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Re: VMs: An improved version of the voynichese-coding

On Thu, 16 Sep 2004, Marianna Ridderstad wrote:
> I have improved my scheme for producing code that looks like voynichese.
> In the new scheme, the ligatures can separate sequencies. I have also
> rewritten the tables using EVA this time, and give a new example.

Thanks for the switch to EVA.  You might want to convert the first part on
word structure and word-internal syntax, too, and to omit the Vigenere
Table section, which seems to random thought irrelevant to what follows,
though no doubt part of the rumination that led to the tables.

In your syntax you might want to note that the notation [a b c ...] is
commonly used to mean "one of the letters a b c ...," so using it to group
associated elements that occur in sequence (with some optional) is a bit
prone to misinterpretation.

> http://www.astro.helsinki.fi/~marianna/notes2.txt
> If you notice inconsistencies or errors, please send comments!

It should be obvious, but you might want to note that you omit j and w in
the alphabets in the tables.

There are several things about you encryption algorithm that puzzle me.
First, it appears that the formula for representing a letter is

row-label table-label offset

The row-label is omitted if it is null, i.e., for the first row.
The table-label (a gallows) is clearly included in the first letter
encoded with a table as in 0-p-chee to encode the first e (might help to
number your substitution examples for discussion purposes).

But sometimes thereafter it seems to me that it is randomly included in
contravention of this principle, as in o-p-chee for the first e of kelley
when we are already in the p-table, and then in o-p-aii for the first l in
kelley immediately thereafter.

It also appears that in giving the offsets that you can start either at
the first column of the body of the table, or at the first column of the
second half of the table (column 7, if we start numbering columns at 1).
This principle seems to be applied regularly.

However, sometimes you omit ch from the start of the offset in the first
part of the table, as in o-*p-*ch-e (or oe) for the first d in edvard or
d-*k-*cheeee (deeee) for r in edvard.

It seems to me that you could reformulate your tables as follows:

Write your alphabet down the edge of the paper.  Opposite each letter
write the ways of encoding it - 2 occurrences per table x 4 tables.

For example

a 0-k-ch       o-k-ch
  qo-t-aiiiii  d-t-aiiiii
  qo-p-aiiii   d-p-aiiii
  qo-f-aiii    d-f-aiii

b 0-k-che      o-k-che
  0-t-ch       o-t-ch
  qo-p-aiiiii  d-p-aiiiii
  qo-f-aiiii   d-f-aiiii


(A cryptographical defect of this scheme is that all letters, regardless
of their frequency, have the same number of representations, so, while the
scheme is complex, it doesn't supress frequencies.  The handling of the
ligatures below does modify this contention somewhat.)

The idea is that you can omit the table-label (gallows) if you stay in the
same table, but have to include it to indicate a switch of tables.  You
have eight encodings for each letter.

You have also introduced a new scheme whereby changing

a => y
e => s
ch => sh
i => n, l, r, or m

allows you to omit also the row-label, so that opchee opai (e l) can be
rendered opchesain.  Actually, I'd make this opchee oaii already, since
the p wasn't needed as long as we were in the same table.

Apparently we can still (or must) change the last character in the
encoding to the ligatured form at the end of a word.  We can run encodings
together into a word or divide them as we like.

But there are final e, a, and i in the texts:  chokoishe, odshe, ska,
ykyka, orai, aiidalaii.

I assume we don't really need a table-label or gallows in every word,
though you did this in the edvard kelley example.  A table-label can hold
across words.  In fact, it holds until a new one crops up.

I can see some problems with this scheme in terms of producing Voynichese.

- I think, on further consideration, and in spite of my earlier
suggestion, it wouldn't make any sense to see embedding or split gallows
(gallows with other characters embedded within them) as distributing a
table marker across a section of encodings, because the relevant zone of
application of a gallows table-label follows it, and even a split gallows
has a following region.  So what is the internal region?

- I believe that this approach does not explain the decreasing frequencies
of the longer sequences of e, i, and ai

- It doesn't generate oo sequences, which do occur, e.g., ooiin, kooiin.

- It doesn't generate final o, as in cheo, o, kcho.

- It doesn't explain e-sequences without leading ch, though I am not sure
I understand your ch-omission rule.

- The same for i-sequences without leading a, with the same caveat
regaridng a possible a-omission rule, so it doesn't generate o, etc., + i
or i-ligatures, without leading a, e.g., chor, chol, qotychor, olaen,
qooko.iiincheom, dld.iir, qokyshey.ithey.

- Except as random elaboration it doesn't explain initial sh, as in sho,
shol, sheky.  And actually, final sh is rather rare - only sh and ash,
once each.

- By making word boundaries somewhat arbtrary it is out of step with
various evidence (summarized recently by Stolfi and Landini) that they are

That will do for starters.

In spite of these objections, I encourage you to pursue approaches
like this.  It seems to me that they have as much potential as anything
else being considered!
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