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VMs: Re: DIE WELTWOCHE
[ I had already answered in private, but since folks are posting... --stolfi ]
> 1. Do people out there think a solution is imminent? Where will
> it come from?
My guess is that the solution will be found within a few years.
It will come from identifying the language, which will allow us
to recover the letter values and the "spelling system".
> 2. How do people one get hooked on the Voynich? I saw some notions
> of terrible addiction.
I have spent many nights awake, when I should really have gone home;
and I have occasionally neglegted my real work for the sake of the
VMS. However, as a hobbies go, I think that this one is rather harmless
and even healthier than average.
> 3. The list seems to be in a lull; does that mean people are
It is not unusual for the list to remain quiet for months.
At the moment, the most active players happen to be all busy
with other businesses.
> 4. How serious is the research that has been done lately?
Presumably each of us believes that his research is serious!
> 5. Are there people out there who still think the ms. is a hoax?
> 5. Some people seem to lean toward the idea that its language is
> a monosyllabic East-Asian language such as Chinese or
> Vietnamese; what are the arguments and counter-arguments?
I am the chief believer, it seems. The main arguments are: the
internal structure of words; word statistics (word-length histogram,
frequency of repeated words, number and mean length of the "recipes");
the lack of obvious gramatical structure; the complete absence of
european symbols in the text (not glyphs that look like medieval
letters, but conventional symbols --- numerical, zodiacal, alchemical,
scribal --- which could have their conventional meaning); the fact
that not even medieval doctors could recognize any of the plants; and
the two big red glyphs on the cover.
The main weaknesses that I see are
(1) there seem to be too many different words (at least twice
what would be normal for Chinese).
(2) there are no recognizable Chinese elements in the illustrations.
(3) there is still no really convincing scenario for who would have
written the book, and why.
In order to defend the "Chinese theory" against these arguments, I
would blame item (1) on spelling variation (common in medieval texts)
and joined words. For item (2), I will point to medieval illustrations
for Old Testament scenes, which usually show European faces, clothes,
and buildings. As for item (3), there are in fact many *possible*
scenarios; although none of them seems especially likely, well ---
truth often turns out to be far more unlikely than any fantasy...
> 6. Does the Voynich-community ever meet in the real world, or is
> this solely an Internet-community?
There was a workshop in England (Teddington) a few years ago, where
about 10 people met. I stretched two conference-related trips in order
to meet Rene (in Prague) and Gabriel (in Birmingham).
> How many people are involved in the deciphering on a regular
Hard to tell. I suspect that many of those people --- particularly
those who follow the "crypto" approach --- prefer to work quietly on
their own, and will not post to the list unless and until they solve
> Are you friends?
I didn't know any of them before joining the list, if that is
what you are asking.
As for how we get along, I now count most of the list regulars (about
a dozen people) as friends, even though I have met only two of them in
person. The others are still essentially cordial strangers.
I hope that it helps. Al the best,