Barsoom as seen by Kerry “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” Conran: Edgar Rice Burroughs would be proud!
Martian writing is rather difficult to explain to an Earth man, it is something of a cross between shorthand and picture-writing, and is an entirely different language from the spoken language of Mars.
Upon Barsoom there is but a single oral language.
It is spoken today by every race and nation, just as it was at the beginning of human life upon Barsoom. It has grown with the growth of the planet’s learning and scientific achievements, but so ingenious a thing it is that new words to express new thoughts or describe new conditions or discoveries form themselves no other word could explain the thing that a new word is required for other than the word that naturally falls to it, and so, no matter how far removed two nations or races, their spoken languages are identical.
Not so their written languages, however. No two nations have the same written language, and often cities of the same nation have a written language that differs greatly from that of the nation to which they belong.
Thus it was that the signs upon the paper, if in reality they were words, baffled me for some time; but at last I made out the first one.
It was “courage,” and it was written in the letters of Marentina.
That was the word the yellow guardsman had whispered in my ear as I stood upon the verge of the Pit of Plenty.
The message must be from him, and he I knew was a friend.
With renewed hope I bent my every energy to the deciphering of the balance of the message, and at last success rewarded my endeavor I had read the four words:
“Courage! Follow the rope.”
- Warlord of Mars, Chapter 11 – The Pit of Plenty