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Re: VMs: Mixtures of languages in the VMS

Hi everyone,

At 20:27 03/11/2003 -0600, Dennis wrote:
        Other possibilities.  An unattested or poorly attested
Romance or Germanic language, (say Dalmatian, a Romance
language which became extinct in the 20th century),
which however would bear strong resemblance to known
cognates.  A pidgin language resembling Lingua Franca
which is poorly attested.

I thought the whole point of a pidgin language was to aid communication, by using a simplified grammar and words stolen wholesale from the existing languages known by the people who want to communicate using it?

Of course, parts of the VMS (like the herbal and the astrological pages) might well contain words taken from many languages - in the case of the herbal, names of plants in multiple languages was almost obligatory. But surely this can't be true of *every page* on the VMS?

Basically, while we can't easily distinguish the contents of the former (possibly less structured pages, with synonyms in multiple languages) from the contents of the latter (possibly more structured pages [like recipes, balneological, cosmological, etc]), I fail to see any obvious explanation for the VMs' entire contents apart from *hoax*, *code*, or *shorthand*.

Although there's a *remote* possibility it's written in a lost pidgin language, I can't presently see a single piece of physical evidence to support the idea. Please tell me if I'm wrong!

The related view sometimes taken of the VMs' set of "words" - "that, as the VMs has an apparently large vocabulary, it must therefore be appropriating words from multiple language sources" - similarly appears to be unsupported.

One piece of evidence which I suggest strongly contradicts this second point of view is that many, many words in the VMs appear combinatorial - [qo|o][l][t|k|ch]e[e][dy|ky], or dai[i][i][n|r] etc - which (I believe) fails to accord with any known languages, whether taken singly or together... apart from (a) completely artificial languages, (b) artificial memory systems (where names denote addresses within a taxonomy, similar to mnemotechnics, Lullian systems, etc), or (c) numbering systems (like Roman numerals).

Structurally, the closest match with the VMs would appear to be either an "accessorised number code", where words are converted to numbers (and those numbers then obfuscated), or a wholly artificial language (though, strictly speaking, these are rarely combinatorial). I'm saying this not because I particularly want either of these last two ideas to be true, but because I can argue the case for either of these without having to jump through endless hoops.

Perhaps it's time to crossing things off the list, rather than continually adding to it? Yes, the different explanations for the VMs are all *possible*... but not *equally possible*, surely? :-o

Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....

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