📖 Pseudo-Lingual

An appearance quality masquerading as text

Puzzles can use the characters and words of a language as graphical elements, where the linguistic qualities of the text are not relevant. This is called a pseudo-lingual quality, which is actually an appearance quality.

Live Examples:- Coffee Mix: Visual Pseduo-Lingual Deconstruction. In this puzzle the structure of the coffee names is obfuscated by the use of familiar-sounding coffee word fragments. A random graphical element could be used to reflect the elements of each coffee, but the pattern would then be trivially revealed.

Here's a pattern recognition example. What comes next in this sequence: AAAB, AABA, ABAA, …

This is pseudo-lingual because A and B could be replace with any graphic. The following sequence has the same pattern: ❤️❤️❤️♠️, ❤️❤️♠️❤️, ❤️♠️❤️❤️, …


Characters and words are often used in place of graphics for a variety of reasons:

  • Compatibility: Text can be used in a lot of mediums, including those where graphics are inconvenient or limited, such as online posts. This includes the ability of the user to enter text on a device.
  • Tools: There are a wide variety of tools, both software and hardware, that work with text, as well as many customization services that provide text variation.
  • Familiarity: Players recognize the characters and words, even if the words are artificial. This makes it easier to remember what they see, as well as give a platform for analysis.
  • Obfuscation: Text can be used to intentionally misdirect a player from seeing the true qualities of the puzzle pieces.

Feedback on Working Draft

If you have any questions, need an example, or want clarification, then let me know. Ask on Discord or Twitter.

Assume everything in this reference is a working draft, there's prone to be some mistakes and inconsistencies. I figure it's best to publish and get feedback rather than write for years in secret. The terms will change, the structure will shift, and the bugs will be chased out. It'll take a while.