A well-known oddity about the Voynich manuscript (among so many others) is the set of month names in the centre of the zodiac pages which were obviously added after the main manuscript was completed. Here is the one on the Pisces page, which seems to say ‘mars’, meaning March.
Elmar Vogt [correction: the part on zodiac names was written by Elias Schwerdtfeger] offers an interesting and detailed discussion at the end of the document which you can find here. (The rest of the document, on marginalia, by Elmar Vogt, is also interesting.) He [Elias] suggests that the month names are to be read as:
- may, mayˆ
- yony, yong, yonij (?)
- jolliz (?)
- sepembr, septembr (?)
He doesn’t, however, make any suggestions about where they might come from. They look like a sort of French. Some less cautious commentators have boldly declared them to be Occitan (i.e from the south of France). Others have been rather more careful and critical – see this interesting discussion which guardedly suggests a northern French origin.
I have been looking at an interesting book called “The Ciphers of the Monks: A Forgotten Number-notation of the Middle Ages” by David A. King, which discusses a 14th century astrolabe from Picardy, northern France. The month names on the astrolabe, as you can see here, are in some cases similar to the VM names, including ‘may’ and ‘octembre’. Not all are the same, but many are. Another astrolabe referenced in a footnote has ‘may, jong, ..octembre’.
But perhaps more significant are King’s considered words, which should warn all of us not to be too dogmatic or brash in identifying any particular French dialect as the source of the added Voynich month names:
“we do not know enough about medieval French month-names to associate them with a specific region” (p138-9, footnote).
Exactly so. In other words, as so often with the VM, be cautious, not bullish with your claims!