John Cowan wrote:

>Don Osborn scripsit:
>>I pass on the following item in which Saki Mafundikwa offers some
>>thoughts on the nature of writing in case they may be of interest.
>>The publisher of his book gave me the pointer to the URL
>>number=5003 ... DZO
>Well, he has a broad view of writing if it includes face painting!
>Writing is generally understood to be the communication of linguistic
>material in visual form, which excludes most of his examples (they
>communicate, but what is communicated is not linguistic).
I'd have to agree there. Well.... there might be some wiggle-room;
Sampson (I recall) gives an example in his book of a semasiography (??
I might have completely misremembered this term), which manages to
relate a very specific and coherent letter, but all through stylized
drawings and conventions, not related to a specific language at all
(mathematical notation might be considered a small version of this,
since the math involved is not related to a specific language too).
Still, I think the test of generic use applies: a language in which you
can't say approximately anything isn't a language, it's a code.
Face-painting can express many things, but even given years to repaint
and thousands of faces, it can't tell the story of Alice in Wonderland,
or The Hobbit. Some so-called "primitive" languages might have a tough
time with that too, but you could eventually get it across, even if it
meant (in theory) explaining all the alien concepts from the ground up.