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VMs: RE: Chinese: [was: More questions]

I once had an instructor who used the identical terminology you now employ,
but connecting the dots is too much to hope for...   Whisper in my ear just
a bit more...


> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-vms-list@xxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:owner-vms-list@xxxxxxxxxxx]On
> Behalf Of Barbara Barrett
> Sent: Thursday, August 14, 2003 9:19 AM
> To: vms-list@xxxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: VMs: Chinese: [was: More questions]
> Jacques Guy wrote:
> > Barbara Babbled;
> > >The question is has anyone ever produced even something as simple as
> > >frequency tables for the various suspected VMS languages' phonemes?
> > Jacques Jzotted;
> > No. The "Chinese hypothesis" alone would require producing frequency
> > tables of several hundred Chinese dialects, most mutually
> unintelligible.
> Period in which most believe the VMS's origins lie the "Chinese
> Hypotheisis" is *very* unlikly indeed.
> From when the Jesuits first encvounted the Chinese and noted that those
> with mutually exclusive *regionalects* (a more accurate term than
> dialects as many are quite different languages, as diiferent as the
> romance and germanic languages of europe) were able to communicate by
> writing (restricting themselves to the small number of pure ideograms
> and meaning/meaning compounds) the myth began that chinese writing spoke
> "directly to the mind" without the need for language. This myth
> persisted right up to the 19thC and held up the decipherment of
> hieroglyphs by 200 years, and Mayan by almost as long, in spite of loan
> voices protesting the most
> (around 80 odd per cent) of written chinese was phonetic (the first
> character provides a syllable, the second the context, and thus the
> correct tone for the syllable can be deduced) they were ignored because
> the myth of the "universal" writing system was too firmly entrenched in
> scholastic thought to be disloged by anything as inconvinient as facts.
> Chinese speakers in europe were very few indeed.
> When east asians hundreds of years ago used to try to break down their
> languages into phonomic form they thought in terms of syllables rather
> than single elements.
> There's exceptions like 15C Korean Hang Gul, but there too the elements
> existed
> to be reformed in "square" syllables, and although the chinese were
> exposed to Tibetan and Indian scripts - these are not truly alphabets as
> each symbol has an inherent vowel, a chinese scholar would see these
> as syllabic too: Mongol is alphabetc, but has such a complex
> orthography that it's inapplicable to any other language). I don't think
> it likly that a native chinese whould have come up with a solution even
> vaugly simalar to the Voynich script: the mindset is all wrong, the
> "informing" (by other scripts) is all wrong.
> Outsiders, hung mao, learning chinese were restricted to court chinese,
> "manderin". Which if that's what voynichese enciphers there's problems
> too.
> The devisor of the voynich system was informed by european alphabets;
> ascenders, decenders (particularly mixed together), diacritics, etc; and
> seeing sound as having units smaller than a syllable. This required a
> great exposure to european scripts (and therefore many european
> languages) which make it very plausable that the Voynich author(s) were
> europeans. So for the devisor of the Voynich script to have used their
> script to write in mandarin chinese would involve a quite long chain of
> very improbable ifs.
> > I have a comparative dictionary of (modern) Chinese dialects,
> but no texts.
> <lust>. Title, author(s)/eitor(s), publishers, and ISBN, pretty
> pretty please <pout>.
> > Even if there were texts, those should be in the dialects as they
> > were 500 years ago, when the VMs was likely written. We have nothing.
> > Chinese was always written in wen2yan2 (Classical Chinese), never in the
> > dialectal forms, and we do not know with any degree of
> certitude how these
> > were pronounced, nor how many there were (many must have become extinct,
> > many arisen since).
> Ah! Unlike european languages with its tonic shift and vowel changes,
> the chinese regionalects suffered little from this kind of change. A
> chinese
> "accent" was/is using "odd" or extra syllables. Something that
> linguistically is quite easy to "push back". It's been done by linguists
> working with, wait for it, theaters and actors, wanting to reproduce
> regional plays as they were heard by their original audiences.
> Plays have been re-written in their original "accent" for that
> regionalect and there are your texts.
> There's a large Gov dept dedicated to preseving pre-revolution spoken
> and written langauges: contact; Ye Xumin, Vice Director of the Central
> South
> China Institute for Nationalities, Bejing. Nice bloke, good english ;-)
> > The situation is the same for most other possible candidates. At any
> > rate, it does not take any statistical analysis to realise that the
> > VMs, if in a simple substitution cipher, cannot possibly be in Gaelic,
> > nor in Nahuatl, but just might, just might, be in Malay (or some other
> > Austronesian language), and very possibly in a Chinese-type sort of
> > language.
> Personally I think a "rare" language (rare in europe anyway) if written
> in latin character would have provided more than enough security. It
> woudln't have been recognisable except to another chinese speaker and
> they were rarer than virgins in materity wards!
> Chances are that if the author used such a language they were one of the
> few speakers of it in europe and so wouldn't have needed the 2nd level
> of a new "alphabet" too.
> Again, returning to theater companies. All over the world theatre
> companies "revive" plays in their "original" accents - sometime several
> accents for nobel characters from different regions and "local" common
> characters. I sat throug a production of MacBeth done just this way (and
> another of the same play done in pidgin english!).
> From these the more reasonable candidates of 500 year old German,
> French, English, Italian, Latin and Greek, could be reconstucted in the
> IPA for phoneme counts.
> Still not an easy job, but a possible one, and not so huge it's
> undoable.
> Barbara
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