World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Night writing

Article Id: WHEBN0000639798
Reproduction Date:

Title: Night writing  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Braille, 1829 braille, Slate and stylus, Korean Braille, Bharati Braille
Collection: 1820 Introductions, Tactile Alphabets
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Night writing

Night Writing
Languages French
ca. 1820
Braille, New York Point
(not supported)
Barbier's sonographie

Night writing, AKA sonography, was a system of code that used symbols of twelve dots arranged as two columns of six dots embossed on a square of paperboard, and is now remembered as the forerunner of Braille. It was designed by Charles Barbier in response to Napoleon's demand for a code that soldiers could use to communicate silently and without light at night. Called sonography, each grid of dots stands for a character or phoneme.

Barbier's system was related to the Polybius square, in which a two-digit code represents a character. In Barbier's variant, a 6×6 matrix includes most of the characters of the French alphabet, as well as several digraphs and trigraphs:

Barbier's Night Writing matrix
1 2 3 4 5 6
1 a i o u é è
2 an in on un eu ou
3 b d g j v z
4 p t q ch f s
5 l m n r gn ll
6 oi oin ian ien ion ieu

A character (or digraph or trigraph) was represented by two axes of dots, in which the first column had one to six dots denoting the row in the matrix, and the second had one to six dots denoting the column: e.g., 4–2 for "t" represented by

The letter t

As many as twelve dots (two columns of 6) would be needed to represent one symbol.

Barbier's system was found to be too difficult for soldiers to learn and was rejected by the military. In 1821, Barbier visited the National Institute for the Blind in Paris, France, where he met Louis Braille. Braille identified the major failing of the code, which was that the human finger could not encompass the whole symbol without moving and so could not move rapidly from one symbol to another.

His modification was to use a 6-dot cell, the Braille system that revolutionized written communication for the visually impaired.


  • Geschiedenis van het brailleschrift
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.