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Re: Chinese (Doubled words)
> [Philip Neal:] The scenarios you give are clearly possible, and
> I do not dismiss the Chinese theory entirely, but I think it is
> much more probable that a group of Europeans enciphered secret
> knowledge about herbs, times of conception etc for their own
> private use.
Still, it is strange that people find the Crypto Theory more likely
than the Chinese Theory. Scores of professional and amateur
cryptographers have tried to crack the "code" for almost 90 years, and
have made absolutely *zero* progress. Worse, the crpto camp cannot
even explain away the many arguments that point to the VMS *not* being
There has been some progress: as recently as the 1970s, Currier spotted
features which escaped Friedmann, and the discovery that the
transcription of a e o and y as vowels gives a pronounceable cipher
text was, I think, made in the 1990s.
I can understand that people are reluctant to look at East Asia when
there is nothing obviously Chinese in the pictures or texts (at least,
not if you look at it in the wrong way... More on that later). But
what should we make of the natural-looking Zipf plots, the statistics
on figure labels, and the binomial word-length distribution? These
features are strong arguments against any character-level,
Vigenère-style code. If we exclude the Chinese Theory by axiom, the
only other alternative that I can think of is a word-level,
codebook-based system. Why hasn't *that* been discussed in the list?
Word length and Zipf's law count in favour of the Chinese theory. The
distribution of words within the line count against it, unless it can
be shown that phonetically transcribed Chinese (or Vietnamese etc)
displays the peculiarities identified by Currier and others. These
peculiarities are also a difficulty for Friedmann's theory of an
artificial language and the suggestion that a codebook (nomenclator)
The one kind of cipher the VMS can't possibly be is a Vigenere and I
don't know that this has seriously been proposed. It remains my view
that the plaintext is a western language enciphered, possibly using
a principle of anagramming or transposition.
As for what gets discussed on the list, serious statistical analysis
of the kind you and I both favour takes time and effort. There is
always going to be more speculation than new fact being published.
There is also the matter of the peculiar word structure. I understand
that my description of it is not as clear and succint as it could be,
and people may be put off by the comparison to East Asian word
(syllable) structure. But the word structure is there, and demands
*some* explanation. A Roman-like number system could be another
possibility; shouldn't that be looked into?
I think that different formulas for the word structure overlap in the
sense that most people would agree that qopchain is a possible word
which happens not to occur. The reason for it remains a puzzle. I
personally think that it is too monotonous to reflect the phonology
even of a monosyllabic tone language. Furthermore, I cannot devise a
pronunciation of the VMS characters which gives a monosyllabic
value to all the words or even 90% of them. Can anybody do this?
Roman numbers came up last time I was on the list five years ago.
I could'nt make it work.
That may explain your observations: the most common characters in the
Chinese file don't form repeats (because they are grammatical
particles), while the most common words in the VMS often do (whenever
a common particle appears next to a homophone, as in "virtue's").
I think I am right in saying that these grammatical particles very
seldom take initial position in a sentence and some of them (past
tense le, the question particle ma1) only occur finally. If a
distribution of this kind can be demonstrated it will count heavily
in favour of Chinese.
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