The Curse of the Voynich (not Nick Pelling’s)

There is no shortage of alleged translations of the VM, though they are hardly ever compelling for anybody but the inventor. In February 2005, I posted a pattern to the VM mailing list, which I found was common with those (usually short-lived) attempts. Here’s a slightly edited description of the apparent process.

  • Step 1.: Find an astonishingly simple approach to solve the VM:

    “Hey, perhaps it’s latin letters, after all!”

  • Step 2.: Achieve initial success:

    “I found the word ‘daiin’ on the web, completely unrelated to the VM. Can anybody tell me what it means?”

  • Step 3.: Refine your theory (ie, add some twists to fit it to the VM):

    “Perhaps it’s some mongol-tartar mixture of an unknown dialect with prefixes
    spoken backwards.”

  • Step 4.: Thereby, produce a few translated phrases and establish that the VM is really composed only of a small number of word roots with various endings. These roots set the theme of the VM. Don’t worry that the results as a whole sound like the rantings of a highly neurotic and heavily drugged schaman with the attention span of a goldfish. Draw generous liberties on the established history of the period you chose and the world as a whole:

    “‘Qochedy’ is a previously unknown deity of Southern Polynesia. This proves that there was a link between Polynesia and the Mongols. My translation of one paragraph goes ‘Qochedy goes hill hill walked naked in Qochedy. Was Qochedy hill? Oh, go God of Qochedy, hill hill walked naked!’ The VM is really about a polynesian pediatrist in the Himalayans.”

  • Step 5.: Expect to be ridiculed.
  • Step 6.: Retire bitterly.

Does it happen to everyone who stays in touch with the VM too closely…?

(Later, Nick Pelling came across the phrase I apparently had coined, and made sure it was okay with me if he used it as the title for his book. I’d like to point out though that he uses the term in a different way, and I doubt he was trying to put his own theory in perspective.)


7 thoughts on “The Curse of the Voynich (not Nick Pelling’s)

  1. Margaret M. Byard investigates the links between the discoveries of Galileo and the paintings of his Italian contemporaries.

    Nick Pelling suggests that credit should go not to the Netherlands but much further south to Catalonia.

  2. Over de Hollandse uitvinders is Pelling niet zo mild:

    Even at the time, I think it was clear that all the Dutch claimants were lying, misleading, misremembering and concealing to various degrees.
    Nick Pelling.

    Oeps, da’s hard! Hier zal het laatste woord niet over gezegd zijn. Bron: NRC-Handelsblad, 27 september 2008.

  3. Pelling noted that he had been in contact with de Guilleuma’s family and now hoped to be able to view other, unpublished research left by the historian after he died.

    The Tuscan astronomer Galileo Galilei would greatly improve on the Dutch designs. Such refracting telescopes used lenses to form an image.

    Galileo’s compatriot Nicolo Zucchi developed the first reflecting telescope in 1616 – which used an arrangement of mirrors to create an image.

  4. Judy, I concur with Elmar. I was unclear if you feel the Catalonian claim does trump the Dutch claims, or if you feel the Dutch claims stand as reliable. But more importantly, I would be interested in how you think this affects the studies of the Voynich, if you do. You can write me privately, if you wish. Rich.

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