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Picnic table variants...

Hi everyone,

Just my $0.02's worth: on f1r, line 13, right in the middle of the line, there's clearly a picnic table with a "9" through it - well worth closer examination.

My guess is that this is probably one extremum of the looped picnic table type (EVA "Sh") type, and was probably done early in the encoding process, perhaps while the underlying code was still somewhat in flux - I don't recall seeing other instances within the text even half as clear as this.

Similarly, on line 15 (not far to the the left of the picnic'ed 9), there's a picnic'ed "tear-drop", of the kind that Strong mentioned.

Given that f1r alone would, from the above, seem to display at least three kinds of picnic tables (ie, the above two, as well as numerous instances of the unlooped picnic table character), I'm not sure that I'm particularly comfortable treating all the picnic tables as a single character (yet).

My intuition (ATM) is that the picnic tables (including the "cc" Beneventan character, which is effectively an uncrossed picnic table) may well all turn out to be special characters within the cipher alphabet coding for doubled letters. Removing these was a key part of most ciphers in the Tranchedino collection (which dated from 1450-1500, and so were likely to be fairly contemporary of this manuscript), so that the decipherer didn't have pairs to work backwards from - and I don't see why the VMS should be any different in this basic respect.

In a way, this pattern would fit in well with my idea of the code-designer wanting to hide much of the mnemonic in plain sight within the alphabet - if "cc" is the basic mnemonic for "doubled letter" (it is, after all, a doubled letter), then the whole family of picnic tables may well all be no more than variations on the same basic theme (ie, they'd all be types of doubled letter).

Then: what doubled letters would I expect to see? Taking a typical recipe page from the Gli Experimenti (page 627 in Pasolini's Vol.3), the doubled letter counts I noted are:-

	LL	29
	SS	9
	CC	7
	RR	6
	TT	6
	NN	3
	ZZ	2
	FF	1
	BB	1

However, many (if not most) of these instances could be converted to single letters without affecting the sense of the sentence - as you'd expect. But even so, it would seem to point (if the underlying language was the same as that of the Gli Experimenti) to LL being the most likely candidate for the simple picnic tables (EVA "ch"), and perhaps SS being the most likely candidate for EVA "cc".

Further: if one gallows character somehow coded for "de", then that same gallows when struck-through could perhaps code for "delle", which is extremely common in the Gli Experimenti. Just a thought. :-)

It might not then be a coincidence that EVA "f" when drawn upside-down looks (a little) like not unlike a slightly-embellished ligatured "de"... but feel free to disagree (as wildly as you like). :-)

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