TTLG|Thief|Bioshock|System Shock|Deus Ex|Mobile
Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Voynich manuscript possibly deciphered

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2009
    Location: thiefgold.com

    Voynich manuscript possibly deciphered

    The world's most arcane manuscript may have finally yielded its secrets. This time the claim appears to be legit


    A University of Bristol academic has succeeded where countless cryptographers, linguistics scholars and computer programs have failed—by cracking the code of the 'world's most mysterious text', the Voynich manuscript.

    Although the purpose and meaning of the manuscript had eluded scholars for over a century, it took Research Associate Dr. Gerard Cheshire two weeks, using a combination of lateral thinking and ingenuity, to identify the language and writing system of the famously inscrutable document.

    In his peer-reviewed paper, The Language and Writing System of MS408 (Voynich) Explained, published in the journal Romance Studies, Cheshire describes how he successfully deciphered the manuscript's codex and, at the same time, revealed the only known example of proto-Romance language.

    "I experienced a series of 'eureka' moments whilst deciphering the code, followed by a sense of disbelief and excitement when I realised the magnitude of the achievement, both in terms of its linguistic importance and the revelations about the origin and content of the manuscript.

    "What it reveals is even more amazing than the myths and fantasies it has generated. For example, the manuscript was compiled by Dominican nuns as a source of reference for Maria of Castile, Queen of Aragon, who happens to have been great aunt to Catherine of Aragon.

    A University of Bristol academic has succeeded where countless cryptographers, linguistics scholars and computer programs have failed—by cracking the code of the 'world's most mysterious text', the Voynich manuscript.

    Although the purpose and meaning of the manuscript had eluded scholars for over a century, it took Research Associate Dr. Gerard Cheshire two weeks, using a combination of lateral thinking and ingenuity, to identify the language and writing system of the famously inscrutable document.

    In his peer-reviewed paper, The Language and Writing System of MS408 (Voynich) Explained, published in the journal Romance Studies, Cheshire describes how he successfully deciphered the manuscript's codex and, at the same time, revealed the only known example of proto-Romance language.

    "I experienced a series of 'eureka' moments whilst deciphering the code, followed by a sense of disbelief and excitement when I realised the magnitude of the achievement, both in terms of its linguistic importance and the revelations about the origin and content of the manuscript.

    "What it reveals is even more amazing than the myths and fantasies it has generated. For example, the manuscript was compiled by Dominican nuns as a source of reference for Maria of Castile, Queen of Aragon, who happens to have been great aunt to Catherine of Aragon.

    The next step is to use this knowledge to translate the entire manuscript and compile a lexicon, which Cheshire acknowledges will take some time and funding, as it comprises more than 200 pages.

    "Now the language and writing system have been explained, the pages of the manuscript have been laid open for scholars to explore and reveal, for the first time, its true linguistic and informative content."

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Nope, not this time either, it would seem:

    https://arstechnica.com/science/2019...ch-manuscript/

    Fagin Davis naturally had strong opinions about this latest dubious claim, too, tweeting, "Sorry, folks, 'proto-Romance language' is not a thing. This is just more aspirational, circular, self-fulfilling nonsense." When Ars approached her for comment, she graciously elaborated. And she didn't mince words:

    As with most would-be Voynich interpreters, the logic of this proposal is circular and aspirational: he starts with a theory about what a particular series of glyphs might mean, usually because of the word's proximity to an image that he believes he can interpret. He then investigates any number of medieval Romance-language dictionaries until he finds a word that seems to suit his theory. Then he argues that because he has found a Romance-language word that fits his hypothesis, his hypothesis must be right. His "translations" from what is essentially gibberish, an amalgam of multiple languages, are themselves aspirational rather than being actual translations.

    In addition, the fundamental underlying argument—that there is such a thing as one 'proto-Romance language'—is completely unsubstantiated and at odds with paleolinguistics. Finally, his association of particular glyphs with particular Latin letters is equally unsubstantiated. His work has never received true peer review, and its publication in this particular journal is no sign of peer confidence.


    Ouch. [UPDATE] And she's not the only skeptic. "The decipherment is limited to some phrases and words, and I don't find any translation of a longer passage. I am not a medieval (Vulgar) Latin expert, so I can't comment on the plausibility of individual words," said Greg Kondrak, a natural language processing expert at the University of Alberta who has used AI to try and decode the Voynich manuscript. "The part of the paper which is devoted to the Zodiac sign names seems to make most sense, but the fact that those names are of Romance origin is well known, and they seem to have been added to the manuscript after it was completed. Regarding the decipherment of the individual symbols, a number of people have come up with a mapping to Latin letters, but those mappings rarely agree with each other, or with this proposal."

    So another day, another dubious claim that someone has "decoded" the Voynich manuscript. Look, it's a fascinating topic, and it's always fun to have an excuse to dive down the rabbit hole of medieval manuscripts, mysticism, and cryptography, reveling in all the various theories that continue to be propounded about this mysterious treatise. But a word of advice: the next time someone claims to have finally deciphered the Voynich manuscript—of course there will be a next time—take a deep breath and check with your local medievalist before excitedly glomming onto the claim. (For an in-depth analysis of some of the issues scholars are having with Cheshire's work, see this blog post by J.K. Peterson at The Voynich Portal.)

    What would it take to convince scholars like Fagin Davis? She outlined her criteria in a follow-up tweet: "(1) sound first principles; (2) reproducible by others; (3) conformance to linguistic and codicological facts; (4) text that makes sense; (5) logical correspondence of text and illustration. No one has checked all of those boxes yet."

  3. #3
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    Damnit, Voynich Manuscript. Quit being such a tease!

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    I'm fond of the "made by a raving lunatic" theory.

  5. #5
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    Or a particularly talented charlatan.

  6. #6
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Well this always triggers deep well research on my part.

    It's not a random distribution and follows the word distribution of a real or at least constructed language (or at worst a grammatically realistic non-sense language; but why would one go to all the trouble of making grammatically realistic and complex non-sense sentences for 200+ pages?)

    What I'd do is make a tensor density map of probability distributions of word pairings... like words that usually follow other words, and their probable locations in sentences, and compare that with distributions across other languages ... to try to tease out at least their probable grammatical functions, which are the nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. And which language family is the distribution close to? I'd want to do it at the word level and not the letter level, given that the letters may be cyphered or truncated or the like. And it's more likely you'd swap letters around but not whole words. And even if it is a constructed language, it'd still probably follow the grammar of an existing language of the time.

    Even if that came up with something, I wouldn't be dumb enough to claim I've cracked the code since that'd be just asking for merciless ridicule.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Renzatic View Post
    Or a particularly talented charlatan.
    Seems like just too much work to be a charlatan? Unless the charlatan was also a raving lunatic. And to what point, anyway? (Maybe trying to sell a book "from a faraway land"?)

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Pyrian View Post
    Seems like just too much work to be a charlatan? Unless the charlatan was also a raving lunatic. And to what point, anyway? (Maybe trying to sell a book "from a faraway land"?)
    "I understand the secrets to (immortality/infinite wealth/godlike power/the real truth) hidden in this book, pay me lots of money and I'll share with you once you've proven your worth".

    That seemed to work for L. Ron Hubbard at least.

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Hubbard's books are technically legible. Maybe the author was just bad at it. Although "secret code of a weird cult" is possibly the most interesting possibility, so it's probably wrong.

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2009
    Location: thiefgold.com
    Well...back to the drawing board I guess.

    I did find the mention of "proto-Romance" unusual. I was under the impression that Vulgar Latin was the language used back then

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •