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posted by LaminatorX on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:25AM   Printer-friendly
from the somebody-call-in-Enoch-Root dept.

Thexalon writes:

"University of Bedfordshire professor and applied linguist Stephen Bax has decoded 10 words of the baffling Voynich Manuscript. He focused on proper names that would match the accompanying drawings, which allowed him to find similar drawings in other books of the period."

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by dingo on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:38AM

    by dingo (1579) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:38AM (#3049)

    Sounds fishy to me. From TFA:

    "He said he had managed to find the word for Taurus, alongside a picture of seven stars (seen as part of the zodiac constellation of Taurus) and the word Kantairon alongside a picture of the herb Centaury." and
    "The manuscript has a lot of illustrations of stars and plants. I was able to identify some of these, with their names, by looking at medieval herbal manuscripts in Arabic and other languages, and I then made a start on a decoding, with some exciting results."

    So he's guessing, same as everyone else attempting to decode the manuscript over the years and he can't prove those 2 words (where are the other 8?) are, in fact, correctly translated/interpreted.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:12AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:12AM (#3071)

    I believe that this is how must translations are done, and it takes a lot of time, trial, and error. We can only hope and can certainly agree that having reporting these facts will cause more discoveries like this to occur. Most likely, another document in the same language as the voynich manuscript will be found, sort of a Rosetta Stone.

    Thanks soylent news!

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by girlwhowaspluggedout on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:39AM

    by girlwhowaspluggedout (1223) on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:39AM (#3293)

    I haven't seen Bax's alleged decipherment, so I can't comment on it. But, generally speaking, making educated guesses about the contents of undeciphered texts, silly as it may sound, is actually one of the first steps in the decipherment of languages and writing systems. Champollion, for example, began deciphering ancient Egyptian using the two proper names that appear in the Philae Obelisk []. The Rosetta Stone came later.

    Even so, decipherment is a long and arduous process. This is easily illustrated using the decipherment of Old Persian. Although we know that Grotefend's partial decipherment of the language and its script [] was correct in its assumptions, he was nevertheless way off base when it came to phonetic reconstruction. The words that he read as Khscharscha, Goschtasp, and Darheusch (=the Old Persian names that are known in the West by their Greek forms Xerxes [], Hystaspes [] and Darius []) are now read as shown here [] (damn you, UTF-8!). Grotefend's breakthrough also allowed him to identify the name Cyrus [] and the Old Persian words for "king" and "great". But, again, out of the 22 signs in the two texts that he was working with, he only got 8 right.

    Perhaps Bax has indeed solved part of the Voynich mystery. The real problem is in proving that his readings are accurate. For that, he will need to extend his decipherment to the rest of the manuscript. As the repeated attempts to decipher the Byblos Syllabary [] show, this is no mean feat.

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    • (Score: 1) by WillAdams on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:36PM

      by WillAdams (1424) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:36PM (#3416)

      The golden guess is the full round of truth.

      That was on an epigraph page for the print versions of _Military Cryptanalysis: Part 1 --- Monoalphabetic Substitution Systems_: yptanalysis.shtml []

      Seems to be missing from the scans though, probably 'cause it was the usual page for stamping the classification on it.