies that this term actually describes (or is subservient to) some other term. This would be used in a sentence as, "The shopkeeper recordingly followed my movements." (it loses something in the translation)

The glyph for recordingly

The glyph for recordingly

To get the adjectival form from the adverbial form of 'recordingly' we subtract the Action lath to make 'recorded'. This is the same as saying that adding the Format lath to the entity noun form of 'record' makes the adjective 'recorded'.

The glyph for recorded

The glyph for recorded

To get the comparative degree form of the adjective (recorded) or the adverb (recordingly) we add the Dimension lath and make 'more recorded' (or more recordingly). The Dimension lath implies an increase in the number or magnitude of the term. This is the same lath that would give us the plural form of the active and entity nouns.

The glyph for more recorded

The glyph for more recorded

To get the superlative degree form of recorded we add the Absolute lath to the comparative form. The Absolute lath represents the (alleged) end of changes. This turns 'more recorded' into 'most recorded'. Adding the Action lath to this would signify 'most recordingly'.

The glyph for most recorded

The glyph for most recorded

To get the 'less positive' degree form of recorded we subtract the Dimension lath from the superlative form. This turns 'most recorded' into 'less recorded'. Adding the Action lath to this would signify 'less recordingly'.

The glyph for less recorded

The glyph for less recorded

Let's review the adverbial and adjectival degree forms. The four degree forms are:

Form Example Laths
less positive less recorded Format+Absolute
positive recorded Format
comparative more recorded Format+Dimension
superlative most recorded Format+Dimension+Absolute

We can see that the two 'higher' forms both have the Dimension lath which signifies their increased nature. The two endpoint (the top and the bottom of potential variation) both have the Absolute lath which signifies the limit of change. Since these qualify either adverbs or adjectives they all have the Format lath which signifies that the resultant terms are subordinate to some other term.

That completes the plural and the adverbial and adjectival degree forms of 'record'.

Combinations of the remaining unused laths (Relative, Value, Sensation and Time) are used to get fifteen other singular entity nouns that are related to 'record' in some way. For example, if we add the Relative lath we make the singular entity noun 'record' into the singular entity noun 'journal'.

The glyph for journal

The glyph for journal

We could then get the active noun, plural, adjective, adverb and assorted degree forms of 'journal' in the same way that we modified 'record', as shown previously in this tutorial.

In the image above, the Time lath is transparent instead of yellow because there is no (currently defined) variation of 'record' that corresponds to Time.

The nouns which have the Absolute lath without the Format lath have no adverbial or adjectival forms (they are called non-descriptive nouns) and are often multi-word terms (known as 'conversational phrases'). The Absolute lath represents the (alleged) end of changes. An example of a non-descriptive noun is shown below.

The glyph for a handy conversational phrase

A glyph for a handy conversational phrase

Adding the Interrogation Spoke from the Articulation layer (#10, in Layer 3) would make this into a proper question.

This is really only a "singular entity" form in name. Adding the Action and Dimension laths would only create active and plural forms if the phrase could reasonably support the operations. Otherwise, they would create other related terms. The four standard forms of a 'conversational phrase' are:

None (passive)
do you have a record of it
question, plural subject or object
do you have a record of them
I have a record of it
Action and Dimension statement, plural subject or object I have a record of them

However, non-descriptive noun morphology is somewhat irregular because some conversational phrases cannot follow these changes. For example, what would be the reasonable plural form of "will you marry me" or the active form of "what happened next"?

Also, the current prototype vocabulary doesn't always follow this convention because I hadn't really solidified the convention when I started creating the vocabulary. And, as always, user input will be needed to find the best phrases for common conversations.


The 256 Described variations, of each of the 256 Created singular entity nouns, break down as shown below. This means that Instrumentation will have a total of 4096 (or 16 X 256) "singular passive descriptive nouns" in the entire vocabulary of its first three layers. Any other singular entity nouns (like penicillin) will have to be shoehorned into the eight billion word Specialized vocabulary.

The Description index ranges below are included to provide a feeling for the way that these sub-tables (or banks) overlap. The ranges are interlaced because the laths are used according to their meaning and not according to their numeric value. I have labeled the ranges as only containing even indexes (nouns) or odd indexes (adjectives and adverbs) to help clarify how the overlap occurs. These numbers would be followed by 01-FF in a full glyph index.

Passive nouns Indexes (even) Adjectives indexes (odd)
16 descriptive 00-1E
16 positive
16 non-descriptive
16 less positive
16 descriptive plural
16 comparative
16 non-descriptive plural
16 superlative
Active nouns
16 descriptive 80-9E 16 positive 81-9F
16 non-descriptive A0-BE 16 less positive
16 descriptive plural C0-DE
16 comparative
16 non-descriptive plural E0-FE
16 superlative E1-FF

The adjectives and adverbs reflect the 'descriptive' passive and active nouns respectively, they are independent of the non-descriptive nouns (because adjectives and adverbs are descriptive).

This completes the tutorial. You can find all the details about the Description level in the design document. The 'Hypodescriptive' design shows how the Description of the basic terms 'true' and 'false' (or 'on' and 'off') is handled.

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