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Pictograms Conquer the World

Markus Osterwalder (CHE)

Approximately eight billion human beings currently live on planet earth. They speak 6,500 different languages, which are attributed to roughly three hundred families of respectively isolated languages. Twenty-five of these language families are spoken by more than one million people each. The thing these eight billion people have in common is their desire to communicate. Yet, this is only possible if they can understand each other. But how can people communicate without speaking the language of their counterparts? This is a problem that humans solved very early on using non-verbal methods. The fact that this was, and still is, extremely successful is demonstrated by thousands-of-years-old cave paintings in which simple stick figures relate the history of a people and depict hunting scenes and scenarios of everyday life and so on. Symbols, that is, pictograms or pictorial signs, are also an indispensable part of the modern world. A pictogram is a single symbol or icon that conveys a piece of information through a simplified graphic of athletes in motion accompanied by their sporting equipment, they have been a fixed component of all Olympic Games for decades.
The 1964 Tokyo Games are considered to be the birthplace of modern sport pictograms, although sport illustrations had already been in use at the 1912 Stockholm Games, albeit with a somewhat different function than the modern pictograms we know today.

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