Addendum from Derek, April 2016:
New version of the list… no new plants or astrological items to add, but /y/ is now included as a secondary interpretation for the letter ^r^ in a few cases, and the definitions of phonetic symbols are now collected near the top instead of given individually with their first applications in the tables, and a few old entries have some bits of new information added, like folios 27r & 28r. The slight shift in its overall appearance/style is a side effect of a switch from one file format to another (HTML to word processor).
The most significant difference now is the new section after the herbal & astrological tables but before the Notes: a few words that are not herbal or astrological names and, unlike them, should be in the authors’ native language, with much lower odds of being imported from another language. And not only does each one of them have a plausible Romany connection, but some of them don’t work very well or even at all in any other language I know of except Romany.
The one that stands out the most to me is “ges” meaning “day”. It’s thoroughly out of the usual pattern for words meaning “day” in Indo-Iranian languages or any other Indo-European languages; so far off that, without knowing about it ahead of time, any grounds for thinking that the manuscript’s word for “day” sounded like “ges” would normally be grounds for thinking the language must not be Indo-European. But there just happens to be one language in the family with that strange word, and it just happens to be the same word & language that were predicted from the manuscript.
[Here is the relevant new section]
Original post (June 2015):
Here (below) is an updated version of Derek Vogt’s provisional scheme for identifying elements of the Voynich manuscript, along with sound-sign correspondences. It is an update of his previous version which you can see here. I thought it was worth dedicating a new page to it, to make discussion easier.
Here are some notes about it which Derek posted as comments elsewhere:
“Entirely new entries since the last version include plants 4v, 7r, 9r, 17v, 25v, and 43r, the blue text for 2v, and stars 16 and 21. One of those includes EVA-q, so that symbol has been added to the table of symbols and their sound values at the top. Plant 15r has been retracted.
Some “old” entries have had just a few new cognates added, or had old cognates that were only available as transliterations added now in their native alphabets, including plants 5v, 6r, 14v, 16v, 20r, and 39r, 2v’s red text, and stars 7, 26, 37, 38, 45, and 53.
Old notes 9 and 13, on the sounds /ɣ/ and /ʕ/, have been merged so that note 9 alone now address both sounds. A new note on the use of ^h^ after plosives has been added as #13, so later notes are not affected.”
Derek has also offered some useful comments on the process as a whole:
“The purpose of working out the phonetic system is to find a relationship between Voynichese and a known language or family of languages which can be used as a model for translation (presuming it has any relatives that are known).
One way that could happen is by comparison of their phoneme inventories. Closely related languages usually use similar sets of phonemes, and very different sets of phonemes are used by more distantly related or unrelated languages. Fortunately, Voynichese’s inventory seems to be rather unusual, so a good match would stand out from the crowd. Even if we never found a perfect match, at least this would be a way of narrowing down the list of candidates to the ones that come closest. Wikipedia’s articles on languages usually have lists/tables of phonemes, like this one, but not all, and some of the languages/families in the same geographic region as Voynichese don’t even have Wikipedia articles. So information on the phoneme inventories of some candidate languages/families would need to be found somewhere else.
Another way would be by matching some of the rest of the words in the text, the ones that form sentences in the author’s language, not just things that are likely to come from other languages like the plant & constellation names. This requires some sign of what some of the other words should mean first. For example, one of the plants in my list produces an oil that induces vomiting, so another word on its page that isn’t used on most other pages should be equivalent to “vomit”, and others that are somewhat more common would probably equate to “induce” and “oil/juice/extract”. The problem with this is that you can only try one language or language family at a time and there are a lot of candidates, many of which don’t appear in online translators.
So again, the same issue applies: information on some of the candidate languages would need to be found somewhere else. We need a way to look up translations, or at least sound inventories, for lots of languages, even the obscure little ones for which such information is hard to get.”
For the plants, the sources I’m listing below are for the botanical identifications. The plants’ names in various languages are from the standard online translators I named above, plus Wikipedia in a few cases and a general web search in the case of sweet basil. All plant identifications except four were based on only the drawings. The exceptions are that Darren Worley also used some cultural information for the olive identification and my three were influenced by my phonetic reading of their names.
For the two astrological items on 68r3, the sources I name below are for both the names and the idea of what astrological entities the Voynich drawings represented.
For all of the labeled stars on 68r1 & 68r2, the sources I name below are for the names/words for the astrological entities or the things they represent. The idea of which astrological entity to associate with each individual star on these pages is from me, using the phonetic system I had already developed using plants and Frederik de Wit’s Planisphere Celeste.
Bax’s website: anonymous Finnish biologist:
11v Daphne mezereum (no English name)
11v genus Salix, osiers and sallows
16v-a Nigella damascena or arvensis, breadweeds, fennels
16v-b Illicium verum, bedian star-anise
17v genus Dioscorea, yams, sweet potatoes
20r genus Satureja, savories
93v Bryonia cretica or dioica, bryonies
95v1 Fumaria officinalis, fumewort, earthsmoke
Bax’s website: anonymous Finnish biologist & Steve D:
04r genus Linum, flaxes
Bax’s website: Darren Worley:
01v-a-1 Olea oleaster, wild-olive
Bax’s website: Deyan:
66v-a-1 genus Aloe, aloes
Bax’s website: Hans Adler & Daniel Myers:
21r Portulaca oleracea, purslane
Bax’s website: Hans Adler, Jan M, Peter Ole Kvint, & Labyrinth:
06r genus Papaver, poppies
(reported by Stephen Bax in 2014):
16r Juniperus oxycedrus, sharp juniper
02r genus Centaurea, knapweeds
03v genus Helleborus, hellebores
05v Malva officinalis, marsh mallow
14v genus Stachys, betonies
29v Nigella sativa, black caroway, black cumin, Roman coriander
41v Coriandrum sativum, coriander, cilantro, Chinese parsley
08r genus Cucumis, cucumbers and cantaloupes
09r Vitis vinifera, common grape
17r Artemisia dracunculus, tarragon
37r genus Chenopodium, goosefoots
43r genus Diospyros, persimmons
55v Allium ursinum, wild garlic, bear’s garlic, bear leek
87v-b genus Pistacia, pistachios, terebinths
02v genus Nymphaea, water-lilies
04v Ipomoea aquatica, water-spinach
25v genus Plantago, fleaworts, psylliums, “plantains”
28r genus Rumex, sorrels, docks
38v genus Cynara, artichokes
39r genus Colchicum, meadow-saffrons, autumn-crucuses, colchicums
Ethel Voynich & Theodore Petersen:
06v Ricinus communis, castor oil plant
01v-b-1 Solanum melongena, eggplant
Derek Vogt (plants):
24v genus Aquilaria or Gyrinops, agar, agarwood, gaharu
27r-a Ocimum basilicum, sweet basil
31r genus Croton (tiglium?), rushfoils
Derek Vogt (astrology, using an online translator):
68r1-01&02 spring equinox; Aries; “beginning” and “end” in Hebrew
68r1-07 Pegasus & Equuleus; “horses” in Indo-Iranian languages
68r1-21 Ophiuchus; “snake-charmer” in Marathi
68r1-27 part of Serpens; same word ^artw,ãtw^ in 27, 32, 47, & 48
68r2-32 part of Cetus; same word ^artw,ãtw^ in 27, 32, 47, & 48
68r2-36 Eridanus/Fluvius; “stream/current/flow” in Arabic, Persian, & Urdu
68r2-38 Corona; “wheel/circle/spinning” in Indo-Iranian languages
68r2-45 Lupus “wolf” in Indo-Iranian languages
68r2-47 part of Argo; same word ^artw,ãtw^ in 27, 32, 47, & 48
68r2-48 part of Hydra; same word ^artw,ãtw^ in 27, 32, 47, & 48
68r2-53 Crater “cup/bowl/pitcher/jug/urn” in Indo-Iranian languages
Bax’s website: Darren Worley:
68r2-53 Crater “cup/bowl/pitcher/jug/urn” in Hebrew
68r3-55 Pleiades (in Taurus)
Bax’s website: Marco Ponzi:
68r1-16 Alpha Draconis (Abʰaya)
68r3-55½ dragon of the eclipse (Gauzahar)
•For the first, he linked to a paper by R N Iyengar (Raja Ramanna Fellow at Jain University in Bangalore); for the second, he linked to multiple sources, so I can’t pick one to name here.
68r1-22 Beta Virginis (Auva, strangely unmentioned by Richard Hinckley Allen)
Richard Hinckley Allen:
all other star & constellation names on 68r1 & 68r2, including “Kurtos” for star 01 (alternative to Hebrew for “end” in the same label) and “Argo” for parts of the labels for stars 44 & 47