News (Languages) Mystery of the Voynich manuscript SOLVED!

By Callaina, in 'Other Languages', May 15, 2019.

  1. Callaina Feles Curiosissima

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    This just came out today: https://phys.org/news/2019-05-brist...WxG_-23SHNOflphvAJAllPj-zdK_kvDG6bDmLe7yWaVIU

    Probably the most surprising thing about the discovery is that the Voynich manuscript does not use (as was long thought) a secret language known only to its creator. Rather, it uses an extinct proto-Romance language! :eek:

    From the article:

    A University of Bristol academic has succeeded where countless cryptographers, linguistics scholars and computer programs have failed—by cracking the code of the 'world's most mysterious text', the Voynich manuscript.
    Although the purpose and meaning of the manuscript had eluded scholars for over a century, it took Research Associate Dr. Gerard Cheshire two weeks, using a combination of lateral thinking and ingenuity, to identify the language and writing system of the famously inscrutable document.
    In his peer-reviewed paper, The Language and Writing System of MS408 (Voynich) Explained, published in the journal Romance Studies, Cheshire describes how he successfully deciphered the manuscript's codex and, at the same time, revealed the only known example of proto-Romance language.
    "I experienced a series of 'eureka' moments whilst deciphering the code, followed by a sense of disbelief and excitement when I realised the magnitude of the achievement, both in terms of its linguistic importance and the revelations about the origin and content of the manuscript.
    "What it reveals is even more amazing than the myths and fantasies it has generated. For example, the manuscript was compiled by Dominican nuns as a source of reference for Maria of Castile, Queen of Aragon, who happens to have been great aunt to Catherine of Aragon.
    "It is also no exaggeration to say this work represents one of the most important developments to date in Romance linguistics. The manuscript is written in proto-Romance—ancestral to today's Romance languages including Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian, Romanian, Catalan and Galician. The language used was ubiquitous in the Mediterranean during the Medieval period, but it was seldom written in official or important documents because Latin was the language of royalty, church and government. As a result, proto-Romance was lost from the record, until now."
    Cheshire explains in linguistic terms what makes the manuscript so unusual:
    "It uses an extinct language. Its alphabet is a combination of unfamiliar and more familiar symbols. It includes no dedicated punctuation marks, although some letters have symbol variants to indicate punctuation or phonetic accents. All of the letters are in lower case and there are no double consonants. It includes diphthong, triphthongs, quadriphthongs and even quintiphthongs for the abbreviation of phonetic components. It also includes some words and abbreviations in Latin."
    The next step is to use this knowledge to translate the entire manuscript and compile a lexicon, which Cheshire acknowledges will take some time and funding, as it comprises more than 200 pages.
    "Now the language and writing system have been explained, the pages of the manuscript have been laid open for scholars to explore and reveal, for the first time, its true linguistic and informative content."
  2. Pacifica grammaticissima

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    As I said on Facebook, the proto-Romance thing sounds surprising, even suspicious, to me. The Voynich MS was supposed to have been carbon-dated to the 15th century. Was that datation wrong? Is it actually much older? The article doesn't touch the subject.

    Proto-Romance is very unlikely to have been written in the 15th century. The various Romance languages had long been formed by that time — French was already past Old French into Middle French! It is also unlikely (though I guess not impossible) that anyone in the 15th century had learned proto-Romance as an ancient language, let alone enough to write a whole book in it, given how scantly attested proto-Romance is.

    Now, perhaps this MS could be a copy of a much older one.
    Last edited by Pacifica, May 15, 2019
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  3. Pacifica grammaticissima

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    Back in January 2018, they apparently thought the language of the Voynich manuscript was Hebrew, even though they couldn't find any actually coherent sentence in it.

    A researcher was reassured when Google Translate made some sort of semi-grammatical sense of their transcription "following tweaks to the spelling":


    Some other scholars also recently claimed to have deciphered 30% of the manuscript, which according to them is written in phonetic Old Turkish.
    Last edited by Pacifica, May 15, 2019
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  4. Hemo Rusticus Tom Bombadillo

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    Man, I was just talking to my mom about this a few days ago. She'll be thrilled by this article, whether or not it's bogus.
  5. Dantius Homo Sapiens

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    :eek:
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  6. Callaina Feles Curiosissima

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    Lol -- proto-Romance, Turkish, Hebrew, or none of the above? I guess we'll have to wait and see.
  7. Etaoin Shrdlu Civis Illustris

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  8. Callaina Feles Curiosissima

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    The link isn't working for me, unfortunately.
  9. Dantius Homo Sapiens

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    It works for me.

    Screen Shot 2019-05-16 at 12.58.26 PM.png

    Some of my classmates could have learned from this "hot tip".
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  10. Callaina Feles Curiosissima

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    I finally was able to open it in a different browser. It does seem like this study is...fishy.

    An article from the Guardian which is likewise critical: https://www.theguardian.com/science...roto-romance-new-theory-on-voynich-manuscript

    Yeah, I'd say that's a big red flag right there. :shakehead:
  11. Callaina Feles Curiosissima

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    I've gotta say that (as the Twitter thread points out) somebody really must have dropped the ball in the peer review process. Once the details are given, it sounds like this "theory" is complete balderdash.
  12. Callaina Feles Curiosissima

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  13. Callaina Feles Curiosissima

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    From the paper:

    Whaaaaaa???? Now I have to wonder whether this guy is just trolling the academic community.
  14. Pacifica grammaticissima

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    It was able to pass through the review of I know not how many brilliant people with dazzling titles, and a poor loser of a semi-educated woman with not even an MA smelled the fishy odor right away.
  15. Issacus Divus Well-Known Member

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    Gæmleflodland
    ........
  16. Pacifica grammaticissima

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    Peer review may be dead.

    Some students on my course have marveled, with reason, at how some papers that we were given to read could have passed peer review, for they were written in very poor English. In the field of translation, it's especially ironic.
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  17. Callaina Feles Curiosissima

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    See, this is what I meant when I said you deserved to have your linguistic brilliance recognized. ;)
  18. Pacifica grammaticissima

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    What the fucking fuck? The author is really claiming that proto-Romance was spoken in the 15th century!

    No, no way; this has to be a hoax. Someone making fun of academia, as Callaina hypothesized. I mean, even the most basic research into the topic — I mean, for example, a Google search of the term "proto-Romance" — would tell you that there's a huge period mismatch.
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  19. Issacus Divus Well-Known Member

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    Gæmleflodland
    If only the main idea of this article were true.
  20. Callaina Feles Curiosissima

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    Either that, or he's just utterly deluded by his conception of his own "brilliance"?

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