0

I do apologize if this question has been asked before or has a better place on a different part of the StackExchange network, but I've run out of places to ask this.

While playing through one of my most beloved video games in search for hidden clues about one of the game's most mysterious races, I happened to come across a somewhat legible snippet of text on one of the floting screens seen below:

Original text

Since then, I've done what I can to try to compile what I understand about this language and its people in an attempt to determine what it says. As some starter notes:

  • The people who use this alphabet speak in a hybrid of Japanese and English
  • However, I have reason to believe that based on the game's lore, the race using this awkward hybrid of languages originally spoke English and adopted the Japanese language to fit into the society the story takes place in
  • Text on the screens float up, meaning that this race reads from the top down, like with English
  • Text is also written horizontally, like with English, but whether it's meant to be read from left to right or right to left is unknown
  • Individual characters appear to take strong influence from the Nazca line pattern this race uses and Japanese katakana
  • A large space separates the final two--or more likely, first two--characters in each line. Personally, I think the final two characters are some form of punctuation, but the space itself could signal the start of a new sentence.

With that in mind, below is the transcript of the three lines I was able to pull from the original image. It should also be noted that in the original image, these three lines repeat again and again, never to be broken by the introduction of a new phrase. (I apologize if the image is rather large; I wasn't sure how to scale it down without having to reupload it entirely)

My transcript

Anyway, I plan to start trying to take this passage apart going on the assumption that it's an alternative English alphabet, especially since a character resembling ト appears the most often. However, if my current assumption turns out to be a dead end and I can't make any progress with my second--which is to try to match characters to the kana syllabary--I'll be fairly lost as to where to go from there. There's no written language for the Nazca culture, as far as I know, and while I've been told there's a possibility this alphabet has some Greek roots, that only gets me so far before I run out of ideas again.

So finally, we arrive at my core question, which is this: How do you go about deciphering a language without any spoken basis, no native speakers to converse with, or another other leads to go on besides ones provided by context alone?

5
  • NOTE: I was making notes rather late at night, so I seem to have confused "symbolic" for "phonemic", which is what kana actually is. My apologies for that. – Pleiades Nov 12 '16 at 21:03
  • 1
    Largely related: linguistics.stackexchange.com/questions/1001/… – bytebuster Nov 12 '16 at 23:31
  • 3
    Note1: the corpus is far too small; not sure if the language can be deciphered by merely 30 symbols. Note2: I would contact a native Japanese speaker to see if any glyphs can be a stylized Kana. – bytebuster Nov 12 '16 at 23:36
  • 1
    This is not a language, it is a game. I have voted to close. – fdb Nov 13 '16 at 0:20
  • 2
    @fdb, constructed languages are not explicitly forbidden here, we even have a conlang tag. – bytebuster Nov 13 '16 at 2:46
5

"How do you go about deciphering a language without any spoken basis, no native speakers to converse with, or another other leads to go on besides ones provided by context alone?"

You don't.

With no inroads such as you've mentioned, all you can do is play a game of decipherment; but basically any solution you find will be something you have invented: you have no way of checking your rendering against anything else. (See some of the wildly varying "translations" of Etruscan texts over the years - and that was a real language, with some context available for the inscriptions).

2

If it is a language (and it could be, lots of games have conlangs) step one is get lots more data, preferably some with known translations or at least known topics.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.