Lately, when I was pondering the marginalia in the Voynich again, my eyes caught the peculiar character standing solitary as the first marginal word on f66r, which reappears as the first marginal letter in f116v:
Usually, this letter is interpreted as “p” or “y”. Now it struck me — what if this is really an Anglo-saxon “thorn” letter?
While the modern rendering of this letter doesn’t give rise to much confusion anymore, in ye olden times the thorn looked suspiciously like a modern “y”. (Early printers had trouble coming to grips with the thorn letter and substituted it with “y”, which led to the misconception that the ancient style of “the” would have been “ye”.)
Check out these script samples from the 15th and 16th century: (Unfortunately, the pictures are strongly compressed and show severe artifacts.)
Now, what would the consequences be?
- Obviously, at least the marginalia are of English provenance. (Weak statement.) If we assume that the marginalia have always been a part of the VM (as opposed to later emendments), the VM as a whole should be from the British isles. (Strong statement.)
- The marginalia are from the early 16th century or earlier, giving a late cutoff date for the VM.
- Interpretation of the meaning of the marginalia should focus on english, rather than on latin, french or german readings.
Caveat emptor: “Th” is not a word. While there were a number of abbreviations including the thorn (“ye” –> “the”, “yt” –> “that”), a solitary “y” apparently was not in use.
Have fun brainstorming!