Pictograms (was: (TC304.2313) AND/OR: antediluvian views)

From: Otto Stolz (Otto.Stolz@uni-konstanz.de)
Date: Wed Jun 14 2000 - 12:15:09 EDT

Am 2000-06-13 um 11:57:59 (GMT-0800) hat Alain geschrieben:
> the flash option -- which most will like to use, show... a flash
> pictogram (electric storm flash shape won't change overnight in nature,
> I guess)

This is another example of the pitfall I tried to warn of: it is not
enough that the prospective audience recognize the shape of the picto-
gram; rather they must be able to easily extract the intended meaning!
In many languages (including Englisch, German, and apparently also French
and Japanese), this sort of artificial illumination is designated by the
same word as an thunderstorm flash -- but actually this is just a
metaphor. Before you can use the shape of the latter as a pictogram
designating the former, you will have to make sure that the same meta-
phor will work for all of your prospective audience.

I found two possible situations in which this would not work:
- a particular culture may use another metaphor, or a term not based
  on any metaphor, for the notion you are trying to convey,
- or the metaphor you are trying to convey is more thightly bound to
  another, competing, notion.

In the photographic flash example,
- some culture might require a light bulb, a candle, or some other
  metaphoric pictogram, rather than a flash,
- or in some culture, a flash could be taken for something else,
  (e. g. in Germany, a flash pictogram usually means a warning of
  possible electric shock -- though on a camera, the context would
  provide enough hints to establish the intended meaning of a photo-
  graphic flash).

Best wishes,
   Otto Stolz

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