What is the UniSkript?
WHAT IS UNISKRIPT?
The concept of UniSkript was developed in a corporative endeavor involving the author, Marcia S. Suzuki, David Hamilton, Edson Suzuki, and Youngshin Kim. Each one of these four researchers has played a key role in shaping the concept of UniSkript, a fundamental step which allowed Marcia to create a methodological tool to generate iconogestural alphabets.
Orthographies generated using this technique have been implemented and used in different languages, allowing people to learn how to read and write in less than one month. In Papua New Guine, UniSkript alphabets have been successfully used by local teachers trained by our team. They have been teaching illiterate children to decode and read short texts after only a couple of months. American children with dyslexia and even autism have learned how to read comfortably using these alphabets after only a couple of weeks. Speech and reading disabilities pathologists working in San Francisco area, also trained by our team, attest that with only four sessions of UniSkript their patients acquire phonemic awareness equivalent to one year of treatment using traditional approaches. Chinese kids, if previously literate in the romanized pinyin system, can learn how accurately read and write any Chinese word in UniSkript after only 3 to 6 hours of instruction. English Uniskript has been used to help improve English reading and writing skills in Navajo kids in Rock Point, Arizona, and at the same time to help in the preservation and promotion of the Navajo language.
Currently a team of neuroscientists of BrainLENS - Laboratory of Educational Neuroscience at the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF) is working in partnership with the UniSkript Research and Literacy Institute - URLI, to perform brain imaging tests in order to determine why children in PNG who use UniSkript are acquiring control of reading and writing in the vernacular and national languages in one third of the time it usually takes for them to learn using the traditional Latin letters. The goal of the partnership is to scientifically validate the use of UniSkript in literacy programs for developing countries and for dyslexic children in developing societies.
UniSkript alphabets are best described as iconogestural writing systems. The 4-Questions Technique is a cross-language methodology invented by the author to generate those alphabets.The term iconogestural was coined by the author to convey the idea that UniSkript combines two concepts:
Firstly there is icono which refers to iconicity. In UniSkript, each letter is designed in a way that graphically reflects the phonological gestures involved in the articulation of the phonemes . Secondly, there is gestural which refers to distinctive features or articulatory gesture. UniSkript letters represent the phonological distinctive feature. This ultimate level of phonological representation makes UniSkript alphabets intuitive and easy to learn.
Finally, UniSkript is unique for each language community because it highlights and enhances the community’s cultural aesthetics and identity. This is referred to as cultural contextualization. Even though the letters are based on universal principles, the target people’s traditional art and design are incorporated in the shape of the letters creating unique alphabets for each language group.