by Jacques Guy ("Frogguy")

4 April 1996



I shall put Currier letters in angular brackets (<>), Frogguy letters in square brackets ([]) and Roman letters in double quotes ("").

There are several frogguy transliteration systems, of increasing of complexity, and each more complex system is downward compatible with the simpler one. They really form a continuum, but you can consider if you like, that there are four separate frogguy systems.

All systems have the same principles in common:

  1. We cannot be certain of what constitutes a Voynich letter. Therefore, we use symbols to represent probable letters or *parts* of letters.
  2. The symbols used, Roman letters, Arabic digits, punctuation marks, are chosen to look as much as possible like the Voynich letters or parts of letters which they represent.
Thus for instance, Currier's <B>, which we probably all agree is a single character, is represented in frogguy by two symbols [qj] because it consists of two very common parts, used in the formation of other Voynich characters, and which look a bit like "q" and "j".

The most basic frogguy, call it frogguy-0, is probably the one you are familiar with. It has all the necessary pieces to represent everything that can be represented in Currier's system and a little bit more. It lacks symbols for rare characters, such as the famous "picnic table". It uses 3 digits [4 8 9], 12 letters [a c g i j l o p q s t v] and the apostrophe ['].

Frogguy-1 has additional symbols for those rare characters: the "picnic table" [n], the "inverted y" [y], the "squashed z" [z], the "circumflex" (or, if you prefer, "Chinese hat", or "inverted hacek", or "tent": [^]), the "circumflex in a corner" [k].

Frogguy-2 has parts for representing the "weirdoes" first identified and reported by Jim Reeds.

Frogguy-3 supports font file F3W00.FNT, which contains additional letters or parts for purely aesthetic purposes.

A Bit of History

Even when I knew Currier's system by heart, I just could never see in my mind's eye what ZORBSOR OBSOR ZOR FS9 (end of line 1 of f49r) really looked like in Voynich letters; I had to grab a pen and write it down.

Now I am terribly lazy, and I object to such violent exercises as weight-lifting (even a pen) and long-distance running (even on paper). Violent mental exercises, such as *remembering* the 36 symbols of Currier's system, have my greying grey cells protest in unison: "you've already stuffed us full of the Cyrillic alphabet, then Hebrew, then Arabic, then all those Chinese characters, you stuff us with Balinese letters every time you go there, which we hurry to forget as soon as you are back, and now *THIS*!"

So, it was shortly before Christmas 1991, I invented this system in which the very symbols of the transcription vaguely *look* like the letters of the Voynich MS. From instance:

Currier's: ZORBSOR     OBSOR   ZOR   FS9
   became: c'to2q;cto2 oq;cto2 c'to2 lpct9
Then I designed a 16x8 bitmap font in which all those letters were distorted a bit, just enough to make them into very Voynich-like squiggles, while leaving them legible as Roman letters. I forgot how this system came to be called "frogguy".

The discovery of "weirdoes", rare and sometimes not-so-rare Voynich letters that were not accounted for in Currier forced me to tinker with this "proto-frogguy" and to use and distort so many more Roman letters that an English text became just about illegible when displayed in Voynich font. Since the two fonts had become mutually unintelligible, I wrote a WYSIWYG text editor for PCs (VOYEDIT, I think it's still in our archives) which could handle both at once. And I worked at making the Voynich fonts look even more like Voynich.

Fonts and transcription system were completed on Sunday, 26 July 1992, and I have not been able to improve significantly on them since.

General Principles of Frogguy

  1. Voynich letters which look like lowercase Roman letters are represented by those letters. Others, such as the "gallows" are broken up into constituent strokes, each stroke represented by a lowercase Roman letter, or a digit or a punctuation mark that looks as much as possible like it or its mirror-image.
  2. To show that a letter connects to a letter to its right, capitalize it.
  3. Since the two components of a "gallows" always connect, do not capitalize them. Capitalize only the elements of "intruding gallows", that is, gallows cut through by a line connecting two flanking letters as in Currier's <Q>, <W>, <X> and <Y>.

    Note. The capitalization scheme is only there to make transliterations look very much more Voynich-like when viewed with the F3W00.FNT fonts file loaded. You may dispense with it.

    1. Most cases of connected letter pairs involve a letter similar to Currier's <C>, which in Frogguy is represented by a lowercase [c] (Basic Frogguy) or [e] (Frogguy-3) when on the left and a lowercase [t] when on the right (so that Currier's <S> is [ct]). So Jim's X55 is, naturally, [ea], his X9 [ot] and his X10 [it] without any ambiguity possibly arising.
    2. Where the connection involves neither [e] nor [t], use a hyphen to represent the connecting line, or capitalize every letter connected to another on its right, e.g. Jim's X91 = [a-a] or [Aa]
    3. Intruding gallows are always flanked by connected letters, so that "intruding", entirely determined by the context, is redundant. The uppercase set of gallows elements in F3W00.FNT is there only for aesthetic purposes.

Ye compleate Basick Frogguy Systeme in a fewe easy Tables


Currier  Frogguy     Comment

  A       a
  C       c
  O       o
  E       x      Voynich letter looks like an "x" closed at the top
  4       4
  8       8
  9       9
  R       2      looks like s "2" standing on tiptoe
  2       s      looks like the mirror-image of an "s"
  I       i
  D       v      looks like a "v" with a flourish
  7       &      This rare letter looks likes the mirror-image of an
                 ampersand. I have redesigned this letter to look
                 like what it really looks like: <8> with its
                 first stroke i-like instead of c-like.


          g      the loop and tail that make the right half
                 of Currier's <6>
          t      right half of Currier's <S> and <Z>, which
                 does look like "t" of some medieval scripts.
          q      left half of Currier's <P>, which looks like a
                 "q" standing on the base line
          l      left half of Currier's <F>, same as [q], but without a
                 loop. Looks like an "l".
          p      right half of Currier's <F> and <P>, which looks
                 like a capital "P"
          j      right half of Currier's <B> and <V>. The dot of
                 the "j" represents the loop, the rest the curve
                 which sweeps down, then left, to cross the leg
                 of the left part of the gallows to end up in a
                 hook (a open "noose") on its left side.


Currier   Frogguy

   N        iv         <N> = <I> followed by <D>
   M        iiv        <M> = <I> followed by <N>
   3        iiiv       <3> = <I> followed by <M>
   J        ig         <J> = <I> fused at top to [g] stroke
   K        iig        <K> = <I> followed by <J>
   L        iiig       <L> = <I> followed by <K>
   5        iiiig      <5> = <I> followed by <L>
   G        ix         <G> = <I> linked to following <E>
   H        iix        <H> = <I> followed by <G>
   1        iiix       <1> = <I> followed by <H>
   T        i2         <T> = <I> followed by <2>
   U        ii2        <U> = <I> followed by <T>
   0        iii2       <0> = <I> followed by <U>
   6        cg         <6> = <C> fused at top to [g] stroke
   S        ct
   Z        c't        [ct] with a plume [']
   F        lp         Straight gallows leg [l] and its right
                       leg [p]
   X       clpt        The same, intruding into a Currier <S>, which is
   P        qp         Gallows leg with a loop [q] and its right leg [p]
   Q       cqpt        The same, intruding into <S>
   V        lj         Straight gallows leg [l] with noose dangling [j].
   Y       cljt        The same, intruding into <S>.
   B        qj         Gallows leg with with loop [q] and dangling noose
   W       cqjt        The same, intruding into <S>.


Jim's ID    F3W

   X49       ^         the "Chinese hat". Looks like an oversize
                       circumflex resting on the base line
   X51       y         looks like a mirror-image of y
   X72       z         looks like a squashed-out z
   X48       n         The picnic table. The letter n looks a bit like a
                       table, so there.
   X50       k         The "Chinese hat in a corner". Mnemonics:
                       underline the k, or link the heel of its straight
                       leg on the left to the heel of its bent leg on
                       the right.

Ye compleate advanced Frogguy Systeme in a fewe harde Tables


           -     (hyphen) a horizontal connecting line.

           '     (apostrophe) a plume, like that in Currier's
                 <Z>, or Jim's weirdoes X11, X14, X15, X35 etc.

           ,     (comma) a flourish, sweeping down, like the
                 tail of <9>, which I have seen a few times in
                 Petersen (with 'sic' in the margin), Jim's

            "   a plume on top of a connecting line.
                Mnemonics: on many keyboards " is obtained by pressing
                shift and ', so that it is an apostrophe "capitalized",
                hence, according to the capitalization rule, with a
                connecting line.

            +   a plume cutting through a connecting line, such as you
                often find in Currier's <Z>.
                Mnemonics: a plus sign is made of a line (plume) cutting
                a horizontal line.

            )   to accomodate Jim's X13 and X16. This represents
                a flourish connected at the base line to a letter
                to the left, and curling back up. If I were to
                take my analytic madness to extremes, my [v],
                Currier's <D>, would become [i)]

             `  Jim's X104, which enters as an element of X43
                and X46. Always connects to the right. It is a hook,
                like this:
                connected there to the top of the next letter.


Frogguy-3 uses three additional symbols, the capitalization rule, and the parts of the rare characters above to represent the Voynich symbols and their variants more closely.
             e  This is [c] connected to the letter on the right.
                Mnemonics: "e" is a "c" with a stroke inside. Pull the
                stroke out, use it to connect to the next letter.
             d  This is [l] when followed by [j]. Mnemonics: the "belly"
                of "d" is the final swish of the noose [j], which ends
                on the left of the gallows' leg.
             f  This is [q] when followed by [j]. Mnemonics: imagine the
                mirror-image of "f".


Currier   Frogguy

   S        et         Basic Frogguy: [ct]
   Z        e't        Basic Frogguy: [c't]
            St         when the plume is right on top and connects so
                       cleanly that the left half of this letter looks
                       strikingly like Currier <2>, Frogguy [s]
            e"t        when the plume lies in-between
            e+t        when the plume cuts through the connecting
            et'        when the plume is on top the [t] (weirdo
                       X26 of Jim's list, which happens not infrequently
                       at all).
                       Mind you, I think myself that all that is
                       nit-picking, but who knows?
   X       eLPt        <F> intruding, hence capitalized, into
                       <S>, which is [et]. Basic frogguy: [clpt]
   Q       eQPt        <P> intruding into <S>. Basic frogguy: [cqpt]
   V        dj         Straight gallows leg with noose end [d] and on
                       its right side the dangling noose [j].
                       Basic frogguy: [lj]
   Y       eDJt        <V> intruding into <S>, hence capitalized.
                       Basic frogguy: [cljt]
   B        fj         Gallows leg with loop and noose end [f] and
                       on its right side the dangling noose [j].
                       Basic frogguy: [qj]
   W       eFJt        The same intruding into <S>, hence capitalized.
                       Basic frogguy: [cqjt]


Jim's ID   F3W

 X1        eet        [c] connected to [c], connected to [c],
                      connected to [t].
 X2        eqp        [c] connected to [qp] not intruding
 X3        eQPo       [c] connected to [o], with [qp] intruding
 X4        eQP9       [c] connected to [9], with [qp] intruding
 X5        eLP9       [c] connected to [9], with [lp] intruding
 X6        e9         [c] connected to [9]
 X7        eo         [c] connected to [o]
 X8        e          [c] connected to something
 X9        Ot         [o] connected to [t]
 X10       It         [i] connected to [t]
 X11       4-o'       [4] connected (-) to [o] with a plume
                      (') on top. Note: I think we could dispense
                      with the hyphen. The infamous [4] occurs
                      almost always followed by [o] and is always
                      lightly connected to it.
X12        e'o        [c] with plume, connected to [o]
           So         if the plume is placed so that you think
                      that the left part is really <2> (s)
X13        c)         [c] with a flourish curling up
X14        9'         [9] with plume on top
X15        a'         [a] with plume on top
X16        a)         [a] with a flourish curling up
X17       ADJa        [a] connected to [a] with intruding [dj]
                      Basic frogguy: [Alja]
X18       IDJt        [i] connected to [t] with intruding [dj]
                      Basic frogguy: [iljt]
X19       49          I do not think this is a weirdo at all,
                      it's just that <4> followed by <9>. If
                      the connect does worry you, write [4-9]
X20       e'et
       or Set         [c] with plume, or [s], connected to [c],
                      connected to [t]
X21       e'eFJt
       or SeFJt       ditto, with intruding [fj]
                      Basic frogguy: [Scqjt] or [c-cqjt]

X22       eFJet'      Well, I think you've got the idea, so I
       or eFJes       will dispense with explaining the obvious
                      and skip the Basic Frogguy equivalent.

X23       eDJet
X24       eQPAt
X25       eLPo
X26    et' or es
X27    e'a or Sa
X28       eLPo
X29    e'9 or S9
X30       iQPt
X31       iLPt
X33       9LPet      Since it is capitalized (LP), the gallows
                     must be intruding between two flanking
                     connected letters, so we really don't have
                     to write out that [9] is connected. But if
                     you really insist, then: [9-LPet].
X34       4DJa       Ditto, and [4] normally connects, too.
X35    49' or 4"9    depending on where the plume precisely is.
X36       4DJo
X37       4OPt
X38       O't
X39       O'9
X40       OQP9
X41       OQPo
X42       ODJt
X43       `l         X104 connected to what looks like a gallows
                     straight left leg (approximate)
X44       `p         X104 jerkily connected to what looks like a
                     gallows right leg (approximate)
X45       I have seen a few of those and thought they were
          misshapen <8>. It could be approximated by [c]
          connected to a gallows right leg, i.e. [ep]
X46       `lo        X43 combined with [o]
X47                  Cat got my tongue there
X48       n          the picnic table as mentioned above
X49       ^
X50       k          as mentioned
X51       y          mirror-image of "y", as mentioned
X52                  I have nothing to propose for this. I
                     suspect it is one of the components Jim
                     used in designing the Postscript fonts.
X53       k^
X54                  I have nothing to offer for that weirdo
X55       ea         obviously
X56       eLP
X57       Idj
X58       Ilp
X59       Ifj
X60       e something. I'd like to spot on of those in the VMS
                     before I propose anything.
X61       4qp
X62       4lp

X63       Oqp
X64       O'
X66       ex
X67 to X69  are cases where the left and right halves of a
            gallows are separated by one or more letters. Since
            left and right halves are treated as separate letters
            in the Frogguy system and are known to be always
            connected, no problem arises other than linking them
            in your mind's eye when you see them on the
X71         Looks like a bit of disconnected gallows, as in X67
            to X69.
X72       z
X73       QPt      a Postscript component, I suppose
X74    e' or S     ditto
X75       4c
X76       eFJ
X78       4'       I have only seen it followed by [o]. An
                   element of X11?
X79     eLPet
X80                I'm not sure what this is. I think [c] and a
                   misshapen [x]
X81    e't or St   That is Currier's <Z>! A Postscript glitch?
X82    eDJeS
X83      I         [i] connected, an elementary stroke
X84      e"        [c] connected, with connected plume to its
                   right, a component
X86    SLPo        But the gallows are superscripted, not
                   intruding, so that is only an approximation
X87    eqp
X88    elp
X89    efj
X90    edj
X91    Aa          [a] connected, hence capitalized, to [a]
X94    4o          I don't think this is any different from the
                   infamously common sequence
X95    O"          [o] connected to plume connected to...
X96    O"t
X97    O"9
X98    `FJo
X99    ox          another case of misshapen [x] I think
                   unless it is [og] with the tail end missing?
X100   OLLJt       only an approximation of this monster
X101   o'          [o] with a plume on top
X012   O           [o] connected to something on its right
X103   o           this is obviously [o] when something on its
                   left connects to it.
X104   `           One of the parts of rarer characters
X105   -           Ditto
X108   )           Ditto
X110   eFJet