A note on the Voynich Manuscript

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WeepingElf
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A note on the Voynich Manuscript

Post by WeepingElf »

I have spent some thoughts on the Voynich Manuscript (VMS) which I wish to share with you.

I think I need not tell you what the VMS is, should you have not heard of it yet, see Wikipedia.

Nobody has managed to decipher it yet. The many illustrations in the VMS give a hint at the content matter, which seems to encompass such things as astrology, medicine and herb-lore. Thus, it appears to be a kind of repository of hermetic knowledge, and the obscurity is deliberate: it is written the way it is to prevent the uninitiated from reading it.

The VMS has been C14-dated to the early 15th century, and there are reasons to assume that it was made in northern Italy. The writing system is clearly an alphabet, with 36 letters, of which 11 are variants of other letters with a horizontal stroke added. The alphabet looks like a close relative or derivation of the Latin alphabet.

There is a commonly used transliteration, the "European (or Extensible) Voynich Alphabet" (EVA), based on the letter shapes. This mostly gives quite pronounceable readings of the VMS text, so it is likely that it guessed at least the basic sound categories such as vowels, sonorants and obstruents, correctly. If there is a kind of letter substitution cipher involved, it seems to preserve those categories. But it may be that there is no such thing, and the EVA is actually close to the intended pronunciation. The following letters are the ones to which horizontal strokes are sometimes added: a, e, i, o, y, and p, t, k, f, s, h. So the horizontal stroke is added either to vowels or to voiceless obstruents. Perhaps this is a kind of length marker, and in the unknown language of the VMS, only voiceless obstruents may be geminated.

So what about the language? It is obviously unknown. The idea that it is an obscure natural language, such as a pre-Roman, perhaps even pre-IE, language surviving somewhere in the Alps cannot be ruled out, but more likely, we are dealing with an invented language. It is not impossible that someone made up a language in 15th-century Italy; other early conlangs such as Hildegard of Bingen's Lingua Ignota, John Dee's Enochian or the Near Eastern Balaybalan come to one's mind here.
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Arayaz
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Re: A note on the Voynich Manuscript

Post by Arayaz »

From Wikipedia:
The peculiar internal structure of Voynich manuscript words led William F. Friedman to conjecture that the text could be a constructed language. In 1950, Friedman asked the British army officer John Tiltman to analyze a few pages of the text, but Tiltman did not share this conclusion. In a paper in 1967, Brigadier Tiltman said:
Brigadier Tiltman wrote: After reading my report, Mr. Friedman disclosed to me his belief that the basis of the script was a very primitive form of synthetic universal language such as was developed in the form of a philosophical classification of ideas by Bishop Wilkins in 1667 and Dalgarno a little later. It was clear that the productions of these two men were much too systematic, and anything of the kind would have been almost instantly recognisable. My analysis seemed to me to reveal a cumbersome mixture of different kinds of substitution.
The concept of a constructed language is quite old, as attested by John Wilkins's Philosophical Language (1668), but still postdates the generally accepted origin of the Voynich manuscript by two centuries. In most known examples, categories are subdivided by adding suffixes (fusional languages); as a consequence, a text in a particular subject would have many words with similar prefixes—for example, all plant names would begin with similar letters, and likewise for all diseases, etc. This feature could then explain the repetitive nature of the Voynich text. However, no one has been able yet to assign a plausible meaning to any prefix or suffix in the Voynich manuscript.
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Re: A note on the Voynich Manuscript

Post by WeepingElf »

Yes, I am of course not the first to conjecture a conlang. That makes more sense than the assumption that it is encrypted Latin (or whatever known language), given how puerile the ciphers of those times were - it would probably have been broken long ago. Yet, I wouldn't expect a particularly sophisticated conlang, either - probably something whose morphosyntax works much like Latin or whichever Indo-European languages the author was familiar with, perhaps with a whiff of Semitic thrown in, but with freely invented words and morphemes. But that should be sufficient to flummox cryptoanalysts (and indeed, it does). At any rate, whichever means he used, the author has done a pretty good job obscuring his work!
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Re: A note on the Voynich Manuscript

Post by Man in Space »

As I said over at the Other Place: Cannot unsee

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CC = Common Caber
CK = Classical Khaya
CT = Classical Ĝare n Tim Ar
Kg = Kgáweq'
PB = Proto-Beheic
PO = Proto-O
PTa = Proto-Taltic
STK = Sisỏk Tlar Kyanà
Tm = Təmattwəspwaypksma
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Re: A note on the Voynich Manuscript

Post by thethief3 »

I'm pretty sure it got proven to be nonsense just last year but i don't have links to the article.
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Re: A note on the Voynich Manuscript

Post by Visions1 »

Oy-nich manuscript.
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