Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: written right to left?

The Voynich Manuscript is written from left to right. This is considered self-evident. No so much!

Imagine the author was writing from right to left while making it appear it was written from left to right. This would have caused difficulties at the last line of each paragraph so the text can be fit at the left margin.

The VMS is covered with weird paragraph endings starting with the first page. The author just couldn't make his/her mind where to place the text on the last line. I made a sample image with words appearing both on right and left (more content was left after reaching the left margin) and the text being in the center at the end of the paragraph (not making it to the left margin).

The beauty of 'right to the left' theory is that the high frequency VMS word daiin becomes niiad, which is common ending of the infinitive form of the verbs in some Slavic languages (as in Russian  по-нять).

Looking through 15th century Cyrilic texts from  Russia ( including the 15th century Kivlian Bible held in the Russian Presidential Library) I noticed that it was written without spacing between the words. So writing from right to left with random spacing would be sufficient way of encoding leading to so many possibilities that it hardly can be proven.

To demonstrate this theory I will tell you interesting Voynich manuscript story encoded on f68r and 68v (there is a bit of mix up at the Yale library - just to be sure - the image number is 1006197).

It starts at the mark and it goes counter-clockwise (as if it was written from right to left). I use my own alphabet transcription that I posted with the Karnak palace story here. So the story goes:

krashki i vosk sladk sie vojksvo k srodke iesvoroshkie poriadki sniad kevie kepo kdo iest kiepo kdsk pokie spiesk da des kde peskdo e pkkosi vo kdke po shiepo k visr ovoshe sladkie vo kzkdsz kdo ie vkniiad o evo

This produced a lot of Slavic (mostly Russian) words:

грашки и воск сладок вожак сироток извор порядки снят песк кепка коси шепа овощи сладкие кузкуз кто вкнят о его

So my proposed translation is:

peas and sweet wax is what the chief gave the orphans, the customs of the spring is to take off hat whoever has hat and cover with sand so those who have sand in their hair get from the vizir (vizier) handful of sweet vegetables in the couscous which is inserted in it. 

How about that?


  1. I haven't studied your transcription/translation fully yet, but was wondering why it seems so much briefer in Slavic (mostly Russian) than in the transcription? Did you leave out parts? If so, why?

    Other than that, it makes a great story. Thank you for posting it (and the other things also).

    Don of Tallahassee

  2. I forgot to ask if you had likewise tried to transcribe/translate the VMS words in the "spokes" of the "wheel" on the page?

    Don of Tallahassee

  3. Isn't every capital Roman 'A' pyramid-like?

    Also - a bit of a problem regarding the name Karnak here. That's not the name by which it was known to Egyptians, nor to classical authors. According to the wiki article.

    "Karnak (spelled "Carnac") is first attested in 1668, as the name of a village, by two Capuchin missionary brothers named Protais and Charles François d'Orléans. The Protais' writing about their travel was not published until the late seventeenth century (1670s–1696 editions) and also by Johann Michael Vansleb (The Present State of Egypt, 1678).

    I don't see any 'arc' in the ground-plan either. The towns which were submerged in about the 7thC were Canopus (not the Egyptian name) and the Greco-Egyptian river port called Heracleion.

    I suppose a small village near Karnak could have been flooded, but it's a fair way from where the 'Nile canals' as such were cut.

    Were there any canals recorded round Karnak?

  4. I am very sorry it took me long to respond!

    The text in Cyrillic is not translation, but list of words.

    I looked at the text inside the wheel, I can make few words, but it is not clear in what order the fragments need to be put to make a text.

    There are some phrases written over the stokes and some between the stokes.

    If you take random text from a book and read it backwards - everybody can come up with a word or two in their native languages - this is the way the human mind works - always trying to organize the chaos into known patterns.
    Could be just A (for Alexander) but the Roman A doesn't have steps on the bottom and Sun (or eye) at the top :)

    There is the Ptolemy III Arc, which is still standing to this day in the northern part of the Karnak complex Montu, but this is away from the Nile which is at the West side of the Karnak. I have no idea where to look for history of floods in the region. I thought they hoped the Nile to flood every year for agricultural purposes.

    I have to dig an old map to place Karnak on it somehow :)

    Could be European palace and my alphabet is probably wrong.

    Anyway, I was trying to demonstrate method of encoding in which the illustration is the key to the route.

    So I picked the shortest version of my translation. There is a whole lot more on the page: water spring with ideal water drops and even two waterfalls...

    If this is the way the VMS is encoded - it is impossible to prove - everybody can see in it stuff...

  5. Ellie,

    Quite a few months ago (and two or three times over a three-month period) I tried to explain that at least some of the "mystery letters" were "Oscan" -- and that the writers wrote from right to left -- and also could wrap the sentences at either margin, so that they could write from left to right. One of the best indicators that the script was Oscan was the Capital "C".

    Oscan capital "C" (or Upper Case) looked just like a tilted question mark (but with no dot). I've also been referring to that capital "C" as being "Cyrillic" because the shapes are nearly identical. I hope you can find the Omniglot webpage that has a pretty good discussion.

  6. Oh dear, Ellie!

    I have just finished two rounds of eye examinations. I am just now trying to catch up with you. My earlier reference/referral should have been to a sub-set of Oscan language and script: Volsci - Volscii - Volscian

    I'll reiterate a little more fully: Fr. Kircher's label which he applied to "MY favorite Rosette", was:

    Volsci regni pars - Vellitrae

    After several days of research (several months ago, before you first appeared on Nick's page) I had posted a fairly lengthy discussion of how I was able to decipher/translate the many features of the "Nine-Rosettes" fold-out folio. It was at that same time I tried to post my findings that Nick and his friends were in the final stages of planning for their meeting in Frascati.

    So my translation got buried when the guys headed off for Frascati -- and Diane and I began the forum discussions. Right about then, you and Diane were just becoming acquainted (and Diane was hinting about "spam"). So, with the initiation of "Coconuts and Kings" (you and Diane), I simultaneously opened the forum topic "Round n'Round".

    So, here we are at the doorstep of "deja vu" ? I've been having so much fun following your posts! I hope you'll take a look at the offerings of If this doesn't come up as a full link, I'm sure you can figure it out!

    Somehow I'm going do some "Burana" manuscript homework!

    How do you say "see you later" in Czech? BTW, ProfZ can get quite vehement at times. His website is somewhat irate (?) But I don't think it was he that caused the last crash. And he was right as far as Hradczany being built by Rosenberg. Round n' round we go, eh?

  7. Furthermore:

    Egypt-Karnak-Nile-Flood Stage Monitoring-Diversionary Canal or River/Lake Moeris-Elephantine Island (with possible Jewish population). Lots of very ancient Egyptian history. Probably why Athanasius Kircher was SO fascinated with things Egyptian. If I recall correctly was even more fascinated with things Chinese.

    Have you been enjoying Phillip Neal's fascinating archive? Did you find the letter (detailing how to make colloidal silver) which I translated and posted several months ago?


  8. Yes, he has a great collection of information on his site. I linked to him about the Georg Baresch letter.
    My mom is going through eye surgery in few months. She is scared and refuses to consent. When the doctors say 'surgery' - she says 'it doesn't bother me that much' :)

  9. Earlier ref I made to "diversionary canal" is somewhat obscure. The Egyptian name for that waterway translated roughly to "Zanders River" (Alexander's River). An artificial waterway supposedly built by Alexander the Great. (?)

    I'm switching over to your other recent blog discussion where you discuss the writing from right to left, and I referred you to Oscan/Volsci -- and also misquoted Fr. Kircher's identification of the uppermost right corner of the Nine-Rosettes: I'll correct it here first; just in case I wander astray again! " Valscorum regni pars - Velletrae "

    Velletri is still a living commune -- but has little to offer in regard to their history/literature. Too many years of their men being drafted into too many years of Roman warfare/battles.
    Anyway, Volsci scribes apparently were somewhat ambidextrous, as well as being able to write (and wrap) long sentences from right to left - and continue the sentence by dropping down the margin and finish the sentence from the left margin to the right. Apparently the scribes were also fluent in several dialects besides their own.

    I'll be pulling out my notes/translation of the water-lily folio, so I can double-check to see if the scribes were continuing long sentences on either side of the plant illustration and wrapping the sentences where necessary. My recall is vague, since I have been interpreting the commentary on six different folios, so far. The four-sided margin notes on the foldout "mushroom page" were actually easiest for me.

    More later, but not necessarily "more" about "morus alba". Even though Sir Thomas More signed off on his correspondence with various philosopher friends as "Morus".

    a tout a l'heure!

  10. Ooops! I'm already ON the relevant page! Gotta get another cuppa coffee!

  11. OK, I heaved my great big 17th century Blaeu's atlas onto my side table. That "loop" in the river (about 20 "millaria" southwesterly of Cairo) had a church called Gesirat inside the loop. Another church is indicated on the outside bank of that loop, right next to the name of that loop of the river: Sindon.

    So, I go 'round n' round the bend of rivers almost as much as I go 'round n' round" the various Rosettes. Finally, one more punny post poking funny puns at me, myself, and I.

    !!! bdid1dr , with tongue in cheek: ; ^