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I was walking in a strange hallway and stumbled on an even stranger wall. What are these? Are these words? And what are the 4 groups they go into?

strangely looking wall

Hint:

I also found a shelf with books in the hallway.

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2 Answers 2

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The symbols on the wall are ...

... English words written in a sustitution cipher that replaces letters with symbols. There are different glyphs for capital and small letters and there is no visual similarity between corresponding small letters and caps. (That's a nasty move: It precludes finding a simple substitution and then run the text through a cryptogram solver.)

The code is best tackled by looking at words that have repeated letters and running the letter patterns through a dictionary search. The first word, for example, might be Million, Kissing or Ballads among others, but the second word is almost certainly Believe or Relieve. After some words have been identified, the remaining words become more obvious, but it was tough to get a foot in the door. Of course, once you have found some words you can start to make use of the capital letters, too, which seem to have the pattern that letters that differn only in diacritics are adjacent letters in the English alphabet.

The resulting wall is:

. _________ _________ _________ _________
.
. Fallacy Believe Decor Salt
. _________ _________ _________ _________
.
. Sword Ice Razor Curtain
. _________ _________ _________ _________
.
. Chair Poison Gun Imagine
. _________ _________ _________ _________
.
. Jump Stage Glass Diamond
. _________ _________ _________ _________

and I believe the groups are:

Imagine, Jump, Believe and Poison are songs by John Lennon, Van Halen, Justin Bieber and Alice Cooper.

Aristotle's Fallacy, Chechov's Gun, Occam's Razor and the Sword of Damocles are named after people.

Diamond, Ice, Glass and Salt are crystals.

Finally, Decor, Stage, Chair and Curtain can be found in a theatre. (They could just be items of interior design, but that would leave the stage unaccounted for.)

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  • $\begingroup$ Is the hint for group two? $\endgroup$
    – Mithical
    Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 19:59
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    $\begingroup$ I see. I guess Poison (by Kiss) goes into the first group instead of Fallacy and then the second group is things named after people: Occam's razor, Chechov's gun, Aristotle's fallacy and Damocles's sword? $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 20:21
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    $\begingroup$ Yes. That's it. Although I did have another fallacy and sword in mind but this doesn't change the group. :) $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 20:25
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    $\begingroup$ @MariaDeleva: Aha, thanks. I didn't know either, but the Wikipedia page for McNamara's fallacy conveniently lists the whole group in the "See also" section. :) $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 7:34
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    $\begingroup$ @MariaDeleva: Okay, now the hint makes sense. That would have been a convenient shortcut indeed, but I've never come across that font. (It's installed on my computer, but I've never noticed it. It's a strange collection of symbols that I don't find useful.) I found solving the cipher by hand rather tough, probably because I wanted the a's in Fallacy to be i's at first. $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 9:19
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I've found

29 different characters, so even if it is a direct character-letter conversion, there is some additional trick how to convert them into the 26 -letter alphabet. Or they represent not (only) letters.

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  • $\begingroup$ Keep digging. :) $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 9:21
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    $\begingroup$ There are two groups of symbols depending on the position in the "word": The first symbol in each cell looks like a letter (or IPA symbol) with a diacritical mark and the rest are non-letter-like symbols. (So the first set might just be capital latters.) $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 10:52
  • $\begingroup$ @MOehm, your assumption is correct. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 15:40

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