Science

Voynich Manuscript Lastly Decoded: Mysterious Ebook is Written in Proto-Romance Language


The Voynich manuscript, generally described because the ‘world’s most mysterious textual content,’ makes use of proto-Romance, a language that arose from a mix of spoken Latin (Vulgar Latin) and different languages throughout the Mediterranean throughout the early Medieval interval following the collapse of the Roman Empire and subsequently developed into the numerous Romance languages. The manuscript originates from Castello Aragonese, an island fortress and citadel off Ischia, Italy, and was compiled by a Dominican nun as a supply of reference for Maria of Castile, Queen of Aragon, in accordance with analysis by College of Bristol’s Dr. Gerard Cheshire.

The Voynich manuscript, folio 67r. Image credit: Beinecke Library, Yale University.

The Voynich manuscript, folio 67r. Picture credit score: Beinecke Library, Yale College.

The Voynich manuscript, named after the Polish-American antiquarian guide seller Wilfrid M. Voynich, who acquired it in 1912, is a small guide 23.5 x 16.2 cm of about 240 pages.

Practically each web page of the manuscript comprises scientific and botanical drawings in numerous shades of inexperienced, brown, yellow, blue, and crimson. The vellum used within the guide was carbon dated to 1404-1438.

Though the aim and meaning of the manuscript had eluded students for many years, it took Dr. Cheshire two weeks to determine the language and writing system of the famously inscrutable doc.

“I skilled a sequence of ‘Eureka!’ moments while deciphering the code, adopted by a way of disbelief and pleasure once I realized the magnitude of the achievement, each by way of its linguistic significance and the revelations concerning the origin and content material of the manuscript,” Dr. Cheshire mentioned.

“The Voynich manuscript is written in proto-Romance — ancestral to today’s Romance languages including Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian, Romanian, Catalan and Galician. The language used was ubiquitous in the Mediterranean during the Medieval period, but it was seldom written in official or important documents because Latin was the language of royalty, church and government. As a result, proto-Romance was lost from the record, until now.”

“The manuscript’s alphabet is a combination of unfamiliar and more familiar symbols. It includes no dedicated punctuation marks, although some letters have symbol variants to indicate punctuation or phonetic accents. All of the letters are in lower case and there are no double consonants.”

“It includes diphthong, triphthongs, quadriphthongs and even quintiphthongs for the abbreviation of phonetic components. It also includes some words and abbreviations in Latin.”

The Voynich manuscript, folio 53r: the oblong-leaved sundew (Drosera intermedia); the first line of the accompanying text reads: ‘la naza éo eme ona oma nor nais t’ (the pregnancy/baby it’s to acquire good growth as for normal birth); the words survive in various Romance languages and Latin: la naza (Galician) éo (Portuguese) eme (Latin) ona (Galician) oma (Greek) nor [mais] (Portuguese) nais (Old French) t [terminus] (Latin); the plant is native to Northern Italy and Iberia, where it grows in marshes and bogs. Drosera contains substances known as flavonoids and quinones, which have an antibiotic, antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal effect, so they would have helped to ward off infections and infestations during pregnancy. Image credit: Beinecke Library, Yale University.

The Voynich manuscript, folio 53r: the oblong-leaved sundew (Drosera intermedia); the primary line of the accompanying textual content reads: ‘la naza éo eme ona oma nor nais t’ (the being pregnant/child it’s to accumulate good development as for regular beginning); the phrases survive in numerous Romance languages and Latin: la naza (Galician) éo (Portuguese) eme (Latin) ona (Galician) oma (Greek) nor [mais] (Portuguese) nais (Previous French) t [terminus] (Latin); the plant is native to Northern Italy and Iberia, the place it grows in marshes and bogs. Drosera comprises substances often known as flavonoids and quinones, which have an antibiotic, antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal impact, so they’d have helped to chase away infections and infestations throughout being pregnant. Picture credit score: Beinecke Library, Yale College.

Translations by Dr. Cheshire reveal that the manuscript is a compendium of data on natural cures, therapeutic bathing and astrological readings regarding issues of the feminine thoughts, of the physique, of replica, of parenting and of the guts in accordance with the Catholic and Roman pagan spiritual beliefs of Mediterranean Europeans throughout the late Medieval interval.

Extra particularly, the manuscript was compiled by a Dominican nun as a supply of reference for Maria of Castile, Queen of Aragon, who occurs to have been nice aunt to Catherine of Aragon.

The Voynich manuscript, folio 85v and 86r, a foldout pictorial map: vignette A illustrates the erupting volcano that prompted the rescue mission and the drawing of the map; it rose from the seabed to create a new island given the name Vulcanello, which later became joined to the island of Vulcano following another eruption in 1550; vignette B depicts the volcano of Ischia, vignette C shows the islet of Castello Aragonese, and vignette D represents the island of Lipari; each vignette includes a combination of naïvely drawn and somewhat stylized images along with annotations to explain and add detail; the other five vignettes describe further details of the story. Image credit: Beinecke Library, Yale University.

The Voynich manuscript, folio 85v and 86r, a foldout pictorial map: vignette A illustrates the erupting volcano that prompted the rescue mission and the drawing of the map; it rose from the seabed to create a brand new island given the title Vulcanello, which later turned joined to the island of Vulcano following one other eruption in 1550; vignette B depicts the volcano of Ischia, vignette C reveals the islet of Castello Aragonese, and vignette D represents the island of Lipari; every vignette features a mixture of naïvely drawn and considerably stylized photographs together with annotations to clarify and add element; the opposite 5 vignettes describe additional particulars of the story. Picture credit score: Beinecke Library, Yale College.

“Within the Voynich manuscript there is a foldout pictorial map that provides the necessary information to date and locate the origin of the manuscript,” Dr. Cheshire mentioned.

“It tells the adventurous, and rather inspiring, story of a rescue mission, by ship, to save the victims of a volcanic eruption in the Tyrrhenian Sea that began on the evening of the 4 February 1444.”

“The manuscript originates from Castello Aragonese, an island fortress and citadel off Ischia, and was compiled for Maria of Castile, Queen of Aragon, who led the rescue mission as regent throughout the absence of her husband, King Alfonso V of Aragon who was in any other case occupied, having solely not too long ago conquered after which taken management of Naples in February 1443.”

The Voynich manuscript, folio 70v, detail: an illustration of a bearded monk in his washtub, from the monastery where the manuscript was created; the words read: opat a sa (it is abbot); his is one of very few male faces seen in the manuscript; the word opát survives to mean abbot in Polish, Czech and Slovak, demonstrating that proto-Romance reached as far as Eastern Europe; in Western Europe other variants survive: abat (Catalan), abad (Spanish), abbé (French), whilst the Latin is ‘abbas;’ this also demonstrates the phonetic overlap between the sounds ‘p’ and ‘b’ in the manuscript alphabet. Image credit: Beinecke Library, Yale University.

The Voynich manuscript, folio 70v, element: an illustration of a bearded monk in his washtub, from the monastery the place the manuscript was created; the phrases learn: opat a sa (it’s abbot); his is one in every of only a few male faces seen within the manuscript; the phrase opát survives to imply abbot in Polish, Czech and Slovak, demonstrating that proto-Romance reached so far as Jap Europe; in Western Europe different variants survive: abat (Catalan), abad (Spanish), abbé (French), while the Latin is ‘abbas;’ this additionally demonstrates the phonetic overlap between the sounds ‘p’ and ‘b’ within the manuscript alphabet. Picture credit score: Beinecke Library, Yale College.

“The island of Ischia is historically famous for its hot volcanic spas, which exist to this day. The manuscript has many images of naked women bathing in them, both recreationally and therapeutically.”

“There are also images of Queen Maria and her court conducting trade negotiations whilst bathing. Clearly the spa lifestyle was highly regarded as a form of physical cleansing and spiritual communion, as well as a general means of relaxation and leisure.”

The Voynich manuscript, folio 82r, detail: two women dealing with five children in a bath; the words describe different temperaments: tozosr (buzzing: too noisy), orla la (on the edge: losing patience), tolora (silly/foolish), noror (cloudy: dull/sad), or aus (golden bird: well behaved), oleios (oiled: slippery); these words survive in Catalan [tozos], Portuguese [orla], Portuguese [tolos], Romanian [noros], Catalan [or aus] and Portuguese [oleio]; the words orla la describe the mood of the woman on the left and may well be the root of the French phrase ‘oh là là,’ which has a very similar sentiment. Image credit: Beinecke Library, Yale University.

The Voynich manuscript, folio 82r, element: two ladies coping with 5 youngsters in a shower; the phrases describe totally different temperaments: tozosr (buzzing: too noisy), orla la (on the sting: shedding persistence), tolora (foolish/silly), noror (cloudy: boring/unhappy), or aus (golden chicken: effectively behaved), oleios (oiled: slippery); these phrases survive in Catalan [tozos], Portuguese [orla], Portuguese [tolos], Romanian [noros], Catalan [or aus] and Portuguese [oleio]; the phrases orla la describe the temper of the girl on the left and might be the foundation of the French phrase ‘oh là là,’ which has a really related sentiment. Picture credit score: Beinecke Library, Yale College.

“The next step is to use this knowledge to translate the entire manuscript and compile a lexicon, which will take some time and funding, as it comprises more than 200 pages,” Dr. Cheshire mentioned.

His paper was revealed on-line April 29 within the journal Romance Research.

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Gerard Cheshire. The Language and Writing System of MS408 (Voynich) Defined. Romance Research, revealed on-line April 29, 2019; doi: 10.1080/02639904.2019.1599566



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