So I’m working on a species (called Xohamyan if your curious) in a sci-fi universe. They possess three tones (high, medium, and low) and a variety of ways to use them. As the written language is completely different from any language system I know of on earth (e.g. =, ~, ^, -, <, and >), designating different whistling patterns, how would the Xohamyan and humans create a translation guide? Mainly for intangible items like time and space. E.g. define tonight, tomorrow, yesterday, money, distance, etc., etc. I’m curious as to how they would define objects that are measured differently (time+space)

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    I'm not sure I understand the question. Is there some supernatural element that prevents humans from learning their writing system, or inventing their own writing system to represent the language? That's how lexicographers generally approach this problem.
    – Draconis
    May 3, 2022 at 23:40
  • No, it’s just like how we still don’t know what the Egyptian hieroglyphs mean, but we have the Egyptians speaking a completely unrecognizable language. May 3, 2022 at 23:44
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    If Xohamyans are working with the humans on this project, surely they could just explain the system?
    – Draconis
    May 4, 2022 at 0:47
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    @RYANLANDELS ... Egyptian hieroglyphs have been mostly deciphered, and we know a lot about the language of the Ancient Egyptians, not to mention current Egyptians. Regardless, I'd suggest this video wherein linguist Daniel Everett demonstrates how to learn an unknown language without prior knowledge.
    – Cecilia
    May 4, 2022 at 9:36
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    I think this question is too open ended - there are lots of ways this could be done. Can you edit this to add some criteria to narrow down the possible answers?
    – curiousdannii
    May 6, 2022 at 13:12


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