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Re: 4o...

Hi Greg,

> (2) The definition of "quarto" I found on the Internet is "a book made from
> sheets folded twice, giving signatures of four leaves (eight pages)". Could
> it be actually be an indication that symbols following it relate to
> code-words on a page elsewhere in the VMS that has been folded twice (ie

perhaps something like: "see page 12" ?

Many of the ciphers listed by Tranchedino (which date from 1450-1500) had special symbols often wrapped around numbers, where the number was an index into a code dictionary: typically, [1] would be "Pappa" (the pope), [2] would be the King of France, etc.

But here there are no (obvious) numbers: so any number (or number-like index) would need to be encoded into the Voynichese alphabet using an as yet undetermined tricksy method.

If you sort EVA "ot-" words (like "otolal") in alphabetic order, these seem to vary in small ways from each other - which brings to mind number sequences far more than letter sequences.

So, my idea was really this: could EVA "qoteedy" actually be a contraction of:-

qo "Quarto" code: refer to the folded-in-four code-page within the VMS
ot "Sun exalted in Aries" code: encoded number follows...
ee Pisces (AAH) - ie, digit associated with Pisces
dy Cancer (AAH) - ie, digit associated with Cancer

I don't think the VMS will turn out to be a purely number-driven code - but certain parts of it (like ot- and qot- words) appear to have a different morphology, which could well be a number or a code index. The likelihood of there being no numbers in the whole VMS would seem to be fairly slim. :-)

On the one hand, "too obvious", on the other, why not use a symbol, even
a well known one? Books today (dictionaries, for example) often use an
arrow to mean "see another entry". Perhaps we should look around in the
VMS for other symbols which might be pointers, comparing them with similar
things in known mss -- I don't know if such things existed.

I've already done a lot of searching in this general area. To my way of thinking, these could be arranged into several different categories:-
(1) intra-document references
- like footnotes, catchwords, "see figure 8", "cont. p.94", marginalia (etc)
(2) inter-document references
- like indices into an external codebook, or a bibliography
(3) indexing mechanisms
- like a TOC, external folio marks, or finding a page using a picture
(4) data-containing mechanisms
- like using colour to indicate feast-days (red-letter days etc)
(5) data-structuring mechanisms
- like Raymond Llull's ontology diagram

These categories are also bound up with what's called the notion of "locus". To find out more, I've been strongly referred to this recent (but as yet unread by me) article:-

        Word and Image
        Volume 17 Issue 1 2001
        Benito arias montano and the evolving notion of locus in
        sixteenth-century printed books
        Paul Saenger pp 119-137

.....and here's the British Library's notes on "Word and image"...

        Uniform title: Word & image. London. 1985
        Title: Word & image. a journal of verbal / visual enquiry
        Numerical designation: Vol.1, no.1 (Jan.-Mar. 1985)-
        Subject: Arts. Periodicals
        Subject: Arts. ? Serials
        Publication details: London. Taylor & Francis. 1985-
        Description: v.. ill. ports. 28cm
        ISSN: 02666286
        Shelfmark: ZC.9.a.50
        Notes: Cover title
        Notes: Quarterly
        Notes: Description based on: Vol.2, no.1 (Jan.-Mar. 1986)
        Copy Notes: Lacking vol. 2 no. 1 and vol. 2 no. 2

[ ...though how the BL can base their description on an issue they haven't got escapes me. :-) ]

The problem is that all my abovelisted categories appear to be fairly rare pre-1500: and we would then have to make the leap of faith that a single as-yet-undecoded document (that just happen to be the one we're looking at) can contain a number of such mechanisms.

Even page-numbering (or folio-numbering) wasn't used a lot then - though I did notice that Tranchedino's codes were numbered as they were added (the hand-writing and numbering style changed in 1476). So: we must be really careful not to project our modern ideas of how we would choose to structure data on the page onto the VMS' author(s).

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