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VMs: 1st Impressions and baby steps

Barbara Blithers;

Wow! What a welcome to the VMS list, everyones' been very friendly and
the volume of off-list hellos and offers (all very gentlemanly I asure
you <g>) were heart warming; making me feel right at home and uncowed
about jumping in and not afraid to get egg on my interface occasionally.
Thank you all ;-)

Thanks to a true gentleman (whom I presume if they wanted everyone to
know would have communicated via the list) sent me a copy of the BBC
Doco' on the VMS. It was cool to see "listers" "in the flesh" as it
were. To return the complement goto;
(and yep, I know the spelling of my middle name, René, is a blokes name,
but blame me parents who because the usual Northern Irish pronounciation
of "renee" was "ree-knee" chose the masculine spelling because that was
at least pronounced right by most ulsterfolk!).

All this (well most of this) crytology stuff is new to me, so I'm on a
steep learning curve; can anyone recommend any good books on the suject?

I supposed everyone veiws the VMS via the eyes of their own specialty,
and my specialty is scripts/writing systems.

I've nothing on the web of my own creation (being an html ignoramus) but
an ASCII/IPA transcription system I co-designed with a phonetician
(Robert Coutts) is breifly compared to 4 others at;
the system alas isn't explained, it's just a symbol to symbol
comparisson between systems. The fact ours covers exotic sounds and
disabled speech dosn't get a look in <shrug>.

My last publish journal article was in; "Fortean Studies 7" Ian Simmons
(ed), John Brown Publishing, ISBN 1-902212-36-3; which I'm still
slightly miffed over because they forgot to publish my illustrations of
hieroglyphic texts <arrgh> and they won't show in print until FS8's
"erratta"! The article debunks the "Abydos Helicopter" inscriptions in
the Abydos temple of Seti I.

When I see the VMS I see a writing system and start to analyise it
accordingly. That of course I can not properly do until I've got the
whole thing in colour (hopefuly that'll happen soon <g>).

When I read how you guys have tried all sorts of mathmatical analyseses
and transformations an the asumption it's a crytpo-cipher (sorry, my
neologism: used distinquish text from plain-cipher such as the english
I've enciphered here and you're deciphering now to read it) I find your
conclusions fasinationg. However I havn't seen anything yet that
diswades me from thinking the VMS is a writings sytem that'd be
transparent if you understood its symbolism and orthography.

Do I have anything beyond the "gut feeling" that many report when they
see the VMS that they ought to just be able to pick it up and reed it?
Well yes, but they,re only arguements.

Encryption is done typically to keep secret the content of messages, The
VMS obsviously isn't a message for a couriour to carry, but a volume to
be refrenced. Yet obviously the authour wanted its contents to remain
obscure except to the initiated. Thus the VMS had a very restricted
movement, and was intended to be used "in situ". There is always the
danger that the user might be interupted, and if a "key" anymore complex
than one that could be kept in ones head was used then written keys,
workings out, or cut-out keys would be in use at the same time as the
Mss, and discovered by the intruder. Such things are a great security
risk: as in the interuption senario they could be seized, or after
working they could be mislaid to surface in the "wrong hands", or as a
"key" or cut outs would have a seperate existence from the VMS there's
always be the danger they'd somehow fall into the wrong hands anyway.
The existence of a written or physical key is a grave security risk,
particulary when the encpted text and the key to it share roughly the
same location or same general area.

Worse would be if the user didn't work from the VMS directly but from
notes of plaintext extracted from the VMS via a "key", then those
worknotes not only defeated the purpose of the VMS but were dangerous
documents in themselves.

So in therefore the only "safe" senario I can envision is if the "key"
to the VMS is simple enough to be kept in one's head, simple enough that
the VMS may be "read off" in a single pass, and the nessesity for
written of physical keys, and the need for worknotes etc, is eliminated.

That in turn points to a writing system, a unique script, with a unique
orthography and unique rules - all the more likly because all the simple
encryption techniques have allready been tried to unlock the VMS and
have not produced results that could clue decryption.

As you may have already guessed from previous posts I believe the
primary transformation of the system is to encypher phonemes, and then
orthorgraphy declares that particular glyphs alter their phoneme
acording to word position; possibly the rules are to do with word gender
or with preceding or suceeding glyphs (I also believe whole "words"
replace punctuation, or rather the repition of words).

I hope that a Kober analysis will identify glyphs when they are
encyphering vowels, consonants, and the rules under when their phonomic
values change. This isn't decipherment as such, because the CV values
will be assigned in the abstract. It'll produce plausable CV
constuctions of the VMS text just as this paragraph's first dozen words
can be can be represented thus;


(NOTE: VV identifes a diphthong. The CV contsruction could be much more
complex than this as each letter could be a syllabic unit, a
contraction, a grammar marker, etc, under certain conditions too: the
above is a simplified example).

Then I'll take some examples of *spoken* texts (invovles lots of begging
at uni profs and theater managers) in several plausable languages,
reduce those to the IPA and from there produce CV patterns for
comparison with what emerges from the VMS (and the VMS will produce at
least two of these!). 

This *might* identify the language of the VMS, or a close miss might
idetify the language familly, but then again it might identify the
language that the authour(s) *wanted* the curious to think it was.

Indeed this whole approach my just be a waste of time, but what I'm
hoping to do is not decipher the VMS but provide pointers towards an
eventual decipherment. I want to be a Kober to your Chadwicks ;-).

<sigh>, The reason for barking up the wrong dead horse, is that it
seemed like a good idea at the time ;-)

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