Talk:Voynich manuscript

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Music and language[edit]

A recent edit was removed regarding music under the language section. Regardless of the content and any claims, the article probably warrants a section on musical application. There are many examples in history of things being translated as music. Such as the 15th century Rosslyn Chapel.

It seems the original edit for Music was removed as potentially just another way to decrypt. But music is fundamental to language and communication and should be considered/applied regardless to unknown texts. There are also clear examples online such as an entire website dedicated to audio files representing the characters. And, for the record, it sounds beautiful. This wiki page focuses on methods of decoding which orient on cryptography and number theory but there are other forms of communication that require equal weight. There also should be clear references to articles on ideographic and pictographic symbolism. Other forms of language. I had noted certain language patterns myself. But I only added a section on music because that is relevant regardless of whether the original meaning of the manuscript turns out to relate to music or not. And, even regardless of whether anybody at all believes it is music.

There is also rational room for other theories to come together under a major category such as music. It could be classified as music and a theory such as the one above for Turkish language could both still be true. They are not mutually exclusive. (talk) 05:02, 29 January 2019 (UTC) Loggiew

That all sounds good, but as with all theories, we're going to need reliable sources before we put it into the article.
On Wikipedia we try our best not to just fill the articles with stuff that we believe, but instead to fill the articles with things discussed by reliable sources. Ideally, peer reviewed academic sources, but there are other acceptable sources as well.
You might want to check out WP:RS for the policy. (And keep in mind, we're not looking for sources that musical manuscripts exist, we're looking for sources that specifically discuss musical manuscripts in the context of the Voynich Manuscript.) ApLundell (talk) 05:20, 29 January 2019 (UTC)

It seems like you are ignoring the point that music is fundamental to language and I don't think I need to cite anything on that point. The original section I posted referenced musical manuscripts with ideograms based on cheironomic hand-gestures. It was highly appropriate. They come from other wiki articles, date from the same period, don't represent mutually exclusive concepts...

That information WAS the peer reviewed data linking music to the Voynich manuscript.

But if you would like a simple reference to an ACTUAL example of this occurring in nature, (ie a human expressing the Voynich Manuscript musically) then please check here:

^^^ Behold. It is music. And I don't know that the author required it be peer reviewed for it to qualify as such. (talk) 05:37, 29 January 2019 (UTC) Loggiew

It may be disappointing, but in Wikipedia we do not really care if your claim is true or false. (Ultimately, the academic process of humanity hopefully leads to truth and discards untruth, but it is a slow process.) We - as all encyclopaedias in our sense of the word - care if it is substantiated but acceptable sources, as stated by ApLundell.-- (talk) 08:15, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
This is not the place for original research or general discussion of cryptography. Only sources about the VM. --ApLundell (talk)

Ya, ok. What I get out of that is that you guys still ignored the point about music and language. Im not sure that I made a claim that one would reference as true or false. I simply gave you a source of music as applied to this specific article. The words you responded with have VERY little actual information in them aside from stating that you simply are not interested in listing Music as a related section even though you have sections on multiple forms of language.

Your response is unsubstantial and lacks any value. (talk) 13:42, 29 January 2019 (UTC) Loggiew

As has been said - one source is insufficient for Wikipedia purposes.
Besides, the VM #does not look like a musical document# - not even a libretto. And most language is spoken or read rather than sung, so you, IP, have to prove that claim as well. Jackiespeel (talk) 14:59, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
Guess what? We are ignoring your points! That's what we're trying to tell you.
Wikipedia is not built on what the editors say. Wikipedia is based only on what sources say. It's not enough to point to a source that talks about musical manuscripts, because then it's only your opinion that it's relevant to the VM. What we need is one or more good, reliable sources, that discuss the possibility that the VM might be musical notation.
If you don't have a source like that, then this conversation will go nowhere. Even if you convince us. Even if we 100% believe you, we still have to wait for a source. ApLundell (talk) 17:17, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
ApLundell - hope you don't mind my adding 'IP' for clarification.
To the casual observer the VM bears at least a superficial resemblance to Secretary hand/some of the scripts here rather than musical notation of the time. Jackiespeel (talk) 17:50, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
That is 100% not the point.
ApLundell (talk) 18:46, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
Can you clarify slightly ApLundell? Jackiespeel (talk) 11:20, 30 January 2019 (UTC)

The application of music to encoding/decoding as as significant as frequency analysis to cryptography. If you include cryptography, music should be equally represented. As most language is not based in cryptography either. It's simply a possible interpretation of what is otherwise merely chicken scratches. If we are going to apply one broad branch/interpretive method, others warrant mention.

And, as far as music and spoken/written words being fundamentally intertwined... Im not going to even respond to whether that is a question. They are both expressions of language. Ways of communicating.

It's fine guys. Don't add it. But I'm telling you, even if the section is empty, music warrants a footnote in this historical record. I only added it because it struck me as odd that it not be mentioned. I looked for a couple basic examples and listed them. I don't care what you do with it but it seems disingenuous to ignore that.

Have a good day. (talk) 21:12, 29 January 2019 (UTC) Loggiew

You may very well be right. If you want to help, try to find independent sources, so that adding it to the article actually becomes an option.-- (talk) 10:00, 30 January 2019 (UTC)

Ok. But bear in mind that this is not an argument for information that belongs on this page. This is an argument for why Music is relevant and deserves proper space on this historical record. (talk) 20:31, 30 January 2019 (UTC) Loggiew


The application of music to cryptanalysis and code breaking may not be clear at first but there are numerous references in history. One has to be careful when adding a notation to an undecoded text, but it is worth noting the application of music to cryptanalysis on historical documents.

There are multiple ways music becomes relevant to any particular document through either direct encoding of a message in musical scales and notes or through the significance of music in cryptanalysis. ( ).

  “The concept of music as the ‘universal language’ was carried further by philosophers in England German who proposed an artificial general language based on music. This was used in the early 19th century to try and teach blind French students how to read and communicate with their teachers via the violin. This attempt at communication with the blind was superseded by the development of Morse code.”

I am unable to cut/paste from some of the references but there are numerous references to musicians in the Navy and NSA working on cryptanalysis:

Capt. Thomas H. Dyer -

Agner Meyer:


Music and the Making of Modern Science - References papers on cryptanalysis as well as a paper called ‘Hearing the irrational: Music and the development of the modern concept of number’

The aforementioned paper and author can be located here:

The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge:

- ‘He famously studied the cryptanalysis and was the first great theoretician of music in the Islamic Empire’,+he+studied+cryptanalysis+and+was+the+first+great+theoretician+of+music+in+the+Islamic+empire.&source=bl&ots=7vG4b345ZP&sig=ACfU3U0Qwnh34bIlWU1PaOUEG1xSz-xJjw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwityObHlJbgAhWjdd8KHe0mDqQQ6AEwCXoECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q=A%20great%20mathematician%2C%20he%20studied%20cryptanalysis%20and%20was%20the%20first%20great%20theoretician%20of%20music%20in%20the%20Islamic%20empire.&f=false

Merriam-Webster definition of cryptanalyst:


 the solving of cryptograms or cryptographic systems


 the theory of solving cryptograms or cryptographic systems : the art of devising methods for cryptanalysis

Agnes Meyer was a brilliant young teacher who would become one of the great cryptanalysts of all time. Born in 1889 in Illinois, Meyer studied mathematics, music, physics, and foreign languages.

Encoding within musical scores:

“The Birth of the Cryptographic Book (case 1) The Renaissance was the first great age of mass communication, but it was also the period when the art of secret writing came into its own. The new science of codes and ciphers produced some of the period’s most brilliant inventions, most beautiful books, and most enduring legacies.”

Real examples of cryptography in musical scores:

Additional personnel at the NSA with music degrees:

More cryptanalysis by the NSA using music: Page 18:

Joha's only hobby outside his linguistic specialty was his deep interest in operatic and other serious vocal music. He accumulated a tremendous collection of records, and although he had no musical training, his knowledge of various artists' recordings was encyclopedic. He was particularly fond of Schubert's lieder-he had made it a point to acquire every available recording of Schubert's "Die Forelle", for example. And he memorized the entire libretto of his favorite operas.

NSA references cryptanalysis as art, music as mathematical approach that transcends cold logic: — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:27, 30 January 2019 (UTC)

Listen guys,

I'm currently trying to study hieroglyphs and cuneiform. When I was looking through this, the first thoughts I had were what ideograms and pictograms had been considered. Then I asked what musical considerations there were. Cryptanalysis was literally the last question I asked myself about this manuscript. Cryptography is a modern development. This document is evidently written on paper what was created using average materials and average processes and demonstrates no particularly ornate features aside from artistic renderings of flora and fauna. Aside from the application of a new technology to deciphering this, cryptography doesn't belong associated with this document at all. (talk) 21:48, 30 January 2019 (UTC) Loggiew

Further more,

If cryptography has taken such an interest in this document, you have it backwards. This document should be listed as a footnote somewhere under a Cryptography section. Instead you have an entire section of this document dedicated to cryptography.

It's a fair point to list cryptographic achievements for this manuscript in the page. But there needs to be equal weight to various linguistic considerations. I've listed a few relevant to this document. - Language

- Ideograms
- Pictograms (meh)
- Music
- Written language (not verbal!)
- ... 
- Cryptography (talk) 22:07, 30 January 2019 (UTC) Loggiew

You might have missed the message at the top of this talk page, so I'll repeat it for you here: This is the talk page for discussing improvements to the Voynich manuscript article. This is not a forum for general discussion of the article's subject. Please, feel free to share your thoughts elsewhere. Drabkikker (talk) 22:42, 30 January 2019 (UTC)

That is 100% about an improvement to the article. But go ahead. Make it clear that this is an admin decision to not make a change that has been thoroughly referenced.

Even if empty, this page warrants a Music section. That is specifically about an improvement to the page and I have not gone off topic. (talk) 22:49, 30 January 2019 (UTC) Loggiew ^^^^ For reference, in case you guys have forgotten. (talk) 22:54, 30 January 2019 (UTC) Loggiew

It's not up to me to decide anything. It's just that you don't seem to understand that original research has no place here as long as it isn't backed by external sources. And what are your claims anyway? 'Music and language are closely connected' and 'The VM yields music if you run it through an algorithm'? Nobody is denying the former, but it doesn't pertain to the VM in particular, now does it? As for the latter, I hope you realize how silly that notion is. Anything will yield notes if you run it through an algorithm designed for that purpose, be it the Bible, the Voynich, my mom's shopping list or the entrails of a dead kangaroo. Drabkikker (talk) 07:26, 31 January 2019 (UTC)
To 'a non-Medieval-paleographer' the text of the VM #looks# like a hand/script of the period, rather than a musical manuscript of the time: and in the 100 years since Wilfrid started asking people for their thoughts on the matter, and with some of the best cryptographers of the 20th century being involved and various other participants, this IP is the only suggestion of a musical component. Jackiespeel (talk) 13:03, 31 January 2019 (UTC)
That is also 100% not the point. ApLundell (talk) 20:41, 31 January 2019 (UTC)

What original research? The only thing I've asserted is that when looking at this page, it only narrowly considers one element of linguistics. And I argue that the page should be restructured. Not an addition or removal of any information from wikipedia. That is 100% about this manuscript, 100% about improving this page and 100% relevant to this talk page.

The original persons who disagreed wanted to do so on the basis that "music is not language". Cryptography does not belong on this page as more than a foot note. Given the unknown nature of the manuscript, this page doesn't properly represent it. And everything you guys have responded is the same thing you accuse me of. You say it isn't a musical manuscript but you clearly have no supporting evidence.

Or DO you? And that belongs in a section on Music.......... ! (talk) 15:14, 31 January 2019 (UTC) Loggiew — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:02, 31 January 2019 (UTC)

We're not saying it is or isn't.
We're saying that unless you have a source that specifically mentions music and the VM in the same source, then it's not appropriate for this article.
Finding sources about music and assuming that it applies here (even if you're right) counts as 'original research' on Wikipedia. ApLundell (talk) 20:41, 31 January 2019 (UTC)

The same thing is true or cryptography or any specific linguistic analysis. Peace. (talk) 23:46, 31 January 2019 (UTC) Loggiew

IP - you have posed the idea that the VM has a musical component - which #may# be possible. Other shave posited that there is a cryptographic component - and many cryptographers have taken it on as a pursuit (whether or not an elegant one).
You have been asked to provide a sufficiency of references - but have not done so.
Wikipedia has its rules and conventions - which, inter alia, mean that it it wishes to be a secondary source/provide an overview of bibliographical and other sources, and, at times, will note developing concepts/OR so that the relevant sources can be monitored and material added when the criteria have been met.
Can I draw your attention to the Sagan standard. Jackiespeel (talk) 00:12, 1 February 2019 (UTC)

Antoine Casanova[edit]

This section is being repeatedly added and removed: there does not seem to be sufficient supporting/corroborative evidence and sources. Jackiespeel (talk) 18:32, 15 February 2019 (UTC)

I've removed it again. (The previous times it was added by Antoine Casanova himself, and then when he was told he couldn't promote his own work, another anonymous account suddenly appeared and tried to add the same material! Come on, how stupid does he think we are?)
Anyway, it's the same old nonsense. One person who thinks they've decoded it. No real sources. Just a few self-published articles, A podcast, and a news article about the VM that mentions AC in passing as one of many researchers working on it.
Nothing to differentiate it from every other person who thinks they've decoded it.
ApLundell (talk) 22:18, 15 February 2019 (UTC)
How valid is my 'any "translation" should give passages of coherent text (which reflect the interests and style of the time in order to be considered' suggestion? (This would be valid for both multi-lingual commonplace books and 'an actual book rewritten in a fancified script and purporting to be from eg Prester John/similar figure from outside Europe known at the time of writing')? Jackiespeel (talk) 11:55, 16 February 2019 (UTC)
These are intended suggestions/possibilities (and 'category 'slightly more likely than Francis Bacon or the Cathars as authors'). Jackiespeel (talk) 12:14, 16 February 2019 (UTC)
As a rule of thumb, it can't overrule notability guidelines.
Even if a translation gives pages and pages of coherent text, but no legitimate sources are interested, then it doesn't really belong here.
ApLundell (talk) 20:04, 16 February 2019 (UTC)
Actually, I think even as a rule of thumb it falls down. Some "decoding" methods are so flexible that you could "decode" whole pages of random gibberish.ApLundell (talk) 12:49, 17 February 2019 (UTC)
Just removed it again. Here's why :
    • [1]-- This source is self-published.
    • [2] -- This source is self-published.
    • [3] -- This article barely even *mentions* Casanova.
    • [4] -- This source is a podcast. I'll admit I'm not sure how notable this podcast is. Is the sort publication that would make this notable? It doesn't seem to be. Podcasts usually aren't.
    • [5] -- Another self-published source.
And that's it. Those are all the sources in the contested material. Nothing of note. Nothing RS. Nothing to elevate it above the zillions of other people who have claimed to decode the manuscript.
I don't see any justification for including it at this point. ApLundell (talk) 12:49, 17 February 2019 (UTC)
I second the current assessment re Casanova's work. We need RS to pass judgment on the work.
@Jackiespeel: your viewpoint on decoding is appropriate, but the metric is something that RS should be applying rather than editors. Apply WP:DUE is the simple metric. If the viewpoint is not held by a significant minority, then it does not belong on WP. Glrx (talk) 20:27, 17 February 2019 (UTC)
As a point of interest, he commented on my talk page here.
ApLundell (talk) 21:17, 17 February 2019 (UTC)
The general rule of 'if the translation/decipherment doesn't make sense, the wrong rules-of-transformation are being used' (especially given the number of expert cryptographers and other interested parties who have tried their various hands at it). Jackiespeel (talk) 11:09, 18 February 2019 (UTC)

Recent progress[edit]

A Yale Library manuscript has finally been decoded, and there is nothing codelike about it except that the combination of language and characters in which it was written put people off. At the end of the first and top of the 2nd page are some of the hilarious speculations about the writer and purpose of the MS, such as that it was written by an alien or in a secret code.

It's just vulgar Latin in an early "italic text," written by a woman in the 15th century at a castle on an island. Pages can be seen at

These are all on the linguistics website LingBuzz: The first paper explains the writing system and language: The second paper translates a pictorial map from the manuscript: The third paper focuses on volcanic details from the map:

Food for thought. Convinced me. Keith Henson (talk) 19:11, 15 March 2019 (UTC)

So where is an actual translation? Jackiespeel (talk) 20:05, 15 March 2019 (UTC)
Here's an example taken from Cheshire's article (version 18, p. 21):
On Spread 83. Left. The first three lines read: molor orqueina doleina dolinar æor domar om nar nar or æina, dolina ræina domor nor æina æina na nas omina eimina rolasa, nais oe eina domina domeina etna domar doma dolar dolina ro. The Vulgar Latin molor in this instance is the Classical Latin mollor (soften/calm/pacify) as the Classical Latin molor (grind/mill/wear) would be inappropriate. This example explains why double consonants were reintroduced after the period of the MS 408 manuscript, to refine the use of the written language in the post-Mediaeval.
The word ro is an abbreviation for rogo (to ask/request: Latin); eimina is to eliminate in Spanish and Portuguese; om is hom (homine) meaning man in Latin; nar nar means foolish/crazy/up-tight in Romansch; nor means daughter-in-law in Aromanian; ræina (reina) means queen in the Romance languages; omina means omen in Latin; domina means lady in Latin; domena means domain/room in Latin; dolina/dolinar means bath/bathe in Romance languages; domar means to tame/control in Catalan and Portuguese; doleina means therapeutic in Catalan; æina means wife in Catalan; etna (ætna) means to heat/burn in Latin/Greek: nais means to begin/commence/create in French. Thus, the transliteration is constructed by inserting connectives, thereby turning the Vulgar Latin into logical modern sentences.
So, a reasonable transliteration would be: Calming with therapeutic bathing is always certain to tame the tense man and wife. A queen’s bath always relaxes the daughter-in-law and wife to eliminate the omen, for it to happen. Begin now the method for the lady’s domain, and heat the room to make the bathing smooth, please! So, the passage appears to be advice for the mother (queen) of a prince to impart to her daughter in-law as guidance for seducing her son and becoming pregnant.
See, children, now this is what we call pseudoscience. Drabkikker (talk) 21:49, 15 March 2019 (UTC)
Edit: As expected, Nick Pelling has shredded it to pieces long ago and more eloquently than I ever could. Drabkikker (talk) 22:20, 15 March 2019 (UTC)


The version of proto-Romance language used in Manuscript MS408 is closest linguistically to Portuguese, Catalan, Galician and Occitan. This is evidently due to the language having developed from Vulgar Latin at a time when Naples, Ischia and the Aeolian Islands were part of the Crown of Aragon. The other Romance languages; Spanish, French, Italian, Romanian all preserve some of the lexicon, as do the southeast European languages Croatian, Greek, Hungarian, Albanian, Slovenian. In addition, there are Germanic, Norse, Persian and Arabic influences on the proto-Romance of the manuscript.

This demonstrates just how translocating peoples, cultures and languages were across Europe, North Africa and the Near East during the Mediaeval. Of course, the Mediterranean was the focal point of trade, slavery, warfare and political flux at that time, which explains why so much movement occurred prior to the Renaissance, when the modern map began to form.

In scientific terms, the Mediterranean was a ‘meme-pool’, so that idea, knowledge and methods of communication were constantly interacting, with Naples as the epicentre of it all, being the largest city in Europe during the Mediaeval. Little wonder, then, that its version of proto-Romance was such a heady mix of Occidental languages and vestigial Latin. The city was filled to brimming with peoples of many different nations, all using the language as a common tongue in order to exchange information, know-how, property and goods.

Thanks to the miraculous survival of Manuscript MS408, historians now have a new window into the mid-fifteenth century Neapolitan world, and linguists have, in a single document, the only known examples of proto-Italics and proto- Romance. In effect, Manuscript MS408 is the Mediaeval Rosetta Stone and should therefore provide a wealth of linguistic and historic data for scholars to investigate and fascinate over for many years to come.

PDF from

From the other paper,

The companion paper Linguistically Dating and Locating Manuscript MS408 shows that the manuscript dates from 1444 and was created on the island of Ischia.

I have read the papers and while I don't expect the Wikipedia entity to change (not secondary sources), I would bet fairly long odds that this is the solution. It is self-consistent.

Keith Henson (talk) 03:31, 16 March 2019 (UTC)

Have you also read Nick Pelling's reaction to the article I linked above? Sure, the man's tone is snarky to the point of being arrogant, but he knows what he is talking about. Many would-be Voynich crackers would benefit from reading his website first before proceeding. Drabkikker (talk) 08:27, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
Yes, read it, agree with you about snarky. Some of the complaints Nick makes such as the regional variation of Vulgar Latin are in agreement with Gerard Cheshire. Cheshire nailing the creation date down by a volcanic eruption seems (if not airtight) like something that either has support from other documents or can be refuted. The analysis of the fold out seems like it deserves study because it just makes sense.
Thinking about it and looking at the other claims, perhaps Gerard Cheshire should be mentioned after all. It might focus attention on what seems to be the least complicated explanation of the VM.

Gerard Cheshire

In 2017 Cheshire made a case for the content, origin, location, and date of the VM in three papers. The first paper explains the writing system and language: [1] The second paper translates a pictorial map from the manuscript: [2] The third paper focuses on volcanic details from the map:[3]

What do you think? Keith Henson (talk) 15:32, 16 March 2019 (UTC)

As far as Cheshire's linguistic analysis is concerned, I think it is pseudoscience, full of red flags like cherry picking, wishful thinking, confirmation bias and a general misunderstanding of historical linguistics. Pelling has some very valid points that cannot be conveniently ignored, no matter how snide. Drabkikker (talk) 19:17, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
Do you think Cheshire is wrong about the provenance, date or substance of the VM? Keith Henson (talk) 19:48, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
I am not qualified to evaluate his conclusions, but as far as the linguistic part is concerned I have serious reservations about the method by which he arrives at them. Drabkikker (talk) 22:56, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
I am not sure what "linguistic" means in this context. Is it the translation or a proceeding step? The paraphrasing to modern English looks reasonable. Keith Henson (talk) 23:08, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
It may be worthwhile to read through this thread at the forum, as it addresses many of the problems with Cheshire's approach. Drabkikker (talk) 00:08, 17 March 2019 (UTC)
I read it. There is little comment on the content or conclusions and lots on Cheshire's failure to use certain standard terms. It's more or less standard ad hominem which is expected for an outsider contributing to any field. I have some experience with that. My background is electrical engineering, but I contributed a couple of papers on new aspects of evolutionary psychology. After about 15 years, the papers are still being downloaded and cited, i.e., they became more or less orthodox. I suspect Cheshire has figured out the VM for what it is and where it came from and that time will prove him right. Keith Henson (talk) 17:33, 17 March 2019 (UTC)
Did you miss the valid points that were made amidst the ad hominem? Or do you choose to use the ad hominem as a justification to simply dismiss them? Specifically, did you come across this post in the thread? Don't you think these objections deserve the utmost scrutiny? Drabkikker (talk) 23:31, 17 March 2019 (UTC)
Yes, I read that post. The guy completely misunderstands Cheshire's proposal to figure out the VM. Though I suspect that Cheshire doesn't help by using non-standard terms. Keith Henson (talk) 04:32, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
Will modify my occasionally made statement - that any translation of the VM (in part - if a compilation of texts - or in whole) should give a reasonably coherent text and will 'make the news' (TV/print) as being positive news , followed by 'instant TV programs' and 'instant books' (which are then followed by refutations and an archive-page's-worth of discussion on this talk page). Jackiespeel (talk) 00:32, 17 March 2019 (UTC)
The problem with this translation getting attention is that it is mundane. Apparently, it was written by a woman mostly about women's health issues and a rescue of people from a volcanic eruption. If you don't get hung up on terminology issues, the whole story hangs together, at least that's the view of this outsider. Keith Henson (talk) 17:33, 17 March 2019 (UTC)

(reset) But 'mysterious medieval manuscript's mundane meaning' #would# make a newsworthy story (and being rescued from a volcanic eruption is not mundane). Jackiespeel (talk) 11:02, 18 March 2019 (UTC)

Good point. I know a few science reporters, maybe aim them at this work. Keith Henson (talk) 04:32, 19 March 2019 (UTC)

Excellent plan! Let's pray they don't know any actual science, though, or they might expose Cheshire's work for what it is. ;) (Nah, reporters would'nt want to ruin a perfectly good scoop, now would they?)
Back to being unsarcastic: Is there a specific reason you find Cheshire's approach more compelling than, say, Antoine Casanova's? Drabkikker (talk) 10:03, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
Cheshire's approach is far more detailed and he explains his steps. But Antoine Casanova's work is broadly consistent with Cheshire's. They both think it is Latin related, Cheshire goes into more details about the origin and dating of the VM. Neither one of them thinks the text is hidden cryptographically. You might try asking someone not in the VM interest group to read the papers. I find them to be logical. As a prediction, I expect wide agreement will emerge in the next year around Cheshire's take on the VM. Keith Henson (talk) 20:51, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
Your optimism is laudable :) Do you like whiskey? 'Cause I'd happily wager a good bottle of aged Islay if you're right. How about we meet again at this very spot on March 20, 2020? Ooohboy, can't wait! Drabkikker (talk) 21:27, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
Technically would not Islay be whisky rather than whiskey? Jackiespeel (talk) 23:55, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
Blimey! You're right. :) Drabkikker (talk) 08:19, 21 March 2019 (UTC)

Are third party sources taking this seriously? If not, it's not our job to make excuses for it. ApLundell (talk) 16:38, 18 March 2019 (UTC)

My comments/statement on the viability of a translation, or the original posting? Jackiespeel (talk) 18:30, 18 March 2019 (UTC)
ApLundell - I see no third-party references. Jackiespeel (talk) 23:55, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
So there is now a peer-reviewed article. I can edit this into the article unless someone else wants to do it. Keith Henson (talk) 16:23, 29 April 2019 (UTC)
I want to see a reliable secondary source commenting on the solution. Cheshire's article is a recent primary source. Primary sources do not indicate the number of adherents to a theory. If Cheshire's claims have merit, the reliable secondary sources should follow. Glrx (talk) 22:17, 29 April 2019 (UTC)
Some news outlets have picked this up and are reporting it as a solution: [6][7][8]

Information that may be wrong or may be right[edit]

Doing a google search, I was referred to these sites. Could someone who spent more time than I have give a brief review of them, so the notes will be there for the next interested reader ?

The Voynich Code - The Worlds Most Mysterious Manuscript - Youtube[edit]

  • https://
    YouTube title: The Voynich Code - The Worlds Most Mysterious Manuscript - The Secrets of Nature
    Published on May 9, 2014
    by The Secrets of Nature ( )
    It is the world's most mysterious manuscript. A book, written by an unknown author, illustrated with pictures that are as bizarre as they are puzzling -- and written in a language that even the best cryptographers have been unable to decode. No wonder that this script even has a part in Dan Brown's latest bestseller "The Lost Symbol".


  • video shows a man and woman physically touching the parchements. Is this plausible ?
    as of April 25,2019 this is almost five (5) years old.
    How has information changed since publishing ?
    Documentary style video, almost an hour long.
    Any evidence that the people mentioned as experts actually know what they are talking about?
    Paolo Zayets ?
    How accurate are any of the descriptions or statements in the video ?

Voynich Manuscript Revealed (2018) Youtube[edit]

  • https://
    YouTube title: Voynich Manuscript Revealed (2018)
    Published on Feb 22, 2018
    by Voynich Manuscript Research ( https:// )
    Thanked Yale for digital images of manuscript.
    The Voynich Manuscript is a mysterious medieval manuscript written in the early 15th century. To date, scientists, historians, mathematicians and linguists have struggled to decipher the manuscript. However, the mystery has finally been put to rest. Ata Team Alberta (ATA) has deciphered and translated over 30% the manuscript. Currently, a formal paper of the philological study was submitted to an academic journal in John Hopkins University.


  • as of April 25,2019 is this is 14 months old.
    Claims only worked on for four years (since 2015 ?)
    Did the Philological study get published ?
    Report style video about 12 minutes long.
    Any evidence that the people mentioned as experts actually know what they are talking about?
    • Ata Team Alberta (ATA)
    • Ahmet Ardic -- electrical or electronic engineer?
    • Alp Erkan Ardic - son of Ahmet
    • Ozan Ardic - son of Ahmet
    How accurate are any of the descriptions or statements in the video ?
    • Claims matched 5 of the 12 "months" mentioned as ancient or modern month names.
    • Claims alphabet used had 24 letters and over 60 combined letters. and ?combdas? https://
      • gives examples of letter combinations and Turkish translations. (rope, rope measures)
    • Claims translated words from page 58 where 28 words were direct translations from Turkish
    • Claims 30% translation. Not clear if translation of whole manuscript or of one page

Jawitkien (talk) 15:18, 25 April 2019 (UTC)

My usual comments apply: any translation should produce more than a few running words in a given section (the VM may be a collection of different texts brought together), and should be 'of its time and place.' Jackiespeel (talk) 20:10, 26 April 2019 (UTC)


another purported translation[edit]

Gerard Cheshire (2019) The Language and Writing System of MS408 (Voynich) Explained, Romance Studies, DOI: 10.1080/02639904.2019.1599566 (talk) 07:54, 15 May 2019 (UTC)


It seems that there is a solution. -Theklan (talk) 12:16, 15 May 2019 (UTC)

This paper is a bit of a joke to be honest. It doesn't even begin to translate anything. Definitely can't be called "solved."Wikiditm (talk) 20:28, 15 May 2019 (UTC)
Are we reading the same paper? --Auric talk 22:25, 15 May 2019 (UTC)
Another critical response[9] (talk) 23:02, 15 May 2019 (UTC)
I'm no linguist, but this looks like the usual nonsense to me.
If you give yourself enough latitude in interpreting the results, you can come up with any answer that seems right to you.
ApLundell (talk) 01:13, 16 May 2019 (UTC) (talk) 02:56, 16 May 2019 (UTC)
As a point of interest, I'm always suspicious when someone is described as "an academic". It's such a good sounding, but extremely vague thing to say. (Like "inventor")
Turns out he was a PhD student in biology. I changed the article to describe him as a "biologist", as news articles are calling him "doctor" so he apparently now has his PhD, and so "biologist" seems like the best description.
He is not listed as a professor on UoB's website, but a "Visiting Research Associate"[10]. ApLundell (talk) 06:26, 16 May 2019 (UTC)
It is irrelevant what Wikipedians may think about the author, what counts is that Romance_Studies_(journal) decided to publish the paper. We do have a general policy of preferring Wikipedia:Primary Secondary and Tertiary Sources, so it is fine that we defer mentioning this paper until there has been some wider, secondary reporting on it. Lklundin (talk) 06:50, 16 May 2019 (UTC) - PS: Which there seems to be now. Lklundin (talk) 06:53, 16 May 2019 (UTC)
I certainly won't fight for it, but I think this one has received enough media attention that we may as well include it in the list. At least while it's still hot in the news and people keep coming here expecting to see it. Just so long as we don't treat it as any better than all the other efforts.
One day that list will get too long and we'll have to trim it again, but there's no harm leaving the current decipherment-of-the-month on it for now. ApLundell (talk) 08:32, 16 May 2019 (UTC)
A good quote from the Guardian article "You can’t just have one person saying: 'I've cracked it.' You have got to have the field, on the whole, agreeing." William Avery (talk) 08:10, 16 May 2019 (UTC)
I deleted the section again. There needs to be consensus on this talk page for the material, and consensus relies on policy-based arguments. WP only covers topics that are WP:DUE. Newspapers quoting Cheshire's claims do not count. Sources attacking Cheshire do not make the attacked claims WP:DUE. There must be evidence that a significant minority holds or supports the viewpoint. That readers come to this article to learn about Cheshire's claims does not mean that those claims should be reported here. WP's purpose is not to recite every claim to a solution. WP does not intend to cover transient events. If Cheshire has solved it or made significant progress, that achievement would not be ephemeral. If he has made progress, then the significant minority will come. Glrx (talk) 19:57, 16 May 2019 (UTC)
Nobody has ever made "significant progress". That's not the metric.
ApLundell (talk) 20:58, 16 May 2019 (UTC)
Whether or not editors here think it is "a bit of a joke", this purported solution has been very widely reported and readers will expect it to be mentioned. We should include academic sources rebutting it, of course, but we should not exclude all mention of it. Ghmyrtle (talk) 21:12, 16 May 2019 (UTC)

Anyway, like I said I won't fight for it. But I do think the fact that it was so quickly rebutted, even informally, by experts indicates that it's risen above the noise level. The fact that there's a rebuttal available also makes it a nicely representative example for the article's non-comprehensive list of decipherments-of-the-month.
What I would really like, is for the entire "Decipherment claims" to be reformatted into a discussion about how the VM regularly attracts these kinds of overly-optimistic pattern-seeking decipherment claims. They've honestly become the largest part of the document's story. The current claim is an almost perfect example of that recurring phenomena. I think making the reader understand that these decipherments are a regular event would be more useful than having a short list that we have to constantly debate inclusions for. ApLundell (talk) 21:27, 16 May 2019 (UTC)
Ghmyrtle restoration should be undone. WP:DUE is policy. Who are the prominent adherent's of Cheshire's work? Nobody. That means it does not belong on Wikipedia.
WP also values independent sources. Rewriting a press release is not an independent source. It does not matter how many newspapers rewrite the PR. Also, just quoting Cheshire does not cut it. Ref 100, EurekAlert is a dead link. Ref 101, Gary Manners, mostly quotes the PR: "The press release from University of Bristol in South West England promotes a paper that reveals the secret language of the Voynich manuscript has finally been understood." To the limited extent Manners exercises independence, he states others have made confident claims before, but Cheshire "seems to have solid backing"; Manners does not go into that backing. Ref 102, the Guardian, states the claim, does not evaluate it, but points to Fagin's criticism. Ref 103, BBC, just regurgitates the claim and includes a lot of direct quotations. All of the citations depend on Cheshire's claim. That does not count on WP.
We decide how important some topic is. DUE is not some belief that a lot of people come to this article interested in Cheshire's work so we should include it. We don't get to read Cheshire's paper and pass judgment. We need sources for that. And right now the independent sources are panning it. That's not the kind of material WP should have.
Glrx (talk) 01:16, 17 May 2019 (UTC)
"And right now the independent sources are panning it."
Of course they're panning it. It's total nonsense.
Nobody is arguing that it should be included because we think it might be true.
The manuscript is undecipherable. The notable thing is that people keep trying and failing. Actual academics have mostly given up on the VM as useless. To the extent that the manuscript stays relevant, it does so because of popular culture, not because of academic culture.
The VM is to linguistics what perpetual motion machines are to engineering. ApLundell (talk) 01:45, 17 May 2019 (UTC)
(Although, see my comment above. I think the endless cycle of false decipherments could be worked into a prose section that organically mentions some notable examples rather than just presenting a short, cherry-picked list. If we can get consensus for that, I'd be happy to take the first stab at writing it.) ApLundell (talk) 01:53, 17 May 2019 (UTC)
I'm not arguing truth. I'm not arguing WP:N. I'm arguing the POLICY of WP:DUE: "If a viewpoint is held by a significant minority, then it should be easy to name prominent adherents; If a viewpoint is held by an extremely small minority, it does not belong on Wikipedia, regardless of whether it is true or you can prove it, except perhaps in some ancillary article." Who are those prominent adherents? Nick Pelling could be prominent, but he does not adhere. AFAIK, there are none. Until there are such adherents, the material does not belong in the article. When some prominent adherents appear, then it may be included.
And why does the insertion have more column inches refuting the claim than describing the claim? That just seems perverse. Let's include some idea and also shoot it down. That's not an encyclopedia's charter.
And it is beyond me why somebody would say "It's total nonsense" but think it should be included.
Much of the argument above seems to indict the relevance of the VM. That's not the issue here. This is not a deletion discussion about the main article; the VM is clearly WP:N. Furthermore, a belief that the VM is irrelevant is not an argument to stuff an article with additional irrelevance.
Glrx (talk) 16:51, 17 May 2019 (UTC)
"And it is beyond me why somebody would say "It's total nonsense" but think it should be included"
Nonsense is nearly 100% orthogonal to notability and relevance.
I hope you don't take this attitude to articles about perpetual motion machines or UFO conspiracy theories. ApLundell (talk) 04:52, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
Though I support that we in general do not include the latest wild claims about Voynich, I think User:ApLundells argument is mistaken. I would expect articles on UFOs and perpetual motion to cover (and, obviously, mostly debunk) some of the most notable nonsense that has been in vogue at various times. An article on UFOs not mentioning Roswell would be strange. OK, bad example considering UFOs are a real thing - natural phenomena, unfamiliar types of aircraft etc. My point is that "fringe science" (and worse) is a valid subject.-- (talk) 06:49, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
There seems to be no likelihood of consensus here on whether or how to include mention of Cheshire's claims, and so editors who think that they should not be included should raise the matter at a forum like WP:RFC, to get outside involvement. Ghmyrtle (talk) 07:56, 17 May 2019 (UTC)
That's backwards. No consensus usually means that newly added material goes. See WP:NOCON.
But more than that, I'm not seeing policy-based argument for inclusion. Cheshire made a claim. A PR was distributed. Some news outlets picked up the PR. WP:CONSENSUS is weighed by policy arguments. Glrx (talk) 16:51, 17 May 2019 (UTC)
I think the point is that other editors do not seem to agree with your interpretation. Ghmyrtle (talk) 17:55, 17 May 2019 (UTC)
For the record, I am anotjher editor who firmly believes "readings" of Voynich Ms is one of the areas where wikipedia shoud await solid secondary sources or tertiary sorces before including the latest claim (which in practice means that most claims will never be included). In principle, some false and debunked claims can be included, if their media coverage or scholarly discussions have been notable enough in themselves to make them a significant part of the ongoing saga of the Voynich Ms. But one misguided article in the Guardian, say, is no where near enough to meet this criterion. -- As I've stated above, when dealing with current affairs - developing stories - of course material may appear in wikipedia that later need to be amended. But adding stuff to be on the forefront of the story, when all likelihood is that it later will be not amended but deleted, is not the right approach in an encyclopaedia.-- (talk) 19:33, 17 May 2019 (UTC)
This research has been publicised much more widely than "one misguided article in the Guardian". The news that Cheshire's university is now disclaiming any role in the research now raises wider issues. Ghmyrtle (talk) 20:46, 17 May 2019 (UTC)

Comment I'd say it's notable at present because of the ongoing coverage. It's been picked up at lay science news sites. At least for the time being, I think we serve our readership best by covering it, so they see that it's nonsense. — kwami (talk) 02:23, 18 May 2019 (UTC)

Inclusion of Cheshire's (non-)results.[edit]

I see above that there has already been much discussion on this. This is good. So to clarify:

The original claim has been sufficiently covered to warrant inclusion: Daily Telegraph, Tech Times, The Times, The Guardian, Boston Globe.

The rebuttal has also been sufficiently covered: The Telegraph, BBC News, Ars Technica, The Independent.

——SerialNumber54129 11:45, 18 May 2019 (UTC)

No, it does not. It fails WP:DUE because there are not prominent adherents. Please read the policy.
The first pro-reference you cite, The Daily Telegraph, has the title "Bristol University distances itself from claim 15th century Voynich manuscript has been cracked amid academic scepticism". Its first few paragraphs state,
Bristol University has withdrawn a claim that one of their academic’s cracked a 15th century manuscript.
Earlier this week the University announced that Dr Gerard Cheshire, a research associate, had solved the famous Voynich manuscript in just two weeks, with his findings published in the journal Romance Studies.
Dr Cheshire described how he had “a series of eureka moments” to successfully decipher the manuscript's codex, which revealed the only known example of proto-Romance language.
But the Russell Group University have since removed an article from their website about Dr Cheshire's work after "concerns have been raised about the validity of this research."
So the researcher's university is no longer in the support camp. The implied pro Boston Globe reference, states Bristol withdrew support ("Now the University of Bristol, which originally publicized Cheshire’s findings, has distanced itself from the research, saying it needs to take a further look.").
Failed theories by amateurs are not worthy of coverage. The article is about the VM; it is not about possibly dubious efforts by unknowns.
Glrx (talk) 19:11, 18 May 2019 (UTC)
But Cheshire's paper cannot simply be dismissed as a failed theory of an amateur, because the paper has been published by a peer-reviewed journal. Lklundin (talk) 21:45, 18 May 2019 (UTC)
It is certainly true that Glrx does not understand the policy they keep making vague reference to. Reliable sources have covered the affair; DUE exists to ensure that poorly-sourced material is not given equal weight. ——SerialNumber54129 09:02, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
There will never be "prominent adherents" of any individual theory. However we still need to communicate that there exists an endless parade of false decipherments. That's an important part of the story.
The Chesire decipherment is an excellent example because it's debunked. (A common problem with fringe topics is that nobody bothers to debunk them, so it's difficult to have a discussion that is both rational and sourced.)
So, while I have no particular attachment to this exact decipherment, I really do think it's important to have examples, and this is one is at least getting balanced coverage.
I still think Glrx is fundamentally misunderstanding this conversation.
He keeps harping on the fact that it's been debunked, that the university doesn't support it, etc. None of that is the point. We're not including it because the we expect it to improve the reader's understanding of the text of the manuscript. It obviously won't.
We're including it because false decipherments, including this relatively prominent one, are part of the story of the manuscript.
The VM is a historic artifact that is not done making history, in its own small way. ApLundell (talk) 05:09, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
It is regrettable that you do not understand my argument. I'm OK with theories that get acceptance but then are discarded. Lamarckian evolution. Ideas by amateurs are not dismissed because they are amateurs. Jules Verne got credit for submarines; Arthur C. Clarke for satellite communications. The problem is Cheshire's theory has no prominent adherents. Verne's and Clarke's ideas got traction and supporters. AFAIK, Cheshire is the only adherent of his theory, and he is not prominent. When there are prominent adherents of his theory, then it belongs in Wikipedia. That's what WP:DUE teaches. Cheshire does not hold a significant viewpoint. Compare that to Amelia Earhart and the Gardner Island Hypothesis; it's very unlikely she landed there, but a significant minority believes she may have landed there. The GIH is WP:DUE because of Hooven, Gillespie, Clinton, and others.
Cheshire does not belong in the main article. WP:DUE would permit it "in some ancillary article".
The notion that a journal is peer reviewed does not mean we must cover it. Wikipedia does not cover every paper that is published in peer reviewed journals.
Regurgitated press releases are not independent and they should not be used to judge significance. Many articles show the viewpoint does not have other adherents. It's not a failed theory that should not be included but rather a theory (whether or not it failed) that never gained traction that should not be included.
So name some "prominent adherents" to Cheshire's theory. If you cannot, then Jimmy Wales says the viewpoint does not belong in Wikipedia.
Glrx (talk) 18:17, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
  • The amount of coverage forces us to include it prominently - but the criticism should be given significant weight.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 09:34, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
Indeed, arguably it's the criticism rather than the original story that is the notable factor. ——SerialNumber54129 13:09, 19 May 2019 (UTC)

Amateurs (in the fields in question) publish "decryptions" of Voynich every year, and some of them gain a certain notoriety in the press, unrelated to their actual merit. And wikipedia editors push inclusion of the latest such claim every year or two, so we have these lengthy discussions. There are really three positions on their inclusion:

  1. No way! Only when a claim has been through peer review and we have strong secondary or tertiary sources should they be included in an Encyclopaedia! (I support that view, mostly.)
  2. If it is covered by several serious news outlets, it is notable and should be included.
  3. Well, the third position is really just an argument in favour of the second that I actually can support to some extent (though I'm not sure one can find Wikipedia policies to back it up): When a claim is covered in major news outlets, there will be people looking up Voynich in Wikipedia to learn more. We need to supply them answers - and we need to have enough on the latest claim to stop most unsophisticated editors (pardon my elitism!) from adding ill-considered nonsense about the claim.

Should we, perhaps in a separate article, maybe a "List of claims about decryption of the Voynich manuscript", briefly cover the most widely publicised deciprement claims - with a prominent disclaimer that they generally

  • have not gained broad academic support,
  • do not decrypt significant parts of the entire manuscript,
  • and are based on a set of dubious ad hoc assumptions?

-- (talk) 07:06, 21 May 2019 (UTC)

There are probably several aspects - 'I have deciphered a few words' claims, 'here is a new idea about, or piece of information on, the actual manuscript as a thing - context, history etc.' and 'appearances and discussions of these topics in the media whether serious news or more creative sources.'
And consider various of the fantastical claims that were made about some of the scripts of the Ancient World before they were deciphered in the modern era (19th century-present) - how likely is it that the same will apply to the VM? Jackiespeel (talk) 11:34, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
User:Jackiespeel, you are right (and thanks for fixing a couple of spelling mistakes/typos in my post), but I'm not sure what you think about my suggestion? (But then, I'm not sure what I think about my suggestion either!)
In principle, Wikipedia does not have high academic/encyclopaedic standards on some pages, and lower on other pages in the article space - and what I'm suggesting is to lower the bar in one designated area.
Is there a level-headed Voynich forum, blog, or whatever, somewhere, that can be trusted to give at all times a reasonable view on the current status of various claims? Then, perhaps that might instead be linked in a prominent way in a section on "recent claims". But I haven't found such a site that is currently updated on Cheshire.-- (talk) 13:09, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
I do proofreading as part of my day job - and correct things automatically. Jackiespeel (talk) 23:33, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
Yes, I believe Cheshire should be included because his theory was first peer-reviewed and published, but then crashed. That he is wrong doesn't really matter, the fact his theory was initially supported and made reputable news sources, however, does. Unlike a fringe theory by an amateur.
A separate article about disproven claims might be too much, though. I don't think there are enough peer-reviewed failures by credible researchers to justify a page. The current section in the main Voynich article is enough, I think. That section might need some weeding, though. Not sure if, for example, Joseph Martin Feely should be in there. Yintan  15:29, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
I agree with this reasoning regarding Cheshire. The following is my relatively uneducated speculation, but given that (1) the statistical analysis of the VM makes a (Central or East) Asian language more likely than a Romance one, and (2) Romance linguists quickly criticized Cheshire's reasoning as circular and aspirational (and several other bad things beyond what established scientists usually say to newcomers), and (3) that his paper does not actually decode the VM, I have to wonder if the peer-review of Cheshire's paper was maybe less thorough that it could have been and if eventually the paper will have to be retracted - or maybe deemed to have a "special status" similar to the (in)famous "Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis", which a reputable peer-reviewed journal published as a "challenging puzzle" to its readers (which typically deem the paper to be a bunch of crackpot nonsense). Even if something along those lines were to happen with Cheshire's paper, it would in my opinion and in the words of ApLundell be because "The VM is a historic artifact that is not done making history, in its own small way". PS. Let it be known that I believe the VM was written in the first half of the 1400-hundreds and that I find it inconceivable that someone back then should be sufficiently clever (and wealthy) to create such an extensive document full of gibberish, yet presented in a manner such that to current, modern analysis it appears to not just be that. Apologies for the digression. Lklundin (talk) 16:02, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
There is my suggestion 'now somewhere in the archives' that the VM was someone familiar with other scripts/hands (eg Secretary hand or Chancery hand copying an original text (allowing for the VM being a compilation) and mis-writing it.
There Voynich Manuscript-themed wikis on Wikia (which uses a somewhat different format to the standard wiki layout) - visitors welcome, and various discussion groups. Jackiespeel (talk) 23:33, 21 May 2019 (UTC)