Category Archives: Voynich script and language

Voynich: the punctuation problem

One issue which has long interested me concerning the Voynich manuscript (VM), and which has not perhaps been researched as much as it should, is what we can call the punctuation problem.
Obviously the script is noteworthy for having no obvious punctuation, which is rare in itself. However, as a linguist what then interests me is how the reader could know where the ‘sense-units’ begin and end? If we assume that we are dealing with a natural underlying language, the reader would have to have signals of some sort, in the absence of punctuation, as to where the sense endings would be, especially on pages containing lengthy chunks of text. Consider this …

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Voynich talk April 2014

I have recently posted a video of my informal talk in April 2014 on the script and language of the Voynich manuscript. Comments welcome.

Nick Pelling – a response

Nick Pelling’s account – a response
In a very entertaining and stylish review, Nick Pelling recently devoted space to my Voynich paper, so let me offer a response. I’ll address it to him, as I feel that is more courteous than hiding behind academic third persons!
Nick, for the record I love your blog. It’s the best Voynich discussion forum on the net, illuminated by your sharp and well-informed sense of humour, and vast knowledge of things V. To show that I bear no ill will, let me even publicise your book, though I’m sorry to say I haven’t read it yet.
Below I look at each of your objections in turn, but …

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Minims (2) and their importance in the Voynich script

Following my earlier post about minims – which you should read before reading this one – I now want to extend the debate to suggest that this area could have a major impact on our understanding of the Voynich script and signs.
Let’s start with a quiz: Look at these five signs and groups and try to say which Latin sound or letter they stand for. They are taken from just two words in a 15th century manuscript in the Wellcome library – not the Voynich manuscript, though curiously it was also once owned by Voynich.
Minim quiz
How did you do? Are they numerals? Or if they are letters, which ones? These …

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Minims in mediaeval orthography (1)

While thinking about  the sequences of ‘i’ letters in the Voynich manuscript, I came across this interesting account of minims in Latin script from a Harvard website:
Medieval scribes used minims to form letters. A single minim looks like this:

Several minims can make up a single letter, or even a group of letters. In particular, minims are usually used for the following letters:
One minim: “i”, “j”
Two minims: “n”, “u”, “v”
Three minims: “m”, “w”
It is frequently difficult to know what letter or letters a group of minims represents unless you can determine the entire word from context. Look at the word below, and see if you can figure out what it is. Mouse …

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Voynich: natural language or not? (1)

I’ve had many encouraging comments about my paper on the Voynich script, but also some puzzling ones.
Some people insist that the analysis “couldn’t be possible”, so they don’t bother to consider it, because the script “couldn’t represent a 1:1 mapping” onto real words, or the signs “couldn’t represent a 1:1 mapping” onto letters. Therefore they are sure that the script must be some kind of complex code.
As a linguist, I am perplexed by this, so I thought I’d explore it in this posting. To start with, this position hides a lot of assumptions. Firstly, it seems to assume that ‘normal’ scripts do or should have a 1:1 mapping of letters …

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