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As asking language-ID-questions on this site seems off-topic I'd like to know whether there is a resource on the internet which can help me.

I found a the curious snippet attached to a balloon which has landed in a forest nearby my parents home in Berlin/Germany. I think I could start to translate it, once knowing which language it is and thus the alphabet.

This is just one line of the text - I don't want to post all of it as I'm not sure whether the author would want that. It is also to be noted that the snippet is signed with two names written in latin characters and using the word and.

enter image description here

  • Looks like Thai to me. – Joe Jul 11 '16 at 0:29
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Problem 1. Identify the language

I found this diagram (in Russian). It seems to be pretty simple, and it amazingly covers a vast majority of world's languages. I took my liberty to adjust it slightly.

Identifying Language diagram

Note: this diagram does not pretend to be scientific at all. Its only goal is to let a beginner to quickly identify the script and, possibly, a language.


Problem 2. Identify the characters

Once you have recognized the language/script, you would probably need to identify the characters within the text. Some characters can be difficult to recognize.

For example, in Thai language (your text is in Thai; see below), the characters , , , and , being hand-written, may be hard to tell apart since they differ drastically from their canonical forms.

Even in your example, looks like a mirrored C, while looks like O.

Doug Cooper has written an interesting article called "How do Thais Tell Letters Apart?" (PDF)

The question Deciphering a handwritten script also has a great answer by a person whose profession is reading manuscripts; in their answer, they describe some practical techniques for recognizing symbols in a handwritten text.


Further reading

  • Language recognition chart on Wikipedia.
  • If you speak Russian, there's a great book, „World language identification by script“ (1961) written by Gilyarevsky et al (Гиляревский, Гривнин — «Определитель языков мира по письменностям») available online (landing page)

P.S. Your sample is in Thai, and the inscription says, อย่างนี้ตลอดไป รักเสมอ, "{wish it to be} forever this way, an eternal love". Also, it's a pretty common tradition in Thailand to attach one's dreams and wishes to a ballon or a floating basket and let it fly/float.

P.P.S. Language identification question by itself are offtopic, since they do not help further visitors. However, questions on methodology of language identification seem to be quite on topic. See this Meta question.

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  • The diagram is marvellous, but I'd like to see some historic scripts included as well. Mayan and Egyptian hieroglyphs and cuneiform are distinctive enough in their canonical forms, but e.g. demotic and hieratic Egyptian would be nice to see too. – tripleee Jun 13 '18 at 7:15
  • The diagram misses: "does it look like a sci-fi script?" Then It's tibetan – Ergative Man Mar 11 at 14:07
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If it were printed, I would suggest Omniglot, which is the best resource for alphabet-identification. Handwritten text is more of a problem: the first time I saw cursive Hebrew, I didn't know what language it was. And there's always the possibility that it isn't a language, like this.

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