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VMs: Re: Voynichese = Arabic?

I forgot to give my Home page.

My page,    http://home.att.net/~oko/home.htm


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jorge Stolfi" <stolfi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <vms-list@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Saturday, July 17, 2004 7:59 PM
Subject: VMs: Voynichese = Arabic?

> Recall the recent discovery that vowel-less Arabic ("Qur", the Quran) and
> vowel-less Hebrew ("HbB-D", the Torah) have almost binomial word-length
> distributions (WLDs), similar to that of Voynichese:
> You have to imagine the horizontal scale of the Hebrew WLD reduced so
> that it becomes taller and shifted to the left. The curves are not
> quite as symmetric as that of Voynichese: they fall off more slowly on
> the long-word side than on the short-word side. Still, the match is
> so close that perhaps we ought to give Arabic a second look.
> Arabic and Hebrew had been dismissed many years ago, because
> Voynichese "did not show any sign of the three-consonant root scheme"
> which was supposed to be characteristic of those languages. According
> to cereal-box linguistics, every lexical root of Arabic and Hebrew
> consists of three consonants, and words are derived from it by
> inserting various vowels before or after these consonants. So, from
> the Arabic root "K*T*B" meaning "write" in general, one derives
> "kitâb" = book, "kataba" = he wrote, "yaktubu" = he writes, "katîb" =
> writer, "kutubî"= book dealer, "kutayyib" booklet, and many more. (See,
> e.g., http://wahiduddin.net/words/arabic_glossary.htm ) It was this
> simple structure that was looked for in Voynichese, and found lacking.
> Reality is a bit more complicated, it seems. To begin with, Arabic
> distinguishes "strong" vowels (usually transliterated as "a","y","w"),
> which are counted as consonants and written in the script, from "weak"
> ones which are usually omitted. Thus, in a fully vowelled edition of
> the Quran, the opening sentence (transliterated) would be something
> like
>   bîs°mî all»âhî alr»âH°mânî alr»âHîymî
> where "H" stands for an Arabic sound ("hah"), "»" means doubling of
> the previous consonant, the circumflexes indicate weak vowels, and "°"
> means "there is no weak vowel here". (The "»", "°", and weak vowels
> would be written as small superscripts or subscripts on the preceding
> Arabic letter.) In a plain, vowel-less edition (and in the file "Qur" used
> for the plot above), that sentence is written as
>   bsm allh alrHmn alrHym
> Now, the derivatives from a word may be formed by inserting strong
> vowels, which of course will appear in the script. Moreover, the
> derivatives from a root can be formed by adding consonants as well as
> vowels, e.g. "maktûb" letter, "istiktâb" dictation, etc. Then there
> are prefixes like "al-" (strong "a", means "the") and "wa-" (strong "w"
> and "a", means "and") -- which are usually attached to the word, but
> may be written separately. Then there are the quirks of pronunciation
> (whereby you write "alrHym" but say "arraHym"...) -- and much more
> that I can't tell you because I am blissfully unaware of.
> So we could speculate that
>   EVA "ol" may be the article "al-"
>   EVA "qo" may be the prefix "wa-"
> Anyone dares to carry on? 8-)
> AFAIK, most of this also holds for other Afroasiatic (Hamitic/Semitic)
> languages like Hebrew, Ancient Egyptian, Geez, etc.
> All the best,
> --stolfi
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