Friday, January 13, 2012

Half-Remembered Things

Can you help me remember what I was reading about? I feel that I read this either in a Douglas Hofstadter book or in the Wikipedia.

It's about word-like systems (I hesitate to call them languages) that are, in a sense, compression schemes.

So, for example, you start with an English sentence, and it's a certain length. You can then "translate" it into another system where the "words" are more meaningful, so you need fewer words/characters to represent the idea. And then, at the extreme, there is a "language" where any idea could be represented as a single word -- but where all the words are unpronounceable things like j5n;o.

Any idea what this is or keywords I should use to search for it? Or do I need to find a reference librarian?