What are the difficulties which makes it impossible to decipher the Harappan language? Aren't there any similarities with other languages?
Asked by Mubasher
Jonathan Mark Kenoyer
There is no bilingual tablet that can help us to figure out and test what the signs mean. Also the script does not connect to any later writing system or to any specific language.
So far, the Indus writing system could not be translated because the texts are too short, we have no bilingual inscription and we do not which language or languages were transcribed. Moreover, it is possible that it worked differently from any other writing system of the same general period. Unless some outstanding discovery will be made, no translation will be possible.
In my opinion the Harappan language has been deciphered, and it was an early member of the Dravidian language family.
The main hurdles in the decipherment of the Indus script include:
1. extreme brevity of the Indus texts; average length of the Indus texts is ~5 signs and the longest Indus text in a single line consists of just 14 signs,
2. absence of information on their context and usage,
3. absence of bilingual or multilingual texts,
4. lack of knowledge about their language(s),
5. apparent discontinuity in the cultural traditions at the decline of the Indus Valley civilization.