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Re: W-Hypothesis

Hi Bernd (and everyone else),

I think it's very telling that Vigenere included *so many* alphabets (100 or so?), yet *not one* of them shows any kind of similarity in either approach or mindset to the VMS' alphabet.

Just about the largest visual overlap that occurs between any of them and the VMS is one character (and that's normally "8").

The only structural overlap I could see was in the Alphabeth Northmanique...


.....which only has 10 separate symbols, and uses impossible (or very unlikely) pairs of them to represent the other letters. Its ciphertext would have a low-entropy text-stream - but otherwise has no similarities to the VMS. But this is just a trick that had probably been known for centuries. :-/

All the same, it seems obvious to me that in 15th Century Italy (and even within the individual city-states there), many (most?) individual professions (with or without Guilds) would have used their own substitution alphabets for their communications. Vigenere worked in the Vatican, & wasn't a social anthropologist: so it shouldn't really be surprising that his list of alphabets was derived from the (largely international and classical?) documents available to him there, not from "the street".

The shorthand astrological alphabet that I believe the VMS to have been constructed on top of would probably have been one such private substitution alphabet, possibly used by a Guild (or group, or school) of astrologers, alchemists, or herbalists, possibly in a single Italian town. To my eyes, it's a mature, comfortable, practical, socially-oriented script, that the writers were able to write at a reasonable speed, and to visually validate as they went (even encoded!)

Who's to say a short document (say, a chit, or an order, or a list) using a similar astrological shorthand alphabet won't be discovered tomorrow in (say) a trunk in Padua's Town Hall? At least, now, we'd know what to look for. :-)

Whatever Vigenere says, "90%+ of the VMS is padding" theories don't work for me: I'm certain all the answers are right in front of us on the page, if only we look to see them. :-)

Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....

PS: has any Voynicher ploughed through Paul Oskar Kristeller's "Iter Italicum : a finding list of uncatalogued or incompletely catalogued humanist manuscripts"?