How can people translate scripts that are no longer used nowadays?


Some languages currently only exist in script (i.g. Egyptian hieroglyphs) and nobody of today use them in writing or speaking. But how can scientist translate and pronounce the words into today languages?

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2 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Egyptian hieroglyphs specifically were decoded from the Rosetta Stone found in Rosetta, Egypt which had Greek on it as well which was the key used to understand hieroglyphs. Greek has been used for thousands of years and still is today. Lots of languages have also evolved, where people still speak some form of it, so they can use the words they know to figure out the words they don’t by using the context. Lots of languages still remain untranslatable to this day.

Anonymous 0 Comments

there are a lot of cool tricks in linguistics to figure this out. for example, certain words occur at predictable frequencies, so if you see a word a bunch it’s probably something like and/or/the, and then you can see how it’s used with other words and then figure them out one by one until you have the basics, then you can use context clues to figure out the rarer words or frequency distributions like Zipf’s Law. If it contains numbers, those occur at predictable frequencies too and you can use something like Benford’s law to figure those out.

it’s not usually possible to know how a word is pronounced if it’s written in an unknown alphabet, though some words such as mother and father tend to sound like “mama” and “baba” in most languages, and this can give hints as to how a few letters are pronounced. they might also happen to describe the way something sounds in such a way that you can tell what certain letters or words sound like, then work backwards from there.