The Voynich Mystery – Part II

voynich_041113_620pxIn September 2012, I wrote about the Voynich mystery.

The Voynich Manuscript is a detailed 240-page book written in a language or script that is completely unknown. It is named after the Polish-American antiquarian bookseller Wilfrid M. Voynich. He acquired it in 1912.

The pages are filled with colorful drawings of strange diagrams, odd events and plants that do not seem to match any known species. The appeal of the manuscript is impossibility to decipher it.

Many scientists are still trying to crack the Voynich code. One of them is Jorge Stolfi, a professor of computer science at the State University of Campinas, Brazil. He was able to compose a grammar for Voynichese and concluded that it behaves like a natural language, more so than like a code, as many others believe.

According to Stolfi, Voynichese points to an Asian language like Chinese with its short words with tonal structures. He theorizes that someone went to the Far East and phonetically transcribed something he heard or read. He explains: “It is not unusual at that time to make up an alphabet to record a foreign language.

But Andreas Schinner, a theoretical physicist, argues that the non-randomness of syllable distribution is a strong indication that it is a hoax, not a natural language. He concluded that the “language’ is very different from human writings, even from ‘exotic’ languages like Chinese. In fact, the results better fit to a ‘stochastic process’ (a sequence of correlated random events).” In an article in Cryptologia, he concluded that the Voynich contains no encrypted message at all.

Psychologist Gordon Rugg agrees that it is a hoax. This creates a new mystery – why would anyone create such a manuscript? Creating a hoax for profit?

The main suspect for penning a hoax manuscript is Edward Kelley who had a track record of creating made-up languages and perpetrating frauds and hoaxes. As a convicted villain, he had his ears cropped for forgery.

However, the Voynich Manusript shares many similarities with Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis, a 17th-century utopian tract about a fantasy island. In it, Bacon’s ideal college is described, including the  unknown plants, the grafting, the code, books on velum, and new types of animals, as well as a bath full of naked ladies.

For now, the Manuscript keeps its secrets, although many experts believe that the key to the Voynich manuscript is just around the corner. Let’s wait and see…I will keep you posted!

1 Comment

Filed under humor, TipTopWriter, Uncategorized, Writing

One response to “The Voynich Mystery – Part II

  1. The manuscript remains a mystery for three reasons:
    1. People are too lazy to do any research and rely on pure inspiration to understand the medieval world..
    2. People do research – but only pay attention to what will flesh out their preferred novel-plot, laughing called a ‘theory’.
    3. People forget that any manuscript contains more than its writing – and in this manuscript the written part takes up much less than 50% of the space.
    4. People won’t read about unexciting things, such as how to tell where a manuscript was made, by reference to how its parchment was prepared.

    Get real and you may get some answers in a few years.

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