Deciphering of unknown languages

The oldest kinds of writing datent de more than five thousands years. Innumerable alphabets, myriads of hieroglyphic systemswere used all around the world.Many are still, and forever, undeciphered. Research in this field a connu two big triumphs, Champollion's one which gave their voice back to pharaos and Ventris' one which broke ancient crétois secret.

Champollion begined to study egyptian hiéroglyphs in 1806. He solved the mystery in 1822, owning to the ROSETTE STONE. This tablet was discovered by chance by a french officer, in 1799 during Napoleon's campaign of Egypt. A decree of Ptolemy V was engraved in it in 196 Bcin three writings, grecian, demotic and egyptian.

THE LINEAR B was deciphered by Ventris in 1952, owning to his daring hypothesis. He, firstly, supposed that it was not some ideographic writing, like with egyptians, where each sign stands for some thing, but a phonetic writing, whom each sign stands for some sound. This wouldn't be a great deal if he didn't go any further, for crétois spoken language is unknown to us, but Ventris imagined beside that the language transcribed by this writing was not crétois one but the one of their greek invadors. He restored so, "au pif", some first words and the fact that by giving to the signs whom they was constittuted the same pronunciation in the other words in which they appeared he got other words allowed him at the same time to confirm his hypothesis and to findother signs pronunciation. Crétoise language itself was transcribed by the linear A, wich was phonetic too, for it shares number of signs with the linear B, but which will stay, very probably, for ever undecipherable.

One could think that the problem posé by an unknown language is more simple than those of the SECRET CODES . Après tout, the first one has been created to get oneself understood and the second ones to prevent from behing understood. Not at all. No undecipherable code exists, even if the more sophisticated ones demand before to surender, years of work of spécialists armed with super-computers reserved to the army.On the contrary, when, during World War II, american side had the idea of using navajo messengers to send messages en clair...but in their languages, germans never could "décode" them. This is logical. Don't forget that the author of a coded message, if he is affraid of being understood by any one else than its addressee, wants as much to be understood by the latter. And since to create and to learn a language on this only purpose would take a disproportioned effort, the message after many operations will always end by being transcribed in a language known to the author, the addressee... and their enemies. That's not the same with lost languages which, qui by definition, are no more understood by anybody.

Because of what did I say just above, one one could think that if we intercepted some day some hypothtic extraterrestrial message , it would be definitively impossible to interpret it. This question is not an uterly speculative one, some astronomers from all around the world search in stars radio waves some possible message. Their field is called SETI, (search of extra terrestrial intelligence). They consider, on the other hand, the project of sending some day such messages, au petit bonheur, even if, today, known technology doesn't provide any powerful enough d'émetteur. In fact, to understand such messages, or to write them in order that they could be understood, is, in theory,rather easy. The knack is to begin with sending something expectable and easy to understand.Like the series of the first integers, one, two, three... then, for instance, some additions with their résults etc. Many things may be described by numbers. Elementsby their radiation frequency etc. This unexpected ease is due to the the fact that the author knew that his reader wouldn't speak his language and took it into account. This ease is, even though, mostly theorically. Once, one of those specialists amused himself by write a little message ultra simple and "devoted to be understood by anybody " then he submited it to his colleaguesthinking they would translate it in five minuts.None of them did understand anything. Yet they were, like him, some creature made of carbon and nucleic acids, better than this some human being, better some citizens of his own country, living at his time and having studied in the same schools than him. Is it so sure that some extraterrestrial would have done better?

Let's come back on Earth. The scarce times when an unknown writing has actualy been decoded, they had a lead to make the job easier.The translation of some text in an already known language, owning to the Rosette stone, in Champollion. case.Authors spoken language, in Ventris case. But let's suppose that we have nothing. Only one or several text, nothing else.And let's forget the non-credible hypothesis that the authors hade taken into account, like SETI experts, of the ignorance of those who would read them thousands years latter. Would there be some hope , a very little hope, by dint of work, of some gigantic work,one'd find the light?The answer is no. Because of what linguists call with pomp the arbitrarity of signifiant, this obvious notice that no logical link connectwords with their meanings. The time when the sun may be seen could as well be called "night" and the one when it is not called "day". Let's imagine a game constituted by two series of cards, the first ones with pictures and the other ones with words on it, which must be assembled two by two. You got the picture of a bird, well, if the game use english language, that's easy , all you have to do is look for the card with the word "bird". If it's chineese language, it's a bit more complicated,you'll need a dictionary. But if words and letters have been created by the maker of the game, how to recognize the card with the word "bird"? It could be any of them.You could have a giant computer and ten thousand scientist ready to devote their life time to the problem, that wouldn't give any help. The game maker may have decided anything.That the same with ancient peoples. They may have decided anything.

YET, on condition to have a very big amount of texts, or one very long text, there is a means. What one? And what is the crack in former paragraph reasoning? To find it you should learn a known language, the french in which are writen both my book Le onzième manuscrit, where and nowhere else the answer is, and the page where this link leads to.

However there is more than one other puzzle that is involved in this book. I devoted the pages below to some of them.
Why did they burn Giordano Bruno?
Did Christophe Colombus realy discover america? Yes it's an earnest question. Click, you'll see.
Who was Jack the Ripper?
Did realy the alchimist Nicolas Flamel change lead into gold?
Has Atlantis ever existed?

If you like images and comic books you may also take a look at my sites about comics.

Page et texte © G. Courtial, reproductionforbiden. Illustrations the disc of Phaistos (linear A, undeciphered); Champollion by Coignet Museum of the Louvre. .