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Re: Cipher vs Language

--- Nick Pelling <incoming@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> The winning argument for me is that the VMS'
> language shows every sign of 
> fitting the mature ciphertext paradigm dating from
> the time we're talking 
> about:-
> (1) no obviously doubled letters ("cc" aside)

Several languages don't like doubled letters, or allow
only one or two letters to be doubled. 'cc' could be
one of them.

> (2) no obvious punctuation

I'm not sure I understand this. The text is organised 
in paragraphs. No mystery there. Also, some 
languages don't use punctuation. That is even
more true for the past...

> (3) an invented alphabet

Yes. It could have been invented for a cipher
or for a language...

> (4) trying to hide the basic word structure

This is speculation....

> (5) trying to hide the underlying alphabet

The alphabet is there for all to see on 234 pages.
We just don't know what is one symbol or what
is part of a symbol or in fact several symbols.

> (6) no obvious numbering system

There are many possible explanations. Numbers
may have been written out as words. Numbers may
use alphabetical characters. Some languages 
(scripts) don't even have special characters for

> (7) nulls

This is pure speculation. Nobody has ever been
able to positively identify any single null character
in the VMs.

The above doesn't claim to prove that the VMs
can't be cipher. It's just that the arguments
aren't compelling.

We may in fact be talking at cross-purposes.
If the VMs is a language written in a funny
script to hide its meaning, then I wouldn't consider
it a cipher.

> Also: the statistical distribution of "word"-lengths
> doesn't make sense to 
> me in the context of a natural language - this seems
> many times more likely 
> to be an artificial property emerging from a stage
> within a cipher 
> transformation.

The word length distribution is pretty normal, but 
it could be that in a cipher as well. This does not
help us either way.
> I know I should really be more accommodating: but in
> my defence, I've 
> looked at tons of ciphers from this period, and all
> I see are similarities 
> with the VMS. Sorry. :-(

Cipher _alphabets_ like those seen in Tranchedino:
perhaps. But if it were as simple as that, the problem
would have been solved by now. Note also that a 
Tranchedino cipher would indeed result in few
duplicated letters, but, on the other hand, in a
much larger alphabet. And in a higher entropy. 

I also have a major difficulty in imagining a cipher
that would tend to form redupicated words. 

Well, that's just my view of course. I could be wrong
but I presented my reasons for believing hat there
is no complicated cipher involved in the VMs.

Cheers, Rene

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