If so, this could be a part of the reason why we haven't completely deciphered these inscriptions.

2 Answers 2



Every language in the world has words with no known cognates. The main challenge with those inscriptions, though, is their paucity. There's very very little data available for comparison.

  • In continuing the line of thinking, perhaps it'd be more interesting to ask whether any of the unknown cognates might be pointing to meanings outside of our conceivability for sufficient differences in experiential reality, which is to say, could their lives have been different enough from our own to have had words, the cognates of which are absolutely not entirely translatable to us? Fun to think about... Commented May 30, 2020 at 8:50
  • @TheLoneDeranger That deserves another question to answer fully, but current linguistic consensus is that no words/languages are truly untranslatable. Every language is capable of expressing the same concepts. (Sure, the Sumerians had no word for "electricity", but they had enough words to explain what electricity was.)
    – Draconis
    Commented May 30, 2020 at 17:39

Logically, these inscriptions should include mostly Semitic words and Egyptian borrowings. Now, as they are often related to mining, or possibly written by miners, they may include a kind of miners slang, that we would then be unable to interpret, i.e Semitic words with unusual meanings. A major issue is that this "alphabet" is not stabilized. It does not seem to have a limited set of letters with standardized shapes.

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