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Lost Bible-Era Languages to Be Resurrected by Computers?

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posted on Jul, 20 2010 @ 02:25 PM
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A computer program developed at MIT has allowed them to translate written Ugaritic (1200 BC). I am curious how accurate these results are. The implications are pretty cool if it allows us to translate this stuff, allowing a better look at our history.

It deciphered a language that used dots and other marks on a clay tablet.


A new computer program has quickly deciphered a written language last used in Biblical times—possibly opening the door to "resurrecting" ancient texts that are no longer understood, scientists announced last week. Created by a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the program automatically translates written Ugaritic, which consists of dots and wedge-shaped stylus marks on clay tablets. The script was last used around 1200 B.C. in western Syria.



Source

I'm also curious if this could be used to decipher the 3 ciphers from the Zodiac Killer that are still unsolved.
Zodiac letters and Ciphers

Edit: I did a search and did not find this posted. If it is, Mods, please remove.

[edit on 20-7-2010 by Xcathdra]

[edit on 20-7-2010 by Xcathdra]




posted on Jul, 20 2010 @ 09:12 PM
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Uber-Cool OP.

I think it may not replace highly skilled scholars but perhaps to folks in the field it will be very valuable. Imagine coming across some relic with this writing on it, enter into your laptop, and be able to read it (more or less) on the spot.

As far as the Zodiac Killer stuff? Probably not.



posted on Jul, 20 2010 @ 09:34 PM
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This is pretty cool and it will be interesting to see what other languages they can decode. It does make me worry a little, though. Translating can be tricky business, even when dealing with living languages. Think of all the phrases and sayings a language has that can be translated, but don't have the exact meaning or punch of the original. That causes problems that can be less important like style or metaphor getting left behind and bigger problems like misinterpreting something because it's that something you can only say in Ugaritu.

Another thing is translating is basically code cracking. The computer's program makes a lot of sense and I'd trust it if only because the folks who made it are much smarter than I am, but there could be problems. The program or the way the data is analyzed could misidentify or mistranslate something, but either no one notices or it's just accepted as fact. That mistake keeps getting repeated and could lead to more mistakes, not just for one language, but possibly others if it's a problem with the program. That clouds understanding. Sometimes you can get the code wrong, but it'll still make sense in context. That doesn't make it right and it could cause even more trouble/misunderstanding if it's dealing with religious texts.

Despite that, this is still really awesome. And if we're naming our translation wishlist, it'd be awesome if the program could make sense out of the Voynich manuscript. Even if it's a hoax, it'd be neat to see someone make it a little more sensical.

[edit on 7/20/2010 by SaulGoodman]

[edit on 7/20/2010 by SaulGoodman]



posted on Jul, 20 2010 @ 09:37 PM
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reply to post by Xcathdra
 


Being interested in languages, I thought this was a cool post.

I just wonder if the computer would really be able to pick up on some of the eccentricities in languages --the things I enjoy studying.
And different regional dialects of the same root language could throw some wrenches into the mix, like slightly different spelling to whole different connotations of some words.

Nice find, nonetheless.



posted on Jul, 21 2010 @ 02:57 AM
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Originally posted by ABNARTY
Uber-Cool OP.

I think it may not replace highly skilled scholars but perhaps to folks in the field it will be very valuable. Imagine coming across some relic with this writing on it, enter into your laptop, and be able to read it (more or less) on the spot.

As far as the Zodiac Killer stuff? Probably not.


It would be cool if it could be used for the Zodiac ciphers.. I have been reading up on that case and am still intrigued by his use of different codes from different time periods in History.

I am hoping the new program will finally open some scientific minds about our History.

I'm wondering what MIT will do next.. tackle the Linear A and find out what the Minoans were thinking.
Linear A and B - Wikipedia

I guess cracking a language is the first step. Actually understanding what they meant though might be problematic. It reminds me of the Star Trek TNG episode (Darmak and Gilad at Tinagra). They were trying to understand the alien language. The comparison given by Troi was:

Juliet on the Balcony.

People who are familiar with Shakspeare's Romeo and Juliet would understand both the sentence and its meaning. If you have no frame of refernce, its just words that will be open to interpretation.

Either way I think we are coming closer to cracking the codes of our past.



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