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RE: VMs: Re: RuggWatch

Hi Laura,

At 15:01 21/07/2004 +0100, Laura Aylward wrote:
Being new to the manuscript, there's only so much research I could do in a
year! But, when I first looked into it I immediately thought - why is everyone
so concerned - surely it's a hoax.

Why did you think that immediately? Have there ever been any other unreadable manuscript hoaxes of a comparable size?

  Then I was introduced to the features that
show it cannot be a hoax, the repetitiveness, high structure etc.  Okay, I
don't know the history of the manuscript apart from the bare minimum, but
Gordons method and the results we have found, show that gibberish can be
extremely structured and repetitive.  It is not saying outright that the
manuscript is a hoax, but showing that the structure level of the manuscript
is not a good enough argument against the hoax theory - I am not aware of any
other arguments against the hoax theory?

FWIW, the terminological problem with the word "hoax" is that it describes the act and the deceptive process, rather than the actual object produced. Strictly speaking, the VMs, then, would not be a "hoax" - it would be the by-product of a hoax.

To my cryptographic eye, the VMs was plainly intended to closely resemble the kind of simple Quattrocento monoalphabetic cipher you'd expect to see circa 1400-1440 (small cipherbet, laid out in words, trivially breakable)... but without actually being one. The fact that "4o" recurs in two high-ranking Milanese ciphers circa 1450 would appear to be good evidence that this is where the roots of its form lie. If the VMs is indeed the by-product of a hoax, then it should be clear that the hoaxer had good knowledge of this period.

Arguments against hoax theories in general:-
(1) strong local (ie letter adjacency) structure [which you know about]
(2) different Currier languages - erm, why would someone bother to make more than one?
(3) multiple layers of internal structure - as these simply don't exist in other cipher mss, why would someone go to the trouble of imagining them and then emulating them?
(4) excess complexity and difficulty - the VMs' statistical properties are vastly more complex than any other comparable document
(5) the numerous curious (and as-yet unexplained) features (Neal keys, ornate gallows, weirdoes, shape variations, etc) - why hoax these at all?
(6) The existence of the Heavy Painter - why would a hoaxer hoax an ugly unpainted document?
(7) If the intention was to duplicate a simple Quattrocento monoalphabetic cipher, why make it so internally complex?
(8) Evidence of space transposition - for example, even though "or" recurs as a distinct token throughout the VMs, a number of instances of "or or" have the space moved (ie, "oro ror"). This would be consistent with a ciphering mindset, but would seem to make little sense for a hoax. Incidentally, Gordon mentioned off-list to me that he had also seen a number of places where spaces appeared to have been transposed. Something to think about! :-o

BTW, "gibberish" (according to http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=gibberish ) is possibly not the differentiator you're looking for, as it seems to be broad enough to include most VMs viewpoints, not just hoax theories:-

        1.  Unintelligible or nonsensical talk or writing.
        2.  a. Highly technical or esoteric language.
             b. Unnecessarily pretentious or vague language.

Some might claim that this describes RuggSpeak better than Voynichese. YMMV! :-9

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

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