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Re: Request For Status: Language vs. Cipher

Rene wrote:
> Stolfi's and Mark's responses make it necessary that I review my
> earlier statements. True, while we have always been used to seeing
> the statistics of the Voynich MS text being rather different from
> normal languages

Count me out on that. A browse through the archives will reveal
all my rantings.

> About Mark's LSC papers

Oh... I downloaded them, even complaining to Mark that he
should have split them into frogguy-size bites, started
reading, realized  that it would be tough reading (I am
no mathematician). As it was late, rather, early in the 
morning, I set it aside... and populating that  Web
site on Easter Island side-tracked me. I had completely
forgotten that Mark's papers were there, in o:\perakh
right next to the Easter Island stuff (o:\rr) <-- no,
that was not an emoticon!

> Anyway, to cut an already too long story short, I meant to read on
> but never got round to it.

Join the club.

> I still think there may be important
> clues in there, so I recommend all to look at it.

We don't know anything about language. And "we" includes
me as a linguist. I received a book to review "The Origins
of Complex Language," OUP. It's all wrong. Even the *data*
are wrong! We don't know how language works. Imagine
Newton blind and without the accumulated observations of
earlier astronomers (Tycho Brahe). You have a mathematician
tackling language.

> What is important is to understand precisely how these non-meaningful
> texts were generated, and how and why the method identifies them
> as such. 

Remember that many texts are really meaningless. Nursery rhymes
for instance. And, behind its turgid, convoluted argumentation
"The Origin of Complex Languages" is meaningless. The author
is hypnotized with his own words and does not realize that they
make no sense. Consider now meaningful texts which look meaningless:
a bill of lading, even... yes, I think even cookery recipes
would look pretty meaningless, and very repetitive if we
did not know what they were. I have here a cookery book,
rather, a menu book dating from the last... no! second last
century (1800's). For every day of the year, a menu. In 
appendix, the recipes for some of the dishes. Think! Let
it be written in Voynichese (if there is such a thing).
I'll OCR a few pages and post them here. (It's in English,
translated from French) 

I expect that menus and bills of lading would share many
statistical properties. Novels, diaries, very different
from menus and bills of lading. Cookery recipes (or
alchemical recipes) different again. I posted here quite
some time ago short excerpts of classical Aztec in translation.
It is very different from any European literature.

> > The application of LSC to VMS resulted in the data
> > exactly like those obtained for meaningful texts in 12 natural languages. 

Hmmm.... the test ought to be applied to "non-meaningful"
texts. We can't use a monkey-like text generator, because
humans are very bad at generating random stuff. What is
a meaningless text? Dennis I think it was directed us to
a site where there was a corpus of texts from schizophrenics.
Perhaps that would do. But the litanies of the Holy Virgin
too, would have "schizophrenic" statistical properties, I
expect (Ave Maria, stella maris; Ave Maria, gratia plena;

> > The LSC tests also revealed a considerable difference between VMS-A and VMS-B,
> > leading to a conclusion (arguable, of course) that both were written in the
> > same language but A using much more abbreviations than B.
> I remember being somewhat uneasy about that last conclusion, but I will
> hold back until I really understand the method.

Same here. But I haven't really attempted.

> The silence probably means lack of understanding rather than
> disagreement. 

I haven't even started to try to understand. I really have to
get off this Easter Island stuff for a while. It is fascinating
stuff, though, and I can be sure that it is meaningful...

... well... NO!  I have become persuaded that some of the
tablets (the London tablet, the Stephen-Chauvet fragment)
are fakes. So, a part of the corpus is certainly meaningful
(the lunar calendar), but another is probably meaningless.

> Cheers, Rene

You're the optimistic one! I am far from cheerful about all  that :-(