The CIA intercepted some messages from a criminal organization, some in English and some in an unknown foreign language or code. As a CIA analyst and translator, you have figured out the following sentences and their English translations, but you do not yet know which sentence matches which translation:

  • Casara ashter osar
  • Intara amar
  • Intara orter osar
  • Alatara inter osar
  • Ortara amar
  • Alatara orter osar
  • I see a spy
  • I run
  • You see me
  • You see a spy
  • A suspicious man sees an enemy
  • You run

You have the opportunity to send a message in order to provoke a reaction from the criminal organization. Can you figure out and match up the translations above, and then send a message saying “a suspicious man runs” in this foreign language?


Insight #1

Some words occur multiple times among these messages, so doing a frequency analysis can likely result in matching some words:

Foreign language:

  • Appears 4 times: osar
  • Appears 3 times: [none]
  • Appears twice: orter, intara, amar, alatara
  • Appears once: ortara, inter, ashter, casara


  • Appears 4 times: see
  • Appears 3 times: you, me
  • Appears twice: run, spy
  • Appears once: suspicious man, enemy

From the words that appear 4 times, the obvious match is “osar” = “see”. There are no foreign words that appear 3 times, so we will have to revisit these. While there are many potential matches for words that appear twice, “amar” stands out because it is conjugated like “osar” and similarly appears at the end of the sentence, so that means it is a verb. Therefore, “amar” = “run”. We do not have enough information for the others yet.

Insight #2

“Intara amar” and “Ortara amar” correspond to “I run” and “You run” because they are the only sentences consisting of two words in each language, and also the only sentences without “osar” = “see”. However, we don’t know which is which yet.

Insight #3

It appears nouns are conjugated differently (have different endings) depending on what part of the sentence they occur, so some slightly different words with the same root may actually be the same word. In particular, “orter” + “ortara” and “inter” + “intara” appear to have the same root. Combined with Insight #2, this means we know “ort-” and “int-” mean “I” and “you”, but we do not know which is which.

This means “Intara orter osar” = “You see me” and “Alatara inter osar” and “Alatara orter osar” must then correspond to “I see a spy” and “You see a spy”. Though it does not yet confirm which is which, we now know “Alatara” = “spy”.

Then we see “Casara ashter osar” is the only sentence without “int-” or “ort-“, so it must correspond to “A suspicious man sees an enemy”.

Insight #4

We can also tell that the grammatical order (subject-verb-object) is different from English, since “Alatara” is the object but appears at the beginning of the sentence. That suggests “Intara” in “Intara orter osar” is the object, which finally confirms that “int-” = “me” or “I” and “ort-” = “you”. Similarly, it means “Casara” = “an enemy” and “ashter” = “a suspicious man”.

We now have the following dictionary:

  • “osar” = “see”
  • “amar” = “run”
  • “alat-” = “spy”
  • “int-” = “me” or “I”
  • “ort-” = “you”
  • “cas-” = “an enemy”
  • “ash-” = “a suspicious man”
Final Result

To say “A suspicious man runs”, you would need to conjugate “ash-” like in “Intara amar”, so it would be “Ashara amar”.

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