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Re: VMs: Updates and summaries

Nick wrote:

> You know, I honestly do think your "Feare God" symbol has a lot to tell us 
> about the VMs. But I remain far from sure that it paints quite the 
> (Cambridge/Askham/Strong?) story you suspect... right now it's just one 
> piece of evidence amongst many.

Quite - Though I've discovered this variation of shorthand from Cambridge, it does not mean that this is not used somewhere else.  The particular symbols on this folio are religious shorthand, and I have yet to find any good examples of the medical shorthand known to have existed.  Medical is supposedly different from the pharmaceutical shorthand, of which a number of examples exist. 

All of the rare or one-time symbols on this folio (57v) are in line with a shorthand found at Cambridge, but as has been noted long before me, many of the Voynich symbols also come from Latin shorthand, as well as shorthand found on documents by Leonardo da Vinci, and it should also be noticed that these symbols appear in English shorthand as well.  

It's interesting that you can focus on the symbols that are rare or one-time, and find correlations in English shorthand systems of the 16th, early 17th century.  This is an extremely important bit of information, but conclusions should not be drawn (theories maybe, but not conclusions) until examples of all known shorthand systems from other European nations have been examined.  Ultimately, the one with the most matches must be the most suspect.

The other language I'd like to examine for shorthand systems is German, for personal reasons.  It's quite likely that the author traveled at one point in his life.    

> I think it's clear that the "language" does change across different 
> sections of the VMs: but as there are good reasons to doubt the correctness 
> of the page-order in the herbal pages, I ought to flag that it falls short 
> of a straightforward incrementing-weirdness-vs-page-number graph. Also, 
> there are notable clusters of individual weirdoes like the "walking leg 
> cluster" on f66r - FWIW, I suspect the pair of those in the vertical column 
> delimits a proper name [like JBISMARCKJ in German WW2 ciphers], and is then 
> referred to by the two re-uses within the text.

I agree that the order is questionable, but we do have statistics that place these back into their proper groupings, albeit general groupings.  These demonstrate what I consider to be "major jumps" in the use of wierdoes, not gradual changes.  I suspect also that one thing blurring the lines is the fact that some folios were not written in one sitting.  Differences point to passages being added later, but I'm sorry I haven't made a good catalogue of these as yet.  This as part of a paragraph level study I did awhile ago, and whenever paragraphs stood out, they also appeared to have been penned differently, slight differences in the ink, the angle of writing, etc.  The ones where the lines bend sharply may have been written after the bifolios were bound, I don't know - just one explanation.

> I've looked at this pool lots of times (50? 100?), and have yet to see (via 
> any of the image enhancement tricks I've tried) any part of it that reads 
> "sulfer" with the clarity you seem to claim. I can see a shape that has 
> that general form, but it's still a long way short of a legible word per 
> se. Can you please tell me how to read it so that I can see what you see?

I also played with it for a long time.  I finally sharpened the image, drew lines through the center of the "blurs", and matched them as closely as possible to written letters.  The first letter of course, looks like a Voynich glyph, but can also be a capital "s", which is where I get "sulfer".  It is difficult because it was apparently first written with something very light, then traced with paint, where it blurred into the rest of the paint.  I haven't played enough with Jon Grove's filter to use it properly, but I bet I could do a lot better with that.

> FWIW, I think the biggest question we need to be asking right now is to 
> what degree the text we are attempting to decode is what was originally 
> written down. From what I've been looking at recently (which includes f84r > as well as many other pages), I would say that the answer is far from 
> obvious... more on that soon, hopefully!

You have a lead on another Voynich manuscript, eh?  :-)  I predict that there will never be a discovery of even a jot of Voynichese on another document, and this is because there were no copies made - this is the original, the one, the only.  Just my opinion, of course.


ps and nice to hear from you as well, Nick.
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