The Voynich Manuscript

In a dusty Jesuit library in 1912, Wilfrid Voynich found one of the strangest texts extant. This collection of 116 parchment folios bound in a blank vellum cover apears to be from the late 1400s, but a letter written in Latin was found attached to it that attributed it to the Franciscan friar Roger Bacon, who lived from 1214 to 1294. Emperor Rudolf II of Bohemia paid the equivalent of $50,000 (600 gold ducats) for it in the late 1500s.

Nearly every page is lavishly illustrated, and the subject matter seems to run from botany to astronomy to biology, with a healthy dose of naked women as well. The thing is, no one has been able to translate a word of it.

It's written in an unknown language and script, which appears to be an elaborate code of some sort. At least two scholars tried to decode it in the 1600s, and countless others have tried since it resurfaced. Although it defies translation, it has certain characteristics that make researchers want to believe that it is a language - or a very elaborate hoax.

For example, word lengths in Voynichese form a binomial distribution. Words with 5 or 6 characters are most common, and the distribution of words of greater or shorter lengths forms a bell-shaped curve. There is remarkable regularity in the text, and words are frequently repeated, suggesting perhaps, poetry. Using the European Voynich Alphabet (a way of romanizing the text), one oft-quoted line reads, "qokedy qokedy dal qokedy qokedy."

Anyway, should you desire to see this wonderful thingy, it's right here.
There is probably a chunk of money in it for the person who translates it.

qokedy to you all...


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