First, is my paper from the statistical linguistics journal,

Abstract: The ancient and extinct language Meroitic is investigated using Zipf's Law. In particular, since Meroitic is still undeciphered, the Zipf's law analysis allows us to assess the quality of current texts and possible avenues for future investigation using statistical techniques.

In short, I verify the property Zipf's Law, where the frequency count of words follows a power law distribution, for Meroitic showing that though we may not understand it, it follows the typical mathematical properties of other known languages (and thus isn't too 'weird' to be analytically tractable).

Click here for the paper (1.6 MB)

I have a similar presentation I was going to make at the 2006 meeting of the Sudan Studies Association in Rhode Island, however, work didn't allow me to make it and Dr. Richard Lobban of Rhode Island College presented it for me. It was entitled "Investigating the Ancient Meroitic Language Using Statistical Natural Language Techniques: Zipf's Law and Word Co-Occurrences" and used statistical techniques both to show Zipf's Law (earlier work for the paper) and uses a technique called a "Word Web" to link words that have similar neighbors at a distance of one or two words in the texts. Therefore we can produce a graph that has clusters of words with similar meanings (or usually parts of speech) together.

An article I wrote that uses methods from statistics and information theory to compare words with similar word neighbors. In other words, I associate word pairs based on if they appear with similar words alone in the Meroitic stelae. I have found some matches that may be fruitful though exact definitions are elusive.

"Constructing word similarities in Meroitic as an aid to decipherment"

Abstract: Meroitic is the still undeciphered language of the ancient civilization of Kush. Over the years, various techniques for decipherment such as finding a bilingual text or cognates from modern or other ancient languages in the Sudan and surrounding areas has not been successful. Using techniques borrowed from information theory and natural language statistics, similar words are paired and attempts are made to use currently defined words to extract at least partial meaning from unknown words.

Keywords: Meroitic, linguistics, decipherment, similarity, information theory, archaeology