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Re: Doubled words

    > [Philip Neal:] However, I maintain my belief that the
    > distribution of doublets in the Voynich B language is such that
    > the 'words' cannot be words of a European language enciphered in
    > their normal order. ... I think that this table on its own shows
    > that Voynich Bio is not a word for word encipherment of Latin.
    > ... I am fairly confident that you would get the same result for
    > languages such as English, French and Italian.

Indeed, and my own doublet data confirms your conclusion. Even
ignoring punctuation, I find very few doublets in European languages,
and also in Ethiopian. (I should check Hebrew and Arabic too.
Eventually.  But I don't expect them to be much different.)

    > I take it that your statistics refer to the entire Takehashi
    > transcription excepting the labels.


    > Given that there may be more than one language in the VMS
Perhaps. There are considerable differences in word frequencies
between sections, but also strong similarities; many of the most
common words are common in all sections.

My impression is that the differences are much smaller than those one
sees between different languages, even for very similar ones like
Portuguese and Spanish; but well within the range for same language
but different subject matter. For instance, here are the 15 most
common words and their frequencies in each of the (truncated) books of
the Vulgate Pentateuch:

       GEN           EXO            NUM             LEV            DEU 
    ------------  ------------   ------------    ------------   ------------  
    .0878 et      .0754 et       .0628 et        .0682 et       .0660 et            
    .0263 in      .0359 in       .0280 in        .0281 in       .0364 in           
    .0170 est     .0206 ad       .0189 ad        .0180 est      .0195 dominus      
    .0152 ad      .0173 dominus  .0128 est       .0156 de       .0152 est          
    .0098 deus    .0128 est      .0120 per       .0152 eius     .0137 ad           
    .0087 de      .0110 ut       .0114 de        .0136 pro      .0130 deus         
    .0083 autem   .0106 israhel  .0101 sunt      .0134 super    .0124 ut           
    .0076 terram  .0102 de       .0090 israhel   .0128 ad       .0119 non          
    .0073 sunt    .0099 non      .0087 dominus   .0120 domino   .0109 de           
    .0069 eius    .0078 aegypti  .0083 qui       .0108 qui      .0106 quae         
    .0069 genuit  .0077 moses    .0080 eius      .0102 quod     .0079 qui          
    .0069 super   .0073 autem    .0075 filius    .0100 quae     .0074 quam         
    .0066 quae    .0070 quae     .0073 filiorum  .0098 aaron    .0073 terram       
    .0062 non     .0070 super    .0064 filii     .0080 autem    .0073 tibi         
    .0061 cum     .0067 terra    .0063 quinque   .0076 peccato  .0071 tuus         

Some of the variation may be due to multiple authorship, but much of
it is obviously subject-related: "terram" in Genesis and Deuteronomium,
"israhel" in Exodus, "filius/filii/filiorum" and "quinque" in Numeri,
"aaron" and "peccato" in Leviticus. 

Note also that "dominus" beats "est" in Exodus and Deuteronomium, and
doesn't even register in Genesis; and "per" is extremely common in
Numeri but low elsewhere.

    > I can't disprove the Chinese hypothesis: it has some plausibility
    > given the structure of Voynichese, but I don't think it is probable
    > historically.
This puzzles me: why do people generally find the idea so "improbable 

To me, the more I look into the history of contacts between Europe and
asia, the more banal it seems. Many Western European missionaries
traveled to Tibet and China by the Silk Route between 500 and 1400
BCE, and by 1368 there were estimated 100,000 Roman Catholics in
China, not counting those affiliated to the Nestorian (Syrian) church.
China itself was closed to Westerners between 1368 and 1540 (only),
but the rest of Sutheast Asia was at least partly open through that
time --- only more remote and less tempting.

Yesterday I wrote that the Portuguese reached Burma and Vietnam by
1520 or so. Well, I did some more net surfing, and found that in fact
Burma had been visited by European gemstone merchants -- mostly
Genoese and Venetian -- almost continuously since Marco Polo. (Niccolò
de' Conti, Venetian, spent 4 months there around 1440; Hieronimo de
Santo Stefano, Genoese, stayed 18 months in 1495; Nikitin, Russian,
was there in 1496; Ludovico di Varthema, Genoese, in 1503-1504;
Leonardo di Ca' Masser, Venetian, 1506; and so on.)

Dominican missionaries established themselves in Vietnam in 1527, and
there is a Vietnamese royal edict from 1533 forbiding a certain Inigs
or Ignace from teaching the Gospel in Nam Dinh. Obviously those
missionaries had to learn the language, and it is hard to imagine them
doing so without inventing some spelling system for it.

Native books and all sorts of reports reached Rome by the thousands
during those years. (For one thing, every Jesuit was required to send
a yearly report of his doings to his superior in Rome.) Several Asian
converts did pilgrimage to Rome. Many travelers returning to Europe
published books on those countries in the late 1500's.

Now, the earliest confirmed owner of the manuscript, Georg Baresh, was
in some guise at the La Sapienza University in Rome in 1605;
and his letter to Kircher describing the VMS is dated 1639. Even if
we believe Raphael and assume the VMS once belonged to Rudolph, that
must have been 1595 at the earliest -- 10 years after Ruggieri and
Ricci composed their Chinese-Latin-Portuguese dictionary in Macao,
with an almost-modern form of pinyin that they deveolped; and 5 years
after Ruggieri had returned to Rome.

After all, Georg Baresh himself did not seem to find the "Oriental
Regions" hypothesis unlikely.

All the best,


PS. About the distribution of qokeey and other words: allow me to insert
an ad for the VMS Word Coloring Service which you'll find throuh my
homepage. (The cheapest price on the market, satisfaction guaranteed
or double your money back, and --- for this month only -- a special
50% discount for voynich@xxxxxxxx subscribers 8-)