The name of this language, on which Professor Ota has laboured since 1964, is LoCoS — “Lovers’ Communication System.” The name reflects his hope that readers and writers will communicate “as effortlessly as lovers.” LoCoS is essentially a type of purely visual Esperanto.

Unlike most written languages, LoCoS represents concepts rather than sounds — in this way it in fact has much in common with some of the earliest proto-writing systems.

The basic building blocks are simple, modifiable shapes that each represent an idea, person or place.

LoCoS has a simple and logical system for representing abstract ideas. Once you know the base symbol, related symbols — with visually logical modifications — are easy to understand and remember.

For more on this idiosyncratic but fascinating “language without letters,” read the following piece by Australian graphic designer Cris Gaul:

Is this language without letters the future of global communication?

Exit sign Yukio Ota
Yukio Ota’s design for the internationally recognised exit sign

Via bibliophile and rare book collector Incunabula.

Somewhat related from the archives: Hobo signs and symbols.


I have always looked at the exit sign for some time now and I always admire the design. The sign is on every floor in my place of work.

Share a thought