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I had a weird little dream last night. There were aliens around and they wore boxy clothes and had very short, rectangular, and flattish heads that grew straight up from their body, like a Gumby or Domo but without visible features. The surface of the head was covered with a chessboard/checkerboard (or "chequerboard" if you insist) pattern of white and black squares, but the aliens could vary the size of the squares (so more squares or fewer were showing, from big to very small) and the contrast (from black & white to shades of gray) at will. At first people thought it was just decoration, and then we thought it was to identify individuals, but finally people noticed how sometimes the size-contrast changed rapidly, flickering from one state to another, and we understood it was a visual form of abstract language.

When I woke up, I thought it too simplistic to work. But English does so much with 26 letters, and it wasn't that each size-contrast state was its own word but more like a letter forming part of a word, so it could be enough.