Immediately you may be requested to copy probably the most well-known decipherment in historical past, deduce the foundations of a coding system for colourblind folks and rely to 100 in Danish. (The puzzles are excerpted from my new e book, The Language Lover’s Puzzle Book, which options conundrums involving historical languages, fashionable languages, invented languages and scientific languages.)

1. Champers for Champollion

In 1822 the Frenchman Jean-François Champollion lastly deciphered historical Egyptian hieroglyphics. He concluded that the picture-based script was a blended system wherein symbols might symbolize consonants, vowels, syllables or complete phrases.

Champollion made his breakthrough due to the Rosetta Stone and the Philae obelisk, each of which have bilingual inscriptions in hieroglyphs and historical Greek. He was in a position to make use of his data of a reputation on the Rosetta Stone to infer a reputation on the Philae obelisk. Are you able to do the identical right here?

The next cartouche from the Rosetta Stone reveals the title PTOLMES (Ptolemy).


What’s the title on the next cartouche from the Philae obelisk ?


(I’ve tailored the Philae cartouche very barely to get rid of extraneous element. In truth, all printed representations of hieroglyphs contain some type of modification to ease understanding. Egyptologists print hieroglyphs from left to proper, which is mostly not how they seem within the authentic texts.)

2. The Color Purple

ColorADD is a labelling system for colour-blind folks wherein black and white symbols symbolize colors. It was devised by the Portuguese graphic designer Miguel Neiva, and has achieved success in Portugal, the place you discover the symbols on stationery, garments and maps.

Listed here are 4 ColorADD symbols with the colors they symbolize.


a) Draw the symbols for pink, yellow and brown.

b) The 4 colors beneath are darkish purple, pink, silver and white. Match the colors to the symbols.


c) What are the 2 potential symbols for gray?

3. The Knights Who Say Ni

Of all of the nationwide languages of Europe, Danish has absolutely probably the most weird vocabulary of quantity phrases.

Listed here are some numbers in Danish:

fireplace 4

nioghalvfjerds 79

toogtyve 22

seksogtres 66

ni 9

syvoghalvtreds 57

enogfirs 81

tre 3

fem 5

What are the next numbers? seks, nioghalvtreds, treogtyve, femoghalvfems, toogtres, halvfjerds

What are these numbers in Danish? 7, 54, 21, 85, 99

Lastly, I’d prefer to thank the reader of this column who two years in the past despatched me a puzzle from the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad. Linguistics olympiads are competitions for college college students designed to spark an curiosity in languages. The tip-off led me to discover the archives of a number of olympiad competitions, together with the UK’s. I used to be blown away. The puzzles had been lovely and various, stretching my thoughts in methods it had by no means been stretched, whereas additionally revealing fascinating points of language, tradition, historical past or science that I didn’t know.

The Language Lover’s Puzzle E book comprises 100 puzzles impressed by or tailored from olympiad issues, masking dozens of languages from Abkhaz to Welsh, along with background about many associated topics, such because the delivery of writing, the evolution of the alphabet, numerical notation, pure language processing and AI. The puzzles are enjoyable, require no data of any language apart from English, and also you get to find one thing new on the similar time. In case you like logic puzzles, crosswords, Scrabble, wordplay or sudoku, I hope there’s something in there for you.

I’ll be again at 5pm UK with the options, and a dialogue.

In the meantime, BONVOLU SEN SPOILEROJ!*

The three questions above appeared within the printed version of the Guardian on Saturday October 31. The primary two didn’t seem on-line, however the third one (and some others) appeared hidden away in the online edition here.

I set a puzzle right here each two weeks on a Monday. I’m all the time on the look-out for nice puzzles. If you need to recommend one, email me.


Did I point out I’ve a e book out? The Language Lover’s Puzzle E book: Lexical perplexities and cracking conundrums from throughout the globe, is out on Thursday November 5, which with brutal irony is the day that bookstores will shut till at the least December. You may pre-order copies from the Guardian Bookshop and discover out extra in regards to the e book on my personal website.

If you need to search out out extra in regards to the UK Linguistics Olympiad click here.

*Esperanto for NO SPOILERS!

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