When Google Translate Is Not Enough

September 16, 2015

I read a delightful article called “The British Library Is Crowdsourcing the Translation of a Mysterious 13th-Century Sword Inscription.” I am not too keen on edged weapons. Nevertheless, I am interested in becoming sharper when it comes to translation methods.

The write up states:

+NDXOXCHWDRGHDXORVI+ This inscription, engraved on a 13th-century double-edged sword owned by the British Museum, is the medieval mystery of the moment. Stumped by its cryptic engraving, last week the British Library tapped the interwebs for its crowd wisdom, asking commenters to help decode the meaning.

What makes the article entertaining is the fact that the British Library, backed with the formidable talents of British universities where linguistics absolutely thrives is turning to the hoi polloi for assistance.

And assist did the rustics. Consult the original article for the full span of human ingenuity. Here’s the comment I enjoyed from a non rustic:

“Everything is explained in Winnie the Pooh.”

A Google search reveals more questions:



Stephen E Arnold, September 16, 2015


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