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Voynich in the news again
Posted: 30 January 2018 02:15 PM   [ Ignore ]
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"Cracked” is a bit of a stretch, since even if this hypothesis is correct, it’s only the first step in determining what the manuscript actually says, but Skynet apparently thinks it’s written in Hebrew:

https://gizmodo.com/artificial-intelligence-may-have-cracked-freaky-600-yea-1822519232

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Posted: 30 January 2018 07:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’m not impressed. The Universal Declaration of Rights is only about 1,800 words long, and most of the sentences have a markedly similar grammatical structure. As a rule, you need ten thousand or more words to draw statistically meaningful results from such computational linguistic analysis, and since the sentence structures analyzed as the base are so similar, the UDR isn’t going to provide a varied enough base. Now, maybe if you were analyzing an encoded treaty text, this method might yield meaningful results, but I doubt that’s what the Voynich manuscript is.

Why don’t they try an 1,800 word sample from the Bible (which is translated into as many languages) and see if they get the same result. I’ll bet anything such an analysis will say Voynich is written in a language other than Hebrew.

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Posted: 31 January 2018 06:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Oy, this again.  To quote myself from Facebook:

What amazes me is that every single time somebody announces yet another cockamamie “decipherment” (it’s Romansh, and it’s cooking instructions! no, it’s Avar, and it’s a list of species of lizards!) the press runs up panting and makes a big deal of it and we have to endure all the excited online drooling. What is so fascinating about the fershlugginer Voynich manuscript??

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Posted: 31 January 2018 06:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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And to quote a couple of other people on FB:

Their model makes a prediction of unclear accuracy based on the distributional properties of the symbols in the text. They point out that the top scorer is an implausible result, and went with the second best - Hebrew - instead. Any language that scored relatively well would produce a “somewhat garbled” sentence in that language given the manuscript as input, since the whole method is to map the source to a sequentially plausible generated text.

Well it’s all just completely hopeless. They don’t know Hebrew; nobody who does is interested and they “hypothesized the manuscript was created using alphagrams, defining one phrase with another, exemplary of the ambiguities in human language”, which is common enough with the Voynich but IN PRACTICE they mean that if they can coax Google Translate into rorschaching ANYTHING AT ALL out of their pseudo-Hebrew betagram salads then they will feel entitled to declare victory.

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Posted: 31 January 2018 11:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Shamefast I confess that I used to fall for these articles in the press. It’s only thanks to the bromides regularly prescribed here by Dave, LH and others that I’ve learnt that with Voynich interpretations all that glisters is not gold.

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Posted: 01 February 2018 11:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Someone is laughing from his or her grave.

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Posted: 02 February 2018 09:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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ElizaD - 01 February 2018 11:55 PM

Someone is laughing from his or her grave.

I forgot to mention in my initial post that I’ve been in the “hoax” camp for quite some time. If there is any actual information contained in the manuscript, I’m hoping that somewhere down the line it’ll be revealed as a collection of dirty limericks.

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Posted: 03 February 2018 02:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Spanish military intelligence might be able to show that it’s just a collection of courtly love poems. 

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-42931940

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Posted: 04 July 2018 06:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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More fun for the Voynich aficionado: Gerard Cheshire, Vulgar Latin, and the siren call of the polyglot…

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Posted: 05 July 2018 06:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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From the linked article:

a vast family of vulgar / pidgin / hybrid Latin-ish spoken languages sprawled across all of Europe and over most of a millennium

While generally correct, this description dumps on Vulgar Latin a bit too. Vulgar Latin is simply the language spoken by the common people of Rome and the Latin-speaking peoples of its empire.

What we think of as “classical Latin” is the formal, literary form of the language spoken during a rather narrow period, roughly corresponding to the reign of Augustus. Few routinely spoke in classical Latin, which was pretty much restricted to formal writing and orations. (And many of those who produced works in classical Latin, that is the patrician class, routinely spoke Greek in their daily lives.) In linguistics terminology, vulgar Latin is a basilect and classical Latin is an acrolect.

He is right in describing vulgar Latin as varied over space and time, but “pidgin” is dead wrong, as is “hybrid Latin-ish.” Vulgar Latin was Latin. It was, for most of its life and in most of its regions, mutually intelligible with classical Latin. It had grammar and syntax, although that grammar would vary from place to place and over time. It lacked standard orthography because of this variety and because it was less likely to be written. The forms of vulgar Latin would eventually evolve into Italian, French, Spanish, and the other Romance languages.

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Posted: 05 July 2018 02:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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What we think of as “classical Latin” is the formal, literary form of the language spoken during a rather narrow period, roughly corresponding to the reign of Augustus.

Actually, classical Latin endured for approximately 1000 years,( 500 BC to 500,statistics vary) well beyond the reign of Augustus.

Classical Latin, then, remained hugely influential as a standard for the language down to the medieval period and beyond. Great texts in that variety were read, and the sophistication of their language acknowledged in the writing of Latin in the Middle Ages, again with factors such as register and text type determining the extent to which writers would feel the need to attempt to conform to the Classical standard. The result is that alongside texts that try hard to meet the Classical norms we find many texts, especially ones that are not highly literary (e.g. accounts), in which the pressure of tradition and great literature as a model was not felt so strongly and other influences — such as the effect of the contemporary everyday languages — can be seen.

Dictionary of Medieval Latin

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Posted: 05 July 2018 06:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Dave Wilton - 05 July 2018 06:13 AM


What we think of as “classical Latin” is the formal, literary form of the language spoken during a rather narrow period, roughly corresponding to the reign of Augustus.

Logophile’s longer quote refers to written, not spoken language.  Apples and pomegranetes.

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Posted: 05 July 2018 06:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Classical Latin, then, remained hugely influential as a standard for the language down to the medieval period and beyond.

“Influential as a standard” is not the same thing as actually being in use. No language remains in use and unchanged for 100 years, much less 1000.

Latin grammars and dictionaries, even today, are based on a very few texts produced during a relatively short period. Later texts conform to that standard in varying degrees, but none meet it completely. Medieval Latin texts are distinct in period and region.

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Posted: 05 July 2018 11:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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“Influential as a standard” is not the same thing as actually being in use.

But if it remained influential as a standard down to the medieval period and beyond it was de facto in use. Classical Latin was spoken, but for how long is debatable.

No language remains in use and unchanged for 100 years, much less 1000.

https://www.quora.com/When-and-how-did-Classical-Latin-change-into-early-Vulgar-Latin-and-become-just-a-formal-standard

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Posted: 06 July 2018 06:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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But if it remained influential as a standard down to the medieval period and beyond it was de facto in use. Classical Latin was spoken, but for how long is debatable.

No. That is not the case at all. Medieval Latin is distinctly different from classical Latin. The syntax, grammar, orthography, and usage is not the same. What is meant by “influential as a standard” is that classical texts were read and used in teaching Latin, but when it came to actually speaking and writing, the local varieties dominated. Some were relatively close to the classical standard; many were quite different. (I’m not suggesting they weren’t mutually intelligible; they weren’t that different.)

And it works in the other chronological direction too. The Latin of 200 BCE isn’t the same as classical Latin.

[ Edited: 06 July 2018 07:32 AM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 06 July 2018 06:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Photographic proof of the everyday use of classical Latin in the first century!

5806422-71-15432567-jpg.jpg

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