Paralingual Index no. 1
Index / typeface

The index can be downloaded for free here.
Please, use it with care. And let me know how it goes:
clara.sindal.mosconi (at)

The following is a chapter from my MFA thesis, which has been published by Malmö Art Academy.

Systematising the Uncontrolled: The Index, the Conversation and Performativity

I have worked out a series of symbols that I call the paralingual index. These symbols can be used to mark the paralinguistic sounds in our language, and they offer me the possibility of working with the fields in my transcriptions that were otherwise left blank. The index functions as an implement that can transcribe precisely the sounds that the voice automatically makes – the uncontrolled language for which we have no rules and systems. The symbols are intuitive in their design, and they refer to the sounds’ performative aspect, that is to say, to how the sounds relate to the body.

The index is dependent on sound. It doesn’t need any words but the voice is essential. The translation thus touches, to a far greater extent, on the person who is speaking than it does on what is being said. For this reason, the translation is always going to be personal and will always be closely linked to the speaker, and will maybe also elicit an image of a state of mind, a human being, more than it will convey a message for interpretation.

The index is dependent on a conversational situation. It cannot make use of the monologue or of rehearsed speech, and is therefore touching on a certain kind of spontaneity: a dialogue between a speaker and a listener, by turns, a sender and a receiver: of blood, of urges and of longings. And if we allow the sender and the receiver to speak two different languages, without sharing a second or third language, the conversation becomes dependent on everything but words, and the friction between the two languages becomes intensified.

It is inside that space that we are inclined to let it lie. Judging the conversation to be dead and the communication to be abortive. However, keeping pace with the disappearance of the words, and as the friction is heightened, something else arises in our attempts to deal with unfamiliar forms of communication. Language makes its way out the edge of what we know it as but reveals itself in other novel ways, compelling us to lead ourselves and the voice into territory that we are not accustomed to.

A considerable part of this communication is found in gestures, facial expressions and other physical, visible movements. The extent to which we use our bodies to communicate, and the ways in which we do this, are culturally determined. The index does not take this into account but deals exclusively with that facet of communication that we use our voices to carry further.

When it comes to our ability to make use of the index, the voice and the sound are therefore essential. As we move out into the territory where we are no longer resting on our acquired languages and our usual ways of communicating, and out toward what Stidworthy calls rub-up, the voice provides involuntary information. According to Adriana Cavarero, the voice reveals itself in all its uniqueness, and it is by this means that we show ourselves to one another. The voice becomes an opening to the other, an invocation, and an invitation for you to show yourself to me.

The index is also a digitized typography, a font, which can be installed on a computer and used on a keyboard. I have developed a font so that I could more easily use the characters in my transcription work but also for the purpose of turning it into a freely available tool for others who are able to understand that there might be some meaning seated in producing a translation in the communication that has otherwise not been available to them. I believe that the index can be a way of opening up a communication.

The index is like getting a new implement in your hands. I imagine that, over time, the body will learn to make use of it – both how it should “lie in the hand” and how one can elicit the best possible effect from it. It becomes like an imprint, a sign on the body, when a tool moves its way into one’s repertoire and the subconscious adopts it. In the same way, the font has made a dent in my body, a silent marking out, keeping pace with the fact that I’ve come to know the symbols and have coupled them to the uncontrolled sounds that the voice produces. This is a slow process of getting used to and learning how to make use of the font, and maybe especially because it mimics something that we know. A process that also takes place as time goes by, and a process about which I am curious to feel migrating its way into my body.

2023, Malmö