Hal's diaries contain a number of coded entries which need to be
decoded. Some of them were simple, such as a person's name written in
Morse Code, and were probably just Hal practising his morse skills.
Others used our
familiar alphabet, but were in an unfamiliar language.
Given Hal's known interest in Esperanto, these were quickly recognised
and just needed direct translation.
Others were more complicated, with a mixture of symbols, and sometimes
a mixture of languages. These tended to be entries of a 'sensitive'
nature, given that he intended to send his diaries back to his mother
for safe-keeping, and he did not want to offend her sensibilities.
There were problems in deciding what had actually been written,
compounded when we didn't know in what language a word was and could
not place it in context because the surrounding words were also in
code. Had Hal written 'piu' or 'pri' or 'pui'? Where did one word end
and the next one start? Occasionally there were spelling mistakes or
individual symbols were transposed.
The symbols Hal used were our normal alphabet, the Greek alphabet (both
upper and lower case), Morse Code, and symbols based on Semaphore. The
languages were English, Esperanto, French, possibly a little German,
and a little Egyptian Arabic.
Where appropriate I have identified the symbols as:
In case anyone wants to 'have a go' at the entries which baffled me
completely, or to improve the ones where I think I've got the sense of
the entry but haven't managed an exact translation, I'm including the
'crib sheets' I drew up from various sources on the internet.
For general background on Esperanto and its basic grammar www.lernu.net
was very useful. For translation of a language into another language
https.glosbe.com was invaluable, and its dictionary structure was such
that it was, for instance, very simple to translate from Esperanto to
English, and back again from English to Esperanto, trying out variants
of a word. It only failed me on Arabic and Egyptian Arabic, where the
Arabic words were written in Arabic script, which was beyond me.
The only approach that worked was trial and error. Identify the letters
you're sure of, pencil in doubtful ones, can you think of a word in
English or Esperanto that could fit the letters? Are there words that
would make sense in the context? Go back and check the entry in the
diary in case the symbol was not clear.
(From here on Margaret's essay is beyond the power of the computer keyboard, so is presented in manuscript)