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Faces in the VMS
I see that you work at the Zona Idustriale Roveri in Bologna. Earlier in the
year I came across a botanical drawing that is in an herbal manuscript located at
the Biblioteca Universitaria di Bologna.
Page down to the 5th page (faces in roots):
Not wishing to impose upon you, I am wondering if you might be able to obtain
additional information on the name of this herbal manuscript and hopefully its
author. Perhaps you have some contacts at the Univeritaria? Thank you in advance
and I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. If it turns out that access
to the manuscript is closed then perhaps we can pursue other avenues of inquiry.
Giuliano Colla wrote:
> Hi Nick,
> > >A simple yet very hard to decipher device is the following.
> > >You take a text in a plain language, e.g. latin. Then you write it using
> > >the hebrew alphabet. Finally you represent each letter of the hebrew
> > >alphabet with some symbol of your choice.
> > There have been many variations on this general theme suggested over the
> > years: it's possible to mount a fairly convincing rebuttal on the grounds
> > that the statistical entropy of the text is too low - bear in mind that
> > losing vowels would tend to make the text more dense (rather than less)...
> > hence higher entropy, not lower.
> I understand that discussing with each newcomer issues which have already been
> settled long ago must be more frustrating than rewarding, but please be
> If this theme has been discarded only on entropy consideration, I believe
> that it's been dismissed too hastily.
> Even in my less than amateurish knowledge of the field, I understand pretty
> well that removing vowels is bound to increase a text entropy.
> I also understand pretty well that a vowel-less alphabet such as hebrew (the
> same holds true for arab AFAIK), leads intrinsically to a higher text entropy
> than a latin-western alphabet.
> The lack of redundancy produces misunderstandings such as the well known
> Gospel translation error where cable (GOMEL) has been translated into camel
> (GAMAL), resulting in an amusing but incorrect metaphor.
> But, and here is my point, if you're using the same alphabet to write a
> different language, matters change radically, because you're forced to render
> sounds and word structures which are not in the realm of the language the
> alphabet was created for. If you try to write for a german reader an italian
> text, you'll stuff it with groups of letters meant to render sounds and
> structures which do not exist in german. You'll end up with a lot of ''tsch"
> to render the soft sound of "c" in italian, "dzh" to render the soft sound of
> "g", and so on. On intuitive ground I'd bet that the entropy of such a text
> is significantly lower than that of a plain german text.
> The same holds true, but to a higher degree, when you attempt to use the
> hebrew alphabet to render a western language such as latin. All words
> beginning by a vowel A-E-I (quite rare in hebrew, and quite common in latin)
> must begin with the place-holder "aleph", while words beginning by O-U (also
> rare in hebrew) will begin either by "waw" or by "aleph-waw", depending on
> your choice. You may drop some vowels in the middle of the word, but not too
> many (because otherwise the reader is led to read the word following the
> hebrew structure), and in most cases, to have the word correctly read you'll
> use either "aleph" or "yod" for "i", "waw" for "o" or "u", and again "aleph"
> for A-E. The presence of a vowel at the end of the word is marked by a "he"
> place-holder, to make it clear that the word doesn't end with the preceding
> consonant. If the ending is "i" it becomes "yod-he", "o" or "u" become
> "waw-he", while "a" or "e" become just "he".
> As a conclusion, a vowel at the beginning or at the end of the word is never
> dropped, but is replaced from a symbol from a limited set, while a vowel in
> the middle of a word can be dropped only if it's an "a" or an "e" between two
> consonants, while "i", "o" and "u" are never dropped.
> You end up with a text which isn't vowel-less, but which has replaced five
> vowels with four symbols and/or symbol pairs depending from the position of
> the vowel in the word. Maybe you drop a 20% of vowels, but replace five
> symbols with one or two at the beginning of the word, with one or one out of
> two pairs at the end of the word, and with three in the middle of the word.
> The net result, it seems to me, should be not an increase of entropy, but a
> As an empirical evidence, my knowledge of hebrew is quite scant, my reading of
> a hebrew text is more a deciphering than a reading, but nonetheless I can spot
> at a glance the presence of a foreign word in the text, because of the
> presence of those typical patterns which are extraneous to the language.
> Moreover If you're rendering a language with word declination (such as latin
> or greek), which has a limited number of endings, you add another element of
> regularity, which helps to decrease total entropy.
> All that said, my question is: has anybody attempted to measure the actual
> entropy (and the other relevant statistical properties) of a comparison text
> built according a set of rules as those? This could help either to rule out
> completely or to give some ground to such a scheme.
> If not, I volunteer for the part of the work I can undertake.
> The only middle age text I have readily available on electronic support is the
> "Tractatum spere" of Bartholomeus Parmensis written in 1397, which was a
> textbook of the Bologna University, for the teaching of astronomy and
> astrology, and which appears to me to be suitable.
> I could rewrite some of it using the hebrew alphabet and trying to follow a
> set of consolidated rules. As I'm not familiar enough with statistical text
> analysis programs, I'd leave the analysis to someone more deep in the field.
> I'd only need to know which set of symbols to use to represent the hebrew
> alphabet, to be compatible with the existing programs. I assume that a 1 to 1
> mapping should be the best, but I'd like confirmation.
> > >Coming finally to numbers, numbers in hebrew are traditionally written
> > >using the numerical value of the letters, but combining them in such a
> > >way as to produce a word which can be pronounced. So, for instance the
> > >number 15 is usually written as TW (I'm use a standard latin alphabet
> > >transliteration), which can be pronounced "too", and results from the
> > >numerical value 9 of T and 6 of W. T+W = 9+6 = 15. The numerical value
> > >of words is the base for all the Cabalistic lore. This makes almost
> > >impossible to detect numbers in a hebrew text using statistical
> > >analysis, because numbers can't be told apart from words.
> > .....like this! It's completely possible that (for example) ot- words could
> > be followed by this kind of number-scheme. Once we get a better grasp of
> > the VMS morphology, we ought to experiment with this & see how far it goes.
> > Can you point us to a place where this (Sephiroth?) is described?
> Sorry, my knowledge is rather anecdotal. All the references I've ever found
> take for granted the general rules and the consolidated usage, and just deal
> with a particular case. The numerical value of single letters is just their
> position in the alphabet.
> Thank you for the patience
> Giuliano Colla
> P.S. All of the above would be quite amusing for someone already in the grave
> since a number of centuries, if VMS is nothing but a hoax...
> Ing. Giuliano Colla
> Direttore Tecnico
> Copeca srl
> Via del Fonditore 3/E
> Bologna (Zona Industriale Roveri)