1995/8/27, posted by Joseph H. Peterson

Kelley introduced himself to Dee on March 8, 1582 (old calendar) under the assumed name of Edward Talbot. He gave Dee his real name prior to November 15 after an apparent falling out of 6 months duration. The treasure map was delivered to Dee on March 22, 1583. Kelley told Dee (see pg 125 of my 1985 edition) that he had found it in Northwil Hill along with a boke (Book of St. Dunstan) and an alchemical powder. Dee was very worried about getting into trouble with the law if he went around digging for the treasures, and was therefore instructed by the spirits to bring back samples of earth from the locations revealed in the scroll, wherewith they would produce the treasures magically. Kelley went off on this errand on May 10 and returned May 22. However, the spirits never did produce the promised treasure.

Note also that one of Dee's first questions of the spirits at their March 1st session ("action") was how he read a mysterious book he had come to possess. This line of query continued and remained unsatisfied as far as I can tell from his manuscripts. He called this mysterious manuscript Soyga and told the spirits, "Oh, my great and long desyre hath byn to be hable to read those Tables of Soyga." (pg 12 of my 1985 edition)
posted by ぶらたん at 23:15| Comment(0) | John Dee


1995/08/09, posted by Mike Roe

``The Decipherment of Linear B''
John Chadwick
Cambridge University Press, 1958

``Breaking the Maya Code''
Michael D Coe
Published by Thames and Hudson, 1992

The Mayan script and calendar system is a very interesting distraction, even if it isn't particularly relevant to the Voynich MS.

Both of these books explain that you can estimate whether a script is alphabetic, syllabic or logographic from the number of symbols it uses. Based on the small number of symbols it uses, the Voynich MS appears to be an alphabetic script. Linear B is syllabic, while Mayan is partly logographic and partly syllabic. Many of the specific techniques used in deciphering Linear B or Mayan aren't applicable to alphabetic scripts (which we hypothesize the Voynich MS to be).

It is worth noting that the decipherment of both Linear B and Mayan depended on the decipherers knowing a relative or descendant of the underlying language. (Greek and Yucatec respectively). As far as I know, no combination of unknown script + unknown language has *ever* been solved.

1995/12/7, posted by Adams Douglas

no one was able to decode Egyptian Heiroglyphics until the Rosetta stone was discovered, which provided a Greek translation of a Heiroglyphic text, and also a Coptic version which essentially provided the Egyptian in another (partially known) writing system.
posted by ぶらたん at 22:23| Comment(0) | 書かれた言語


Notes on the Voynich Manuscript - Part 22より

1995/1/9, posted by Robert Firth

1. A Preliminary Observation

Look at the MS. It was written fluently and at speed. This is proven, in my view, by the elegance of the hands, and by the length of text between successive refills of the pen, which can be inferred from the density of the ink. It is written in a script that I have argued elsewhere was devised explicitly to promote a fast, cursive hand.

If the text contains meaning, then, that meaning could be encoded very quickly, or at least copied very quickly. And I believe the copyist was not transcribing opaque cypher text, but understood the meaning, and the evidence for this is the vanishingly small number of seeming transcription errors we have found in the corpus. Contrast, for instance, Brumbaugh's numerous transcription errors, which, by the way, are to me clear proof that his alleged deciperment is bogus.

2. Possible Cyphers

So, if the VMS is a cypher text, the cypher must be very simple. It must be readable virtually at sight. Of the set of "dense" cyphers - those where most of the encoded text is signal - I think that rules out anything more complex than a "gold bug" substitution cypher. Not to mention, of course, that nothing more complex was even known in the fourteenth century.

Indeed, even that is too difficult for most "secret" communications, especially those of occult or secret societies, who are a desperately verbose bunch and therefore tend to adopt simple cyphers. One obvious example is the Caesar cypher, based not on a random substitution but on a simple cyclic shift of the alphabet. Another are the Masonic cyphers, most of which are based on a rectangular grid, populated by letters, and with each cypher symbol a glyph designating a part of the grid. You can learn such a cypher in half an hour, and become fluent in it in an afternoon.

3. Is it Gibberish?

No, it isn't. We have applied to this demon-haunted document the best and most powerful quantitative tests of twentieth-century linguistics, and they all tell us the same thing: there is meaning in the MS; *it is language*.
posted by ぶらたん at 08:41| Comment(0) | 年代


Notes on the Voynich Manuscript - Part 21より 推測

1995/1/8, posted by Robert Firth

1. The symbol "4" stands for 'and'. But it does not spell the word; it is an idiograph with the same function as the "&" of our keyboards.

2. The letter "o" starts (the most common form of) the definite article.But I suspect the full article ends with a consonant that is elided in the written text.

3. Long vowels are represented by reduplication, thus "c c" is long "c". This is one reason our vowel counts are off.

4. Some consonants are made of several symbols, and among them are "iv" and "iiv". This is another reason why both our vowel counts, and our lists of consonantal letters, are off.

5. I believe there is at least one systematically elided consonant in the Voynich orthography. For example, I don't think final "9" is just a variant of "a". I think it stands for "a" plus a final consonant. My current candidates for possible elided consonants are L (anywhere), N (anywhere) and S (final).

As a real example, consider these orthgographic changes:

"sancto" (latin) => "santo" (Castilian) => "sa~o" (Portuguese)

Hmm... and wouldn't the spelling rules for Portuguese also work pretty well with Catalan?

6. The letters "cc" (ligatured) and "ct" have some relationship.I once thought they reflected a dialectical difference, like that between P- and Q- celtic, but now I'm not so sure.
posted by ぶらたん at 19:36| Comment(0) | その他


Hildegard of Bingen

1994/8/24, posted by Joao Leao


Hildegard's own contributions to pre-cryptology has been a pet interest of mine. It is fairly well documented that she introduced the first known attempt to produce what was both an artificial language and a cryptosemic system, called 'Lingua Ignota', which I have seen variously described as a simple noun encoding schema as well as a metasemic system of the kind which became popular in the XVII century. It seems both Trithemius and John Wilkins were aware of her proposals which meant to be used for private comunication between women. The myth and drive of a " purely feminine language" is one of my pet interests with a very curious history.

S. Hildegard of Bingen is another one, by the way! She was no "priestess", Ron, but an abess, mystic and catholic Saint who wrote extensively on matters running from medicine and sexuality to law and theology. She also wrote pretty incredible vocal and intrumental, (pre-gregorian) music which you can find on classical charts. My personal favorite is the "Ordo Virtutae", an abstract operatic work which anticipates Llull's thematics by some 200 years.

The (fictional) possibility that the VMS was the work of an all-female cult of Hildegard's followers is a scenario I have been pursuing mostly for fun. The illustrated part is particularly ameanable to this "interpretations" given that the "herbarium', "astrological" and "plumbing" thematics were very close to Hildegardean themes.
posted by ぶらたん at 22:29| Comment(0) | その他

UV/IR photo

1994/07/15, posted by Jim Reeds


> I saw some fairly recent IR and UV shots (taken under a variety
> of filters) of folio 1 recto. All the UV stuff shows the faded
> signature, the IR stuff shows a blur. There is a tantalizing "key"
> on the right margin of f1r, with a column of roman A - Z with
> obscured Voynich chars standing nect ot it. Some few are a bit
> more visible under UV than under ordinary light.
> Recent, really? I thought the faded signature was uncovered by W.
> Voynich fairly shortly after its discovery, and D'Imperio said she
> didn't know of any more recent work. Any idea who took them, and what
> if any conclusions they drew? It's just folio 1r, not any other part?
> I wonder, especially, about the "key" at the end.

Late 1970's, by the then librarian, whose name I have promptly forgotten.
She had an extensive correspondence with Brumbaugh, and I am sure she
took the UV and IR shots at Brumbaugh's request. By the way, I doubt if
Voynich used IR light as he claimed; it must have been UV.


While preparing for the talk I came across an odd thing: on page 1
of D'Imperio it says

examined under infra-red light, this signature was
found to be "Jacobj a` Tepenece"

yet neither Newbold in 1928 nor Voynich in 1921 says "infra red," and
the Yale catalog entry says "ultra violet". (Voynich 1921 says that
chemicals were applied to the page, and having seen it, I can believe it.
The UV photos in the Beinecke show the sig and the IR photos do not.)
posted by ぶらたん at 21:14| Comment(0) | その他