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I am wondering if i can reasonably use the cryptography skill in GURPS to attempt to learn a foreign language? An example would be my character only speaks english but discovers a book in french.

It is reasonable to roll against cryptography to understand the contents of the book?

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It might be possible to reconstruct a couple of basic words through cryptographic analyzation. But that most certainly would be the work of months or years and not something do to within minutes or hours. Best chance would be to figure out some gramatic rules, but it would probably be impossible to learn the meaning of nouns or verbs. You might even be able to identify which words are nouns, verbs, or adjectives, but not what their meaning is.

There are a few cases where people were able to reconstruct previously completely unknown scripts of dead languages, but they relied a lot on knowledge of related languages that share a good deal of words with the unknown language. With just a text and no other material to work with the answer is almost certainly No.

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No.

Not in the least reasons being that cryptography is the creation of cipher and code methodologies, and cryptanalysis is the skill of turning encrypted text into plain text. While they may go hand in hand, they are not necessarily the same thing.

However, cryptanalysis still somewhat relies on the person doing the code breaking to either be a native or fluent speaker of the language that is encrypted. For example, if you are doing analysis on a simple substitution cipher in English, it would help to know that the most common letters are RSTLN and E, as well as the most common words/conjunctions. Without that basic knowledge, the length of time it would take would be nearly as long as learning the language from scratch.

Also, French has a very different sentence structure than English, and uses double verbs and "out of order" when compared to English.

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The correct GURPS skill for doing this is Linguistics. That's the study of the principles of languages, and you can use it to speed up learning a language from proper training materials.

It's clearly the right skill for this job, but how fast you'll be able to do it depends on how much material you have in the new language, and if you have any bilingual texts. Without a bilingual, cracking an unknown language is very hard. The Decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs is a good example of just how hard it can be.

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I would say no. Cryptography is the skill/art of encoding and decrypting messages, breaking and creating such codes. A Cryptographer might be able to decrypt a book, only to find that it is in a language that they don't speak. This happens often in the modern world.

The idea of a foreign language being a code you can decrypt is a massively flawed one: languages simply aren't systematic codes and aren't really amenable to cryptographic analysis. Heck, during WWII there were many attempts to create an unbreakable code. Germany's Enigma machine daily-variable code was cracked by a genius Cryptographer, Alan Turing. But the American Air Force drafted almost every Navaho of fighting age, and relayed all messaged in Navaho, and the Japanese never cracked it — despite the fact it didn't ever change — because they couldn't understand the syntax or even the characters of this 'code'.

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