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Subject: Help with mysterious language
Question: Hello. I was looking for linguistic specialist and came across this site. I'm writing this because I need help with a letter I found (please see links). I'm trying to find out the language this letter was written in. After a lot of internet research I couldn't find an answer. This letter looks really old so maybe it has some historical value. I hope you will find some time to take a look at it. Thank you very much.
Reply: I would offer a VERY tentative guess that it is in Greek. The alphabet doesn't seem to be Roman; where the letter-shapes are clearly non-Roman I can see some forms that might be Greek letters, whereas I cannot spot any clear letters from the Cyrillic alphabet, which would be the other obvious non-Roman possibility. Furthermore, Greek does use numerous accent marks, which there seem to be plenty of here, whereas I believe Russian and other languages written with the Cyrillic alphabet don't. Having said that, though, although I know a (very little) modern Greek, I can't make any of the words out. On the 18th line of p 1 there is a word that could conceivably be "tridyma", 'triplets', but that is a pretty wild guess. The problem is that although I have a chart of the letter-forms standardly used in copperplate handwriting for Greek (which are often not predictable from the familiar forms used in print), the writing here is both old-fashioned and hasty, so that unless one were familiar both with the language and with the handwriting styles it is a fairly hopeless decipherment task. If it were my letter, I would try to find a Greek who is educated enough to be able to read 19th-century handwriting; such a person should be able very quickly to say either "No it's not Greek" or "It's Greek and this is what it says". Good luck with it! Geoffrey Sampson
Reply From: Geoffrey Richard Sampson      click here to access email
Date: 11-Nov-2013
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Help with mysterious language    Marilyn N Silva     (11-Nov-2013)

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