As you read Artemis Fowl, you may have discovered squiggly drawings on the bottom of each page. These are, in fact, a code written in the Gnommish language that can be decoded with the help of a key given to us at the end of the novel. Each version of Artemis Fowl contains its own code, which means that if you have the US version of the novel, it might be different than either of the UK versions. We have included the Key to the Gnommish Alphabet here.
If you would like to try to crack this code yourself, here are some tips to keep in mind.
1. The code includes punctuation which is different from English punctuation. There are only three punctuation marks in Gnommish: the comma, the period, and the space. Be careful not to confuse the punctuation mark for space (which looks slightly like an English period) for the punctuation mark for period (which is a drawing of four triangles lined up so they look like two diamonds side-by-side). Additionally, make sure to look closely at each comma and period in Gnommish, as they are in a small font and can be hard to distinguish.
2. The code repeats itself (it tells us it will do so in the translation itself). So, if you start decoding words that you have already decoded in the same order, you might have already finished the first prophecy and are now decoding the second (which will be exactly the same as the first).
3. As you get to work on decoding the Gnommish, you will begin to recognize frequently-used letters and will have to rely on your key less. However, be careful: there are some letters that are very visually similar to other letters. For example, "I" looks a lot like "K," "M" looks a lot like "N," "X" looks a lot like "Y," and "E," "F" and "V" all look similar. Make sure not to mix these letters up, or you might get confused!
4. Don't try to understand the immediate meaning of the words you are translating right as you are translating them. Like the Fairy Book, the code is a bit dense and contains rhetorical language. It might be best to translate everything (or at least a large chunk of words) and then figure out what it is trying to say.
5. Words don't stop just because a page ends. Make sure to look for the black dot (which stands for a space) to see where words finish. Often, words will begin on one page and end on the next.
The following paragraphs contain a translation of the Gnommish provided by GradeSaver. If you have already cracked the code, use the following paragraphs to check your work. Good luck! WARNING: don't keep reading if you want to crack the code yourself!
"The prophecies of Ohm, phlegm pot cleaner, to Frond, elfen king.
I am Ohm, phlegm pot cleaner to the king, but I am much more than that for I see the future written in the phlegm. For centuries we pixies have read the phlegm, but I am the best there has ever been. My visions are generally of little importance, I foretell outbreaks of troll pox or gas spasms among elderly dwarfs, but sometimes even a poor pot cleaner can see wondrous things. A vision came to me two moons ago when I was gazing deep into his majesty’s own phlegm pot. I was heating the pot over a flame when the sign appeared. This vision was more vivid and detailed than any I had previously seen. Because of its importance I decided to write it down for posterity and so I can say I told you so.
I saw an age when the People have been driven underground by the Mud Men. This is what the phlegm told me. In this time one shall come among us, Fowl by name and foul by nature, a mud man unlike any other. He shall learn our secrets and use them against us. I see him now as plain as day. His face is pale he has dark eyes and raven hair. Yet it must be a mistake for he seems a mere youth. Surely no mud boy could outwit the People, but now I see that the boy is not alone. He is aided by a formidable warrior, scarred from a thousand battles. This Fowl shall hold the People to ransom for their most precious possession, gold, and in spite of all our magic there is still a chance that he will prevail, for he has discovered how to escape the time field. Unfortunately how the story ends I cannot say, but there was more to see. There is another story to come. Someone will bring the People and the Mud Men together. The worst of both races. This fairy’s goal is to grind all the creatures to earth beneath his boot. And who is traitor it is not clear, but he shall start a war unlike anything the People have ever seen. Those who were enemies shall be united against him, and for the first time there will be mud men below ground.
I have one clue to his identity, a riddle. Goblins shall rise and Haven shall fall. A villainous elf is behind it all, to find the one who so disappoints, look ye to where the finger points. Instead of one face this elf has two, both speak false and none speak true. While publicly he lends a helping hand, his true aim is to seize command.
I know. Its not very plain is it I don’t understand either, but perhaps in the future all will become clear. Look for a powerhungry elf who has a finger pointed at him during our tale. And so, this is Ohm’s legacy. A warning that may save the world from total destruction. There’s not much to work with I know. The details are a bit sketchy. My advice to you is to consult the phlegm. It may be that you are sensitive. I have buried this prophecy with my phlegm pot. If you are not fortunate enough to work as a pot cleaner then there is usually a supply of phlegm every time you have a cold. Here ends the first prophecy of Ohm. Because of the importance of my visions I shall repeat the prophecies once more. If you have just begun to understand the text then read on. If you have worked out the entire message then congratulations. Now go and save the world."