Can you read this mysterious letter?

Originally published at: Can you read this mysterious letter? | Boing Boing


Drink more Ovaltine.


Cracked it!

“If you can read this, you have waaaaay too much time on your hands.”

Ooof. Burn!


its elvish


Looks like old fashioned German handwriting (maybe Sütterlin?) to me. Do you have better quality images?


I didn’t know that elves used to send junk mail to people.


Whatever it is, it is quite beautiful. The strings of repeated characters make it kind of look like a sutra meant to be read aloud.


Uhhhh… Well, one of them, but which one? :laughing:

[Edit: Or was that the joke?]


One of them is definitely upside down since both images are the same side of the paper. Pretty sure the right-side-up one is the second image in TFA: you can see an ellipsis at the bottom of the first page. So (by this hypothesis) the tear in the paper should be in the upper right.


At first glance I thought it might be early native writing. But making the picture large, I don’t think it is.

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I think the second photo is the right-side up photo, since you can see the person’s foot and pantleg at the bottom as they are taking a picture of the sheet on a table.

I think the writing on the sheet has some right-side-up and upside-down sections on the different faces where it was folded. There are common shapes that are descenders on one side and ascenders on the other.

That “ellipsis” is four dots. Maybe it means an ellipsis in that script, but who knows.

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Here’s an utterly gormless guess of surmounting insufficiency (based on slant and diacriticals and frequency of ascending slants only): cursive Syriac

here’s sample from [wikipedia]:


The direction of “lean” of the characters is kind of telling, to me. Handedness? Left-to-Right writing style? Also, it’s a language that doesn’t bother with spaces between words, since there are no spaces between words…

My first thought seeing it was Khmer, but it isn’t. Maybe an ethnic/regional language from Southeast Asia?

Or it also looks like Javanese, which is I guess what her Indonesian language specialists were leaning toward.

Nothing really fits. Would help to know how old it is, or some provenance.


Looks like my last school report from 1981.
Would explain most of my career since, frankly.


Link doesn’t work, and your pictures are low-res. So, no.

…but at a glance, I’m also going to go with Elvish…


It also bears a resemblance to certain Georgian calligraphy, though it doesn’t seem to exactly match. Hard to tell with the low res images, the video moving, and the fact that it’s almost certainly upside down.

Georgian scripts are commonly confused with Asian scripts, and commonly compared to Elvish. So maybe South East Asian experts can’t identify it because it’s not a South East Asian script?

Link works fine for me. But it’s a local news affiliate, attention might have knocked the page down.

The low res photos are from the original source, high res ones don’t seem to exist online.


“Send three and fourpence, I’m going to a dance.”


I don’t think it’s old German - I’ve been going through my great-grandparents letters and it’s a hard read but I can decipher most of it. This, I don’t see anything recognizable - the lack of spaces and punctuation also makes me think it’s something else.


First image, left side, six lines down, left side of that line appears to be some numbers with slashes - kinda looks like “9\4\41\9” or something close. They don’t (to me) seem to appear anywhere else. If we had a high res image, we could try and identify all unique characters and then do a frequency count, which could help guide us to a language. Was a codebreaker at NSA back in the day and old habits die hard :slight_smile:


Are you…are you allowed to tell us that?

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