# Decipher this sentence, written in an original cipher

What does this sentence say? What manner of speech does it represent?

I can safely declare that this cipher is entirely novel: Understanding this writing system does not depend on knowing any existing system of writing.

Unfortunately, I cannot provide a textual transcription of the cipher, as many of the characters are not present in Unicode. Please open the image in a new tab and zoom in for a closer view. Feel free to ask clarification questions, such as which characters are intended to be identical to one another or which gaps between characters are intentional.

• Is the target language English based? Or is figuring that out part of the puzzle. Commented Nov 1, 2023 at 12:10
• @LeppyR64 The target language is English-based: You don't need to know any other language to decipher it. Commented Nov 1, 2023 at 12:59
• Does one symbol always map to one letter? Commented Nov 1, 2023 at 13:35
• @Someone That's too detailed of a question for me to answer for now. I'll add hints every 24 hours from the posting of the question. Commented Nov 1, 2023 at 13:38
• @isaacg Where are you from? ;) Commented Nov 1, 2023 at 14:34

# Plaintext

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

# Solve path

Step 1: Identify repetitions.

Step 2: Ponder the cipher.

Assume from the variety of symbols and the unusually short length of the average word that this is a phonetic substitution cipher. That is, each symbol stands for a sound rather than a letter. See that some of the "symbols" appear to be made of smaller symbols combined in different ways. These are probably diphthongs and digraphs. There seem to be two categories of symbols: ones that look like circles or arcs, and ones that are made mostly of straight lines. Because the round ones touch the straight ones more often than other round ones, and vice versa, these are probably the vowels and consonants. There is also a small circle which doesn't appear on its own, but is sometimes found at the top of other symbols. This calls to mind the Dakuten from Japanese writing, which changes a voiceless consonant into a voiced one. "T" becomes "D", for example, and "S" becomes "Z".

Step 3: Assume a few words.

The "and to" pair seems to reinforce the dakuten assumption. If the little circle is indeed a dakuten, seeing it in the word "the" is a little weird until you remember that spoken English does have voiced and unvoiced "th" sounds. Compare "with" and "them", for example.

Step 4: Assume a few more words.

Thinking about the unvoiced "th" gives me a place to put "with". Following the "n" around gives "when in the", and thinking about words that contain "and" brings up "stands". There's only one one-symbol word, which appears to be a diphthong. In some dialects of spoken English both "A" and "I" are made of two vowel sounds. Now I'm confident in all of the most common consonant and vowel sounds, roughly "AEINSTD".

Step 5: Assume a long pattern word, and recognize the plaintext.

With N, S, and a bunch of vowels, I can finally identify "necessary" on the third line, find a few more words around it, and recognize the Declaration of Independence.

At the end of the last page, "the earth" might be written differently if the speaker's dialect normally changes "the" to end with a long "E" whenever it precedes a vowel sound. Something like "thee earth" versus "thuh earth". At the top of the second page, "the" has a dot in each symbol, which I don't see a reason for.

• This might be the same kind of puzzle as a much older one which is still sitting there unsolved. Commented Nov 1, 2023 at 16:49
• Well done! That's correct! The dots at the top of the second page are just stray marks, not part of the text. As an extra fun fact, in addition to constants being mostly straight lines and vowels being mostly round, consonants are also vertically symmetrical, while vowels are horizontally symmetrical. Semivowels (lrwy) are doubly symmetrical. Commented Nov 1, 2023 at 17:32