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I've seen people write (usually in a humorous way) a 'code-like' message where parts of words are replaced with a pictogram that sounds like that word-part. E.G.:

(eyeball) (tin can)(rope knot) get the (hole in ground) (earth) in my head, yet.

becomes

I cannot get the whole world in my head, yet.

I once saw this used in a fictional book, and wonder if it has an actual name.

Edit: the answer also helped by re-find this wonderfully imagined race that communicates via rebuses.

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Huh. I was going to say this is probably GR, but most of the search terms I tried ("pictures replacing words" and things like that) don't turn up a ton of easily visible results that say "rebus". Interesting. –  alcas Sep 14 '12 at 18:36
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possible duplicate of What is XLNC an example of? –  Hellion Sep 14 '12 at 18:39
    
@Hellion very similar, and thanks for the rebus/grammatagram index in the answer. –  New Alexandria Sep 14 '12 at 19:01
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@Hellion: having the same answer doesn't necessarily imply that the questions are duplicates of each other. If I were looking at a picture puzzle and trying to figure out what it's called, never in a million years would (or should) it occur to me to check out a question about telegram-style abbreviations. –  Marthaª Sep 14 '12 at 20:06

2 Answers 2

up vote 27 down vote accepted

This is called a rebus:

A rebus is an allusional device that uses pictures to represent words or parts of words. It was a favourite form of heraldic expression used in the Middle Ages to denote surnames, for example in its basic form 3 salmon fish to denote the name "Salmon".

Here is an example:

enter image description here

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Actually, heraldry that makes a visual pun on the bearer's name is called canting arms. Yes, you could make the argument that a cant is a type of rebus, but it's still not correct to imply that the word "rebus" is widely used in heraldry. –  Marthaª Sep 14 '12 at 19:51
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Also, where do saw and sore sound at all similar? –  Marthaª Sep 14 '12 at 19:53
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@Marthaª: In Britain, at least. –  TimLymington Sep 14 '12 at 19:56
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@Marthaª In most of England, Wales, South Africa, Australia and most of New Zealand, I would not expect to be able to distinguish saw from sore at all. Most Americans, Canadians, Irish and Scottish will pronounce these two words differently. –  user16269 Sep 15 '12 at 7:47

It is called a rebus.

a puzzle in which words are represented by combinations of pictures and individual letters; for instance, apex might be represented by a picture of an ape followed by a letter X.

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protected by RegDwigнt Sep 14 '12 at 23:32

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