Ancient Mystery 'Language' Unearthed in Scotland

What are they trying to tell us?
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 11, 2010 4:11 AM CDT
Ancient Mystery 'Language' Unearthed in Scotland
Ancient inscriptions on a stone.   (Shutter Stock)

Carvings discovered on more than 200 stones in Scotland have stumped linguists striving to decipher the ancient code. Some linguists believe the symbols carved by an ancient people known as the Picts are a lost language, and others say the carvings could be drawings with a message rather than writing. But the message is proving nearly impossible to decipher. "It's like finding a menu for a restaurant" written in English, and that's "your sole repository of the English language."

But others say the researchers were too hasty to assume they were dealing with words. "It looks like their method is transforming two-dimensional glyphs into a one-dimensional string of symbols," a linguist told the BBC. "The carvings must have some kind of purpose, some kind of meanings, but it's very difficult to determine." (More mystery stories.)

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