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Cypher Language

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The writers need a new language, except they don't really want to come up with an actual new language from scratch; no, that simply takes too much time and work, especially for something that eventually turns obsolete once the Translator Microbes start kicking in. One solution is to make the "new" language a cipher of English — typically, a substitution cipher — with the same words, grammar and all. Often, an entirely new 26-letter alphabet is invented, but sometimes "cryptogram"-style ciphers are used instead, as depicted in works like Final Fantasy X and The Order of the Stick.

Works from non-English-speaking countries may do the same with their own language or alphabet, but not always. Games and movies may feature amusing Easter Eggs, Backstory details or Foreshadowing of future plot events written in this language for those who are nerdy enough to memorize the ciphertext rules, as a sort of Bilingual Bonus. Frequently, people make these fonts available for download to use as actual fonts when typing.

See also Wingdinglish and The Backwards Я. When writers take it even further and start creating new lexicons, syntax, and grammar, on into a full-blown original language, you get the supertrope Conlang. If letters are substituted with similarly-shaped images, it's Pictorial Letter Substitution.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Digicode or Digimoji in Digimon is a cypher of katakana and English used throughout the Digital World.
  • Dog Days has a cypher of katakana. That they use to spell English words.
  • Haibane Renmei has an ancient alphabet which is basically written sign language. The sign language appears first, and is said to be indecipherable by those not in the know, but Rakka finds a gravestone with a familiar name written on it and recognizes the symbols as hand gestures.
  • In KonoSuba Episode 6, "A Conclusion to This Worthless Fight!", Megumin's runes correspond to the letters A, C, H, M, N, R, and U.
  • The Nether Glyps of Made in Abyss are a substitution cipher using kana syllables.
  • The runes of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. They are not just a substitution cypher, they are also in German. They also come with three variants!
  • Rave Master has the dead language Symphonian, which substitutes hiragana for characters made up of English letters. For example, the symbol for 'ka' becomes a sideways 'K' with an upside-down 'A' on top of it.
  • Queen's Blade uses a cypher of English (at least in the sequel QB Rebellion). Subverted, as anyone can easily read those runes if you notice them enough.
  • The so-called "Cosmic language" in Stardust Telepath is Esperanto cyphered with a new set of glyphs.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, the Astral glyph "alien language" on the Numbers cards is a cipher of Japanese katakana, while the Numbers symbols correspond to Arabic numerals/European digits. Likewise, the Varians' writing system is a cipher of the Roman alphabet.
    • A variant is also seen in the original series, where the text on The Seal of Orichalcos is written in romanized Japanese using the Enochian alphabet.
  • Starting with Best Wishes, Pokémon: The Series started using a cypher language (well, three cypher languages) for background signs and the like. The text generally translates to a mix of Romanized Japanese and garbled English, though some of it is apparently just gibberish.
  • In Final Fantasy: Unlimited, the native language of Wonderland is a cipher of English. If you want the key, though, you'll have to track down the (out-of-print) artbook.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers (Jonathan Hickman):
    • In Avengers World, Adam's Language is a substitution cypher language.
    • Builder Machine Code, an "alien" language, is shown to be a substitution cypher language.
  • Krakoan, from House and Powers of X, is a cypher language created by the Mutant Cypher, and Krakoa to give Mutants their own defined culture.
  • The Blue Beetle scarab's language was originally represented by a substitution cipher, but eventually transitioned over to English. In a clever move, during the transition, they used an alien-looking font in a style that resembled the substitution cipher, but whose characters could be made out as the Roman alphabet.
  • The original Buck Rogers strip had a modified alphabet and calendar.
  • Quite a bit of the Worthies' Black Speech in Fear Itself is English written with the Elder Futhark runic alphabet as a cypher. Matt Fraction then used the same system in a Defenders title.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes uses a substitution-cipher font to represent the future language Interlac; both the comics and the cartoon series use this for in-jokes.
  • Marvel's Doopspeak (the language spoken by the character Doop from X-Statix) was a substitution cipher using the font "Roswell Wreckage".
  • The original Micronauts had a lovely-looking alphabet based on Devanagari. Invented by Michael Golden, it had a one-to-one correspondence with most English sounds.
  • New Mutants: The demonic script spoken in New Mutants #17.
  • In Paper Girls, the untranslated alien language is rendered using a simple substitution cypher. This may be because they're not aliens, but humans from the future.
  • The Symbion alphabet in Sectaurs, a Merchandise-Driven comic from The '80s, is not only a substitution cipher for the English alphabet, but based closely on, of all things, the cipher used by the Freemasons.
  • Secret Invasion's Skrull language, an English substitution cipher with multiple fonts of different sets of characters.
  • The Shadow Strikes issue 1 did this for what was supposed to be Russian.
  • Superman's home planet Krypton's language has a substitution cipher.
  • In Tintin the Syldavian language is in fact a dialect of Flemish written in a cyrillic-like script.
  • In X-Men, one member of the Starjammers' thoughts are expressed in what looks like a cipher, but if viewed carefully, turns out to be very oddly-lettered English.

  • The 90's era of Tamagotchi had Tamagotchimoji, a series of squiggly symbols that each represent a Japanese character. There are no kana to alter other kanas' pronunciation, nor is there a distinction between hiragana and katakana (so for example, "Tamagotchi" would be read in Tamagotchimoji as "Tamagotsuchi"). The franchise's Spear Counterpart Digimon later used the language itself, albeit with slightly altered letters.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Gelfling language in The Dark Crystal. We only hear a few lines, but it's pretty obvious.
  • The Vogon written language in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005) is a stylised version of Pitman 2000 shorthand.
  • In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, it was decided in post-production that it would make sense for a scene set on Vulcan and featuring all-Vulcan characters to feature the Vulcan language. Since the scene was already shot, they just recorded lines that roughly matched the actors' English lip movements. The same process happened to a short exchange between Spock and Saavik in The Wrath of Khan.
  • In Star Wars the spoken version of "Basic" is English, but the written version called Aurebesh initially looks like nonsensical Wingdinglish. Once you know the cypher, however, it's plain English. The translation was invented after the fact, though; while series and movies from Episode 1 on have it translatable (and the Updated Re-release of A New Hope translated English text to it) the original appearance in Return of the Jedi is just gibberish.

  • The Artemis Fowl series has lines of Gnommish and Centaurian running along the bottom of each page (omitted in some U.S. editions.) Rather than being graphemes of a full-on Conlang they constitute a Cypher Language offering secret messages to those who decode them. Though this is only applicable for the codes along the bottom of the pages—in-universe, Colfer instead makes them completely separate languages.
  • In the Sarah Woolson mystery The Cliff House Strangler by Shirley Tallman there is a diary written in what is supposed to be Coptic.
  • Dinotopia's footprint alphabet, supposedly invented by small three-toed dinosaurs running on wet sand.
  • A major plot point in Gregor and The Code of Claw.
  • Even J. R. R. Tolkien was not above this.
    • The writing on the map in The Hobbit is plain English, written with Old Norse runes as a simple substitution cipher. If you already knew the runes it wasn't that much of a cipher. To be fair, he was supposed to have been translating the Red Book in the first place to get The Hobbit. At least, he was by the time he finished Lord of the Rings.
    • This is stated in the LotR title page. The Cirth at the top read "The Lord of the Rings, translated from the Red Book" while the Tengwar at the bottom continue, "of Westmarch by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. Herein is set forth the history of the War of the Ring and the return of the King as seen by the Hobbits."
    • Most of the people who use tengwar in Real Life are using it in this way, rather than using it to write actual Elvish languages, though the better ones at least make a set of phonetic rules to write English in rather than substituting English spelling.
    • Tolkien's runes aren't a "simple" substitution cipher. The phonetic rules are necessary because, for example, there's no direct equivalent of the letter X, and the combination TH is represented by a single character (and depends on whether it's voiced (then) or unvoiced (thin)).
  • Converting the Hebrew characters of "golem language" statements in Making Money reveals that it's in English, although spelled phonetically in part.
  • The Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Dancing Men" involves Sherlock and Watson being hired by a man whose wife is being sent strange messages written in a substitution cipher made up of "dancing" stick figures.
  • Aurabesh (sometimes Aurebesh) in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. It has a few new characters for common two-letter combinations like "th", but whether they get used varies.
  • Piers Anthony sometimes does this for the language barrier between Xanthians and Mundanes outside Xanth. It's usually just moving up or down one letter in the alphabet (B becomes C, T becomes U, and so on).
  • Used for the Thargon language in excellent picture book "Why", by Lindsey Camp, illustrated by Tony Ross.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Hebrew alphabet is used for this purpose in the Aussie version of The Amazing Race.
  • Cyphers appear occasionally in Kamen Rider:
    • In Kamen Rider Kuuga, the untranslated language the villainous Grongi speak is a simple substitution cipher of Japanese. The Linto runes themselves feature a stylized form of Katakana (Note: Website is in Japanese). They also added a sentence structure switch that only existed part of the time.
    • In Kamen Rider Gaim, possibly as a Mythology Gag, the Overlord Inves speak in a foreign language that's, again, a cipher of Japanese. The language was subtitled into Japanese on the show, but the closed captioning track itself included the original cypher, allowing people to figure out the pattern. Unlike in Grongi, the sentence structure remains the same.
    • Kamen Rider Saber, themed on books and stories, features a written cypher. The text is Romanized Japanese (and, as common in the franchise, the occasional Gratuitous English word thrown in), with the letters converted to a blocky font and turned on their side.
    • The Jyamato language in Kamen Rider Geats is similar to the Grongi language from Kuuga in that it's a simple substitution cipher of Japanese, with its own script.
  • The creators of Stargate made a cypher to function as the Ancient language during production of Stargate Atlantis. It even fed back into the main series, though obviously episodes from before the premiere of Atlantis don't use the actual cypher, but are just "made up as we go" blocky-looking symbols. Stargate Universe uses the cypher, too, drawing most attention to the numbers of the countdown clock. Enterprising viewers have created a font called "Anquietus" and some fans are fluent in written Ancient (which isn't as hard as it sounds; it could easily be learned in a day and mastered in a week).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Used for elvish and dwarven scripts in some Forgotten Realms products.
  • When Games Workshop released Tau, they used such an alphabet for the Tau's language.

  • BIONICLE is a borderline case. It claims that the characters are speaking a different language, but it also provides a 26-letter alphabet with stylized, circular or hexagonal letters, and most of the written text in the canon consists of English words written in the BIONICLE Glyphs. Then again, this may still be the Translation Convention at work.

    Video Games 
  • The script in Aquaria is a substitution cipher. Lazy players can replace the graphics file holding the glyphs for the Aquarian alphabet with one containing English letters, and have almost all of the text in the game translated, except for a few bits that are painted into the background scenery.
  • Axiom Verge: Some of the collectable notes are written in Vykhyan or in Sudran language and require a Passcode to be translated in English. In reality, these are written in English, but Sudran is in unreadable font, while Vykhyan mostly uses cyrillic letters and can even be read without the translation item.
  • Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter used a pseudo-Cyrillic alphabet for writing in the game. Not used in game mechanics, but the game creators ended up putting a lot of Easter Egg notes in the game itself as well as official artwork.
  • The "Standard Galactic Alphabet" in the Commander Keen series simply substitutes symbols for English letters. Episodes 3 and 6 contain translations of the entire alphabet hidden in secret levels (a secret island in episode 3, and a space station in episode 6). The alphabet appears to have been designed to be written with a calligraphy pen, but with slight modifications to a few letters it can be written with a normal pen.
  • Copy Kitty: Anything related to Exgal (including its name) is written in the game using a set of creepy looking glyphs. They are just a one-to-one cypher for English letters, and a few fans have decoded it. The Hard Mode Optional Boss, Aekros, has another cypher language, which is slightly more difficult to decode due to being written backwards.
  • Dead Space: You see writing in a strange language scrawled on the walls. Practically the first time you see it is also the same time you see a decoder key nearby.
  • Various texts in Dropsy are shown as a straightforward English cypher. This is to illustrate the fact Dropsy can't read.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • The Daedric alphabet is a substitution cypher of the standard Latin alphabet, with symbols replacing letters. However, Daedric runes are not arranged like Latin letters - it's quite common to see writing in Daedric written vertically or with runes superimposed over others.
    • The Ayleids and Dwemer are two types of (presumably) extinct races of Mer (Elves). Each has similar substitution alphabets.
    • The in-game book "N'Gasta! Kvata! Kvakis!" is a book written in the language of the slug-like Beast Folk Sload. It was written by the infamous Sload Necromancer N'Gasta, and is said to be the preeminent book on necromancy, even centuries after his death. The cypher is of slightly altered Esperanto, of all things.
  • The White Legs from Fallout: New Vegas: Honest Hearts speak a broken/pidgin English cypher.
  • Far Cry 4 has shops whose signboards have text which is meant to pass off as either Hindi or a fictional "Kyrati" language. In reality, it is an English cypher, with each English letter replaced by a character from the Devanagari script. This is very different from how English words are normally written in languages that use Devanagari, because it completely butchers the pronunciation.
  • Fate/Grand Order: The Lahmu in the Seventh Singularity speak in apparent unpronounceable gibberish, but it's actually a cipher: their lines are written in Japanese but typed on an English keyboard. The anime adaptation, Fate/Grand Order - Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia, which actually had to have their lines be pronounceable, instead went with shifting the syllables a couple of spaces over in the gojuon order, producing something that sounds sort of like Japanese but is gibberish unless you know the trick.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy X:
      • The Al Bhed language is a cypher of both English and Japanese depending on which version you're playing. The language can be deciphered by finding Al Bhed primers throughout the game world that unlocks the letters/characters of the language that correspond to the language of the respective version. Finding all the ciphers allows players the ability to read the subtitles of spoken Al Bhed.note  The cypher is designed so that the replaced letters/characters can (usually) be pronounced phonetically and still sound like a real language since there are some voice-acted parts in Al Bhed.
      • The game also features three written scripts dubbed Spiran, Yevon, and Al Bhed by fans. They're all English/Japanese alphabet cyphers (depending on the version) that can be found in various places such as the inside of Yevon temples or inside the Al Bhed homebase. Unlike the vocal Al Bhed language, there is no in-game cypher for players to find. In order to translate these scripts, players need a guide from supplementary material to figure out which symbol corresponds to which letter in English or which character in Japanese.
    • The Final Fantasy XIII trilogy as part of Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy mythology has writing systems that Cocoon and Pulse use being stylized version of their Latin counterparts which can be deciphered easily. The setting of Nova Chrysalia in Lightning Returns switch to the Latin alphabet having more utility use to guide the player than being a background element.
  • Hylian is like this in The Legend of Zelda series. More specifically, it's a code for Japanese kana in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and a code for English in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and games released afterward. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild does the same English-code approach with the ancient Sheikah language found on the various Magitek devices.
  • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn use a strange curvy alphabet for the "old tongue", which is used primarily by heron and wolf laguz. It's a cypher, but the game never provides the key. Translating it can produce a form of Bilingual Bonus; particularly Leanne's support dialogue, where most of what she says is actually her complaining about not being able to speak modern languages well (which actually doesn't make a lot of sense if you support her with someone who speaks to the old tongue.) The Bilingual Bonus with Volug's support reveals he is actually one of the funniest characters in the game. For example, wondering aloud if everyone would be so shocked as to stop fighting if he eats an enemy.
  • Halo: The writing system of the Sangheili/Elite language (which is called Sangheili) consists of various symbols that correspond to each letter in the English Alphabet. The symbols can be seen on all Covenant technology since Sangheili was the Lingua Franca of the Covenant.
  • Precursor/Old Precursor, a substitution cypher from the Jak and Daxter series.
  • Killzone feartures a Helghan alphabet (although since there is no in-universe Helghan language and the people of Helghast speak standard English, creating the script was probably motivated more by politics than any actual necessity).
  • Hiveswap has an Alternian font (separate from the Homestuck iteration) that's just a font swap with weird glyphs.
  • King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow had the "Ancient Ones' alphabet", a set of pictographic-looking symbols which is just a cipher of English (although they added four conceptual meanings for each symbol for extra depth). This is actually Hand Waved in the Guidebook to the Land of the Green Isles, whose fictional author speculates that the alphabet may have been a code, or that his own alphabet may have evolved from it. Also functions as a layer of Copy Protection.
  • Kirby and the Forgotten Land has an alien language that acts as a direct cipher for English, revealing some details about the setting that aren't apparent otherwise, such as the names of various locations and even in-universe companies. However, though the written language is a direct translation, based on the game's vocal theme (written and sung entirely in the fictional language), spoken words are quite different from English.
  • La-Mulana has what would otherwise be ordinary Arabic numerals rendered in cipher symbols.
  • Metroid:
    • A Metroid Prime 2: Echoes design sheet (viewable in one of the game's bonus galleries) that gives a complete set of 26 three-dimensional Luminoth characters and their English alphabet equivalents. They actually work in-game; the Luminoth Lore images are 3-letters that have some relevance to the lore in question. Indeed, the last image in the game's bonus galleries is a very long message in Luminoth script. Eventually, with the exception of one glyph, a French fan managed to fully translate this message, which is a very brief history of Planet Aether: "LIGHT PARADISE / METEOR (unclear) DARK HORDE / ING POSSESS TEMPLE ENERGY / HARSH DIVIDE TWO AETHER".
    • There's also the Chozo language. In Metroid: Other M, the written script is a substitution cipher that translated directly into English. Starting with Metroid Dread, where we first hear spoken Chozo, it was updated to now translate into its own Conlang: the Chozo alphabet still corresponds to the English alphabet, but it no longer spells English words. For example, translating the characters on the Big Bad's ceremonial scarves gives the phrase "Hadar Sen Olmen", which translates further to "Power is everything."
  • Nelly Cootalot uses the Piraglyphics system, where an improvised pangram would be translated into an ordinary alphabet, thus scrambling the letters. To make his particular version work, Bloodbeard used the initials of his pseudonym and the traditional signing "X" (along with intentionally misspelling a vital phrase). Unfortunately, Nelly accidentally lets the secret slip into the hands of his evil brother, thus giving him the clues to his treasure!
  • Ni no Kuni has the Nazcaän language; the symbols for I and V double as J, U and W (two V's).
  • In No Man's Sky, the Gek, Korvax, and Vy'keen languages are all word-substitutions of broken English. Over the course of the game, you'll pick up translations of them one word at a time.
  • Pikmin 3 has the Koppaite script, seen scrolling various places in the background. It is a cypher for English, and a lot of it is meaningful, including developer's notes here and there. Some of it, however, is just gibberish.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon uses 'footprint runes'. While there's no actual direct-to-English alphabet translation ever given, it is amusing in that they are the actual footprint images designed for assorted Pokémon.
  • The Strogg "Language" in Quake IV. In Quake II, it was just English in a Foreign-Looking Font.
  • In Resident Evil (not the remake), the second laboratory password is "Mole" written in the Runic (pre-Latin Germanic) alphabet.
  • In Shipwrecked 64, the lower layers use a language called BeaverScratch, where odd-numbered letters (A, C, etc.) are swapped with the one after them, and even-numbered letters (B, D, etc.) are swapped with the one before. Stumbler O'Hare leaves a message on a computer early in Layer 3 telling you this, among other things, but you start to see it on signs in the overworld from the beginning in 1997 mode.
  • Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues: The New Britannia Runic language has characters resembling the Elder Futhark runic alphabet.
  • In Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon, Roger can view a secret message for getting a high score on Astro-Chicken. If he uses his Secret Decoder Ring on it, he discovers it's an English cipher.
  • The Splatoon games include a number of different scripts used to represent the Inklings' and Octolings' language. In most cases, it's used in the form of a cipher for Japanese or, occasionally, English, but the scripts are also sometimes used just to write nonsense or else, The Backwards Я style, to stand in for Latin script when signs are meant to be more easily understood by players. The Splatoon wiki has an entire page about it.
  • The dinosaur language "Saurian" in Star Fox Adventures — in fact, the key to decode it is even given in the game's manual.
  • Super Mario Sunshine uses a cyphered alphabet with a spiral-inspired motif, likely inspired by the shape of conch shells. Given this alphabet's rare usage—visible only in the Gelato Beach, Noki Bay, and Pinna Park regions of Isle Delfino—the cyphering for this alphabet was so strong, it took nearly 22 full years to decode.
  • Tales Series:
    • Melnics in Tales of Eternia looks graphically like angular, runic Sanskrit, but it's a (good) English cipher.
    • The Fonic language in Tales of the Abyss is a cipher of the English alphabet, though the letters V and R don't have distinct symbols (sharing with B and L, respectively) due to the Japanese language not distinguishing between the B/V consonant sounds and R/L consonant sounds.
    • Tales of Innocence R: The Triverse language Kongwai and QQ are using is actually backwards Japanese with slight modification in the spelling, such as when the reversed sentence is supposed to end with consonant. This is noticeable on New Game+, where you can decipher their speech.
    • Tales of Zestiria and Tales of Berseria share the Ancient Tongue, found in true names and spell sigils, while Zestiria has the Modern Glenwood Language, used for text within the world. Both decode to mostly comprehensible English. (For instance, Mikleo's true name in English is "Luzrov Rulay", an English localization of the Japanese approximation of "Ujulosiw Relwei", which decodes into "Executor Micrio".)
  • Teslagrad 2 has walls, chalkboards, and other things with things written on them in runic scripts. The scripts are actually a cypher for Norwegian.
  • Twisted Metal: Black uses a simple numeric substitution cipher for Minion in his Story mode's loading screens.
  • Similarly, the Ultima series employed a number of these (such as Britanic runes, Gargish, and Ophidian), which were mostly substitution cyphers given in the manuals. It used to be that being able to read Britanic runes marked you as a dedicated (retro)gamer, while knowing D'ni marked you as insane. That was years ago, so both are now likely to signify the latter.
  • Warframe tried to go full Conlang but ended up settling for highly distinct dialects of English with substitution alphabets. In the developers' words, the Grineer Empire use "an idiot-proof bar code" while the Corpus use a Roman-Numeral-styled font with "all the individuality and personality of a die-cast metal stamp". The Orokin have the most alien alphabet, resembling fancy calligraphy, with a bunch of extra apostrophes for no reason. When spoken, however, Grineer and Corpus use English text run through a program that distorts it: Corpus simplifies and substitutes some letters for others ("App kaip pke Yotkuy" - "All hail the Corpus”), while Grineer slurs and garbles it ("No aktuvhutee to gregort" - "No activity to report”).

    Web Animation 
  • PONY.MOV: The message written on the bottom of Pinkie Pie's bottle in PARTY.MOV is in the language of apples from Ask Jappleack episode 75: "Apple Language". The F and R characters are interchangeable.

  • Aurora (2019): There is an in-universe alphabet that roughly matches up to English, though a few letters like C and Q are absent because other letters stand for their sounds. This page contains a key and some text fans have translated.
  • The Black Sun in Drowtales use a cypher language that one fan helpfully translated.
  • Daughter of the Lilies likewise uses symbols to represent the cave elf language that fans have translated. For example, the first line using it is "Sorry it's nothing personal"
  • Ennui GO!: The mermaids' language is a system of odd squiggles and symbols which was eventually translated by the fans, and now is translated on the comic's site.
  • Uryuomoco from El Goonish Shive is a cypher with way more complicated rules than most of these, ensuring that the result is "foreign-sounding" gibberish pronounceable by English speakers.
  • In Harbourmaster, this crosses over with Translation Convention on Page 2 of "Pulp", when Richard Stevenson wakes up and Zefonith tries to converse with him: Zefonith's dialogue is rendered as English written out in the International Phonetic Alphabet to represent the fact that Richard (a twentieth-century American) can't understand Standard.
  • Homestuck uses a flipped version of the Daedric alphabet from The Elder Scrolls for its Alternian script.
  • Played literally with Haley's "cryptogram-speak" gibberish from The Order of the Stick, with a different translation key each strip. The scroll in #1020 is also a cryptogram, and reads "Strip #970 P5 establishes that magic items explode when activated improperly".
  • Paranatural has three such languages: High Spirit (flip the text on its side and look at the negative space between the lines), Cursed Words (skull pairs that tell you where in the comic's archive you can find a particular word), and Wight Wail (normal English words bent into a ring and without spaces). The first is a language older spirits speak (Mr. Spender knows some of it, but his accent is atrocious), the second is a language learnt one word at a time by committing evil deeds, and the third is "a language of raw feeling" spoken by Wights.
  • Phantomarine: The symbols for the God's Tongue. They are a substitution cipher of both straight alphabetical letters and short phonetic letter combinations.
  • Hannelore's Black Speech from this Questionable Content strip, which translates into "I want to fill your scrotum with spiders and broken glass!"
  • Sleepless Domain: A bizarre pattern of lines shows up frequently, hidden in the background of various scenes inconspicuously enough that one could easily think they're just decoration. Some especially dedicated fans, however, quickly figured out (with a bit of help) that the individual symbols consistently map to letters of the Latin alphabet, and were able to piece together a decoder key and begin translating the messages in short order. For example, the message linked above reads "Protect each other.".

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia introduced one for Ancient Newtopian in Season 2; sharp-eyed viewers were able to decipher it and learn plot points that wouldn't be revealed until late in season 3. A second cipher language, this time for the Olm language, would be shown in season 3, but was mostly just used for background gags.
  • The Canadian Series Dragon Booster has its dragon script. Again, it's a substitution-cipher font.
  • An alien language invented for sight gags in Futurama used a straight letter replacement for English. It would frequently show up as graffiti or on signs that viewers could interpret to get an extra joke. It was quickly deciphered by fans, so a second alien language (known as AL2) was invented in the second season, using a much more complex mathematical substitution.
  • Written Tantalog in the Lilo & Stitch franchise are really just the ISO Latin alphabetnote  and the Hindu-Arabic numerals in an alien font. (Spoken Tantalog is a semi-consistent gibberish that was developed by the writers of Lilo & Stitch: The Series, using Chris Sanders' gibberish lines in the original film as the voice of Stitch as the basis.) When the now-defunct Walt Disney World attraction Stitch's Great Escape! opened in 2004, Disney distributed paper cipher wheels to help guests translate the Tantalog text to English. One man, Steve Ferrera, managed to re-create the font with the wheel and released it in 2008 as Space Encounter.
  • Legion of Super Heroes (2006) uses a substitution-cipher font to represent the future language Interlac.
  • Mysticons averts this: though the characters are depicted as speaking English, the writing system is clearly not a cypher. There's no way to map "Mysticons" to six characters no matter what writing system you use.
  • According to Word of God, the written language in Storm Hawks is this and can actually be deciphered if one looked hard enough.
  • A Thousand and One... Americas: In the eleventh episode, at the request of an injured Chasqui, Chris sends a small bag with valuable information to a professional decoder in the city of Moche. Chris expects the package to contain a letter, but when the decoder opens the bag all they see is some beans. The decoder explains to Chris that the beans has some dots and stripes, and these are communicating an encrypted message. The characters send the beans to a priest, who is told that the message in question turns out to be an incoming invasion from an enemy faction.
  • Transformers:
    • The Cybertronic Optical Code in its written form (in Transformers: Animated) is literally a Cypher Language, being compatible with Morse Code but with circles for dots and semi-circles for dashes.
    • Beast Wars featured separate alphabets for the Maximals and Predacons, both of which were ciphers for English, although their numbers were a little more abstract (the Preds used a take on Roman numerals, but the Maximals go up to 20 before using Roman). They were used to insert a few easter eggs into the series. The downloadable fonts just use our modern 0-9 approach for easier reading. Autobot and Decepticon fonts are canon and in use across the various series.

    Real Life 
  • The "Maraglyphics" that adorn the queue line for the Disneyland attraction Indiana Jones Adventure are a simple substitution cipher. The park occasionally distributes cards bearing the translation. Even without, it's pretty easy to decode since the "hieroglyphics" are just heavily stylized English letters. A lot of the set dressing for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge uses the Aurebesh text from the movies. Signs that it's actually necessary for guests not fluent in it to read (like where the bathrooms are) and some of The Merch use the same symbols as a Foreign-Looking Font by having them stand in for the letter they resemble instead of the one they represent in the cypher. For guests who can read Aurebesh, this can get confusing.

Alternative Title(s): Cipher Language