I've wondered about this script since I saw it years ago. I imagine it's an English cipher. Can anyone tell me?

enter image description here

  • 1
    @sumelic, an intern left it on his notepad on his last day in the office
    – Jellicle
    Commented Aug 1, 2015 at 16:51
  • 1
    I'd start looking at omniglot.com because it has a wonderful collection of alternative scripts for languages. Don't give up on the possibility it is an old shorthand (yes, even without ligatures), but I don't know a good reference for that.
    – user10239
    Commented Aug 4, 2015 at 11:45
  • 1
    The corrections "y" makes me think of a substitution table wrongly applied. So some cipher. The exclamations and "??" do not indicate a very information bearing message.
    – Joop Eggen
    Commented Aug 4, 2015 at 13:11
  • @JellicleCat Reposted: puzzling.stackexchange.com/questions/80279/…
    – cyco130
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 10:22

4 Answers 4


Sorry for digging up this old question but we finally have an answer.

I reposted this question to puzzling stackexhange thinking they would be better equipped to solve it. Surely enough, within fifteen minutes of my posting, the user Deusovi recognized the script as the Elian script and deciphered the first few lines. Later, I spent some time to fully decipher it (except the first line):

park nre renr
the c programming langua#ge!
i really want my pen!
create a cetter [=better?] interface for reports
hey mr flava! flava
i reall#y should practice my elian s#cript more
the d language is fun to use indeed!
i really should practice my elian script
mayby [=maybe?] # i should standerdiz ze [=standardize?]

{ changes pens }

testing this pen
it writes # mu#a [=much?] faster


That looks like Hebrew cursive script

Some of the letters seem to be incomprehensible for me but I assume that is due to the writer's personal style. Hebrew cursive can differ dramatically between users, even to the point of being unreadable between individual native speakers.

On the other hand, as it was noticed earlier, the exclamation marks are placed on the right, which suggests left to right writing which is inconsistent with Semitic scripts. Then again, major part of the letters can be connected to Hebrew whilst only a couple of them don't fit any possible character.

It seems unlikely that it is mix of different alphabets but also I don't think that it is very probable to find so many Hebrew characters in non-Hebrew script.

A would assume that either this is a mix-up or some Semitic cursive script (maybe Hebrew).

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cursive_Hebrew Here you can find the characters and compare them with those from your text.

The probable Semitic letters are : Tet, Nun, Resh, Samekh, Qof, Tav, Pe

Also, these peculiar diacritics could stand for Hebrew niqqud but the usage would be extremely inconsistent because I can see only a dot placed below and above a letter and that would be only a tiny fraction of the whole niqqud system. But then if we nevertheless considered them niqqud, then this "exclamation mark" could be just letter Vav with an /i/ diacritic.

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    The flush-left/ragged-right paragraph-level formatting also suggests that it is not a Semitic language. Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 15:35

The alphabet looks made up. Lots of angles with not enough curves and loops, not very practical for pen and paper. Therefore I believe it's a substitution cipher (but probably not English). Here are some observations:

  • It seems to be written left to right because the left margin is regular but the right one isn't. Although not definitive, I think it weakens the Semitic hypothesis.
  • Number of unique signs seem to be consistent with alphabetic writing. I didn't really count them but my estimate is around thirty.
  • Word boundaries seem to be observed but there don't seem to be many reoccurring words. This makes languages with articles and frequent prepositions/postpositions unlikely (e.g. the lack of an identifiable "the" rules out English).
  • My gut says the exclamation point is the exclamation point. It's only used at the end of words and 3 out of 4 times it is at the very end of the line.
  • A few signs seem to have variants with diacritics (dot above and dot below). It might be reflecting the state of affairs in the original language. It also makes English unlikely.
  • The most common signs seem to be "upper right corner", "L", "o", and "9". All four seem to have nearly equal frequencies. For English I would expect there to be a clear winner ("e"). Same (even more heavily) for German and French.

Of course all these points can have alternative explanations.

Someone needs to do a letter and digram frequency analysis. I wish I had more time :)

  • If it is shorthand, the lack of repeated words like "the" might just be another form of abbreviation- leaving out small words like that and just jotting down the big picture. However the number of precisely formed shapes doesn't point to a shorthand.
    – Kaninchen
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 9:37

This isn't a professional opinion at all, but I think that it looks very similar to a semitic language's writing system. enter image description here

  • That thought occurred to me, too, but i couldn't read any of the letters, let alone words, so I waited for more facts.
    – jlawler
    Commented Aug 1, 2015 at 16:39
  • Definitely not Semitic.
    – fdb
    Commented Aug 2, 2015 at 0:04

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