Breaking the Ninjago Code: Spoiler Alert

A meta-post  In which I draw together a summary of the works of others, in order to solve the mysteries of the Ninjago Language.  Only to discover the ultimate tool was waiting to be unveiled all along.  Well Played, marketing department, well played!

One of the exciting things regarding the LEGO Ninjago Movie over the last few weeks has been watching one of the mysteries slowly unravel and drop into place.  I am particularly thinking about the Ninjago script.

It has been discussed on brickset.com that the graphic designers involved with the LEGO Ninjago Movie have developed a written script – essentially a substitution cipher, where each symbol represents a roman alphabet character – to be used in most of the writing in the movie.  Following some obvious cues, and then using applying logic to help fill the gaps, most of the letters were able to be filled in.

This was confirmed recently in the Designer Video, which surfaced a couple of days ago, and some further clues were provided there as to completing the alphabet. Not the least of which was “As you put the set together you get a chance to learn it using the building instructions.” Now, these instructions are yet to be made available on LEGO’s servers, so further details are not yet available.

Using the guide produced by the Brickset team,  the following guide to the script was able to be compiled:

As you can see, there are still a few characters missing. When you consider the relative frequencies of letters as they appear in the English language, it is not surprising to see that Z, X and Q were among the unsolved letters: they are the 3 least frequently used letters in the english language. V comes in at number 6.  Of the other rarely used letters, J is far more likely to be solved if you are looking at the word ‘Ninja’ in various permutations and combinations.

But that’s not all:

There were also a few characters defying description for me including symbols on signs in the market, as well as the symbol on Kai’s jacket.  Could these be numerals, if they are not part of the alphabet as we currently know it?

And then I received a not so subtle revelation.  On viewing an unboxing video of Ninjago Merchandise on Beyond the Brick, a postcard was seen, completely written in Ninjago Script.  The reader was pointed to “ninjagolanguagetranslator.com” [this is around the 2:10 mark in the video]

So… it turns out that this is a real thing!  Punch in your Ninjago Script words, flick the switch and see it transform into roman script before your very eyes.  You can also translate from Roman script to Ninjago.

Codes and ciphers have had a long tradition of being used to engage children in their stories: Following on from the great tradition starting with 1930’s radio serials (Little Orphan Annie, Captain Midnight) and their decoder rings, through to coded messages hidden in the margins of children’s comics, periodicals or the Puffin Post, this brings the game of translating coded messages for marketing purposes into the  21st Century. [Note: The Puffin Post was a magazine for members of the Puffin Club – a children’s book club, under the umbrella of penguin books.  It did not appear before 1967.  Sniffup.]

I do find this hunt and peck approach to solve the entire word a little challenging, as the process seems to take a little longer than the traditional ‘pattern matching’ techniques that were commonplace in the days of paper. So long as you do not confuse the characters representing ‘J’ and ‘B’.  That leads to confusion.

For your reference, here is the final substitution guide, with numerals added, thanks to the ninjagolanguagetranslator.com tool. Please feel free to print it out, and use to help you translate the Ninjago language, as you apply the stickers to 70620 Ninjago City, which is due to become available for early VIP orders from Shop.lego.com on August 15th :

I hope you have found this insight of interest… if only to point you to ninjagolanguagetranslator.com to solve those stickers for yourself.

[edit: And now, 6 hours after publication, I discover that The Brick Fan has posting about the translator last week.  Take this as an account of my personal journey!]

Until next time,

Play Well!

9 thoughts on “Breaking the Ninjago Code: Spoiler Alert”

1. Nice work! You have lots of dedication to delve down this far. Sadly I saw a person translate the code like three months ago on tumblr…

2. […] ‘no step’ written in Latin script, when most of Ninjago’s writing is using the substitution cipher font developed for the film.  The coded writing on the stickers appears to read ‘Lloyd’, which should be adequate […]