2017年09月04日

Line and paragraph as structural unit (Noise or data ?)

Date: Thu, 22 May 2003 08:30:33 +1000
From: Jacques Guy <jguy@alphalink.com.au>
Subject: VMs: Line and paragraph as structural unit (Noise or data ?)

>Which brings us back to
>the phenomenon of
>the line and paragraph as a structural unit. It was Currier who noticed
>this, but neither he nor
>anyone since has explained why this should be so.

I cannot explain why this should be so, but I can explain how
this could be so (I actually might have some years ago. The
disheartening thing about the VMs is that, whatever new ideas
I have come up with lately, I have found already in the archives
long ago, often suggested by myself: I had just forgotten).

The paragraph as a structural unit. It it reasonable to think
that a paragraph contains at least one whole sentence, and
therefore ends in a whole sentence. Many languages make use of
sentence-final particles, others put their verbs at the end.
In the first group Chinese, especially Classical Chinese;
Japanese, Korean. In the second group Japanese, Korean, Burmese,
Hindi, Malayalam, and many more I do not know about.

As for paragraph beginnings, I guess that the structural alluded
to is the regular presence of a gallows. The simplest explanation
provided here was that it is ornamental, as the first letter of
chapters in medieval manuscripts is usually ornamental.

The line as a structural unit. This again is in the archives.
We may imagine that the scribe is "thinking aloud" (perhaps
even saying aloud) what he is writing. Arriving at the end of
a line (a physical line, on paper), there is a tendency to
pause (try it). If the language used has external sandhi, this
pause prevents the end of the word at the end of the line from
merging with the next word. The result is that the letters at
the ends of lines (and the beginnings of lines) have a different
frequency distribution than elsewhere in the lines.
Many languages have external sandhi to varying degrees of
complexity. Sanskrit is one, at the complex end of the
spectrum. Korean is another, a bit less complex. Many Chinese
dialects have it, about as complex as Korean. French has
it too, Modern French not much, but French of the 1800's and
more so French of the 16th century, in the form of "liaisons".

======================================

From: "Philip Neal" <philipneal_vms@hotmail.com>
Subject: Re: VMs: Line and paragraph as structural unit (Noise or data ?)
Date: Sat, 24 May 2003 18:07:05 +0000

We have indeed discussed this before, to my mind inconclusively.
Whenever any one feature of Voynichese is mentioned, somebody is sure
to point to a type of natural language which displays a similar feature. The
problem is that the several explanations given never
amount to a consistent overall story. Thus:

Voynichese has low entropy.
"It must have a restricted set of phonemes like Hawaiian."

Many words have the same initial sequence and a different ending.
"Voynichese must have inflectional morphology like Russian."

Many words have the same final sequence and a different initial.
"Voynichese must have initial mutations like Welsh."

Many words have the same initial and final sequence but are different
medially.
"Voynichese must have vocalic ablaut like Arabic."

The EVA vowels <o> <e> <ee> <a> <y> commonly occur in that order in a word.
"Voynichese must have vowel harmony like Finnish."

Certain characters are restricted to the final position in a line.
"Voynichese must have external sandhi like Sanskrit."

The same word frequently occurs twice and thrice in succession.
"Voynichese must have repeated plurals like Malay."

Certain words seldom occur initially or finally in a line.
"Voynichese must have a strict word order like Japanese."

Short words are more common towards the end of the line.
"Voynichese must have sentence final particles like Chinese."

Certain combinations of characters are rare.
"Voynichese must have positional restrictions on phonemic contrast like
German."


It has always rather surprised me that Jacques Guy thinks that
Voynichese is a natural language, but he knows far more languages
and far more about linguistics than I do. Can he give even tentative
answers to questions like these:

Can Voynichese be identified as an SVO, SOV or VSO language?

Is Voynichese isolating, inflectional or agglutinative? Can a single
Voynichese word represent a sequence of two morphemes? Can a sequence
of two Voynichese words represent a single morpheme?

Is it possible to identify syntactic categories? E.g. do the one-word
star labels behave like members of the same substitution class when
they occur in continuous text?

How many phonemes does the Voynichese language possess?

Do the EVA characters <a> <e> <o> <y> in fact represent vowels? If so,
are they the only Voynichese vowels? Does Voynichese display vowel
harmony?

Do characters with a similar appearance represent phonemes with a
common feature? E.g. would you expect the gallows characters to be
various kinds of labial, various kinds of fricative or something like
that?

Is the Voynichese orthography systematically defective in the manner
of the Semitic scripts?

Does the Voynichese script involve the systematic use of allographs
like Latin capital letters?

I have never seen a plausible story of Voynichese as a natural language
and until I do, I prefer to think that the MS represents an encipherment of
a well known language.

======================================
From: Jacques Guy <jguy@alphalink.com.au>
Subject: Re: VMs: Line and paragraph as structural unit (Noise or data ?)

>It has always rather surprised me that Jacques Guy thinks that
>Voynichese is a natural language

You wouldn't believe what some natural languages do, and I know
only about a pitifully small sample.

>Can Voynichese be identified as an SVO, SOV or VSO language?

I do not know how to answer this question. Rather: I cannot
see any evidence for or against. There is a fourth possibility:
Voynichese is a free word-order language, like Latin, like
Kupapunyu (Australia), like Laghu (Solomon Islands), like Finnish
(as I was told by a Finnish correspondant).

>Is Voynichese isolating, inflectional or agglutinative?

Some Chinese dialects, which are isolating, have extensive
external sandhi. Sanskrit, which is inflectional, has internal
and external sandhi (the term, at any rate, is a Sanskrit word.
It was coined when philologists discovered Sanskrit). Korean,
which is agglutinative, also has extensive internal and external
sandhi. I suspect that Voynichese is also affected by sandhi,
external sandhi at least (I won't go into the reasons here,
they're in the archives). The "Chinese theory", which I
originally did not believe in, but which I could not reject,
in the light of Jorge Stolfi's statistical evidence, makes me
think that Voynichese is perhaps an isolating language.

> Can a single
>Voynichese word represent a sequence of two morphemes? Can a sequence
>of two Voynichese words represent a single morpheme?

I hold that the spaces between words are artefacts of the
shapes of the letters. Therefore, we do not know where word
breaks are--except, of course, at the beginning and end of
paragraphs. Labels? Perhaps the labels are not words, but
.. er... "numbers", as we would label pictures A, B, C, D,
and so on. The Chinese use a set of special characters for this
purpose, each with its own pronunciation, so each one syllable.
The Voynich labels could be such a system.


>Is it possible to identify syntactic categories? E.g. do the one-word
>star labels behave like members of the same substitution class when
>they occur in continuous text?

Labels. See above.

>How many phonemes does the Voynichese language possess?

Honestly, I have not idea. Consider: in German "sch" is a
single phoneme, likewise "dd" and "ngh" in Welsh, and "ch" and
"c'h" in Breton.


>Do the EVA characters <a> <e> <o> <y> in fact represent vowels?

I am pretty sure that they do, for two reasons:

1. The application of Sukhotin's vowel algorithm suggests so.
2. Their shapes.

I also believe that <i> = <e> and that <ee> = <a>

If you rummage through the archives, you will find very old
posts from me where I opine that <y> is an unstressed,
undifferentiated vowel, a schwa in other words.

And rummaging through the archives again, you'll find what
I wrote about the likely origin of this alphabet: the
Beneventan script. EVA <ee>, which I think is the vowel
"a", is the spit and image of "a" in Beneventan. Frogguy
<ct> (can't remember EVA), which Sukhotin's algorithm
identifies as a consonant, is the spit and image of
Beneventan "t".

>If so,
>are they the only Voynichese vowels?

I have argued that <ol> was a single vowel, "ou", just like
in Modern Greek and in Armenian (I did not know any Armenian
back then, so I did not mention Armenian).

>Does Voynichese display vowel
>harmony?

I cannot tell at all.

>Do characters with a similar appearance represent phonemes with a
>common feature? E.g. would you expect the gallows characters to be
>various kinds of labial, various kinds of fricative or something like
>that?

No.

>Is the Voynichese orthography systematically defective in the manner
>of the Semitic scripts?

You mean Arabic, Hebrew, Phenician, don't you? Certainly not. An obvious
reason: its entropy would be much higher, and the distances between
successive vowels as given by Sukhotin's algorithm would show a much
wider spread.

>Does the Voynichese script involve the systematic use of allographs
>like Latin capital letters?

I think so. In fact, I am sure. Didn't I write above that EVA <i> = <e> ?
I stand by that.
posted by ぶらたん at 10:19| Comment(0) | カレンダー
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