Federation Symbolic, also known as Language Zero or Federation D, is the core language of the Grand Federation of Races. This binary-based language was originally intended to be the only form of communication between disparate Grand Federation species. Its non-verbal nature caused it to be supplanted by additional languages in common usage, but symbolic remains the standard form of data communications and interlingual translations within the Grand Federation.
Federation Symbolic is a purely binary language best described as a formatted data packet, with a header, body and trailer following specific rules to ensure a unique message. In actual data transmission, standard encryption and compression schemes are often utilized for security or efficiency purposes, but such data artifacts are rarely employed in any written form except some variants of Streaming Script. Except as noted, examples in this article utilize the Literal Script of Symbolic, also know as the Three-Bit or Octal notation.
Symbolic is composed of a sequence bits of zeros (known as strikes and symbolized by) and ones (known as eggs and symbolized by). Many races, including Humans find this symbology counterintuitive, but reversed or voided translations of Symbolic contain information content equivalent to the intended format.
A Symbolic data packet has a body of up to 262143 (256K-1) bits. Standard headers and trailers, the former composed of 72 bits: 36 eggs, then 36 strikes, the latter composed of 108 bits: first 36 strikes, then 36 eggs and then a two part checksum composed of an 18-bit counter and an 18-bit Error Correcting Code. Headers and trailers are most often omitted in all forms of written Symbolic. In data transmission, addressing and routing information is stored within the data and is based on key words and values normally contained in a sentence starting the data string.
When written in Literal Script, numbers are displayed as 3-bit entities in columns read top to bottom, then left to right, with the following notation:
In most written Symbolic forms, a number is considered a word, and is wrapped as a number type word as described in the Words section below. Numbers, unlike standard words, are composed of 27-bit sections, or three groups of three 3-bit numbers, enclosed in squares. For instance the decimal number 417 would be displayed as:
or 1*1 + 4*8 + 6*64 = 417.
In the above example, a data or Streaming representation of Symbolic would contain all 27 bits, but some Literal Script renditions would contain only the first 9-bit square. Additionally, values of 512 and 256K (262,144) are often expressed as large egg boxes. For example:
would represent 1024. And:
would represent 1,048,576 or approximately one million, decimal.
Numbers requiring more than 27 bits are compound words and display as two (or more) number words strung together. In Literal Script, number boxes are often arranged in strings without regard to the word separation, for instance:
represents 549,755,813,888 (8* 5124).
Symbolic numeric notation is used by the vast majority of Grand Federation species, even those that employ completely different alphabets, though the exact form of the numeric notation may vary, such was with the Loop-Numeric-Tonal notation employed by many speakers of Long Sonic (Federation B). See Looped Script, below, for an example.
Within a packet, Symbolic is organized in a fairly conventional structure composed of sentences containing words and numbers.
A sentence is
bracketed by punctuation consisting of a 4-bit header and a 4-bit trailer.
The sentence header always begins with an egg and the sentence trailer always
begins with a strike. The other 3 bits of the sentence header and
footers always match each other and indicate one of eight sentence types:
In Literal Script, sentence headers and trailers are represented by a "[" bracket inclosing the 3-bit numeric header and a "]" bracket enclosing the corresponding trailer. For Example:
A Statement would be constructed: [ ..... ] and a Question [ ..... ].
Sentences can nest within each other, for example when a statement refers to numbers or contains a quote or aside.
A word is a 16-bit entity with its own 3-bit prefix and 3-bit suffix. The prefix determines the word type and the suffix determines the word modifier. The eight word types of symbolic are:
Suffixes vary with word type, and determine such characteristics as format, tense and emphasis. The default value of a word suffix is zero, and occasionally omitted. Not all word types have varying suffixes. Conjunctions and prepositions have only two suffixes zero, no modifier and seven, negation. Standard suffixes are:
A compound Object, Subject or Verb is one or more subsidiary word ties to the primary word to overcome the limitation of 65,534 unique words (to avoid packet wrapper confusion, 'all strikes' and 'all eggs' are reserved words). A sentence, or within sentence phrase separated by a conjunction can contain no more than one (singular or compound) Subject, Object or Verb. Adjectives always lead the Subject or Object they modify, but placement within components of compound words can subtle transform meaning. Adverbs in Symbolic can modify Verbs, Interjections, Conjunctions and Prepositions, but not Adjectives Subjects or Objects.
Strings of three or more compound words are common among Subjects and Objects, especially when describing the myriad of life forms and localities among the thousands of races and hundreds of thousands of worlds of the Grand Federation. Formal Subjects and Objects refer to named individuals or or objects and generally have one or more accompanying compound words. Unique Subjects and Objects are used for emphasis to describe singular things; unique includes the concept of formal as is used as a form of emphasis.
Despite the use of compound worlds, the limited Symbolic word selection is a continuing driver for the persistence of additional Federation languages, though all Federation language vocabularies correspond to a unique single or compound Symbolic word to ensure accurate translation.
In Literal Script, the word prefix and suffix are unenclosed 3-bit numbers and the word itself is expressed as five columns of 3-bit numbers, with the last (16th) bit represented as a bottom (strike) or top (egg) half-wrapping bracket. For example, the word "green" ( word 4,007 decimal - technically the emission or reflection of photons in the range of 511-582 nanometers, by the Grand Federation definition) when used as an adjective would be represented as:
Words within a sentence are strung directly together. For instance, "Green Abode" (with the noun "abode" being word 1,264 decimal) would be:
Written Literal Script sentences generally have a left to right orientation, though top to bottom forms are not unknown.
In addition to the variations of written expression within Literal Script itself, over the 66,000 years since Symbolic's creation, many species and cultures within the Grand Federation of Races have developed widespread variants of the Symbolic's written forms. The most common written variants of Symbolic include Streaming Script, Voided Script and Looped Script.
Streaming Script is a straight binary form of Symbolic. Though it may sometimes dispense with packet headers and footers, Streaming Script follows the strict binary pattern of Symbolic data packets and is written as a long stream of strikes and eggs. Streaming Script has no preferred the direction. The direction of the points of the strikes indicates the path of the message stream, and in extreme uses of Streaming Script, this path may inexplicably change direction and even loop back upon itself. Streaming Script is generally only used by Machine Races, such as the Zhretra or extremely mathematically adept biological Races such as the Hubas.
Voided Script is based on the angular representation of strikes within the numbers and words of Literal Script notation. Voided Script connects strikes in angular arrangements and omits eggs. Brackets denoting sentence and word characteristics remain unchanged from Literal Script Symbolic. Numbers are represented as distinct shapes within the 9 bit box and words as distinct shapes within the 15 bit bracket.
The two major variations of Voided Script are Closed, which connects strikes in complex, often diagonal patterns, and Open, which is a strict representation of strikes as lines, connected only top to bottom. As an example:
are, respectively, Closed and Open Voided Script renditions of the adjective "Green".
Looped Script, a derivation of Symbolic script developed by the Un'aa'graum to express their Low Sonic tonal language. It is an expression of Symbolic in curves and ellipses corresponding to patters of eggs in the Literal Script. Looped Script joins adjacent eggs into ellipses and "great circles" based on a set of rules that gives preference to vertical over horizontal orientation. For example, the representations of the adjective "Green" and the decimal number "417" would be:
Looped Script is almost universally oriented top to bottom and expresses rounded sentence brackets on isolated rows.
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