257: Code Talkers

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 17:57, 18 October 2012 by Bpothier (Talk | contribs)

Jump to: navigation, search
Code Talkers
As far as I can tell, Navajo doesn't have a common word for 'zero'.  do-neh-lini means 'neutral'.
Title text: As far as I can tell, Navajo doesn't have a common word for 'zero'. do-neh-lini means 'neutral'.


Code talkers are persons who communicate using a coded version of their native language. The most well-known code talkers were the Navajo-speaking Marines serving during World War II.

This comic shows a Navajo code talker transmitting an encrypted binary file by speaking "one" and "zero" (actually "neutral") into a microphone. Unlike the Navajo Marines, this process does not add security and is slower than simply transmitting the file over a network.

The title text states that Randall used "neutral" instaed of "zero" because he was unable to find a common Navajo word for it


[A man is looking at a computer monitor and speaking into a microphone]
Man 1: A'la'ih, do'neh'lini,
do'neh'lini, a'la'ih,
a'la'ih, do'neh'lini,
do'neh'lini, do'neh'lini,
a'la'ih, a'la'ih,
do'neh'lini, a'la'ih,
do'neh'lini ...
[Two men are talking nearby:]
Man 2: For added security, after we encrypt the data stream, we send it through our Navajo code talker.
Man 3: ...Is he just using Navajo words for "Zero" and "One"?
Man 2: Woah, hey, keep your voice down!

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


I am a little bit disappointed of Randall, that he didn't hid a secret message here. 101010000100110 doesn't translate in to anything (If you fill in the missing number). Nils w (talk) 11:44, 30 January 2014 (UTC)

Since the binary data is said to be encrypted, it could contain any secret message you'd like, you just have to apply the right one-time pad. Hiding a plaintext message in a sequence told to be encrypted would be unlike Randall, don't you think? 13:26, 16 May 2014 (UTC)
All people always try is trying to interpret zeroes and ones as ascii codepoints... In this case it would actually just be T&. Does it mean anything? Well it's all in the *printable* and *first 127* ASCII characters so it might as well anyway. Sinni800 (talk) 10:00, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

In the Volume 0 book, the code changes and is 00111100 00110011 which means <3 Potato Gunman3 (talk) 02:00, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

I think that the comic is also about people not understanding cryptography.~JRM (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Personal tools


It seems you are using noscript, which is stopping our project wonderful ads from working. Explain xkcd uses ads to pay for bandwidth, and we manually approve all our advertisers, and our ads are restricted to unobtrusive images and slow animated GIFs. If you found this site helpful, please consider whitelisting us.

Want to advertise with us, or donate to us with Paypal?