More patterns in the Voynich text

The website is a fascinating addition to our tools for analysing the manuscript. Here I will just point out one or two things it has helped me to notice which I think are interesting:

1.  Look at the word EVA:qokeedy  as analysed in

What is curious about this is how the word is relatively rare in the first 73 folios, but then suddenly explodes in the Balneological section from f75r onwards until f84v, the last page of the Balneological section, when it suddenly stops, to resume again at the first page of the Recipes section (f103r) and continue quite frequently to the end of the manuscript. In other words it is very frequent in two sections only, but in those sections it is strikingly common.

2. The same seems true of another word beginning with the same sequence: EVA:qokain, as you can see here: .(Note a particular concentration  f111 and 116r)

We should not draw too many conclusions from this without a fuller statistical analysis, simply because there is more text on those pages than on the pages with more or larger illustrations. But it does seem to be true that earlier pages of the manuscript have relatively fewer occurrences of these  sequences.

Why is this interesting? It seems to me that the reasons for such imbalances in word distribution, if they prove to be true, could be due to a number of factors.

One of these might be to do with theme – these words might be particularly related to the ‘balneological’ topic and the ‘recipe ‘topic (whatever they might be).

Another might relate to scribal choices – it could be that we have different scribes working on different parts of the manuscript and they chose different spellings or ways of writing words from those in other parts – so we might be able from such analyses to identify who wrote which part. (See this discussion of scribal variation)

Another value of such analysis might be to unlock the recipe pages at the end. It has been suggested that each of the ‘paragraphs’ in those pages might relate to different parts of the manuscript.

If we can find clusters of words on particular pages, and then see if they are repeated in particular paragraphs of the recipe pages, maybe we be able top see if indeed those recipe paragraphs link up with particular pages in the earlier parts of the manuscript?

Note that with some smaller clusters there seem to be a similar phenomenon. For example, the same pattern appears to be true with EVA: l at the start of a word:

This could again be a scribal choice. Whatever the reason, it is odd that it is so frequent on some later pages ( e.g. while on earlier pages with a lot of text it does not occur at all (e.g









  1. Valérie-Anne

    As noone is asking me, this is my point of view :
    As you noticed, Mister Bax, the word EVA:qokeedy (which I pronounce “qakootn” ) is really present with people and at the end of the text. Like the word EVA : qopchedy. (pronounce : “qabhotn”). In France we have the old words : “caqueter” (=”jacter”) wich means “the noise made by the mouthes of the chickens” and “cabot” = “dog”.
    “caqueter” is made with “caquet” which is the mouth of chickens. But it’s also use to talk about someone who never stop talking.
    The pronounciation is really close from “qakootn”. It’s like the verb “jacter” made with “jaquette” or “jacque” (magpie). And the verb means “talking like a bird”.
    I think the word “qakootn” means “talking like a chicken” = chatter?. You also see the similarity with the German word “quaken” which means in french “jacasser” (same ethymology).
    For “qabhotn”, I think it could be someone “yelling like a dog”or something like that. So, what do you think about it?

    • Stephen Bax

      I think you are making a major mistake – one which so many people seem to make.

      When you talk about the EVA word “EVA:qokeedy” you seem to think that the first letter is ACTUALLY pronounced like the English/Roman letter ‘q’, and so on. So you say that ‘I pronounce [it] “qakootn” ‘

      However, the EVA system is just an invented way of helping us to discuss Voynich letters easily. It is as big mistake to assume that it has any relation to how the letters themselves are actually pronounced. So if you want to make a case that “qakootn” is similar to the German word “quaken”, do not be confused by a superficial resemblance between the EVA transcription and the real German word.

      It is not a good idea to take one or two sounds and say ‘this sounds like this word’, without thinking of the whole scheme of sounds and letters all together. Otherwise you will get endless ‘false positives’.

      • Valérie-Anne

        Thank you for your answer. Yes, I forgot that… I should prove it first… So how do you pronounce the EVA:q?

        • Stephen Bax

          No-one knows! That is the problem. For a list of Derek’s views on different possibilities of sound-letter corrspondences, see:

          • Valérie-Anne

            Yes. Have you noticed the EVA:q is always at the begining of a word (I just saw that) like a prefix? It’s present 5421 time.( But 5289 time it’s followed by an EVA :o. (!

            • Valérie-Anne

              The voynichese seems to have difficulties to make the difference between EVA : y and the EVA : q. As I’m always running after time, I only checked if I could replace the EVA : y by the EVA : q in words beginning by EVA : yo. On the 25 words beginning by EVA : yo, 19 work (they exists) when I replace EVA : y by the EVA : q .
              For the other words (the 6 which are not working ), each just exist one time in the text.
              Maybe it’s to early to make a conclusion, but it could be EVA : y = EVA : q. And there would be just a difference because it’s at the begining of the word. Like you found EVA : r = EVA : m.
              EVA : m is generally at the end but sometimes it happen to be in the middle of the word.
              As I going in holiday I let you check. And thank you for opening my eyes, I was really stuck with this EVA : q…

  2. fahime Mohammadi

    It was really interesting for me to read about “Voynich manuscript”;and then it was more interesting when i start reading about your activity to find out the words.
    The relation of the book to arabic was also hesitationable ,im iranian and i know arabic alphabet and due to my religon i am familiar with it.

    i think maybe this book is written in the form as we say in farsi “finglish”!
    as you know farsi has its own alphabet;but sometimes some people try to write farsi with english alphabet but persian pronounciation;for example “salam” is finglish form of سلام.

    Maybe the grammer and pronounciation is arabic;but written in another alphabet.

    good job!

  3. Mike

    Do you think qokain could possibly mean cocaine?

  4. E Murphy

    Thank you so much for your work. After reading the details, an idea came about that the book might have been an attempt by someone to copy a prior work, perhaps to preserve it. It may account for inconsistencies in using words across the manuscript – if the author of it was copying from different chapters or different books. It may also account for the choice and form of elements composing each word. Was the author of the manuscript familiar with the language he was copying? This is an interesting theory worth looking into.

    • Valérie-Anne Bertin

      Yes, I also thought about it. It could be a librarian who wanted to keep the secrets of his folk. Because of a danger like a war…

  5. Valérie-Anne Bertin

    Just to add something, you can also make the same conclusion with the word “qopchedy”…

  6. Valérie-Anne Bertin

    Dear Mister Bax
    I follow you from february when I saw some news about your research on the voynich manuscript.
    Your work is very interesting and I would like to thank you for it.
    I am interested on the manuscript because I am painter and calligraphe and for me, it looks like a travel sketchbook, but whit plants! Really interresting in fact. I am really interested in discovering the text.
    Sorry for my english, I can make some mistakes as I am french.
    I hope we could read this book one day!

  7. D.N. O'Donovan

    The ‘balneology’ section is not about bathing. So the ‘recipe’ section is not a recipe section, but one related to another topic, common to both.

    I did look in depth at the possibility of Soqotra, for two reasons: first that there is a type of boat made there described by a word having near-homophony with the Greek ‘oura; secondly because of all the scripts I considered, Sabaic minuscule seemed to me closest to the Voynich glyph-set, and thirdly because it had a mixed population likely to have affected the indigenous Mahri-related dialect. A number of documents were found there – but they were sent to a scholar in India and have not been published yet, so far as I can learn.

    Also, the ‘heart of the world’ in folio 86v may well be the dam of Marib, though other sites are possible so I won’t be too categorical. Another possible clue is the small flower marking what I take to be the entrance to the Persian Gulf.

    Linda, who seems to have been a devoted reader of my old, and my new blogs, will no doubt know all this, but it may be the first time anyone else has heard of it.

    I have interpreted all the ‘balneological’ section, and read it as the route and ports from the head of the Red Sea to Aden, and thence towards India on one side and down the Somali coast on the other. However, the number of ports suggests a fairly early period, before loss of so many mentioned in the earlier medieval documents including e.g. Siraf.

    This may all seem a little arbitrary here, without reference to the documentation and comparative examples etc. – but I’d suggest that the “qokeedy” has something to do with measures of distance/time, or some other terms that would need constant repetition in that context, but not in relation to botanical items of trade.

  8. Linda Snider

    Hi there,

    Just letting you know about a few transcription items I have noticed.

    If my theory is correct, the “o” on f79v that is located next to the third nymph’s hand is not a letter, but a diagram of the island Socotra. [SB: this picture] It is extra dark, and overlaps the next letter, which is also unusual. If you search for the word including the “o”, it is the only example of the word. If you take the “o” away, there are 18 examples of the word, so I think this somewhat supports my hypothesis that the “o” in this case is not a letter.

    The other two aren’t as clear, but I’ll mention them just in case.

    In f76v I took the squiggly line touching the second nymph’s finger [SB: this picture] as having to do with the island Formentera. Again, the word without the letter does exist, however, the word with the letter does also exist in multiples, so I concede this one could be a coincidence.

    I believe I found a second example where an o appeared not to be a letter within quire 13 but I will have to check my notes as to where this occurred as this one is written up in my second paper which is still in progress and not accessible at the moment. I think perhaps it was f82r, the nymph at top left of the large body of water. The “o” appears to be overlapping again, and I think I had found something that it could be instead, although both with and without, there are multiple occurrences of the word. Or, it could be f75v, rightmost bottom nymph, that’s the only other “o” I can find that is nearby a nymph right now. Both cases are words again though.

    Here’s the paper for more details and comparisons with regard to the first two mentions above.



  9. Cosmo

    In the experimental section of the site (, there are some additional queries.

    In particular, there is a list of queries, for each character, which indicate whether words containing that character also exist without it:

    Here’s that query for EVA “l”:

    It highlights all words containing EVA “l” – in white if subtracting “l” does *not* yield a valid word and in blue if it *does* result in a valid word.

    If we overlay your original query for word-initial EVA “l”, it appears that most words which begin with EVA “l” also occur without the word-initial “l”:

    Did the scribe simply use EVA “l” as a prefix, in these sections?

  10. The distribution of initial {l} in the manuscript is intriguing. It occurs over 1300 times, yet mostly on Currier B pages. The next character after {l} is most often {k} (443 times, around a third of all times) and I believe that {lk} could be a digraph as it is otherwise unusual.

    However, the next commonest characters after an initial {l} are {ch} and {sh} (320 and 119 occurrences respectively, totalling another third of all initial {l}). Although this isn’t a particularly unusual sequence, it does harm my digraph theory.

    I am not, as yet, sure how we can fully explain what is happening here. But I do believe it could provide an important insight into the language.

    • Hello, EVA: l is ‘sh’, EVA: k is ‘ch’. so, lk will be ‘shch’ or ‘sch’.

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