Blazonry is kind of an outlier in the languages and linguistics category. It isn’t really a language. But I think it is its connection with language that enables it to activate my obsession center, which it periodically does, every year or two.

There are plenty of websites out there that will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about blazonry; maybe I'll link to some of them at the bottom of the page. Let a simple explanation of what it is suffice for here.

Blazonry is a jargon, a very specific language for describing coats of arms. You know, designs on shields (and also crests and supporters and things like that) that knights had, that identified them, and their families. When they recorded devices in the rolls of arms, it wasn’t pictures they registered, it was the descriptions, or blazons of the arms. It's a highly stylized language, with special terminology and special meanings for all the words, and even the word-order is not quite normal compared to English (or French, or whatever language: lots of countries have their own blazonry. I'm talking about English here, though).

Since it is so specialized, and geared toward enabling one to reproduce a coat of arms purely from the description, it has been described as the first programming language. OK, not Turing-complete, but sort of programming-language-like, in the sense that PostScript is (even though PostScript is Turing-complete). Maybe HTML would be a better example. Naturally, that's too tempting a description to pass up... So what about writing a program that could actually render blazons, draw a picture given the blazonry description? There was a DOS-only program called Blazons! (by Robert Billard) once upon a time, I recall, that was actually quite good at drawing pictures from a blazon. It actually still ostensibly has a home page even now, but it appears to be woefully neglected. It talks about an upcoming version for Windows 95, and was apparently last updated in 1998. The link to the new home page for it leads to a domain-name holding site. Still, you can download it from there if you like. But it’s proprietary (closed-source, shareware), and even disabled the save pictures feature. It did have a really smart parser, though, if I recall correctly. So, what if someone else (me) were to write a converter from blazonry to, say Scalable Vector Graphics, the sleek, modern standard for pictures that are scalable to any size without necessarily losing resolution? Sounds like a good idea to me.