Questions tagged [undeciphered-writing]

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Do we know enough to become fluent in written Mayan?

There are about 7000 languages but only three origins of writing: The Middle East, China, and Mesoamerica. The most studied writing system in Mesoamerica is Mayan script. It was once the official ...
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2 answers
203 views

Can you decipher a language without any translation?

So, I was thinking, if we have the tech to store information for billions of years (which we strangely enough do - I'm talking about the 5D storage devices), what if we store a vast collection of ...
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3 votes
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Decipherment challenge

I am not a linguist, but I'm looking for examples of decipherment competitions when multiple linguists have tried to independently translate the same script. I know only this one: Rawlinson, H., ...
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Could the language(s) of the Proto-Sinaitic incriptions have words with no known cognates?

If so, this could be a part of the reason why we haven't completely deciphered these inscriptions.
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Will we ever decipher the Wadi el-Ḥol and Serabit el-Khadim inscriptions? [closed]

In his book Letter perfect: the marvelous history of our alphabet from A to Z, David Sacks says that we'll probably never decipher the Wadi el-Ḥol inscriptions (and he was probably implying the same ...
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47 votes
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Could the Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs have been deciphered without the Rosetta Stone with modern tech?

The Rosetta Stone was one of the most important documents in the history of linguistics. Discovered around 1800, it allowed Ancient Egyptian to be deciphered. Let's say that the stone didn't exist, ...
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8 votes
2 answers
340 views

Why are the scripts of Crete known as "Linear"?

Two famous, apparently related scripts now known as Linear A (which encoded an as-yet undeciphered language) and Linear B (used to write Greek) were discovered on the island of Crete. Why are these ...
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6 answers
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How would someone begin translating an unknown language?

Excuse my ignorance. I'm writing a work of fiction wherein an archeologist finds a tomb that contains not only the bodies of an unknown/unstudied society, but also samples of writing in that society's ...
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Attempts at distributed deciphering of Linear A

Possibly related: Current prospective efforts in the decipherment of ancient scripts Are there any active attempts at coding and indexing all available examples of Linear A in a manner that would ...
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7 votes
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199 views

Current prospective efforts in the decipherment of ancient scripts

Reading a bit about the decipherment of ancient scripts gave me the impression that those scripts which remain mostly undeciphered as of today have such a small and restricted corpus (I'm thinking of ...
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10 votes
2 answers
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Is Stephen Bax' partial decoding of the Voynich Manuscript plausible?

Having browsed Stephen Bax' paper "A proposed partial decoding of the Voynich script" (available here), as a scientist in the natural sciences (physics, mathematics), I find his proposed decoding of ...
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What statistical methods are used to test whether a corpus of symbols is linguistic?

In their 2009 paper on the Indus Script, Rao et al. describe a test for deciding whether a corpus of symbols is in fact a collection of texts in some language. Over-simplifying a bit, the approach ...
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