Bayswater's Find of the Week on the Used Book Floor Blog

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Code Writers of Yesterday and Tomorrow

     This week’s find on the used book floor has all of the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster: secret codes, alien communication and the chosen linguists who can help decipher the hidden messages.  In order to help you make sense of it all, we first need to tell you a little bit about the book that our discovery was found in. 

     “Earthsong: Native Tongue II” was written in 1994 and tells the story of a futuristic Earth where economic survival depends on communication and trade with alien species.  A limited number of linguists, all women, were trained from birth in “non-human language” so that only they could provide translations during alien interactions.  When tragedy strikes with the aliens, Earth is plunged into disaster and the women linguists are the only ones who can help avert the end of civilization. 

     Now, you are probably wondering where we are going with all of this.  Hang in there with us, because nestled in the pages of “Earthsong” was a newspaper clipping from 1994, originally published in the Chicago Tribune.  The article tells of the discovery of secret script written by women in China nearly 2000 years ago.  Though the entire story behind the ancient script, or code, may never be truly known, it is believed that at that time, women in China were mostly unable to read and write because very few were sent to school.  As they got married and left their homes, the women created a secret language, or code, to communicate with each other.  This code was sewn into fans, scarves, handkerchiefs, and napkins, and was then sent to their friends and families to help keep in touch.  The article describes how Nu Shu, as the language is now referred to, was deciphered for the general public in 1991 and translated into Chinese.  The translation was then published as a book and the proceeds were donated to a women’s organization in China.

     Is it a coincidence that the “Earthsong” book and the article that was found in it are both about women code writers/breakers?  We think not.  Maybe the reader saw a connection between the code breakers in the article (what took place in the past) and those in the book (what could be the future).  Maybe the reader was actually able to decipher actual secret codes in each!  If you have read our past blogs/columns, you know that we can get easily carried away with possible scenarios regarding the finds in our used books.  This may be what is happening here, but who can say for sure?

     The 1994 copy of “Earthsong: Native Tongue II” (with article included) it is for sale here at Bayswater for the price of $4.99.  To catch up with our previous finds of the week from the used book floor, you can always check us out at and on facebook, or stop by the store in Center Harbor and check out the used book floor for yourself! 

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