Stephen Bax and the Voynich Manuscript…

A new day breaks here in the suburbs, bringing with it birdsong, A-road traffic noise, and yet another Voynich theory to bang my head against.

On paper, Professor Stephen Bax certainly has the combination of big brain, linguistic experience and personal ambition that you’d think would be needed to crack open the Voynich Manuscript’s crab-like shell. But… then again, so did poor old Professor William Romaine Newbold; and his Voynich non-decryption ended up enraging Charles Singer so much (justifiably, it has to be said) that he was still angry thirty years later.

All the same, Bax believes that he has tentatively identified a number of words in the Voynich Manuscript, and has posted a 62-page PDF on his website describing his findings. His initial press release has been picked up by BBC News, the Bedfordshire on Sunday, and the irrepressible Daily Grail amongst many others. He has a lecture arranged for 25th February 2014 in Luton (if you happen to be nearby and interested), and is even planning a small Voynich conference in London in June 2014 to try to get other academics involved in his Voynich research programme.

Yet as Rene Zandbergen likes to point out, the most difficult thing about Voynich research is developing chains of reasoning while avoiding big mistakes. And while I hate to be the one to unplug the sound system just as it’s starting to really get the party started, I’m quite certain that every single one of Stephen Bax’s conclusions to date have been built upon a long sequence of easily demonstrable mistakes.

In fact, even though he is trying to use a sensible sounding methodology to elicit his results, I can’t think of a single piece of Voynich Manuscript evidence or secondary historical evidence he uses that I’d agree is a sound starting point: and I’m not convinced that any of his conclusions could be right either. I’ll go through a whole load of points, you’ll see what I mean soon enough.

1. “Initial Words On Herbal Pages Should Be Names”. Errrm…

As Bax rightly points out, you might reasonably expect the unique-looking first word on each of the Voynich Manuscript’s herbal pages to be the name of the plant depicted on that page, because that is indeed how many medieval herbals were laid out. This is not a new observation or idea: Leonell Strong assumed this as part of his Voynichese decryption in the 1940s (he thought the plaintext was written in English, but enciphered using a curious repeating offset into a local substitution alphabet).

But there’s an immediate problem: almost all the Voynich’s Herbal A pages start with one of the four gallows letters: EVA ‘p’ (53 times), EVA ‘t’ (24 times), EVA ‘k’ (21 times) or EVA ‘f’ (10 times). Which for simple substitution ciphers, broadly as John Tiltman pointed out roughly 50 years ago, would mean that the name of pretty much every plant in the Herbal section must start with one of three or four letters. Which would be nonsensical. (Leonell Strong was fine with this, because he thought the cipher scrambled all that stuff up a little: basically, he didn’t think it was a straightforward language.)

Yet Bax persists, and asserts that all of these gallows glyphs simultaneously map to plaintext C or K (in order to keep his ‘oror’ mapping intact, see [3] below), and as a result almost all of the plant names he considers start with the letter C – Centaurea, Cotton, Kaur, Crocus, etc. I’m sorry, but this whole notion is directly contradicted by the immediate statistical evidence. This isn’t something to build on, it’s something to abandon and leave far behind while you find some genuinely useful historical evidence to work with.

2. Bax’s proposed Voynichese alphabet has three letter R’s

This too flies in the face of supposed common sense. The Voynich Manuscript has a limited and compact alphabet, with roughly 18-22 characters occurring with particular frequency: and yet Bax concludes from his multi-language linguistic analysis that three of these (EVA r, EVA m, and EVA n) encipher the letter ‘R’. Come on: this is surely close to as unsystematic a system as could be constructed, a giant Red Flag of Non-Believability being waved in front of his train of reasoning.

3. The Voynichese word “oror” = the Hebrew word “arar”, meaning ‘juniper’

f15v not only has “oror” on, it has “oror or” and “or or oro r” immediately above each other on the first two lines. Did Bax not notice this when he picked this out? This is terribly selective and unconvincing. Moreover, “arar” itself is twice as common in the Voynich Manuscript than “oror”: while Bax himself points out good reasons why it shouldn’t be “oror”.

So… why does he persist with “oror” == juniper? “oror” appears throughout the Voynich Manuscript, while “or” appears extraordinarily frequently. This just seems a hopeful (and unsystematic) stab in the dark in exactly the wrong kind of way.

4. Bax thinks that EVA “kydain” = ‘centaur’ – but has he not noticed “dain” everywhere?

Now this is just ridiculous. One of the genuine mysteries of the Voynich Manuscript is the repeated presence of what look extraordinarily like medieval page references (EVA “aiin”): and here’s one apparently embedded in a word right at the top of f2r. So is there any real chance this also happens to encipher “kentaur” in the way he thinks? No, none whatsoever, I think.

5. “doary” = Taurus. Oh, really?

The reason people have in the past suspected the label by the “Pleiades”-like group on f68r might be “Taurus” was because of the late-medieval “-9″ style Tironian nota at its end, preceded by a letter that looks like “r”. But both those correspondences remain a bit of a stretch, and so this seems basically unworkable in the way he hopes.

6. Reading EVA “keerodal” as “coriander”.

Ask people who have been working with the Voynich Manuscript’s “Voynichese” language for a few years and they’ll probably tell you (as I’m saying now) that this word is almost certainly a copying error by the Voynich Manuscript’s scribe. It is extremely rare to see “eer” (while “ar” and “or” are both extremely common), so I’m confident that this should instead have been written “karodal”, which closely matches how the Voynich Manuscript’s “labelese” often parses out in pairs, i.e. “k.ar.od.al”. Hence I have practically zero faith that this word could be a natural language version of “coriander” in the way Bax suspects – he has misparsed and miscategorised it.

7. Relying on Edith Sherwood’s hopeful plant identifications.

Oh, come on. Edith tries hard to do her thing, but remember that we’ve had real herbal authorities (such as the fantastic Karen Reeds) look closely at the Voynich’s herbal drawings, and they haven’t seen even 10% of what Edith Sherwood thinks she has seen.

So, in summary: of the nine words Bax claims (in his Appendix 1) to have identified, I disagree with the evidence, reasoning, and linguistic rationale for every single one. I am also sure that his letter assignments are fatally flawed. Contrary to the title of his paper, I honestly don’t believe that through his efforts he has yet identified a single “plausible” word in the Voynich Manuscript.

For me, this isn’t even a matter for Ockham’s blessed Razor: to be even remotely workable, a hypothesis needs to have a single example of evidence that chimes with it in a way that can actually be seen to work. And on the above showing of evidence, what he has presented so far is not yet a workable hypothesis in any obvious way, sorry.

91 Comments

  1. avatar voy February 21, 2014 4:16 am

    I think if u combine his ideas and methods with the earlier Nahuatl Voynich Manuscript Theory and identification of plants from the Badianus manuscript you might actually get somewhere.

    Voynich herbal at least, is a transcription of Nahuatl.

  2. avatar Job February 21, 2014 8:51 am

    I agree with your analysis, i don’t think Stephen’s proposals are viable though we could use more of his methodology and trial & error approach to break into some patterns that do occur in the text.

    In my opinion, the serious researchers in the VM community, linguists such as Stephen in particular, need better analysis tools for studying the contents of the manuscript.

  3. avatar Ruby Novacna February 21, 2014 2:17 pm

    Hello Nick!
    I think you are very harsh about proposals of Stephen Bax. It’s true that 62 pages for ten words is exaggerated. However, in my opinion, the word of page 68r must well be “Θαυρος” instead of “ταυρος” in Greek and … “PM curve word” (EVA oalcheol ‘) … must be equivalent “Alcyone – Альциона – Αλκυωνη”.
    Best regards
    Ruby

  4. avatar nickpelling February 21, 2014 2:58 pm

    Ruby: 62 pages for nine words (all of which I strongly disagree with) is indeed unimpressive. I’m glad that you think a couple of them are salvageable from your point of view… because they certainly all look badly broken from where I’m sitting. :-(

    http://www.nickpelling.com/

  5. avatar bdid1dr February 21, 2014 5:12 pm

    Nick, Stephen, Job, & Ruby: One can gain much more meaning from the “Vms” script than from the EVA. One still needs to realize the effort involved in “Romanizing” native spoken vocabulary in whichever country the missionaries might have been proselytizing. I emphasize “Romanizing” because Latin was the language of the earliest missionaries. As far as I can see, the Dutch explorers to the West Indies and the North American continent did not proselytize. Nor did the Mennonites and Palatinates. The Russians, however, didn’t hesitate to enslave the Native Americans living on North American Western shores — and impose Russian Orthodox religious worship/practices upon them. Fort Ross is the name to ‘google’, if you are interested. However, I don’t think you’ll find any “Romanized’ or EVA script in the Fort’s archives. However, just about 40 miles south of Fort Ross begin the chain of Spanish missions: San Francisco, Santa Cruz, San Jose, Monterey, Lompoc (BTW Lompoc is pronounced ‘lom-poke’ , NOT Lom pock). Until about 25 years ago, San Jose’s missionary documents were available for review. They are now in the Historical Museum but are only now available for viewing to ‘credentialed’ professionals. However, microfilms are stored at UC Berkeley. I 1-der where the micro-film READING machines have gone. Y’ can’t read MICRO-film print with your ‘bare eyes’ so to speak.

  6. avatar hakan February 21, 2014 9:47 pm

    i agree with your ideas.
    why is everyone attached to the word. Why do not you examine the way

  7. avatar Al Dorman February 21, 2014 10:16 pm

    Hi Nick,

    Prof. Bax needed to be challenged and I think you did a good job. Would you consider writing into Reddit’s AMA when he does that in the near future?

    I actually have to disagree with your objection #1. The gallows letters are indeed at the beginning of many of the words for supposed herbal names, but is this really a big problem? His “oror” for juniper (page 15) has the gallows letter, but his “k” is NOT the same gallows letter. The “k” has one hoop, while the typical gallows letters are either with the big long loop (page 10), or the fancy box-like P (page 6). Look closely and you’ll see there’s two common gallows, and the “k” isn’t one of them. I’d theorize that the big long loop and the box-like P starting letters could be alef letters, denoting a common article (as in Arabic al-qutn, “cotton”), except it’s a left-to-right written language.

  8. avatar nickpelling February 21, 2014 11:26 pm

    Al: I’ll certainly have a look when he does. :-)

    Here are the first letters from herbal pages in quires 1-8 (I whizzed through my copy of “Le Code Voynich” rather than write a script etc):-
    fkkktkkpkkfkfppttfpptptkpptpppfpptppkfptppppptfpppkfpkpk[ok]tfpfkttpktppptkt[ok]tpppppt[?]tpttpkpp[?]ppppkpttptpktpppk[ot]kp[ot]pp[ok]

    EVA p: 53
    EVA t: 24
    EVA k: 21
    EVA f: 10
    EVA ok: 3
    EVA ot: 2
    Weird gallows: 2
    Other characters: 0

    You and I both know that the gallows are probably different characters or tokens, but Bax is so anxious to prove that the various forms of [gallows]oror are the same word (“juniper”) that he concludes early on that all the gallows are just a single character. All of which may (strictly speaking) actually be ‘logical’, but it’s not really anything like the kind of historical logic I’m at all comfortable with: and this general idea holds true for the rest of his paper.

    But hold on a moment: in Currier A pages, the k:p and t:p letter instance ratios are about 6:1 and 5:1 respectively, while in Currier B pages the k:p and t:p ratios are about 6.8:1 and 3.5:1 respectively. So… how can it be that for the very first letters of Herbal pages, the k:p and t:p ratios are both about 1:2, i.e. the ratios are in completely the reverse proportion?

    Really, you’d have to be fairly unobservant not to notice that there’s something extremely unrepresentative (and indeed wobbly) about the initial (usually gallows) characters on the Herbal pages in the Quires 1-8. And yet it is precisely these specific letters that Bax is relying on most in forming his linguistic argument.

    http://www.nickpelling.com/

  9. avatar bdid1dr February 22, 2014 4:43 pm

    Nick & Friends:

    Might it help y’all if you understood the difference in V-alpha if you could understand that the first two words of B-408, f-15v translate to Sp-a-s-os (species) os-kwash (squash), and third word is cu-com (cucumber). The illustration for f-15v is the evulsion of seeds from the flower (so that readers can better understand/identify the plant as edible — blossom, seeds, and all — whether a cucumber, squash, or melon). One would not want to mis-identify a jimson weed as being edible.
    Is there not room for considering that the EVA may need updating from its creator?

  10. avatar bdid1dr February 22, 2014 5:03 pm

    Other uses for this botanical specimen is a ‘natural’ sponge: the loofa squash.
    :-)

  11. avatar air February 23, 2014 12:02 am

    8. It is possible to decipher nine words of the Manuscript in any language you like. See for instance this self explaining decoding of 8 words on a single page.

    EVA a = a, d = d, e = e, f = f, h = h, i = i, o = o, r = r, s = s, t = t

    air
    shed
    shear
    tar
    far
    she
    air
    or

  12. avatar air February 23, 2014 12:03 am

    8. It is possible to decipher nine words of the Manuscript in any language you like. See for instance this self explaining decoding of 8 words on a single page!

    EVA a = a, d = d, e = e, f = f, h = h, i = i, o = o, r = r, s = s, t = t

    f111v.P.4 air
    f111v.P.10 shed
    f111v.P.11 shear
    f111v.P.13 tar
    f111v.P.16 far
    f111v.P.17 she
    f111v.P.21 air
    f111v.P.44 or

  13. avatar Marke Fincher February 23, 2014 2:36 pm

    OK, In a similar vein, check out my amazing Voynich decoding below:

    there is a section of Voynichese text on folio 102v1.P1.6 which goes:

    “kcheor.s!ar.cheor.”

    using a simple monoalphabetic substitution cypher this translates to:

    RONALD.M CD.ONALD

    k => ‘R’
    ch => ‘ON’
    e => ‘A’
    o => ‘L’
    r => ‘D’
    s => ‘M’
    a => ‘C’

    So this proves I guess that someone in the 15th Century knew how to make a “big Mac” ?

  14. avatar Robert Hicks February 23, 2014 3:02 pm

    I’ve been challenging Stephen’s findings via the comment box on his website, but he is remarkably unwilling to respond to it. At least he has bitten (ineffectually) to Nick’s analysis.

    Stephen seems quite happy to receive pats on the back from interested members of the public, much less prepared to take any criticism from people who have studied the ms in any detail. How anyone, let alone a Professor of Linguistics, can dare announce to the world that he has ‘deciphered’ the ms on the strength of a handful of unrelated words in a so-far ‘unidentified language’ is beyond me.

    His main responses to any informed criticism is “you’ll have to wait a few years until I finish my results” or “we’ll have to agree to disagree”. Meanwhile, any armchair puzzle-solver who suggests even the most inane or done-to-death idea gets praised and told that their contribution to the project is invaluable.

  15. avatar bdid1dr February 23, 2014 4:11 pm

    Guys (and Dolls, if there are any female survivors of the “critics wars”):
    What I haven”t seen on either Nick’s pages or Stephen B’s is any response at all (contradictory OR validation) to my posts. I’m not feeling ‘left out’, per se, but rather disappointed at the lack of any feedback at all. It’s as if I’m writing with ‘lemon-juice ink. All one needs is a candle……
    BTW: Does anyone know what’s happening with Diane O’Donovan? I miss our little tete a’ tetes and occasional travels down the same paths. Hang in there Diane, Ruby, and Ellie!
    beady-eyed-wonder-r

  16. avatar Robert Hicks February 23, 2014 6:43 pm

    Stephen,

    I have raised perfectly valid problems with what you have presented and, more importantly, HOW it has been presented. Perhaps without your direct involvement, the press has lauded you as “the man who cracked it”.

    As it stands, you cannot claim to have either a partial or provisional solution any more than I can claim to have a partial or provisional time-machine. What you have is a routine substitution cipher with abjad qualities and a mutable ‘unidentified’ language. Without such a language, any desired result can be fudged. All you have is “the first word of herbal pages could be names of plants” and “a word next to the Pleiades could mean Taurus”. Forgive me, but that’s hardly worth announcing to the world.

    I have no agenda, save to examine every single fact about the VMS, look at every single claim, and to judge them for their merits.

    As for my own solution, there isn’t one. There won’t be one. I am not looking for one. I have many theories about the VMS, but I am not going to present them without finishing them and then passing them underneath more expert noses than my own.

    But you are correct, there is little point in my trying with you any further. You do not like my approach, and that is absolutely your privilege. I hope what you are doing does come to something, or, if not, that you continue in the same spirit until a real finding comes along.

    Rob

  17. avatar bdid1dr February 23, 2014 10:07 pm

    Dear Nick & other interested parties: Yesterday I made a free-trade book exchange at my local coffee shop: “The World of Coffee – The Science and Culture of the World’s Most Popular Drug” (Weinberg & Bealer, authors):

    So, my latest research to find a similar discussion/discovery in B-408 may have results in a day or so. I skimmed quite a bit of the book’s 400+ pages — and came to a screeching halt on page 238: Some of the craziest spider webs one doesn’t have to imagine. Scientific experiments on how well the the poor ‘common house spider’ could spin a web while under the influence of each of Marijuana, Benzedrine, Chloral Hydrate, and Caffeine. I laughed so hard, I cried — partly because I had captured a spider and released it over my balcony only minutes before. I’m laughing again, this morning, because I had to ask my husband’s assistance in ‘catch and release’ of a very confused/drunken? bee which was climbing the inside of my large window. Maybe it was drunk on rosemary blossom nectar?
    I arrived at this page consequent to my index search for “hallucinative” drugs which might have been chewed by South American Natives in the lowlands OR in the mountains: Betel nut: fruit/berry of Areca Cathecu/Feather-leaved Palms. (Note: Forbear the urge to correct my spelling to Catechu. The writer of this article and x-file also refers to Chrysalidocarpus).
    I’ve gone ‘way down trails and way up, even to the Andes and other higher elevations where the inhabitants depend on the betel nut to enhance their daily work and/or play — even today.

  18. avatar bdid1dr February 24, 2014 12:51 am

    Stephen, did my earlier comment/reference to the Florentine codex 51.9 ( “dig a hole: ‘insico cauitlatl”) ‘dig a cavity’ facilitate a decoding event for you?
    Nick, are we going to see a sequel to your book, soon?
    Diane, are we going to be seeing more commentary in re some of the more obscure items in B-408? Perhaps the IncanAztec/Mixtec mythology and ‘star charts’? Do I recall correctly that the Mayan/Incan/Aztec calendars predicted the end of the world for the year 2012?
    My pile of research books can no longer be stacked in one pile — so I have approximately six-feet of shelving for my history books, eight feet of shelving for botanical books, three feet of Ottoman Empire books, three feet of maps/atlases, and two feet of cook books! Four feet of folders full of downloads (to which I still refer and update)and most of the books will be moved to our guest room bookshelf. I 1-der how interesting potential guests might find those notes/downloads. My younger son began teaching his son how to spell and read (computer assisted) before my grandson was four years old. Sometimes it DOES ‘run in the family’.
    Stephen, what did you do with Tom Spande? Are you in touch with him? If so, give him my greetings. thanx!
    bees-knees beedee

  19. avatar bdid1dr February 24, 2014 1:23 am

    ‘Air’, see if you can find a ‘free-standing’ T anywhere in the Vms. “T” is found only in combination with “L” or “S”. As in such word formations as total, title, or atl? —> remove the dot at bottm of the question mark and you will have the Vms letter. Probably even the word “Nahuatl” is a “Romanization of a simpler sound/spelling : N’ otl
    bd id 1 dr

  20. avatar bdid1dr February 24, 2014 4:49 pm

    Nick, just ‘magine what a Nahuatl Scrabble game would look like. Kudos to your Gran for getting you off to a good start!
    beady-eyed wonder-r
    :-)

  21. avatar bdid1dr February 24, 2014 5:22 pm

    Oops, my apologies, Air: I meant to say that the word ‘atlas’ (a collection of maps) could be spelled with only two glyphs: the combined “TL” and what looks like a question mark without the dot, which represents the sibilant ‘S’.
    In other conversations, I tried to compare the very similar glyph for ‘R’ — which looks very much like the glyph I’ve just discussed — except it has a curved “tail” instead of a straight downstroke.
    Nick, Stephen, have you noticed that two medieval plant specimens are identified as being xiu-hamolli ? With good reason: The small round-leaved plant is the “soap plant”. The illustration of the enormous root is identifying the ROOT of the “yucca” succulent plant (agave). The root is smashed and mixed into water to create a shampoo called xiu-hamolli.
    Round n-round we go — again.

  22. avatar bdid1dr February 25, 2014 4:01 pm

    Nick, there actually are three “R’s in the Vms. I’ll leave the mystery of their appearance to you and Stephen (and maybe Tom Spande).
    ;-)

  23. avatar voy February 27, 2014 7:22 am

    has there been any linguists who attempted to evaluate Voynich as glossolalia? speaking in tongues? christian or otherwise?

  24. avatar xplor February 27, 2014 5:02 pm

    You have to like what Stephen Bax is doing. The Voynich may me a copy of a lost language with some syllables replaced with other alphabets. Maybe it has even some boustrophedon text.

  25. avatar nickpelling February 27, 2014 5:37 pm

    xplor: respectively, (1) no, I’m sure you don’t; (2) I really don’t think so, the alphabet is too compact; (3) I don’t see any sign of boustrophedon – the stats all run in a single direction (i.e. 4o- at the left-hand-end of words, -89 at the right-hand-end of words, -am at the right-hand end of lines, etc etc).

    http://www.nickpelling.com/

  26. avatar thomas spande February 27, 2014 9:04 pm

    Dear all, First off “Bd”,I am still above the sod.Thanks for asking.

    Secondly, I rarely venture into plant IDs but here is one from left field! I think that f16v (likely scribe #2) depicts Cortex Moutan,the tree peony, where the red flowers and roots only are shown. No leaves. It is not found in my Culpeper but is found in my Chinese Materia Medica (Oxford,2005, p 458) where the roots (root bark) only are used for menstruation problems(amenorrhea, menorrhagia). The roots are clutching (five fingered) as though fighting cramps. The peony flowers have 13-16 yang (or yin) shaped lobes which approximates the fertile period of a woman’s cycle in days and the blue star-(yellow center) at the top announces an impeding or actual birth, to be rejoiced in. The MM indicates a yin /yang imbalance is treated with the tree peony root bark. Cheers, Tom

  27. avatar bdid1dr February 28, 2014 4:21 pm

    Hello, ThomS! While you’re on the same page, so to speak, take a look at folio 16-r which displays (image #1006l04) the botanical specimen which is identified as Plantago Ovata or Psyllium seed.
    Historic uses for the seeds were to make mucilage (a natural gel) to thicken gravy/sauce — but I suspect it was more often used as a laxative.
    One photo (for comparison, CalPhotos) I pulled up was taken at Red Rock Canyon State Park. My parents took us on a visit there when I was about 5 years old. I desperately wanted to take a ride on one of the ‘ponies’. My parents wouldn’t let me pick any of the wildflowers to feed the ‘horsies”. Before the canyon was made a state park, it was the stabling area for the “Twenty-mule” teams which pulled the wagons full of borax. I’ll let you all determine the uses of borax.
    ‘-)

  28. avatar bdid1dr February 28, 2014 7:19 pm

    Friends: This morning I got a good look at my 18″ x 24″ reproduction of Piri Reis’ beautiful map:

    Edith Sherwood’s discussions in re the Benin (bronze work), Asante goldsmiths (Gold Coast), and the Ivory coast (Elephant with no tusks) are all beautifully illustrated on the map. Also appearing on the map are various European fortresses/castles — El Mina being just one of many.
    So, I wonder if Edith may have been very close to solving the puzzle of the language being written in Boenicke Ms 408. I’m writing this comment after comparing Admiral Reis’ map with the discussion and illustrations in a small book: “Asante – The Gold Coast” Philip Koslow, Chelsea House Publishers *New York* Philadelphia*
    Only brief discussion as to what happened to several million native Africans, but actually was rather disclosive.
    I shall be hunting down what may have been a set of books discussing the other kingdoms of Africa.

    Piri Reis focused on (and pondered) the parrots on his map. He may never have seen the white ‘cattle egrets’ which flew from the African coast to Key West via the trade winds. Cayo Hueso had hatches of millions of tiny bufonidae. The hundreds of egrets would gobble the thousands of toads which would hatch when the summer rains began.
    By the way: Cayo Hueso apparently meant “Islet of Pigs”. Over several centuries that tiny island’s name was mis-translated to Key West.

  29. avatar thomas spande February 28, 2014 11:17 pm

    Dear all, Well I may have a steep hill to climb in placing the venue of what might be Cortex Mouton (f16v) as it has been reported mainly in the far East! China and nearby western areas. Diane would not be surprised at all,I suspect! Will look for some more IDs out of the Chinese Materia Medica going first to yin/yang disorders, then stylized versions of the plant with medical uses as laid down with mnenomic clues. So far the VM trail leads me toward “the road to Mandalay where the flying fishes play”! Cheers, Tom

    ps.”and the sun comes up like thunder out of China cross the bay”

  30. avatar bdid1dr March 2, 2014 5:18 pm

    Sunset in Key West: Mallory Dock with several hundred people looking for the ‘flash of green’. Polyglot of English, Spanish, French, Portuguese…..
    My younger son has never forgotten the evening the US Navy’s flying team “Blue Angels” did a flyover with their latest jet airplane, which hovered fifty feet above the water surface and roughly a hundred feet away from the dock — and backlit by the setting sun.
    :-)

  31. avatar bdid1dr March 3, 2014 2:05 am

    Nick, Stephen, & n-e other n-ter-es-ted par-ties: I refer you to a Dover Edition of the Maya Society’s booklet, “An Aztec Herbal — The Classic Codex of 1552″ (William Gates publication). My husband handed me my copy this afternoon. I am so excited, I am somewhat incoherent. So, find a source (Amazon is good) for a good copy for about $15.00 including P & H.

  32. avatar suter March 3, 2014 11:11 am

    My own work indicates two things, thus far:
    1. A set of maps, likely hydrographic, of San Francisco, Ca., presumably c. 1500.
    2. The text contains “null” elements in the form of positional indicators, explaining the various “vertical” corellations.

  33. avatar thomas spande March 6, 2014 7:55 pm

    Dear all, Well, I am proposing an herbal ID with a fair amount of confidence but it is so “normal” in lacking odd shaped leaves, weird and strangely colored flowers that I suspect it is a rediscovery of the wheel by me. I was not led to this however except by a very, very similar depiction of f25r in my increasingly well-thumbed Chinese Materia Medica where on page 436 is identified Cortex Mori Radicis and where the root bark is used to treat edema and lung heat (excess yang). The VM depiction is what might be called a “true”image which seems rare in the VM plant section. Now things get odd as my Culpeper identifies it also as “white mulberry” (as is also given in the MM) but the parts used are everything BUT the root. So is the VM giving up both the trad. Chinese use as well as in Europe? A medicinal hybrid? The little dark berries at the juncture of opposite leaf stems joining the main stem are typical of this plant and the leaf shapes are accurate. I think the text is done by scribe #2 (looser style). So maybe we get an occasional glimpse of reality here in the VM,not the usual mumbo-jumbo? Cheers,Tom

  34. avatar thomas spande March 6, 2014 9:09 pm

    Dear all, I left out, for those who care about conventional Latin plant IDs,the usual name for the white mulberry. It is Morus alba (imagine the italics!), famously known as the Russian mulberry and also the mulberry used to feed silkworms. Has a circle closed or do I imagine that? Recall Chios island, Greece (a possible venue for the VM) when not raising mastic trees was heavily into silk making. BD has dealt with that topic in her previous Old World life! Cheers, Tom.

  35. avatar bdid1dr March 7, 2014 4:58 pm

    ThomS, several months ago (and on several discussion pages besides our host Nick’s) I gave a full translation of the fruit displayed on B-408, folio 11v: Morus Alba (mulberry tree). At that time I also explained that it was NOT the fruit which was fed to the silk-worm larvae, but rather the leaves (pablumox). “Blattae” (the last word of discussion on f-11v) means moth-eaten. “Blattae was a cautionary word to the folks who ‘unspun’ the cocoons into silk ‘thread’: Do it before the moth is fully evolved and eats her way out of the cocoon!
    Pull out your latin dictionaries, folks — and ‘see’ what I mean.
    :-)

  36. avatar bdid1dr March 7, 2014 5:06 pm

    Prof. Bax, maybe you’ll find this discussion a bit more intelligible than my recent contributions in re ‘M’ and ‘N’ alpha-characters, which appear consistently throughout the “VMs”, and are perfect ex-am-ples of the use of “minims”.
    bdid1dr

  37. avatar thomas spande March 7, 2014 7:53 pm

    Dear all, particularly BD. The Chinese Materia Medica (MM)on the plant shown as white mulberry (VM 25r) does not deal with other uses of the plant; only medicinal ones despite China being at one time the main source of silk from that plant. Nothing on “tea” in the MM either! I do recall your essays on silk making. I will have to look again at f11v but I remain convinced Morus alba is that depicted on f25v. Two entries in the botanical section of the VM for the same plant would be strange but not impossible. Now to your ID of the plant shown on f16r as Plantago ovata. I can locate it in my MM but it bears little resemblance to the plant you discuss in connection with wanting to feed one or more to your horse. That would, in any case be a plant introduced into the New World and not the common weed in China (Semen Plantiniginis) to which it bears no resemblance. I cannot find yet the plant you have identified as Plantago ovata which would seem to have a very characteristic 9-lobed leaf. I am guessing that we are going back to medical clues anyway with the swollen roots being a clue maybe to psyllium for constipation as you are guessing. Are we going now for New World plants as well as Old World? I know that silkworms had a tough time of it in New England and other caterpillars were introduced in hopes of remedying this deficit The gypsy moth caterpillar was one that failed at this task, was unwisely released into the wilds and then went after every thing in sight including pines but failed at silk making. Henry Thoreau writes of these pests, totally out of control, pulling down his guttering by their weight and the sound of falling needles on his roof at “Walden” keeping him awake at night. Anyway I am guessing that your commentary on silk making applied to the Old World plant? Cheers, Tom

    ps. Has the VM search shifted to the New World while I was dealing with several heavy snows here in Maryland and not daily checking posts on Nick’s web? I thought a stake had been driven through that idea, donkey’s years ago? Are we now just ignoring the VM vellum dating as irrevelant, explaining away somehow, the use of Latin with Tironian notes, European hair coloration and styles, etc.

  38. avatar bdid1dr March 8, 2014 4:24 pm

    Yes, ThomS, while you were shoveling snow, our ponderings shifted to South American shores. Partly because Nick and Stephen B have been having an exchange of info in re “Na Huatl” (The American Botanical Society recently posted some ‘new’ info in re a botanical specimen called ‘xiuh-amolli’. Actually the ABC was slightly off-course, so to speak. So, my husband has been furthering my translation efforts by purchasing various books (Azteca, Badianus/De la Cruz–via Pope John II, in 1990), vocabularies, and maps. (Piri Reis).
    Here are two excellent sources of Aztec info (though neither of them make the distinction between the small blue-flowered ‘xiuh-amolli’ which stems, leaves, and flowers ONLY are to be macerated and boiled into a salve for scabies. The larger root, leaves and flower which portray a ‘yucca/Spanish bayonet are also being macerated and boiled; ‘xiuh-hamolli, into a ‘soap-shampoo.
    Another codex (Osuna Triple Alliance.jpg) identifies 3 major locations in South America: Texcoco, Tenochtitlan, and Tlacopan (note the ‘b’ for ‘p’). I’m now wondering how the Aztecs would have identified “Cuba” (if they did the ‘offshore islands at all).
    :-)

  39. avatar thomas spande March 10, 2014 6:05 pm

    To BD et al., First off, I think f11v is not any mulberry, white or black, but is rather the turmeric plant. I think this was one of the few Sherwood IDs I agree with. It is in Materia Medica (MM) (Chinese) on p 231, where it has one use as helping to strengthen the arm. I think the roots of f11v are sort of shaped like a bent arm (or maybe leg?) and do not resemble the roots of turmeric (Curcuma longa L. or C. aromatica Salisb) shown in MM. I think the text of f11v is done by scribe #2. For sure tumeric would be an article of commerce,e.g. for flavoring curries, although most or maybe all came from the East Indies. The use of the herb in medicine woulde involve those untinted roots and I suppose it is not a stretch to imagine those also being exported from Indonesia. I think we follow in the footsteps of Diane on this point.

    One another ID via the MM. On p592, we find a pretty fair depiction of VM f30v (Similax glabra Roxb.), a plant allegedly improving the mobilization of arm and leg joints. Note, in the VM, the berries are in two groups of five on the left stems and two groups of 5 on the right stem branches. I think the stems are arms and legs and the berries are toes and fingers.The text was enscribed by #2.

    I have downloaded “An Aztec Herbal” by Wm Gates onto my Kindle and so far. I remain unconvinced that it has any connection with the VM botanical section. I did find it interesting that the Mayans were using hot/cold illness characterizations and evidently had had some contact with Chinese medical lore and used also their taste characterizations. But they are also into the 4 “humors” common in Europe unlike the yin/yang system that I think is being used in the VM. I will dig further on what “plain text” was the source of the Latin translation and those really stylized original plant drawings.Even the later drawings bear little resemblance to the weirdnesses of the VM. Cheers, Tom

  40. avatar bdid1dr March 10, 2014 6:24 pm

    BTW, An Aztec word for botany: xiuh-tl-ama-tl-iz-tl-i
    Now that I have a Nahuatl-English dictionary at hand, I am going to continue to translate the Nahuatl-Latin script in B-408 into English. Those of you who speak or read Deutch, Dutch, French, Portuguese, Arabic– may gain quite a bit of understanding of
    the offerings of B-408 — from first folio to last.

    Those strange markings on the left margin of B-408′s first manuscript page are symbols used by scribes to indicate where the first item of discussion is to occur. The second strange marking indicates how the folios are to be paginated and folded before being bound (if to be bound at all).
    I’m still having fun because my brain is always 1-dr-ng even when I sleep. Do any of you recall the expression “I’ll sleep on it” (when trying to solve a puzzle or a dilemna)?
    :-)

  41. avatar thomas spande March 10, 2014 8:55 pm

    To BD (mainly). Well I think it has to be admitted that the “New World” is older than many imagine. I have an account of some early Christians from Sendai Japan who went to see the Pope the hard way in early 1500s. They landed in CA than went overland through Mexico establishing monasteries along the way then built a ship and resumed their sea voyage, eventually hitting Italy and gifting the pope who graciously gave some treasure to them to take home. They returned to Sendai and are honored by a statue there. Well this is all true but another book I own “America BC” by Barry Fell is evidently the result of imagining glacial scratches in New Hampshire (“our little Stonehenge”) as examples of “Ogam”, the writing of early Celts in Ireland. That NH tie-in been pretty much debunked. The Ogam language was unusual in that it involved 1-5 fingers above, even with or below a horizontal line made by one’s other hand. So it could be seen at a distance greater than the voice would carry and made no noise. Fell gets into early monk’s travels and they did get to Iceland (see Tristan Jones “Ice”) for a good read and an account of known travels of those monks using leather circular boats (cowries(sp)?). Only a few think these guys made it to the New World however. Maybe St.;Patrick’s Day flushes out a few more believers. Guiness helps. Ever open to new ideas but the Aztec Herbal may be a stretch.

    Here’s another stretch. My daughter noted years ago that a Mayan branch in Mexico. the Olmec’s, had on their statuary, eyes with the occipital fold, like the Chinese. Once you get established, idle (but interesting) speculation generally ceases so haven’t heard about this for years. Now it is known that non-Caucasians were in the New World long before the “ice bridge” during the last ice age (10K yrs ago). Most think they came down the west coast by boat
    and settled all along the way. A good find in TX predates the ice age and it would make sense if all this is true that Mexico and points south would be in their travel itinerary. Just that the Aztec Herbal is sort of normal and not weird like the VM. Cheers Tom

  42. avatar Ruby Novacna March 11, 2014 4:31 pm

    Dear friends and colleagues!
    Please post your results on your blogs so that we can see them.
    Best regards
    Ruby
    readingvoynich

  43. avatar bdid1dr March 11, 2014 5:13 pm

    ThomS & all interested:

    “America’s Beginnings” – ‘The Wild Shores’, by Tee Loftin Snell, discusses emigrants from Portugal and the Azores to ‘a Cape Breton Harbor, about 1522. Further discussion in Chapter 2 of this book is in re Ponce de Leon, Balboa, Cortez, and Coronado – 1492-1561. Next chapter: ‘Bloody Florida, Lost Roanoke – 1502-1590: Some discussion in re Pedro Menendez de Aviles and his massacre of 334 French Huguenots on the shore of Florida.
    Nick might be interested in picking up the story from the English side of “The Pond”.

  44. avatar thomas spande March 11, 2014 5:18 pm

    Dear all, Last comment on Turmeric. It grows wild in Indonesia but has been extensively cultivated in Tamil Nadu, India.

    It has been remarked often that NOT A SINGLE WORD of the VM has been decrypted. Well, I push forward one decrypt I have made, just one that I have confidence in, and that is the tiny writing to the right of the thistle like plant on f2r that I think reads (L->R) “Troaia” which was the Greek spelling for Troy. The main text is in the hand of scribe #2 (looser style). What that means is anyone’s guess.

    I think, all the gallows glyphs are single consonants, not ligatures and the fundamental key to decrypting the VM is the recognition that the language used in the VM uses letters for numbers as did many languages in the middle East, including Arabic, Hebrew and (here it comes gang!) Armenian. If one uses the Latin equivalent of “89″ used by Armenians and often occurring in the VM, you have “et”. “9″ without a long tail to the left is “t”.The tail amounts to a macron and I think “st” is usually meant. It is the concealed macrons, usually using the gallows for “p” that even sort of looks like a “p” that are most commonly used. The use of many macrons and made up word lengths is what makes a lot of computer analysis of letter occurrences, word lengths etc. of minimal use. Now what the hey does “Troy” signify? It might be that a specimen drawn on f2r was found at what was once considered Troy but was really Troas Alexander. The actual site of Troy was not discovered until the 19th century. Then why not provide the venue for all the other botanicals? This appears not to be the case. Cheers, Tom

  45. avatar bdid1dr March 12, 2014 5:06 pm

    Which is why I am busy translating rather than decoding the contents of B-408. The language which is translated on every single page/folio is Latin, regardless of which ethnic group might have been observed and/or interviewed by the various monks or traders who composed and illustrated B-408.
    If some of the translations are vague on details, most often it would be the case of the translator attempting to write ‘syllables’ as he heard them being spoken. So, this would be the results of monk/scribes working with the Azteca (who supposedly had no written language at that time).
    The Maya had an incredible vocabulary which was carved into their stonework.
    Our latest viewing of a ‘NetFlix’ offering was “Cracking the Maya Code” and interviews with Merle Green Robertson and MacArthur ‘genius’ grant recipient David Stuart.

  46. avatar bdid1dr March 12, 2014 5:58 pm

    I emphasize ‘supposedly’ the Aztecs (Na-huah-tl) had no written language until the ‘Florentine’ and ‘Badianus’ codices were transcribed in the late 1400-1500′s a.d.
    Even today there have been changes to the bc (before Christ) and ad (anno domini) references to history. We now use the terms bce (before common era) and ce (common era). So, which ‘common era’ are we discussing/referring? How are our younger generations of historians handling this shift in terminology (regardless of their nationality)?
    Ruby: Not all of us very verbose contributors to Nick’s pages have the means of creating our own blog, much less being able to maintain one. Even if we did, we would probably end up in the same ‘scrap heap’ as Diane, Ellie, and Edith. You may, at this very moment, be wondering ‘who is Edith Sherwood’.
    Nick, at the risk of being ridiculed a ‘nag’, I still hope to purchase a set of your book(s). The sooner the better!
    :-)

  47. avatar bdid1dr March 12, 2014 6:30 pm

    Ruby, some of us do not have the computer and peripherals to maintain/illustrate a blog. In fact I am seeing more and more computer activity at our local library — even though I haven’t yet seen a printer for ‘downloads’.
    My ‘antique’ home computer and printer setup was only recently upgraded with video & sound cards. Even then, unless the videos have captioning, I am unable to enjoy audio/visual presentations on-line.
    My apologies if I am interfering with the communications hosted by Mr. Pelling on his blog.
    ;-)
    BD, the one-eyed wonder (two eyes, but which only one works.)

  48. avatar thomas spande March 12, 2014 6:56 pm

    Dear all On Troy. Armenian prehistory indicates a generous readiness to believe that they originated as survivors of the sack of Troy! Particularly those around ancient Cilicia. But folks inclined to trace their beginnings to Troy abounded, some in fact in South Central Italy. Why identification with the losers of the seige and sacking of Troy seems odd.

    Ruby, you are likely missing Diane’s practise of referencing every statement with some authoritative monograph or publication. I have tried to do this with plant IDs but when it comes to decrypts, what can you cite? How do you reference speculation? I think a lot of computation on letter frequency, on word lengths is of minimal use since there are many examples (a dozen or so per botanical page) of scribal abbreviation for deletions indicating absent letters such as the concealed macrons I mention above. To this might be added the more common Tironian notation of the “)” superscript, most commonly after “m” and “n” and indicating truncation, i.e. a following letter or letters is omitted. One example of a common deletion in the VM botanicals is “st” for “sunt” where the meaning is usually “are” in Latin.

    JB, a few years back, provided a useful tabulation by character recognition software of the gallows gyphs; it could be refined by gallows used by scribe #1 or #2? If his character recognition software is up to it: the “&”, “8″ and the “8 with a rocker” might be attempted. Maybe some additional blood might be squeezed from the VM turnip? Cheers, Tom

  49. avatar bdid1dr March 12, 2014 9:19 pm

    ThomS, just so you know, the verso of B-408 f-2r (f-2v) is illustrating and discussing the water lily: the very first four ‘glyphs’ represent the syllables ‘oa (Wa) tl a-om: wa-ter-lil-i-um.
    Because this folio did NOT have an elaborate “P” (especies) glyph, “oa” could be added, mentally/automatically by an informed reader, so that the specimen could be read as I have x-pl-ae-nd above.
    So, later today, I shall visit and download f-2r, just to see if B-408 begins with discussions of the various aquatic plants (some of which are included in de Sagittae). What we all might be seeing is a progression through aquatic, bulbs, ranunculae/buttercups. corms,……until the more ‘exotic’ specimens begin to appear: Sericinae and the feeding and maintenance of the insects which kept the silk production lines busy for centuries. Corms for saffron. Bulbs for tulips/ranunculae….regardless of which country produced them.
    Some other time, I may re-introduce my discussions in re Artemis/Diana (folios in B-408 which number in the 70′s through the 80′s.
    Ciao (time for chow)!
    beady-eyed wonder

  50. avatar Ruby Novacna March 13, 2014 11:33 am

    Dear colleagues!
    My proposal to consolidate your comments on your own blog was not dictated by the feeling that you caused the interference on the blog N.Pelling. I admit that the reason is purely selfish, because it is much more convenient for me to visit a blog that can inspire me that to read hundreds of messages, I do not have this possibility physically. Between us, we need the same number of minutes to post on our own blog, that on the other blog.
    However our hobby should not become our duty.
    Best regards
    Ruby

  51. avatar bdid1dr March 13, 2014 4:36 pm

    Corrections to folio 11v (Morus alba fruit (mulberry pictured) and leaves chopped into ‘pablumox’:
    Line 5 translates to latin phrase rogaes-eus a-quo-llegeus (funeral in hot water).
    Line 6 refers to ‘a type of beetle (blatta-n-aes-os)[silkworm] recox-laes (to cook-to boil).

    There may be another folio in B-408 which would be referring to the same tree (morus alba) which thin underlying layer of bark was used for paper (and paper money by the Sericine (Chinese).
    Anyway, the discussion I’ve just recapped, above, is all about killing the moth inside the cocoon (in hot boiling water) before it can eat its way out of the cocoon; which would cut the mile-long thread of silk into unusuable lengths for reeling and spinning, and production of cloth.
    I was (and still am) a handspinner (drop spindle, Navajo spindle, silk and cotton spindle).
    :-)

  52. avatar bdid1dr March 14, 2014 2:08 pm

    I can also make a three-ply yarn out of a ‘single” length of yarn, whether I ply with my spinning wheel or drop spindle: The technique is called “Navajo plying”, although Navajo spinners/weavers tell me they do not use that special technique.
    So, how much of the of “Na-huat-l codices were written by Native Americans of Mexico and the Yucatan? I ask the question, here, because I already know the answer. Do you?

  53. avatar thomas spande March 14, 2014 5:32 pm

    Dear all, particularly Ruby. I think Voynichers are split into two main camps: those with their own web sites and those who use Nick’s. Nick has graciously provided space over many years so that every blossom has a chance to bloom, despite some grumbling about imagined abuses. I side with those using Nick’s web pages as this at least keeps the discussions from becoming too diffused to be useful. I find that key words, like “Bax”,”Dogon”, “Internet mind” can be used with Google along with “Nick Pelling voynich manuscript” to select among the topics currently under discussion. Some run out of gas when a topic has been expatiated upon enough and then may get shifted to his ongoing archive, but evidently are never deleted. I think it also serves the role as “argument settler” as every entry is dated so priority for an idea is automatically established and an email address is required of the submitter.

    Nick will permit posters to run with an idea to its logical or illogical end. To me, this is the great strength of this approach; it can be self correcting or people can just settle in for an agreement to disagree. Nick will referee the more preposterous but a great flexibility seems permitted. An always grateful Voynicher. Cheers Tom

  54. avatar thomas spande March 14, 2014 7:58 pm

    Dear all, On Armenian cryptography, redundancy and nulls.

    At the risk of dwelling overmuch on a topic that may annoy or exasperate; I will mention yet once again my detection of tentative Armenian hands in the VM encryption. In particular, the use of two letters to encypher a single letter was widely used by the Armenians and from the 9th C (A.D.) onward. I have a link to an enciphered Armenian grave stone epigraph but this would block my post so I will pass on that. The letter “c” was sometimes used as I think it is in the VM. I think the following double glyphs are used for vowels in the VM: cc=e; c-c=i; c-*c (*= curlicue over the line joining the “c”s) =u and the plain old Latin “o” is used as o and also in the folio numbering for “0″ as common in Europe with the introduction of the concept of zero by the Italian mathematician Fibonacci . A single “c” is a null as well as any simple “c” in an odd number of the “c” glyphs as in c-c c. One of these double “c”s is redundant as “8″ = e as well as cc=e and c-c=i. The VM language is phonetic and does not really use any diacritical marks. I think some that appear to be diacritical marks are macrons or part of the encipherment and not meant for pronunciation. BD also inclines to a phonetic code but more complex that what I propose where only the tipped “2″ an Armenian glyph, has the same meaning in the VM as in Armenian and that is “ch”. So the gallows are all consonants l, r, h and p in order of complexity and where c-gallows-c is found this is simply i-consonant-i, i.e. the i appears before and after the consonant. Another Armenian glyph is used and that is one I have yet to understand, i.e. the “8″ with a flattened rocker that I think is the Latin “f” and was not introduced in written Armenian until the 11thC. The”&” also appears in the VM and may substitute for “89″ =et. I have not seen it in cursive Armenian until the 16thC so it is strange to find it in the 15th C VM manuscript. It was rare in cursive Latin and not much used until letter press printing, late 15thC in Italy. Is one purpose of the VM cipher glyphs to pass for Arabic? When the Tironian notation for truncation “)” is combined with “n” or “m” then something really cryptic results: The combined glyph resembles another letter followed by the tipped “2″ (2*) in these cases i2* and n2* respectively. Just so much additional smoke! Some Latin glyphs are used in their original context “a.i o d,m,n” and also appear in Armenian. Well enough said on this but the macrons and Tironian notation as well as no punctuation, no upper cases for anything (nouns or sentence starts) and arbitrary but reasonable word lengths make this puzzle even harder to figure out. The Armenians used the colon (:) for a full stop. That would be too obviously Armenian for the VM encryptors! So nothing was used. The number “4″ stood for “c” and no q,x,y or z is used. Cheers, Tom

    ps. The Armenians also used a 30 day calendar and while most of the calendar (with European zodiac names) is in the VM, part is missing. I think some of the tipped tubs are done to adapt the VM calendar to the Gregorian calendar where 10 days were subtracted from the Julian calendar.

  55. avatar bdid1dr March 14, 2014 10:54 pm

    Diane, ThomS: I hope you can find an illustration of the ‘fruiting body’ for the fruit/berry/seed of the cucurma/turmeric plant.
    Thirty years ago, I lived in a city which streets were lined with mulberry trees and Spanish pepper trees. Mulberry tree fruit is very messy and sticky. Without even looking at tree, itself, one can tell it is a mulberry tree by the over-ripe fruit melting down on the sidewalk. All of the berries still retain the “topknot’ (which you see in B-408, f-11v) after the berry has melted away from its stem.
    ThomS, so far, ‘looks like’ (various body parts) discussion in re any botanical specimen in B-408 does NOT bear out the translation. Most of the translations deal with the plant’s origins and its uses, curative, medical, or its value as a cooking spice. The saffron crocus, for which I have done a translation, and presented to the WWW, is an excellent example (B-408, f-35r) — which I submitted to Nick’s ‘Castel del Monte book launch blog on 10 Dec 2013 and again just last week .

  56. avatar bdid1dr March 15, 2014 4:33 pm

    Since this blog page began with reference to folio 2, I’d like to discuss the next folio 3 (verso):
    Aconite (aco-ni-til-o-am) s-P-c-e ran-un-cu-c- tl-ox — roxg wraps and continues with aes-an-aes-geus ranunquollecox–It.
    The dialogue continues with reference to es-pec-i-at-iti-us, –and eventually ‘wraps’ the discussion with ‘aesan e—ceatius geus tle atius (lines 12-13-14):

    Species of buttercup (ranunculus) Aconite “Monks Hood”.
    (The illustration on f-3v is portraying only 2 or 3 clusters of petals (cups).

    When I ‘read up’ on this peculiar specimen, I found mention of its roots being poisonous, as well as being antagonistic to other garden plants nearby.
    So, if anyone reading this essay is an avid gardener, be sure to read the cautionary discussion on where it is most acceptable to include in your gardens.
    ;-)

  57. avatar bdid1dr March 16, 2014 7:21 pm

    In re the person whose name appears at top of this page — which Nick has not yet buried in his ‘back pages’: If ProfB professes to be an expert in linguistics, he seems to be particularly dense when it comes recognizing written phonetic translations of Latin term-in-ol-ogy.
    So, I shrug, and continue to donate to Nick’s Mysteries blog. Thanks again and again for your very interesting presentations and puzzles, Nick! :-)

  58. avatar bdid1dr March 16, 2014 7:41 pm

    Nick, let me know if you’d like for me to lay out (one more time) the Latin alphabet/syllables/words formed by B-408 scribes. So far, there has been no changes in the syllabary throughout the manuscript’s folios.
    I still want to reiterate that the message on the very last page was written in an entirely different hand (my guess Busbecq). That last page is simply a note specifying the location from which the writer was departing (with some 240 manuscripts which ended up In Vienna and Bohemia): Ancyranum/Ankara
    Monumentum Augustus

  59. avatar James Noble March 19, 2014 6:25 am

    bdid1dr,
    Please could you lay out your full solution for reading the VMS, with step-by-step instructions someone can follow get from EVA to phonetic Latin, along with several examples of complete folios?
    James

  60. avatar bdid1dr March 19, 2014 4:17 pm

    Mr. Noble,
    I’ve just now got a-round-tu-it (your Q.) I’ll be back after breakfast, and will once again lay out my three-phase translation method.
    A tout a l’heure! (French ‘slang’ for see you later.)
    c eu l-a-tr !

    Smiley (with a wink) ;-)

  61. avatar thomas spande March 19, 2014 6:41 pm

    Dear all and particularly those who hold to a Mayan origin for all or part of the VM.

    The Dover reprint of “An Aztec Herbal” has an informative preface by Wm.Gates, the English translator. After reading this I think we are left with some facts that disqualify this as the source or inspiration for the Voynich botanical section. The earliest translation of the Mayan language into Latin was 1552 with the original plaintext in Nahuatl unfortunately being lost. One assumes that it was written in Mayan by Padre de la Cruz just slightly earlier than the translation into Latin by Badianus. So the time line is off for the VM parchment being dated to the early 15thC, not mid 16thC. If it is argued that the VM is a copy of the early lost plaintext of the Mayan herbal, than one has to argue that somehow it was available to de la Cruz and also two Voynich scribes contemporaneously on or around mid 16thC and that the Voynich scribes did their own translation into Latin?

    The Aztec Herbal is not really an herbal in the sense of the VM botanical section. It included edibles, trees and ornamentals as well as plants for medicinal uses. The organization appears totally different from that of the VM botanicals where, so far as I can tell, no obvious organization has been detected. I am beginning to think that Diane may have put forward the most reasonable hypothesis about the organization of the VM plants and that is they are drawn and the texts written subsequent to extensive travels by the VM botanists or travellers describing their finds to the VM scribes. The plants drawn in the original Mayan herbal are even more strange than those of the VM and carry stylization to a new level of iconography, which was also true of the original Nahuatl language. That language was based on icons, sort of like hieroglyphs or ideagrams such as those used in China. It seems reasonable to expect that a huge number of glyphs would be used and not the 20 or so used in the VM texts.

    I think that persuing the Aztec herbal is a huge time waster from the standpoint of a link with the VM. There are some interesting overlaps perhaps with Chinese medicine that would be worth digging into such as the Aztec herbs being used for “hot or cold” disorders. The easiest way of dealing with this is not to postulate a common shared source but rather the same idea arising independently in widely separated parts of the globe. Cheers, Tom

  62. avatar thomas spande March 19, 2014 9:57 pm

    Dear all, particularly BD.

    When I say that some part of a VM plant depiction “resembles” or “looks like” or “represents”, I mean exactly that. It may not appear in the text as I think the plant (herb) drawn includes reminders of its use which might imply the herbal is not being used or prepared for a true herbalist who would not need such clues. If I can cite Diane, she concluded that spots on some leaves were a mnemonic device, independent of my speculations. I think some weird proturberances (some even cubic) on roots, even to the point of what look like mines at sea, the berry pips all facing toward the viewer (eye disorders?), yin/yang shaped leaves, and roots with almost right angled branches are all done to suggest a medicinal use. The directionality of leaves (all to the left, both sides or right), and flower directions as well as color (blue, red or blue-red) are meant to imply ying/yang properties are being portrayed. For example use of yin (the female, cool principle) is to be given for an overabundance of yang (male principle or heat, as in a fever). The Chinese Materia Medica herbal is straightforward and has western-style plant depictions but the text gets into yin/yang physical disorders on many occasions.Like Dioscorides, the Chinese MM also uses animal parts including hedge hog hide to stop bleeding (not start it as one might guess!). No animals in the VM plant section so the medicine of the VM is a departure from both that of the Materia Medica of either Dioscorides or the Chinese, or is that part missing? Menno has speculated that some of the VM herbal section might be missing.

    In short, I think there is method in the madness of the VM plant depictions, but not every one. I think that the white mulberry is depicted on VM f25r and it is a departure from the distorted plants that typify the VM botanical section. It is a very faithful drawing of the real thing as discussed at length in the Chinese Materia Medica on p.436 as Morus alba. Sorry BD, you have not convinced me yet. Cheers Tom

  63. avatar bdid1dr March 20, 2014 2:26 am

    ThomS,

    I’m with you on Chinese herbal/botanical discussions. After all, the whole industries of feeding and raising silkworms to the point where they spin their cocoons so that they can metamorphose into moths inside the cocoon — is dependent on boiling those cocoon occupants to death before they chew through the umpteen layers of very fine silk thread — is discussed in excruciating references to boiling those living creatures inside their ‘coffins’, so to speak. Morus alba leaves are their only pablum. That folio makes several references to ‘sericine’ and ‘ser-i-cin-ae’ . Sericine is actually latin for Chinese, true. But the closest the scribe came to naming the bug (actually a caterpillar) was ‘blattae’.
    insect-bookworm-clothes-moth).
    The picture on folio 11v is a mulberry, not the tree, only the fruit/berry. The discussion makes no reference to the berry, but only the leaves which were turned into latin ‘pabulumox”. My mother used to refer to our breakfast cereal as pablum. So, when I saw the latin word pabulumox, I knew I was identifying the fruit of the white mulberry tree (morus alba) which leaves get finely chopped and fed to the ‘blattae’ (latin for ‘bug’ insect.
    Black mulberry trees may have other uses, too. Perhaps VM folio 25r may be discussing those?

  64. avatar bdid1dr March 22, 2014 1:52 am

    Mr. Noble, in re your query as far as moving away from the EVA and into the ‘clearer waters’, so to speak, of the latin words and terminology:
    First of all, put aside the EVA (forgive me, Rene, if I hurt your feelings) and concentrate on those letters which ‘appear’ to be the common, ordinary letters of the alphabet: a, c, o, dl, f, g/k, ll, P, q, tl, . .. eu, eo, oe, oi — are obvious in context. Most confusing is the linked c-c characters which can represent cc or ce or ec or ece…..the word ‘species’ is a very good x-ample. Larger numeral 9 is ‘g’ or ‘k’. Smaller 9 is ‘x’.
    These are the basics which appear throughout the manuscript. I’m weary. I beg your pardon, Nick, for this last reiteration of my method of consistently translating some 25 folios (not all botanical). Rene, I hope you have been following some of the recent discussions and Nick’s disgust with ProfB. I hope y’all might visit the Gregorian University’s finding of the hoard of manuscripts which were walled off when Pope Gregory enlarged the Roman School. I’m pretty certain that at least one manuscript (Codex Badianus?) was one of hundreds that Pope John II reviewed before returning it to Mexico.

  65. avatar thomas spande March 24, 2014 8:36 pm

    Dear all, I think most Voynichers agree that the plants in the botanical section were drawn first and perhaps colored (but not necessarily so) before the text was added. Then color slapped on in several stages over many years atop the original color that may have been a watercolor wash or colored inks. Nothing new here. BUT

    Does the same scenario play out for the “pharma section” Of the approximately 14 pages of that section (f88r-102v) I think a lot of crowdedness can be observed in the vicinity of those elegant apothecary’s jars. In some cases part of the adjecent herb/plant actually touches or even overlaps the jar (e.g. rootlet of f88r and f89r/v; leaves with f100v-(1); plant parts with f102r/v . Text collides with jars on f88v, 99r/v and f101v(2). This implies that 1) all or part of the apothecary jar was added AFTER the text had been written. What is the humble little unpainted jar doing at the bottom of f100v(2)?? Was this jar the model for ALL the original jars which were then greatly augmented by decoration? One can see on f89r, that the jar second down from the top had its base redrawn in a very crude way but the original base outline remains.Jars seem equally crowded either on the inside of a page or the outer edge. If indeed the jars were either drawn last or redrawn from a more modest container, it might suggest that the coloration of the jars was done in toto more at a time well after those of the otiginal plants of the VM. Maybe here mineral based pigments were used? if this argument stands up to scrutiny, the question raised is WHY was it done this way? Was this just for appearance sake, maybe to hop up the saleability of the VM? I throw this pigeon among the cats of the Voynichers. Cheers, Tom

  66. avatar bdid1dr March 30, 2014 5:03 pm

    ThomS, I think it is Diane who has discussed the colors of pharma-jars (white) vs the color of distilling equipment (red). Not too long ago Nick raised the question of similarities in folios 99-100-101. I responded that those objects were probably “measuring-cup’ ‘pharma-jars’ in that they appeared to be indicating proportions of the root/leaf mixture — and whether “hot” or “cold” liquids.’
    Maybe Nick has since then gotten valid answers. I just now realized that I missed any discussion in re production or use of alcoholic liquids (distilled or fermented).
    ‘pigeon’amongst the cats’ or vice-versa? How about one particular “Thom-cat” amongst the pigeons? ;-^

  67. avatar bdid1dr March 30, 2014 5:09 pm

    ;-^ — is my ‘wink and tongue-in-cheek’ smirk. Friendly!

  68. avatar bdid1dr April 1, 2014 12:35 am

    ps: Besides Wm. Gates edition of An Aztec Herbal (The Classic Codex of 1552) I am reading:
    Daily Life of the Aztecs (Jacques Soustelle)
    Yucatan and the Maya Civilization (M. Weisenthal
    Nuestra Poetas Aztecas (Miguel Leon-Portilla (in Espanol)
    Pre-Columbian Literatures of Mexico (Miguel Leon-Portilla
    The World of Caffeine (Bennett Alan Weinberg and Bonnie K. Bealer) –fascinating and amusing.
    In between sessions/lookups with these books, I have my 15-volume Encyclopedia of Gardening (T.H. Everett) and last, but not least, my Western Garden Book (Sunset).
    I also have at hand eight atlases/maps (incl. Piri Reis copy).
    In between my look-ups and WWW posts, I average 5 or 6 fictional or historical novels in an average week. Blessed me: I am retired! (A career records management specialist-paralegal.)
    :-)

  69. avatar thomas spande April 2, 2014 10:21 pm

    Dear all Another possibility for pharma jar designs is those with a small opening were for essential oils; those with wider openings were for powders, crushed leaves, roots etc. maybe measured as BD suggests. I think the colors are some kind of alchemical code: green for herbs from the land; blue for water (or water soluble?) and red for plant ptoducts resulting after heating perhaps distilled as Diane opines? No air but the usual earth fire and water part of the ancient composition of all matter. Some jars indicate mixtures by two colors.

    Caffeine is odd chemically in that it is very water soluble and ends up pretty much uniformly distributed throughout the human body. It tends to be pretty persistant and little is metabolized. It is thought to be an antifeedant screwing up the nervous systems of plant pests. Cheers, Tom

  70. avatar bdid1dr April 5, 2014 8:27 pm

    So, I am now checking out various manuscript offerings which might be indicating South American sources of caffeine: cacao, cocoa, in particular. I’ll be back when I’ve done a little more research.
    I’m now going to listen to a Nahuatl reading of the ‘Nican Mopohua’ (a second section of a larger publication). Fortunately the recording is accompanied with a small booklet which translates between the Nahuatl being spoken and its translation into Spanish.
    Apparently there is ongoing (disagreeing) historical studies of the entire manuscript “Huei tlamahuicoltica”. I’ll get back to y’all later (if anything of interest evolves).
    Hasta la manana!
    :-)

  71. avatar Carmen April 13, 2014 7:12 pm

    Hi Nick,
    After reading “Provisional decoding” by Professor Bax I have noticed some contradictions in his theory.
    1.- He says the writing is unknown (page 8).
    But later he claims that ‘unknown’ language is borrowed from Arabic and Hebrew (page 14).
    2.- If the whole writing is borrowed, then where is the encoded text? I mean, loanwords occur whenever your own language lacks that word. Why was the scribe going to borrow all the words from Arabic and Hebrew? Besides a transcribed loanword is not an encoded text.
    3.- On page 50 (Purpose and function of the VMS) he says again the text is encoded. As I said before, a text full of transcribed loanwords is not a ciphered text.
    Why was the scribe going to use Arabic or Hebrew for plants whose names can be found in Latin or in any vernacular European language at that time? @_@
    Thanks.

  72. avatar nickpelling April 13, 2014 7:22 pm

    Carmen: all good points, but the problems you point towards form no more than the tip of a giant yellow Baxian iceberg. And I really wouldn’t advise anyone to eat yellow snow. :-|

    http://www.nickpelling.com/

  73. avatar Carmen April 13, 2014 8:51 pm

    Thanks again. I will follow your advice. Nice metaphor.

  74. avatar bdid1dr April 17, 2014 4:08 pm

    Metaphor — I’ll be chewing on some metaphorical gum (sapodilla sap/latex) which Wrigley chewing gum factory used for many years before modernizing their product lines. I’m still looking for a specimen/leaf illustration in B-408 which will clue us to a translation into Nahuatl and Latin for chicle. I/we may be reduced to visiting the folios/pages of “bulleted” discussion, one specimen at a time. I’ll be looking for a word which would appear something like this: ?a P tl a

  75. avatar thomas spande April 17, 2014 9:30 pm

    BD, You may have bitten off a good deal more than you can chew comfortably in trying to link the VM language with Nahuatl. For starters, one branch of the Mayan language called Nahuatl was NEITHER PHONETIC NOR ALPHABETIC; It used icons or pictoglyphs.and these are really arcane. To show something at half size (relative to something else I guess), the pictogram of a plant is shown in the most stripped down manner with the bottom half of a man shown curled up and hidden by the plant so that only the lower half of the man is seen. The icons were put into Spanish by de la Cruz and then Latin by another translator and ultimately re-translated into better and better Latin twice more. The 160+ modern looking plants/herbs of the Gates version did not exist until 1964 and were done by the neice of a cardinal Tisserant. Those look like most European herbals except the roots tend to be root balls. Still the leaves and stems are detailed with veining. Judging from the types of cures e.g.: “For the lethargy attached to high office (early pooped politician interest?)” No wonder Charles the 5th parked it away in a rarely visited section of his library!; he may have thought the herbalists were a bit cheeky? Important adjuncts for the herbs like dog urine and human feces make these Indians as weird as anything the Voynich herbalists likely could come up with. I wonder if the church hierarchy in Europe that the Aztec Herbal Latin translation was supposed to impress didn’t just assume the compilers and writers had been out in the sun too long!

    Suppose you do find chicle? Is this at al related to anything in the VM? If you find it in the Aztec Herbal it could be for something like reducing flatulance or improving lactation or treating gum pain? I find the Aztec Herbal even more curious than the VM if that be possible but I really doubt it has any connection to it. Good conversation piece for sure! Cheers, Tom

  76. avatar thomas spande April 18, 2014 5:35 pm

    Dear all, particularly BD. Of the various herbs of the Aztec Herbal, four had been positively identified in the Wm. Gates’ Dover reprint as Thorn Apple (Datura), Morning Glory, Cocao (Theobroma) and tobacco.

    If you are “vexed” by tornadoes or being struck by lightening? Plants from the Aztec Herbal can help!

    Evidently the Spanish explorer Francisco Hernandez gets a huge posthumous vote of confidence as a major research scientist by the scholars of the Aztec Herbal and other botanical works; a serious researcher and not just another of the n+1 conquestidores. He evidently identified some 3K plants and tried to describe 1K of these in the style of Dioscorides. Note that most of the plants described in Nahuatl converted to Spanish end in “tl” “ie” or “ti”. No simple Linnean system was used but a much more descriptive one (up to 4 terms) which incorporated place names (at least 38 ideagrams are used just for place names; over 400 appear in another New World codex by Mendoza) and appearance with four terms chosen among which are taste, feel and smell. The descriptions are called didactic mnemonic.

    I made a key error yesterday: The neice of Cardinal Tisserant produced watercolors (aquarelles) of 185 (not 160+) plants for the Herbal and in 1940, not ’64.

    All compelling reading but really a dead end for Voynichers I fear! Collateral information only. Cheers, Tom

  77. avatar Carmen April 19, 2014 1:42 pm

    Please, does anyone know what explanation Stephen Bax gives to the word ‘OROR’ on the so called Michiton page (f116v)? Or how does he relate ‘juniper’ with that context? It makes no sense :(
    And why does he (or any other researcher ) think the first word on herbal pages appears only on that specific page? For example, the term ‘Podaiir’ is on f49r, third paragraph, first word and again on f55r, first word.
    Thanks.

  78. avatar SirHubert April 20, 2014 7:42 am

    Carmen: both very good questions. From memory, I once saw a post where Stephen Bax used the analogy of the English word “cat” in the context of “oror”. His point, as I understood it, was that you could find the sequence “cat” in all sorts of longer English words and phrases (e.g. “catalogue”, “scatological” and “sardonic attitude”) where it has no connection whatsoever with felines and the word “cat” itself.

    I’m not saying that I agree with any of this, and in fairness I may have misunderstood or be quoting out of context. So you may wish to contact the man himself, whose website is www dot stephenbax dot net. I’d be very interested to hear what he says!

  79. avatar Carmen April 20, 2014 9:30 pm

    Sir Hubert,

    As I see, mainly what he has done is a kind of syllabic transposition. I don’t know if that is the right word but he must have found a lot of possible combinations. Then he will have to re-arrange all the syllables to convey a meaningful sentence. This fact means Stephen Bax must have (or at least he should) a valid method so that anyone can read what he reads.

    The word transcribed (oror) has itself two ‘or’ syllables if we split it that way. We all know the morpheme ‘or ‘ occurs quite often. So how can the word Juniper explain that? Unless Hebrew has the morpheme ‘ar’ too… And any other Hebrew morpheme which can be swifted in both texts.
    Thanks for your advice. I may write to him.
    :-)

  80. avatar bdid1dr April 28, 2014 3:35 pm

    Nahuatl word for paper: Amatl. Amatl was made from the inner bark of the ‘fig’ tree. Since fig tree fruit (hi-cox) is/was edible, I now wonder if we can find a reference in B-408 to the fig tree, itself (tree with fruit: xo-co-yoh), (ama-cua-hui-tl). I’m also wondering about how many manuscripts were rough-drafted on parchment/vellum by the various monks and their ‘native’ students before more experienced scribes produced ‘fig-tree paper” manuscripts. Another tree product which might have been useful for book-binding material (latex) would be sap from the ‘sapodilla’ tree.
    I’m now going back to some of the famously familiar manuscript holdings (Badianus, Osuna,……) which are in various European, North American, and South American museums and libraries. I’ll be searching for references to “Lienzo”, for instance, because that material being written upon was woven cotton fabric. So, I’m hoping to find references to “amatl” (paper), here and there.
    I’m also wondering if some of the manuscripts which eventually arrived in Papal/Holy Roman Emperor archives may have been packaged into water-proofed (latex) cotton fabric for shipment overseas to Europe.
    :-)

  81. avatar Sukhwant Singh April 29, 2014 12:10 pm

    My name is Sukhwant Singh and for the past 2 months I have extensively researched in depth on MS-408 better known as the Voynich manuscript.
    I hope, my explanation will lead to resolving the Voynich manuscript once and for all.
    The origins of the VM ( Voynich Manuscript ) lies in 6000 miles east from its current location. The place is in North Eastern Sindh region which is a part of Pakistan right now. The explanation in the VM is copied from an even older original book written in “Brahmi” language about ( 300-400 B.C ). The knowledge and editions of the books were passed through generations of merchants( Known as Mahajan’s with Vedic knowledge ) in ancient Indus valley civilization which also gave the name “Sindhustan”, the Sindh region in particular which was divided into India and Pakistan in 1947.
    The book is divided into 4 parts as mentioned by the author( details below ) written in early 15th century as that’s the time period when Khojki was more prominent.
    The book was taken by the “Holy” man from town to town and based on the knowledge he had( He was the go to guy and first person to approach in case of issues, either injury or some depression, bad dreams, marriage and business, Hex etc. ) , and the facts he collected from the inhabitants/customer. This man would then recommend to-do things. The book also deals with what kind of women she is based on the type of hair she has, what type of clothes she wears, what to expect from the second wife of the husband etc. What to do if someone has Hex on you and how to figure it out and recommendations for getting rid of the Hex.
    The book is not written for others to read and is usually passed within the family from Father to Son or someone more capable whom the Mahajan has taught and guided himself.
    Some background…..
    When the Arab conquered the Sindh region in about early 700 ADs and moved more towards the east they started eliminating learned Sindhi scholars and Holy men, who enjoyed rich merchant heritage and were established in the region. With passage of time, “Urdu” language was forced in the region and subsequently became an official language and in current times known as Sindhi language (Descendent language of Landa script) which is currently written in Urdu script.
    In early 15th century Khojki language was used by many to write prayer hyms and guidance songs. The extended use of this script and the underlining Landa script also indicate that the author didn’t revise his book into the periods urdu language but made it’s knowledge more hidden by superimposing Khwaja Khoji Vowel marks on top of Brahmi languages ( K, Ki, Ku, Kuu, Kay, Kaay, Ku, Kho, KHU, KHUU Gutturals ( Guttural).
    Brahmi language is considered as the main language based on which current northern India languages are based on. It itself is part of Indo-European set of language whose base is Sanskrit in general. This timeline spans 1000’s of years from the period of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.
    This VM manuscript is a very important book and will be another key to bind “Roma” people in Europe with their Sindh region ancestry. Most likely this book was taken along with the movement of Sindh’s migrant population 100’s of years ago( as slaves by Arab rulers ) and was preserved in good condition because the knowledge it would provide and likely the person owning it wanted to one day use it to establish the same respect the merchants of the Sindh region held. “Roma” migration from Sindh region resulted in scores of people being moved as slaves into Turkey and then current Europe.
    There has been plenty of scientific tests conducted on the origins of Roma people. The book landed from a Roma person into the hands of Italian rulers as the poor Roma people faced many atrocities in Europe and many times were eliminated by the countries in which they tried to make their settlements.
    The main issue to decipher the VM had to do with the place where it ended first and then later in America. Considering the “Nasal” phonetic words particular to “Landa” language (Ancestor language of Khudabadi, Mahajani, Gurmukhi, Khojki, Sindhi languages) are not spoken in Europe and for that matter in America.
    English does not have these sounds at all. So for that matter it becomes next to impossible to decipher it and all the false theories it has generated, including its origins.
    In America, it being predominantly English speaking world it adds to the problem where from ages researchers started emphasizing that the VM is some sort of miniscule Roman language or some false code system( It is not ).
    That miscategorization has hindered the deciphering of the language for such a long time.
    I have deciphered the alphabet to what I think it is( As I originally belong to Punjab region and I am aware of the cursive writings from the region as well as phonetics ).
    The alphabet contains 4 different character set from languages spoken in same way but written in different form. There was no consistency of a set language in the region.
    The merchants/judicial holy Sindhu men started using 3,4 languages mix in order to hide the contents( depending on the knowledge of the person and area he travelled ). This was done to protect business knowhow and maintain superiority at that time. The languages used by the merchants of North western Multan and Sindh were “Multani” and “Landa/Khudabadi/Mahajani” apart from other regional dialects and written words. It was what the Sindhu Mahajan’s( Merchants ) used to do. This kind of book and knowledge was in demand as people relied on auspicious moon cycles and it was part of daily life and it is still in many parts of the world.
    Day and night are divided into 15 “Mahurats” or auspicious times, Year is divided in 12 months based on astrological signs ( Not January February etc.. ) The day and night each were divided into 8 parts each based on Sanskrit astrology ( pages 67v and 69v clearly depicts the division of 8 parts segments around the sun and moon )
    The times, days, years were not depicted as in Roman date forms, nor did they had the same timeline of 24 hours. This book is thus written with calculating moon cycles and the positions of 9 planets and the Vedic astrological knowledge is gathered from the original Brahmi book ( 300-400 BC or even earlier ).
    Some details of which are recorded in India’s archeological preservations.
    The characters are also intermingled from dialects in the region but they sound and mean the same example
    CH, TA, JJH, K, KH are written in mixed scripts, which makes it difficult.
    The Brahmi scipts usage from which the MS 408 book was copied adds to more complexity, but the words used are common short 2-3 characters found in recent Devanagari language. This book probably had 1-2 readers( at that time, Mahajan himself and probably his son or someone else he took along on his business in various towns There were other people who had similar books but probably not as detailed as this one. Holy men were killed by Arab rulers and their books were burned so that Arab rule could be established in force and almost everyone follow one language, which was Urdu ( like Persian script ). This book most likely was hidden by the author and usually people like him belonged to higher castes who had good people connections as they were respected for their knowledge and guidance. The so called lower caste people were made slave labor and soldiers to fight in wars. It is likely that this book’s author was killed and as this book was hidden was later picked by someone else and taken along as an important document to be used later. The problem occurred to decipher it at that time too, so the Roma person kept for generations hidden in the belongings until it ended in front of some Italian king’s subject.

    The languages used in MS 408 are ( Yes, there are multiple languages, but their pronunciations are almost same ).
    Landa, Khojki and Brahmi are used throughout the book.
    1. Landa ( Which later became Sindhi, Khudabadi, Khojki )
    2. Brahmi ( 300- 400 B.C ) Which gives a reason to believe that MS-408 is copied from an original book
    3. Multani
    4. Mahajani
    5. Khojki
    6. Gurmukhi which is also a descendent of Landa script ( Words which cuts at the end and sounds individual standing separately ). Gurmukhi usage is very minimal, which tells that the book was written prior to the era in which the Gurmukhi was main stream in Punjab region around 1430 AD.

    The last page 116V is written by someone else other than the original writer as it contains characters from Sarada and JaunSari scripts from mountainous region of Southwestern Kashmir as those few lines are similar to later on what became Kashmiri Dialect and scripted language.

    First paragraph from 1r goes like this.

    “Many 100′s of years desire tradition and as requested by the cultivator from his pouring knowledge in under increasing guidance
    To accomplish it this promise of the interrogation of field subjects and about those manner for eating about their power learning from oneself condition about
    under ongoing sufferings about stuck in those conditions which has already affected them learning from them in self-help either called for taking care during taking care or
    When called by the messenger one about trees provided information in parts and about desire….”

  82. avatar bdid1dr May 1, 2014 4:28 pm

    Just so you understand, people: The Badianus/Florentine Codex was written upon PAPER. Paper (amatl) was obtained from the inner bark of the South American fig tree. The discussions and illustrations that appear in that manuscript would FIRST have been ‘rough-drafted’ upon vellum/parchment.
    Another aspect of codex manufacture (whether tree bark OR animal skins) would have been the superiority of the finished product. Also to be considered would have been the longevity of the finished product.
    So, once again I’ve been ‘doing the rounds’ of pre-colonial South American ‘literature’. So, if you plug into your search application the term “Boturini Codex”, you may arrive at discussion of page thirteen of the Aztec Codex Borbonicus; an obviously ‘final draft’ (written on PAPER) of just one of Sahagun’s discussions which eventually escaped the censors’ archives.

  83. avatar Carmen May 2, 2014 10:51 pm

    stephenbax.net/?page_id=51

    Here (the link above )you can read my questions to Prof. Bax’s theory. I get the feeling he did not really answer them.

    1.- If the graph ‘m’ (EVA) is a flourished final ‘R’, how can the common R be explained when occurring at the end as in OROR?

    2.- Oror (again) on f116v (Michiton page), how would it be connected to that context? How could your transcription/translation as ‘Juniper’ be explained regarding the sentence “So nim geis mi[l]ch”?

    3.- On p.1, you state that “the script was possibly devised to encode an unwritten language or dialect “. However, you have focused on Hebrew, Arabic and even Turkish phonemes. Is it not a bit contradictory? As I see your analysis, it would be then an unwritten language which copied and/or transcribed Arabic, Hebrew and Turkish phonemes into Roman abbreviations and ligatures (See Capelli and other paleographers’ studies. D’Imperio also comments on this).

    4.- If, as you have stated on p.10, the script consists of leaving the vowels out (as in the Abjad ), how could this hypothesis explain the vowels ‘a’ ( /ə/ /u/ /wə/) and ‘o’ (/a/) appearing on the Ms?
    -
    I would like to mention that there may be something Arabic. On the Michiton page what I read is “po? laben umm”. ‘Laben’ means ‘milk’ and ‘umm’ is mother. Both Arabic words do make sense within that context (a goat, milk, a woman).
    The only owner who knew Arabic was Kircher (and Marcus Marci learnt a little from Kircher). So could the marginalia have been written by K.? It would be interesting if someone checks his handwriting (or it may have been discarded as his).
    Thanks.

  84. avatar thomas spande May 7, 2014 8:05 pm

    Dear Sukhwant, You have made a mighty effort to introduce a new language or languages and a venue for the Voynich. I think it might share some inferences that others have made over the years of a far eastern origin for the VM. Personally I have problems with the Kojki language in being (if I understand your post) the underlying language of the VM, being overlaid with Mayan Landa and others. The primary problem I have with Kojki is that it is a language where many of the glyphs, even if they are ligatures represent a SYLLABLE, that is it amounts to a mainly phonentic language and the number of glyphs at a minimum would appear to be more than 40. Classical Kojki separated words with a colon. If only the VM were so simple! Of course you imply that the Kojki is in code so the helpful colons have been removed but still it is a syllabic language and I doubt many (maybe with the possible exception of BD?) believe that to be true of the VM. Kojki is written L->R which fits the VM but it has a huge number of diacriticals, which does not. Kojki does not seem to have been formalized until the 18thC long after the radiocarbon dating indicating the VM parchment to have been prepared. Most Kojki documents that exist were written on paper. I think the VM did originate “East of Suez” but most do not. Diane O’Donovan also favored a non Eurocentric origin but not New World. Still thanks for the glimpse of another language where I would admit, some of the glyphs do resemble a few of the gallows glyphs of the VM. Cheers, Tom

  85. avatar Diane May 13, 2014 3:13 pm

    A note of caution – we have no certainty of the scale to which the so-called “apothecary jars” in the so-called “pharma section” were reduced. If they were supposed to be containers of that sort, few resemble any such jars employed in mainland Europe’s herb-shops at the time to which the Voynich parchment has been dated.. or such was the case in January when I completed my own investigation of Beinecke 408.

    Has some new information (not hypothesis, speculation or story-line) emerged since then? Genuine question.

  86. avatar thomas spande May 14, 2014 6:46 pm

    Diane, Welcome back to these pages! Re the apothecary’s jars: I wrote a bit on Mar 24, 2014 on what I think had not been pointed out before and that is a certain crowdedness that can be seen on the pharma pages. This implied to me that the jars were drawn later than the text and maybe the end product overlaid a simpler earlier, less space filling jar. Cheers, Tom

  87. avatar Zippy June 1, 2014 2:58 am

    Or it could’ve just been the scrawlings of someone with autism, or some other major mental disorder, and not much else to do. I’m sure someone has thought of this, though it’s not nearly as intriguing or romantic as all the other theories.

  88. avatar hakan June 4, 2014 5:03 pm

    ”doary or doaro” in page f68r why not Atlas (mythological figure)? Because, Atlas is father of Seven Sisters (The Pleiades) of Greek mythology.
    ”The etymology of the name Atlas is uncertain. Virgil took pleasure in translating etymologies of Greek names by combining them with adjectives that explained them: for Atlas his adjective is durus, “hard, enduring” which suggested to George Doig that Virgil was aware of the Greek τλήναι “to endure”; Doig offers the further possibility that Virgil was aware of Strabo’s remark that the native North African name for this mountain was Douris” referancefor last passage from Wikipedia.(Atlas (mythology)-Wikipedia. Doaro, doary–durus, douris. is not well-matched?

  89. avatar hakan June 4, 2014 5:52 pm

    doaro,doary – atlas (durus, douris)

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