POP QUIZ: I’M GONNA SIT RIGHT DOWN AND WRITE MYSELF AN INDECIPHERABLE LETTER (answers)
(Sorry for the delay. Technical difficulties.)
And a cryptic round of applause goes to Tim B, who scored a clearly discernible victory with 7/10. Well done!
1) The Rongorongo hieroglyphs, discovered in the 1880s and consisting of some 600 unique characters which have yet to be deciphered, were discovered on which island?
2) The Rosetta Stone, which proved to be the key to deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, contains the same message written out in three different languages: Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Ancient Greek, and what?
3) “CROATOAN”, possibly a misspelling of the Native American tribe Croatan, was found carved into a tree at the site of the “lost colony” on what American island?
4) The Cascajal Block, a rock carved with 62 characters and dating from possibly as far back as 1,000 BCE, is the basis for an unproven claim that what ancient Mexican tribe were the first western hemisphere peoples to have a writing system?
5) Oracle Bone Script, in which letters were carved on bones to ask questions and the bones were then heated until they cracked, the cracks supposedly indicating the answers, is the oldest known form of writing in what language?
6) Cryptophasia refers to specialized, ‘secret’ languages shared by what specific types of people?
7) What ancient Mesopotamian form of writing has, despite the discovery of over 4,000 objects inscribed with over 400 unique symbols, yet to be deciphered or even positively identified as a language?
8) A group of Cherokee troops working with the US 30th Infantry Division at the Second Battle Of The Somme in September 1918 are the first known example of what cryptic counter-intelligence tactic?
9) Barring some vague and varying references going back as far as Shakespeare’s “Loves Labour’s Lost”, a 1919 performed and recorded by Arthur Fields is the earliest known use of what easily decipherable coded language?
10) A recessive hereditary trait amongst the people of Martha Vineyard in Massachusetts lead to the development of what type of specialized language, commonly used on the island from the early 18th century right up until the 1950s?
1) EASTER ISLAND
2) DEMOTIC EGYPTIAN (Egyptian script that is not hieroglyphic)
4) THE OLMEC
7) INDUS SCRIPT
9) PIG LATIN
10) SIGN LANGUAGE (specifically, Martha’s Vineyard Sign language, or MVSL. There was a genetic predisposition to deafness common in the community)
I know some people might pick at calling Chinese a language, given that it’s actually a language group consisting of many different – sometimes entirely incompatible – dialects. But in referring to writing, many (most, maybe all) of those dialects use a common set of characters, and “Chinese Language” is the accepted term.
The Codetalkers are fascinating. Such a simple idea, and it was used so wildly. Simply talk in your own language, safe in the knowledge that no one on the other side can understand it. The US army used many different Native tribes for various operations, perhaps most famously the Navajo Codetalkers that worked with the US Marines throughout WWII and the Korean War. But the Cherokee were first. Hitler actually sent spies to America to try to learn how to speak various Native languages. The Chinese similarly employed Wenzhou speakers during many conflicts, and during the wars in Yugoslavia in the ’90s British peace-keepers sent non-vital secret messages in Welsh. Presumably information about sheep.
Arthur Fields, also known for “Aba Daba Honeymoon” and the charming war-anthem “Hunting The Hun”, can be heard performing “Pig Latin Love (I-Yay Ove-Lay oo-yay earie-day)” here.