Maria-Elena Gambardella


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Identifying Cleartext in Historical Ciphers
Maria-Elena Gambardella | Beata Megyesi | Eva Pettersson
Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Language Technologies for Historical and Ancient Languages

In historical encrypted sources we can find encrypted text sequences, also called ciphertext, as well as non-encrypted cleartexts written in a known language. While most of the cryptanalysis focuses on the decryption of ciphertext, cleartext is often overlooked although it can give us important clues about the historical interpretation and contextualisation of the manuscript. In this paper, we investigate to what extent we can automatically distinguish cleartext from ciphertext in historical ciphers and to what extent we are able to identify its language. The problem is challenging as cleartext sequences in ciphers are often short, up to a few words, in different languages due to historical code-switching. To identify the sequences and the language(s), we chose a rule-based approach and run 7 different models using historical language models on various ciphertexts.