Monthly Archives: February, 2014
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 …
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.
How did you do? Are they numerals? Or if they are letters, which ones? These …
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 …
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 …
Some people consider that the Vm is a hoax, created perhaps by a sort of grille. I think I’ve answered that comprehensively in my paper, by showing that it can’t possibly be a hoax, as it contains real semantic content. But in any case, why on earth would anyone waste their time on creating a hoax of this kind? It’s just not credible, is it?
Yesterday I found this nice account from David Kahn’s book “The Codebreakers”. Although it was written before the hoax mania set in, I still think it is eminently sensible – I can’t argue with any of it. The highlighting is mine:
“Is it [the Voynich manuscript], then, just …
This section of the website looks at my research into the fascinating Voynich manuscript, the 15th century document which has as yet been completely undeciphered.
Click on the menu above to find a paper on a partial decoding of the script, as well as a video showing informally what I am trying to do.