Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Alphabet is a Luxury

By Anna Morris, Co-Editor, Freedom Fighters of America

September 27, 2016


     The 700 year old Voynich Manuscript language is probably Croatian. The till now, un-readable script seems to be based on complex alphabets and writing systems of Croatian creation. The worst aspects of these systems are ligatures wherein anywhere from two to five letters may be combined into new characters that look like single letters. Nothing was standardized in those times, though I believe the VM was an attempt to simplify and standardize. If so it is surprising there are no other known examples of Voynichese in existence.

     Several months ago I wrote a rather complex explanation of why I believed this mystery manuscript was likely of Polish/Slovene origin. There are a number of Polish words and even some phrases, several words long, that the online translator identify as specifically Polish. Some of the labels on herbal drawings also use Polish names.  However in translating much longer, perhaps sentence length bits of information, the translator says Croatian. On herbal pages there are two labels I believe denote the carrot plant. One label is Polish marchew. One is a bit convoluted but via glagolitic cursive, comes close to Croatian mrkev.

     The VM was a historical mystery I played with sometimes, usually on days when I was ill and spent all day asking questions on the computer. In May of this year I had worked out a mixture of the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets which yielded a number of Polish or Slovene words. I believed then as I do now that there were too many of these to be completely wrong. For personal reasons I chose to write early about these rudimentary findings and I am not a bit embarrassed to say now that the underlying language is probably Croatian. All of these languages are Slavic and there are many similarities.

     Once Croatian kept popping up I began looking at Croatian writing systems going back to around 1200 CE. There were a number of them. Individual letters could be written in perhaps five to ten different ways. For example a character that looks like \P\ can be \P\, \N\, \R\ or \NO\. Croatian Glagolitic Script preceded Cyrillic. Many examples of these systems can be viewed on my Pinterest VM page at https://www.pinterest.com/marielisette/voynich-manuscript~croatianlatin/ . Longer descriptions of my work, as it goes along, with some translations, can be found at JTRForums.com . The best online source about Croatian writing systems can be found at www.croatianhistory.net/etf/et04.html .

     Many people around the world are working on deciphering the VM. There is even a recently published book claiming to have a Latin translation for the Voynich. I think it is a mistake to think it is in one language or one alphabetic script. Slavic languages and scripts overlap. The amount of "alphabets" used in that region is unbelievable. If we ever completely understand the Voynich I believe it will point to a certain region and certain scholars. I feel the richest knowledge to be found in translation of the manuscript will be in what we learn about the language and writing. 

     Experts in the VM field make much of "gallows letters" in the text. These are what appear to be letters that are much larger than the standard lower case characters. Most, but not all of these, I believe are ligatures which combine numerous letters into one. Croatian Glagolitic Script, "has hundreds of extraordinary ligatures, resembling real buildings, connecting two, three and sometimes even four or five letters." [1] Continuing, "'The Brozich Breviary' alone, which is a printed book (1561), contains as many as 250 different ligatures." And, "The Croatian Glagolitic Script has very probably more ligatures than any other script in history." [ibid]

     Basic glagolitic, which was not limited to Croatia, is like a Lego alphabet. Rectangles, circular geometric shapes and lines form an alphabet. (My favourite letter looks like a little toad stool mushroom, a circle over a triangle. This is slovo, \s\. I may be the only one who thinks it looks like a mushroom, but I think it is cute and I always recognise it.) 

     By snapping together various shapes, ligatures like povr, ap, pr, ai and many others can be made. One can learn the basic system but across various systems the results vary extremely. I believe the VM ligatures are standardized, that they always have the same values. Some possible VM examples are tli, dni, no, ni, ti, to, te.

     It is not uncommon in some medieval works to see Latin mixed with a native language. This is also seen in genealogy if records go back to times when governments and churches felt the need to Latinise at least part of their records. I am pretty sure there are some Latin words in the VM. One fairly easy to translate word, using my system, is dolor which means pain in Latin. If the VM is a medical text, it certainly makes sense that pain would be mentioned. An especially odd, seemingly non-Croatian word in the VM is ouiz. Wiktionary identifies this as Latin for "female".

     My work on this subject is ongoing and if anyone wants to follow the work I update postings at Pinterest and JTRForums.com .

     A Croatian translation of words across the top of page f82v which depicts naked ladies and plumbing type structures with a rainbow at the end:

              odliti s je odli sje [sove]* odlje opis [ar]**  (pour off with the excellent memory [owls]* outflow description [ar])

     Words about pouring and outflow belong with graphics apparently showing flowing water, clouds and a rainbow. *I think I am not right about sove. I am fairly certain this word, which is seen frequently in the VM, contains one or two ligatures that I do not yet understand. The word is sometimes used almost like we would use "amen", but I do not think that is the meaning. Using glagolitic characters, part of it SHOULD be ove but it depends on what the developers of Voynichese wanted it to mean.

     Alphabets as we understand them in the modern world, whether Latin, Cyrillic, Hebrew, Greek, Arabic....etc......are a LUXURY. Our 21st Century Information Age would never have happened if creative writing systems, many regional in scope, such as were common in the age of the VM, were still used. Coming full circle, our sleek, standardized, codified computers are probably the only hope of ever completely reading the VM. 

     Whether you text, use search terms, emails, post comments on social media, or even do something old fashioned like write a letter or read a book from your local library, remember, THE ALPHABET IS A REAL LUXURY!



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