Iconic - The Universal Icon Language πŸ˜ƒπŸ”¨πŸ’¬


This is a summary of the language in 24 rules with examples and Cheat Sheet. See Introduction for a more thorough explanation.

Please feel free to use, modify and share these rules as you see fit. For longer works I would appreciate to be mentioned as the creator with a link to this site.

You can follow the examples by typing the words in typewriter font into the Online Converter on Lingojam or the AutoHotkey Script on Windows. Ambiguous words are followed by a number.

Feel free to experiment and make your own words! πŸ˜ƒ

1. Word Creation

  1. An icon is a picture of a word or of an object associated with it. Rebus Writing is avoided.

β˜€οΈ sun, 🏠 house, πŸ§’ person, ❀️ love, πŸ•’ time, βš“ place

  1. In a group (one or more icons) the base word comes last.

β˜€οΈπŸ•’ sun time = day
β˜οΈβš“ cloud place = sky
βš”οΈπŸ§’ swords person = fighter

  1. The ⭐ * suffix indicates abstract interpretation.
πŸ•ŠοΈ dove πŸ•ŠοΈβ­ peace
πŸ”¨ hammer πŸ”¨β­ method
🧱 bricks 🧱⭐ material
🎨 palette 🎨⭐ color2
  1. The πŸ‘Œ lit(eral) suffix indicates literal interpretation if an icon has an otherwise abstract meaning.
πŸ§’ person πŸ§’πŸ‘Œ head
πŸ•’ time πŸ•’πŸ‘Œ clock
βš“ place βš“πŸ‘Œ anchor
πŸ’§ water πŸ’§πŸ‘Œ drop
  1. The 〰️ ~ suffix means β€œfor example” and indicates a category of physical things.
🍎 apple πŸŽγ€°οΈ fruit
πŸ§’ person πŸ§’γ€°οΈ human
πŸ’ monkey πŸ’γ€°οΈ animal
🌼 flower πŸŒΌγ€°οΈ plant
  1. 〰️ ~ is more concrete, ⭐ * more abstract.

πŸ”¨ hammer, πŸ”¨γ€°οΈ tool, πŸ”¨β­ method
🏠 house, πŸ γ€°οΈ building, 🏠⭐ structure

  1. Most attributes are indicated by the 🀲 like relation.

🐘🀲 elephant like = big
β™¨οΈπŸ€² hotbath like = hot
βœ”οΈπŸ€² yes like = correct
🧡🀲 thread like = long

  1. The ⚑️ but relation indicates a contrast or the opposite.

🦁🀲 lion like = brave
🦁⚑️🀲 lion but like = cowardly
🧡🀲 thread like = long
🧡⚑️🀲 thread but like = short

  1. Changing 🀲 like to ⭐ * indicates a property.
🐘🀲 big 🐘⭐ size
βœ”οΈπŸ€² correct βœ”οΈβ­ truth
🦁🀲 brave 🦁⭐ courage
🦁⚑️🀲 cowardly 🦁⚑️⭐ cowardice

In the following cases 🀲 like becomes 🀲⭐ like * instead:

πŸ§™πŸ»πŸ€² wise πŸ§™πŸ»πŸ€²β­ wisdom πŸ§™β€β­ magic
🧱🀲 hard2 🧱🀲⭐ hardness 🧱⭐ material
🩹🀲 sticky 🩹🀲⭐ stickiness 🩹⭐ healing
πŸ”¨πŸ€² useful πŸ”¨πŸ€²β­ usefulness πŸ”¨β­ method
  1. The plural is indicated by attributes or by duplication of the last icon in a group excluding suffixes. The plural of πŸ§’ person is πŸ‘₯ group, people.
5πŸ§™πŸ» 5 wizards
πŸ§™πŸ»πŸ‘₯ a group of wizards
πŸ”’πŸ§™πŸ» a number of wizards
πŸ§™πŸ» wizard πŸ§™πŸ»πŸ§™πŸ» wizards
🐘🀲 big 🐘🐘🀲 giant2
πŸ”¨γ€°οΈ tool πŸ”¨πŸ”¨γ€°οΈ tools
β˜€οΈπŸ•’ day β˜€οΈπŸ•’πŸ•’ days
  1. There are four basic demonstratives which function like normal icons. Duplication indicates plurality. In front of a word, demonstratives indicate possession or association.
πŸ‘ˆ i, my πŸ‘ˆπŸ‘ˆ we, our
πŸ‘‰ you, your πŸ‘‰πŸ‘‰ youall
πŸ‘‡ this πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡ these
πŸ‘† that πŸ‘†πŸ‘† those
πŸ‘ˆπŸ  my house πŸ‘‡πŸΆ this dog
πŸ‘†πŸŒ³ that tree πŸ‘†πŸ‘†πŸˆ those cats
  1. Other pronouns and demonstratives are built with additional icons.
πŸ‘†πŸ§’ that person = they1 πŸ‘†πŸ‘₯ that group = they2
πŸ‘†πŸ‘¨ that man = he πŸ‘†πŸ‘© that woman = she
❓ what, which πŸ”Ά (some)thing, object1
β“πŸ§’ what person = who β—πŸ§’ some person = someone
β“πŸ•’ what time = when β—πŸ•’ some time = sometime
  1. Proper names may use any writing system. They are usually followed by a group as a classifier. Use quotation marks for complex names in emoji. Anything in quotation marks is treated as a normal icon.

Roma🏘️, 東京🏘️, β€œπŸ€β€οΈπŸŽ¨πŸ§’β€πŸ‘§

2. Attributes

  1. A group in front of another group is an attribute.
πŸ‘πŸΆ good1 dog
β˜•πŸŽ¨πŸ¦Š brown fox
πŸ˜πŸ€²πŸ§’ big person
5πŸ§™πŸ»(πŸ§™πŸ») five wizards
  1. A big interbox ◻️ β€œ;” optionally separates groups for better readability. Attributes may end in a relation plus optional βž— per relation. A group with or without attributes is a phrase.

quick ; brown fox
quick, brown fox

πŸ πŸ‘’β¬†οΈβ—»οΈπŸˆ
roof on ; cat
cat on the roof

king for letter2
letter for the king
Relation: 🎁 for (Purpose/Beneficiary)

3. Phrases, Clauses & Sentences

  1. A phrase followed by 🎬 do, 🎬🀲 done or πŸ“¦ be is a verb phrase. 🎬 do indicates an active verb and 🎬🀲 done a passive verb. As for attributes, a big interbox ◻️ ; may be used for clarity.

to run

πŸ πŸ‘’β¬†οΈβ—»οΈπŸƒπŸŽ¬
roof on ; torun
to run on the roof

cat be
to be a cat

πŸ πŸ‘’β¬†οΈπŸˆπŸ“¦
roof on cat be
to be a cat on the roof

  1. Verb modifiers directly before 🎬 do or 🎬🀲 done modifiy the meaning of a verb phrase. In other positions verb modifiers are normal icons. Emotions like πŸ˜ƒ joy also serve as verb modifiers.

🐦🎬 tofly, πŸ’ͺ -can1, πŸ’– -want

(The Online Converter uses β€œ-” for verb modifiers and associated prefixes.)

🐦🎬 fly
🐦πŸ’ͺ🎬 can fly
πŸ¦πŸ’–πŸŽ¬ want to fly
🐦πŸ’ͺπŸ’–πŸŽ¬ want to be able to fly
πŸ¦πŸ˜ƒπŸŽ¬ be happy to fly
  1. A verb phrase ending in πŸ“¦ be can also be expanded with verb modifiers followed by 🎬 do.
πŸˆπŸ“¦ be a cat
πŸˆπŸ“¦πŸ’–πŸŽ¬ want to be a cat
πŸˆπŸ“¦πŸ’ͺ🎬 be ready/able to be a cat
πŸˆπŸ“¦πŸ˜ƒπŸŽ¬ be happy to be a cat
  1. A clause consists of phrases separated by a small interboxes ▫️ β€œ,”. Phrases may end in a relation plus optional βž— per relation. A verb phrase completes a clause.

hello , world1 !
Hello World!

i , cat be
I am a cat

πŸˆβ–«οΈπŸ πŸ‘’β¬†οΈβ–«οΈπŸƒπŸŽ¬
cat , roof on , torun
The cat runs on the roof

mouse , cat from , ago , toeat like
The mouse was eaten by the cat
Relations: β›² from (Origin) + πŸ•’ time (Time)

  1. A clause may be followed by ❗ ! (Command), ❓ ? (Yes-No Question), ❗❗ (Exclamation), ❗❓ (Affirmative Question) or ❓❗ (Rhetorical Question).

tohelp !

we , togo !
Let’s go!

alright ?

this like be !
It shall be so!

amazing ! !

difficult be ! ?
Difficult, isn’t it?

easy toknow ? !
Isn’t it obvious?

  1. A sentence contains one or more clauses. All but the last clause must be completed with a verb phrase. A completed clause may be connected to the next one with a relation plus small interbox ▫️ β€œ,”. The 🀲 like relation becomes β“πŸ€² ? like to avoid confusion with the passive form.

πŸˆβ–«οΈπŸ πŸ‘’β›²β–«οΈπŸ¦˜πŸŽ¬βž•β–«οΈ
cat , roof from , tojump and ,
The cat jumps from the roof and …

i , tothink because ,
Because I think, …

mouse , cheese ob(ject) , tosee then time ,
After the mouse sees the cheese, …

i , shower place , tosing ? like ;
In the same manner as I sing in the shower, …

  1. A verb phrase followed by a group is a relative clause. There are no relative pronouns. A big interbox ◻️ ; is used for grouping.

cheese ob(ject) ; toeat mouse
The mouse eating the cheese

mouse ; toeat cheese
The cheese which the mouse eats

πŸˆβ—»οΈπŸƒπŸŽ¬πŸ πŸ‘’
cat ; torun roof
The roof on which the cat runs

  1. Groups and verb modifiers may be expanded with prefixes and suffixes. There are no articles, but ❗ β€œa, some” and πŸ‘‡ β€œthis, the” may be used to a similar effect.

not good1 be but , enough good1 ! !
Not good, but good enough!

i , tosee -only -want ! !
I only want to watch!

  1. Sentences end in β–ͺ️, β–ͺ️▫️ or β–ͺ️β–ͺ️ depending on whether they are a standalone sentence, a sentence within a text, or the the last sentence in a text. This is optional.

you for , toread for , thanks joy ! ! .
Thank you for reading! πŸ˜ƒ

4. Cheat Sheet

This section contains all 71 fixed symbols with their use cases as well as a list of emotions.

4.1 Fixed Symbols

πŸ™πŸ‘‹πŸ€”πŸŒŸπŸ’ͺπŸ‘πŸ‘Žβ˜οΈβš οΈπŸšΆπŸ‘€πŸ›‘β€οΈπŸ’’πŸ’–πŸ’”πŸπŸ™‚πŸ˜§πŸ™ƒπŸ€―

4.2 Formal Syntax

Everything in square brackets [ ] is optional, with a star [ ]* or ( )* indicating possible repetition. All elements in cursive may be expanded with prefixes and suffixes.

Icon: (elementary or anything inside ” β€œ)
Group: (1 or more Icons)
Attribute: Group + [Relation Marker] + [βž—] + [◻️]
Phrase: [Attribute]* + Group
Verb Phrase: Phrase +
1. [Verb Modifier]* + (🎬 do, 🎬🀲 done) or
2. πŸ“¦ be + [(Verb Modifier)* + 🎬 do]
Clause: [Phrase + [Relation Marker] + [βž—] + ▫️]* + Verb Phrase + [❗, ❓]
Sentence: [Clause + [Relation Marker] + [βž—] + ▫️]* + (Clause or Phrase) + [❗❗, ❗❓, ❓❗] + [β–ͺ️, β–ͺ️▫️, β–ͺ️β–ͺ️] (see Punctuation)

4.3 Prefixes, Suffixes & Pronouns


β›” not
πŸ”€ another
πŸ”€πŸ”€ various, diverse
🌴 only
🌴🌴 few
❗ some, a
❗❗ (a) lot
❓ what, which
❗❓ whatever
♾️ all
♾️❗ any
βž• also
βž– neither
🀏 (a)little
βš–οΈ more1
βš–οΈπŸ€ less
β™ΎοΈβš–οΈ most1
β™ΎοΈβš–οΈπŸ€ least
βšͺ about2
πŸ™‚πŸ“ enough
πŸ˜§πŸ“ notenough
🀯 toom(uch)


πŸ‘Œ lit(eral)
⭐ abstract, *
〰️ example, ~
❗ ! (address)


πŸ‘ˆ i
πŸ‘‰ you
πŸ‘‡ this
πŸ‘† that, pro(noun)
❓ ?, what, which
❗❓ whatever
πŸ”Ά (some)thing, object
πŸ§’ person
πŸ‘₯ group

4.4 Punctuation

◻️ ; (between attributes) (optional)
▫️ , (between phrases in a clause)
❗ ! (command)
❓ ? (question)
❗❗ ! ! (exclamation)
❗❓ ! ? (affirmative question)
❓❗ ? ! (rhetorical question)
β–ͺ️ . (end of sentence) (optional)
β–ͺ️▫️ . , (between sentences) (optional)
β–ͺ️β–ͺ️ . . (end of text) (optional)
β€œβ€ " (quotes and direct speech)

4.5 Relation Markers

🎁 for (Purpose/Beneficiary)
✊️ against (Antipurpose)
🎬 do (Action)
🎬🀲 done (Passive)
πŸ“¦ be (Category)
πŸ‘œ have1 (Association)
(❓)🀲 like (Similarity)
βš–οΈ than (Comparison)
πŸ”€ inst(ead) (Substitute)
πŸ”¨ by (Means)
🧱 made (Material)
βš“ place (Place)
πŸ•’ time (Time)
πŸ“ deg(ree) (Degree)
πŸ’¦ part (Part)
β›² from (Origin)

πŸ“¬ to (Destination)
✨ bec(ome) (End State)
πŸ’‘ because (Reason)
πŸ”₯ sothat (Consequence)
☝️ sub(ject) (Subject) (Emphasis)
πŸ” ob(ject) (Object)
⚑️ but, except (Contrast)
πŸ’­ topic (Topic)
βž• +, with, and (Addition)
βž– -, without (Separation)
βœ–οΈ x, or (Alternative)
βž•βœ–οΈ + x, andor (Option)
βž— /, per (Ratio)
➑️ then (Sequence)
➑️⭐ if (Conditional)
πŸ”— acc(ording) (Reference)
πŸ”—β­ dep(ending) (Dependence)

4.6 Verb Modifiers

The Online Converter uses β€œ-” for verb modifiers and associated prefixes, e.g. 🐦❀️🎬 tofly -love, β€œlove to fly”.

πŸ™ please, pls (Request)*
πŸ‘‹β­ inv(ite) (Offer)
🎁 help (Assistance)
πŸ€” might (Speculation)
πŸ€”πŸ€” should2 (Expectation)
🌟 seem (Appearance)
πŸ’ͺ can1 (Possibility)
πŸ‘ may (Permission)
πŸ‘Ž maynot (Prohibition)
⚠️ must (Necessity)
☝️ should1 (Suggestion)
πŸ‘€β­ try (Attempt)
β›² start (Beginning)

πŸ‘£ con(tinue) (Progression)
🏁 fin(ish) (Completion)
✨ bec(ome) (Transformation)
πŸ›‘ stop (Termination)
βž• also (Addition)
βž– nor, noteven (Neg. Add.)
❀️ love (Affection)
πŸ’’ hate (Dislike)
πŸ’– want (Wish)
πŸ’” notwant (Aversion)
πŸ”₯ let (Causation)
πŸ™ƒ oops (Accident)
🀯 over2 (Excess)

* compare with πŸ™πŸ™ thanks

Some relation markers are also verb modifiers (πŸŽβœ¨β›²βž•βž–). If ambiguous, the symbol before 🎬 do is a verb modifier.

4.7 Conventions