Talk:Voynich manuscript

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High traffic

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5 June 2009 xkcd Link See visitor traffic
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Am I missing something?[edit]

"...letters of the Latin, Cyrillic, and Greek alphabets are generally written the same way regardless of their position within a word (with the Greek letter sigma and the obsolete long s being notable exceptions)." (talk) 23:49, 19 September 2013 (UTC)

The distinction you are making is not based on position, though. The "L" in "Latin" is capital because it is a proper noun, not because of where "Latin" appears in the sentence; and while it is true that first letters are capitalized, this applies to all letters and is a function of starting a new sentence, rather than positional. What the article is referring to is something more like (simplified) if every sentence was of the form subject/predicate, then you'd put "L" in the subject part and "l" in the predicate part, etc.Phoenixia1177 (talk) 06:28, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
Most 'running hand' text does have slight variations with letters - depending in part upon how easy it is to join the two letters (and possibly also depending upon syllable lengths - the brain 'sees' a gap so one is created). Jackiespeel (talk) 10:52, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
The article refers to scripts in which letters have different initial, medial, ligature, final, etc. forms. Greek sigma in lowercase (σ) has a different form (ς) when it is the last letter of a word. (talk) 05:04, 5 January 2014 (UTC)


The volume with the Alphabetum Kaldeorum dates to about the time the VM was made. To what extent was there a 'culture of constructed scripts' at the time? Jackiespeel (talk) 10:22, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

James Child[edit]

It seems quite clear in context that James R Child and Jim Child are the same person who authored several papers. As of 5 January 2014, the article treats him as two people. (talk) 05:08, 5 January 2014 (UTC)

A Preliminary Analysis of the Botany, Zoology, and Mineralogy of the Voynich Manuscript by Arthur O. Tucker, Rexford H. Talbert[edit]

Oh, and why is it that whenever something Voynich-related pops up on Slashdot or Reddit, someone there feels the need to insert a link to it right at the top of the Wikipedia page? It's just another selectively-evidenced Voynich theory, one not obviously or demonstrably better than the thousands of other selectively-evidenced Voynich theories out there. *sigh* Nickpelling (talk) 14:17, 22 January 2014 (UTC)

Then why is this "new study" called out in the lead of the article? Does it need to be taken out? Or at least moved to a less notable location? — Frεcklεfσσt | Talk 16:45, 22 January 2014 (UTC)

The dating seems to be out (even if one brings in 'Bristol seafarers and fishermen discovering America and subsequently telling Columbus).

As I have said elsewhere - a 'solution' to the VM would have to explain or translate more than a fraction of the whole. Jackiespeel (talk) 17:05, 22 January 2014 (UTC)

Discussed in the lead twice, currently. I would argue that it should be removed from the article entirely unless there is coverage in reliable secondary sources. But if it were to stay in, it should probably go under the "Purpose" section. Tdslk (talk) 18:26, 22 January 2014 (UTC)
Reading the last ref above, the criticism of their "analysis", it is surprising that it's in the lead and I vote to remove it posthaste. Apparently their analysis discards almost every other study done and even discards the radiocarbon dating of the velum used. It sounds like their analysis is a pile of amateurish poop. — Frεcklεfσσt | Talk 18:52, 22 January 2014 (UTC)
Well, I was bold and took it out. I don't mind mentioning it somewhere else, but certainly not in the lead. Any suggestions? It doesn't belong in the Authorship section, since it doesn't attempt to identify the author. It doesn't really belong in the Language section either, since it doesn't seem to decipher that either. Suggestions? — Frεcklεfσσt | Talk 19:01, 22 January 2014 (UTC)
It seemed best suited for the other theories section, so that's where I put it. — Frεcklεfσσt | Talk 19:15, 22 January 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment: I don't much care about whether this new HerbalGram study is written about in this article, but I have a problem with Nick Pelling promoting his own work here and using it as an argument to add or remove material. It is a violation of WP:COI. Mr. Pelling, aside from your self-published works, can you produce any reliable sources that refer to you as a Voynich expert or say that you are an authoritative source of information about the Voynich Manuscript? I note that you have a large paragraph in this article about your book, which is only sourced to the book itself. This is a violation of WP:SELFPUB. If you cannot produce such sources, I will remove that paragraph from this article. Unless you can demonstrate that any serious scholarly community considers you an expert, your material and opinion do not belong in this article. --Spike Wilbury (talk) 16:42, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
As I have said previously - a compromise in such cases might be to make use of the Wikia Voynich wikis and cross reference with this article or talk page. Jackiespeel (talk) 22:29, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Use Wikia Voynich for what? We wouldn't be able to cite it because wikis are not reliable sources. --Spike Wilbury (talk) 01:24, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
Given WP's position on original research etc I was suggesting using the several VM-related wikis on the Wikia platform (which have different coverages) as a way of developing concepts, reporting on research etc. Sometimes it is useful to decamp elsewhere. Jackiespeel (talk) 15:06, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
The paragraph has been tagged, so it is fair game for removal. Although I think Mr. Pelling's contributions have been reasonable, I don't see the paragraph as adding much to the WP article. Consequently, I'd support Wilbury removing the paragraph as WP:UNDUE as well as the reasons cited above. (UNDUE can be countered by showing that Pelling is a prominent authority.) Glrx (talk) 00:11, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Indeed, very reasonable. I do not mean to take on an unfriendly tone at all, but I would like to see some independent sources that refer to Pelling as an authority. --Spike Wilbury (talk) 01:05, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
I am 'merely' the person developing two of the wikis above mentioned - my interests are the context of the VM and Wilfrid Voynich himself.
Any opinions on my comment 'somewhere above' that the base text for the VM should be 'a whole piece' - even if just a stretch of lorem ipsum? Jackiespeel (talk) 10:43, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Spike W, I understand your position (though not the intensity of your desire to take down the Nick Pelling Wikipedia page, *sigh*), so I am currently trying to find clickable versions of the 20+ newspaper articles where I have been interviewed and quoted at length. Unfortunately, these are proving hard to retrieve - most seem either to have disappeared or to be behind paywalls. Nickpelling (talk) 21:39, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
You completely misunderstand my actions. I actually desire your page to present and well-referenced to secondary sources that confer notability. Only in its current form should it be deleted. Thus far, I have seen lots of claims to your notabilty, but no proof. Produce a list of sources and I will go about finding and verifying them. --Spike Wilbury (talk) 15:19, 14 February 2014 (UTC)

(reset) Just noting that there are several overlapping conversations in the above. Jackiespeel (talk) 23:34, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

Stephen Bax claim of decoding[edit]

The University of Bedfordshire is claiming that professor Stephen Bax has decoded the Voynich. [1], [2] The article seems short on expected details. I'm not conversant enough to assess this claim. Anyone want to take a crack at it and update the article accordingly? TJRC (talk) 21:12, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

The paper is here.
Looks like he's 'decoded' ten words. And by "Decoded" he's found an alleged correlation between those words and proper nouns related the illustrations.
Except, he's not decoded even those ten words into a known language, I think he's just noted similarities with the ancient roots of those words.
To a layman like me it seems like the kind of fast-and-loose interpretation that allows people to find "correlations" in Nostradamus's predictions, but maybe I feel that way because I lack detailed knowledge of how ancient manuscripts are decoded. APL (talk) 23:53, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
I agree with APL. I wouldn't lend this guy any weight until his paper is peer reviewed or written about in the relevant literature. --Spike Wilbury (talk) 12:38, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Thanks to you both, for the link to the paper and for the comments. Looking at the paper, I think the poor professor has made some worthwhile modest but significant progress, and recognizes it as such (he emphasizes that his work is a mere proposed partial decoding), but his university's PR department regrettably got carried away with its breathless claims that he has "crack[ed] the code." I feel kind of sorry for the guy; he'll probably be the target of reactions to his institution's exaggerations. TJRC (talk) 23:20, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
The only two news stories we're allowed to have about the VM is that someone has "cracked the code" or that someone has "proven it to be a hoax". Luckily, we won't run out of news because those two stories can be repeated as many times as necessary. APL (talk) 03:21, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
An editor removed the section about Bax in the lead, saying it was inappropriate there (which is was). I added it back in, under the "Other theories" section. Given this discussion, should it be removed entirely? — Frεcklεfσσt | Talk 14:19, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I'm very uneasy about this, per WP:SELFPUB. I've seen some news outlets pick up on it, probably due to the university's marketing efforts, but I've yet to see any reliable source call this paper notable. The content is an "exceptional claim" and requires better sources. --Spike Wilbury (talk) 15:13, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I think Stephen Bax story should be mentioned in the article as it is a notable scientific attempt at decoding some words and symbols. However, I think its in the wrong section 'Authorship hypotheses' - 'Other theories'. His work is on the Language not the Authorship. Maybe move to in 'Language hypotheses' - 'Little known natural language' - the paper states it could be a language that died out. His method is a bottom up approach - trying to identify one word at a time (and its symbol's sounds). This was apparently successfully used to decode Egyptian Hieroglyphs.
The BBC has also reported the story, maybe a useful source bbc Jonpatterns (talk) 16:47, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
His theory is the script was invented for a language or dialectic which had no written form, the culture since becoming extinct. He cites the Glagolitic alphabet and the Kiev Missal as a possible similar scenario. See his video at about 40mins Jonpatterns (talk) 18:20, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, you may have a point, especially in light of the BBC coverage. --Spike Wilbury (talk) 19:57, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Bax doesn't make huge claims in his paper, he is modest and tentative and invites others to examine and test out his research findings. He certainly doesn't claim more than some quite modest decoding. He writes at the end of his paper: "it is important not to underestimate the difficulties which lie ahead; this paper offers an analysis which is explicitly both provisional and partial. Indeed I suspect it will take many months, if not years, to test out, corroborate, and amend the analyses I have set out above, and perhaps several more to come to a full understanding of the document as a whole. In short, this mysterious manuscript still retains most of its mystery. Although we may have laid a rope on the ‘white whale of the code-breaking world’, it is still swimming free, perhaps to intrigue and baffle us for a long time to come" Varnebank (talk) 21:05, 7 March 2014 (UTC)

Decoding the Manuscript[edit]

It could well be that the headings are just insignificant.. perhaps they exist to mislead the reader into thinking the text was about the picture.But still, it may work out to something. Perhaps the I meaning only AM occurs in GOD few words in the text.

The script is often said to be arabic, but do the phonetics now match more to Gujarātī  ? The author may have used latin vowels for latin words, or as shorthand due to difficulty with Gujarātī Also the R is like Gujarātī , in that Gujarātī uses vertical bars for adjunct 'i' on consonants. (talk) 09:39, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

This page is for discussing ways to improve the article, not for really coming up with theories or trying to decode the manuscript. — Frεcklεfσσt | Talk 14:19, 21 February 2014 (UTC)


"An argument against steganography is that having a cipher-like cover text highlights the very existence of the secret message, which would be self-defeating: yet because the cover text no less resembles an unknown natural language."

Except it would serve it's purpose even more thoroughly? let's assume that the text contained in the manuscript is in fact an actual language and was intended to be actually read, if the encoded message was encoded with stenography, the non-essential text would only help to camouflage the actual message, and it would only make it harder for those not in the know; those in the know would know precisely what to ignore...

can we remove the quoted passage, as it's clearly incorrect? Bumblebritches57 (talk) 06:15, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

I'm fine with removing it. It's not sourced anyway, so it's probably just someone's WP:OR. --Spike Wilbury (talk) 12:40, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Wait, I don't understand your point.
How would drawing attention to the document's mysteriousness "serve its purpose even more thoroughly"?
Steganography is usually done with mundane text, not mysterious giberish as in the VM. Which that quoted sentence correctly points out is an argument against the VM being steganography. Right?
APL (talk) 15:45, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

Leonell C Strong[edit]

Some details (including a link) can be found here [3] - is he sufficiently notable for WP? Jackiespeel (talk) 10:05, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

He is mentioned the Authorship hypotheses - Other theories sub section, though it could do with a bit of tidying and citation. Wikia can't be used as a reference though, maybe use the pages it cites or/and
Not entirely convinced about breaking people theories into Authorship and Language - the two are kind of interlinked. Jonpatterns (talk) 12:22, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
There was nothing on WP so I just put together a few details (and 'there is only me' on the wiki) - and there should be some coverage of his non-VM activities for a Wikipedia article. Jackiespeel (talk) 14:17, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
If Leonell C Strong is notable then either go head and create an article, or use Article for Creation - which allows you to draft an article and get feedback before it goes 'live'. Jonpatterns (talk) 11:16, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Change required[edit]

In the 'fabrication by Voynich' section have 'the recent discovery ...' - when? Jackiespeel (talk) 09:26, 31 March 2014 (UTC)

Newspaper reference[edit]

Can I note an article Nottingham Evening Post 21 March 1930 - Voynich in his will stated that the Manuscript could be sold to any public institution for $100 000, but could not be sold to a private collector. (Seen on a 'general newspaper website'). Jackiespeel (talk) 17:19, 1 April 2014 (UTC)

BBC News article[edit]

Article on BBC News website - might be useful? [4] AndyTheGrump (talk) 07:28, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

In the article it should be Friedrich Engels rather than Karl Marx. Jackiespeel (talk) 21:31, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

Travel Channel[edit]

On the above UK TV channel - a forthcoming episode of 'Castle secrets and legends' includes the Voynich Manuscript among its selection. Jackiespeel (talk) 09:17, 29 April 2014 (UTC)

The matrial was one component among several, and was effectively a depiction of 'Voynich finding the book - which still remains undeciphered' rather than adding to the material. Jackiespeel (talk) 09:52, 17 May 2014 (UTC)


The entire Illustrations section of this article appears to have been lifted intact, from this product description at the Barnes & Noble website:

I don't know if B&N has copyrights on their product description, but someone probably should look into this and write some original content for this section, if necessary.

Given that the text here is sourced, I am thinking it could be plagiarism the other way round.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 01:20, 9 May 2014 (UTC)
You are suggesting that Barnes & Noble lifted a description for one of their products from a Wikipedia article? Considering that they carry something between 500,000 and a half-million products for which they produce their own descriptions on a regular basis, doesn't that seem rather unlikely?
As I look over the sources cited, the two most frequent citations (currently #6 and #8) are simply links to photostatic copies of the manuscript itself, and not to the content of the text here.
Yes, that is what I am suggesting. Looking at the page it doesnt seem that the content there is actually maintained by BArnes and Noble and the book it advertises seem not to be a legitimate book. It seems to me that this book is a selfpublished ebook (published by e-artnow editions whcih publishes ebook versions of non-copyrighted art and literature), and it is probably the author of the ebook who copied content from wikipedia. It is not the first time this has happened you know.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 22:34, 19 May 2014 (UTC)
Agree with Maunus. --Spike Wilbury (talk) 23:33, 19 May 2014 (UTC)

Deciphered manuscript[edit]

This article doesn't contain any mention of the deciphering done by Stephen Bax presented February/March of 2014. Here is the link: — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 03:45, 30 May 2014

Actually it does cover it with several sources. Dougweller (talk) 09:03, 30 May 2014 (UTC)
Granted it does make mention of it in the "natural language" section. I meant more that it was placed in the "hypotheses" section while I felt that his research, as it has been peer reviewed, should perhaps be in a new section. Perhaps "Potential Conclusions" ? I'm not really sure what would be appropriate here. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 19:27, 30 May 2014‎
Peer review really only elevates it from "crackpot theory" to "academic theory". Some of the other theories in the theories section were published in peer reviewed journals too. Including a number of articles saying that it's almost certainly a hoax.
Until he "decodes" more than just ten words, it's interesting and worth pursuing, but it's not a lot stronger than the other theories. He more or less admits this in his actual paper. (He's less humble in press interviews, but that's how you have to be in academia.) APL (talk) 19:58, 2 June 2014 (UTC)
It hasn't been peer reviewed, or published in a journal. --Spike Wilbury (talk) 20:33, 2 June 2014 (UTC)
Oh, you're right. It looks like he's just put it on his blog. I thought he had published that first in a journal. APL (talk) 21:56, 2 June 2014 (UTC)

To what extent can the validity of a translation be that it gives a coherent running text (even of the lorem ipsum type) rather than a mere series of sentences? (Making a general statement) Jackiespeel (talk) 21:10, 31 May 2014 (UTC)