Much scholar. Very decode. Amaze.
What does “hoax” even mean in this context? The age of the manuscript has been confirmed by carbon dating, so it is a genuine 600-year-old manuscript. It has illustrations of centaurs in it, but I don’t think anyone would call Harryhausen’s Golden Voyage of Sinbad a “hoax”…
Poor guy, all honest and earnest, giving us an incomplete answer. The internet commentators are going to have a field day with him.
The Hoax theory is that it was put together to look as esoteric as possible, to fool some wealthy but credulous collector of the time. Lots of credulity and money were sloshing around. This was the time of the Rosicrucian hoax. There was a paper in Cryptologia years ago, arguing that the sequences of symbols comprising the Voynich ‘words’ were more consistent with the output of an abstract grammar than with actual languages.
So in that theory, the hoaxer could easily have copied some crude diagrams of Centaurium from existing herbals, and included a sketch of a centaur to make the point (implying that the author knew Latin), and then labelled his diagram with a vaguely-recognisable distortion of the Arabic label.
I’m surprised at the level of skepticism here. I was fascinated and found his arguments compelling. He admits throughout that none of this is certain, but that the cross-correlations seem to suggest that he’s onto something. I wasn’t convinced until he used the candidate symbols he’d deciphered to spell out the word “kaur” by a picture of Hellebore, and then was able to locate several near matches including a language in Kashmir where Kaur is in fact the word for Hellebore. That seems pretty compelling to me. I’m looking forward to further discoveries based on this work.
Yes, agreed. The skepticism here seems knee-jerk and kind of cheap. Like, “I’m skeptical about global warming, and that makes me more scientific than those who claim that it’s a thing, because science is all about skepticism! (Even though I haven’t reviewed the research / read the data / listened carefully to the claims.) Skepticism!!”
Video seems quite reasonable and compelling.
My understanding of the hoax theory is that neither the number of letters in the words nor the order of the letters look like a real language. It looks much more like babble, the equivalent of flkj erlkjsd werkj alkjsk qwi. Note that there are no short particles like a, an, of, etc. as there would be in English, but that the words are too short to be agglomerative, as they would be in some Native American languages, or in German? Apparently, the linguists don’t know of any language that is composed predominantly of medium-length words, as in Voynich.
If you’re going to forge a book, it’s much faster to babble than it is to compose an artificial language a la Tolkien. You can even say that the angels dictated it to you in a trance and sell it as the secrets of heaven, for which you are the intermediary, not the artist.
There actually is a modern example of this type of work: the Codex Seraphinianus. According to good ol’ Wikipedia it’s not alone, either. Does anyone know if researchers have analyzed the Codex Seraphinianus, to see if the patterns in its language are similar to the Voynich manuscript?
Good point: just because I don’t understand something doesn’t make it wrong or out of place. Perhaps place was preconfigured?
Except climate change has about a thousand peer-reviewed papers backing it up, and this one dude has… this one dude. Otherwise, an exact parallel!
I am studying applied linguistics now. This guy’s video is a very good presentation. Very clear and organized. Easily understandable.
I would call the work contained (in the video) honest, sincere scholarship.
The video is well worth your time, assuming you have an interest in either linguistics or in Voynich.
Hey Mark, you should really watch the video. He’s got a methodology which seems to hold up to the small sample size he’s analyzing. He’s not claiming to have contacted UFOs or solved FTL travel; he’s methodically going through a crypto-script, and his analysis holds up quite well. I don’t think he’s solved the cipher, and he doesn’t claim to have done so. But he’s come up with a theory that is testable, which is what science is. I’m very excited to hear further stuff from him or other linguistic scholars who take up his work. Very fascinating stuff.
If it’s a hoax, it’s a very old one, since the radio-carbon dating on the manuscript proves it’s about five or so centuries old.
So no, we can be comfortably sure it’s not a hoax, because at that time period there weren’t enough literate people in the world for anyone to bother with creating a textual hoax rather than an oral one.
I think the original author was just really bad at drawing.
We only have small tokens of linear A without pictures, and no Rosetta stone because there wan’t anything else to write in. What might a bit of writing on a cup say? “Worlds Best Dictator”? “My friends went to Atlantis and only bought this lousy mug?”. “You don’t have to be possessed by spirits to work here, but it helps”?
Here, we have got lots of text in the right order, with lots of pictures. I think it still may be a fake. However, it is a different sort of fake from the tablets with ‘angelic languages’ that turn out to be random. This has the right sort of non-randomness that real languages do. The person who wrote it was probably working in a library. Even if they were spending ten years making a really good fake for their masters to flog to some rival, they would draw on the text and illustrations of herbals and astronomy works. The connection between the plant and a centaur is a link to something and has come from somewhere even if the manuscript is a fake.
I thought it was a practical joke. Insanely expensive one but joke al the same.
Also: The larch.
Arugula. I like to say arugula.
From the paper:
By contrast, earlier attempts to decode Linear B using ‘big data’ computational techniques were unproductive, Chadwick having tried “techniques he had learnt while working on military codes” (Singh 1999, page 238). One possible reason for this failure of top-down computational techniques in the case of Linear B is that the script in question did not present a one-to-one correspondence of sound to letter, because it used syllables, among other things. This might arguably be a reason why computational approaches have likewise failed with the VM, i.e. because the sound-letter correspondence is partially unsystematic, as indeed it is in most natural languages and scripts. In the case of Egyptian hieroglyphs this was clearly the case as well: it became apparent to Champollion that “the scribes were not fond of using vowels, and would often omit them; the scribes assumed that readers would have no problem filling in the missing vowels” (Singh 1999:214), the relative paucity of vowels being a common feature also of Abjad scripts such as Arabic.
if you assume that there must be vowels, the manuscript might well appear to be gibberish. But if there aren’t any vowels, you might need to revise your gibberish metric.
Which number is it though?