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Re: VMs: Cicco Simonetta (for Jeff)...

Hi Dennis,

At 21:57 04/11/2003 -0600, Dennis wrote:
I'm getting to like your emerging hypothesis, Nick...

Well... I may not have a particularly strange theory, but I can certainly tell a good yarn. :-)

        I saw an interesting book, *The Man Who Broke
Napoleon's Codes* by Mark Urban.  It's about George
Scovell, Wellington's crippie.  Scovell used a little
book, *Cryptographia or the Art of Decyphering* by
David Arnold Conradus.  Have you heard of this?  Would
it be of significance?

I hadn't heard of it before: it appears to have been serialised in the Gentleman's Magazine in 1742, according to this cryptography literature list:-

  author =       "David Arnold Conradus",
  title =        "The Art of Deciphering",
  journal =      GM             [Gentleman's Magazine],
  year =         "1742",
  volume =       "12",
  pages =        "133--135 and 184--186 and 241--242 and 473--474",
  annote =       "Gives detailed rules for deciphering simple
                  substitutions in seven languages. One example per
                  language, in funny characters. List of two -- and
                  three -- letter words. He assumes that word
                  divisions are visible. ",

For more on Scovell:

        In 1811 George Scovell was given a book: "Cryptographia, or The
        Art of Decyphering" by David Arnold Conradus. It contains a
        series of rules and principles for creating and breaking codes
        and ciphers. It also provides sample problems and instructions
        for dealing with ciphers in English, German, Dutch, Latin,
        French and Italian.

        Scovell experimented with different encryption methods based
        on the principles in "Cryptographia". He devised a method of
        ensuring that the British had a common cipher to protect their
        dispatches by sending copies of the same dictionary to each
        headquarters. By his system, 56C2 would direct the reader to
        page 56, column C and the second word down. Although
        simple, this was a strong and successful code.

        This [pictured] is one of the many simple ciphers that George
        Scovell solved. Once he had passed the deciphered versions
        of letters to the Duke of Wellington, he was apparently
        allowed to keep many of the original encrypted letters, which
        have survived together with his own calculations in his papers
        held at the Public Record Office.

<interesting discussion of EVA /qo/ snipped>

        Ah!  The one they showed in the BBC show, as having
the plaintext value of
[s]  .  Does it have this value in Tironian notae,
Capelli, Vindolanda, or
elsewhere?  Those are interesting questions also.

In Tristano Sforza's cipher, <4o> = "s", and <4> = "c"... but I don't believe <4o> was an independent Tironian note (I don't have a copy of Capelli to hand, though).

Here, I'm most concerned with trying to answer the specific question:

        "In Northern Italy circa 1350-1430, what did '4' signify?"
        (ie *before* it become an Arabic number)

My suspicion here is that both EVA <m> (the "Capricorn-like symbol") and '4' were used in a specifically Northern Italian tachygraphic shorthand system (for wax tablets), in use circa 1430. While I believe that the former symbol probably coded for "x" (and so later in the century came to be appropriated for Capricorn, the tenth [ie, the "xth"] sign of the zodiac), what the latter symbol meant (before it was appropriated to become an Arabic numeral) is still a mystery to me.

I would say that the designer of the VMs' alphabet clearly had a pre-Arabic-numerals "sensibility": yet I would also argue (based on the hidden "5" on the leaf of page f1r) that the VMs itself appeared *after* the introduction of Arabic numerals. I therefore see the VMs as straddling the introduction of Arabic numbers - but YMMV. :-)

        On EVA /daiin daiin daiin/  ...  In English one cannot
have "the the the".  This most common word is a
determiner, and there can only be one at a time.
However, "very very very" is acceptable slang to give
emphasis.  In early modern English and Romance
languages like Spanish or French double negatives
similarly give emphasis.  Just a thought.

It's not the "dain/daiin" repetitions that interest me here - rather, it's the *structural similarity* of "dain" to "daiin" to "daiiin" to "dair" (etc). These *perform* most like Roman numerals, wouldn't you say? :-)

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

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