Author Topic: Voynich Manuscript  (Read 140 times)

Offline Voynichologist

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Voynich Manuscript
« on: August 12, 2018, 10:07:29 AM »
So, what do you guys think about the Voynich Manuscript?

I've done some research, I think it's either a complicated steganography (the vast majority of it being meaningless) or a clever 15th-century hoax, made to look as if it contained secret knowledge but actually being completely meaningless.

The existence of strings of three identical words, the lack of common phrases (which would obviously exist if the words were meaningful; the words for "apple", "fruit" and "red" would appear next to one another if it was really a natural language)… Those things seem inexplicable if it was a natural language or even a cypher (it would be statically very unlikely to produce three identical words in a row). As for it obeying the Zipf's law, I don't see why it would be important. Even a text created by a monkey typing on a typewriter would approximately follow the Zipf's law, because "words" with fewer letters would appear way more frequently than "words" with more letters.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Voynich Manuscript
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2018, 11:05:36 AM »
It's an interesting puzzle, sort of like a crossword puzzle. I'm certainly open to the idea that it's a hoax until someone actually figures it out. And if so, it will probably be a lot less interesting than it is now, as an unknown.

The most compelling argument about it currently is that it has attracted so much attention yet remains unsolved. That's the strongest evidence we have. (I'm not quite sure what it tells us-- maybe it's an unknown language, or an inconsistent code, or a hoax, or various other possibilities.)

You might be interested in this other recent discussion on the topic here:
http://linguistforum.com/outside-of-the-box/medieval-manuscript-reveals-proto-romance-language/

I wrote quite a bit in response there, but it would equally apply to any other theory. The bottom line is that I'm skeptical about any proposal until it reaches the critical point of actually transparently speaking for itself and with consensus from other researchers. Who knows, that one might be right. But I won't believe it until it gains some ground in the community especially from other people who have studied the manuscript and realize their own ideas are wrong because another idea clearly gets it right and can fully and transparently translate the text.

As for specifics, I don't know enough about it to comment on the rest (it's mostly just speculation at this point anyway), but I fully agree with your point about Zipf's "law". It also applies to basically any other sort of list-like data, such as names in a phone book. Although the linear distribution after logarithmic modification is perhaps surprising (though we don't always find exactly that anyway), the fact that some items are more frequent than others should not surprise us at all.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2018, 11:07:36 AM by Daniel »
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