If You’re Getting Tired of this Drivel…

… perhaps, for a change, you also might want to read something worthwhile. In this case, I can highly recommend Andrew Robinson‘s book Lost Languages: The Enigma of the World’s Undeciphered Scripts, which I picked up more or less accidentally.

While Robinson consciously excludes the Voynich from his considerations, he gives a well-balanced insight into the deciphering (attempts) of various ancient scripts like the Egyption hieroglyphics, Mayan, Linear B and the Indus script, among others. From this list you can already see that he treats both deciphered and undeciphered scripts, also explaining why some riddles have been solved, and others are not and probably never will be.

He goes into detail over successful and failed attempts at deciphering those unknown scripts, and carefully analyses the methods used, not shunning back from going into the minutiae of the techniques employed. This is all rounded-off with biographical sketches of the people involved. The whole volume is a well-written smooth read, and makes competent use of photos and sketches to explain Robinson’s trains of thought.*)

Voynicheros will have many an “Aha” moment of enlightenment when they recognize patterns of historically (failed) decipherment attempts in ongoing VM research, for a better understanding of when the wrong track was taken, when fancy and wishful thinking took over from rational pursuit. Perhaps the book will even help a few people to avoid falling into the traps laid for the under-wary, but over-enthusiastic decipherer. Robinson also introduces some analysis methods which may be useful in the context of the VM (I have found one which I need to try. ;-)

I say it’s money well spent for a good read over the holidays.

*) I own the hardcover version, I hope this also holds true for the paperback.

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13 thoughts on “If You’re Getting Tired of this Drivel…

  1. Elmar: I can second your recommendation, having read the book last summer. I feel as you do, that the book may help some readers avoid the traps of the Voynich. And it is just a great book in its own right.

    In a similar vein, the William and Elizebeth Friedman book, “The Shakespearan Ciphers Examined”, shows the ease at which investigators can fall into delusional traps, and find patterns and solutions of many kinds, in just about any source. It’s actually scary how that can happen.

  2. I’m french and i think i have discovered a Big Ckue in deciphering th VM. I saw, by a close examination, that the words were folowing the lines on the other side of the page. Then i conclude, there’re not really words of a natural language in it but more or less, graphicals symbols to make an object.
    So, can i say i’ve hacked the VM ? not at all but, it will become now very more easy to traduce it in draws than in words of a natural language.
    Trying to explain that, i’ve been banned from wikipedia because they said no expert confirmed that and that was a lost of time..look at http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discussion_utilisateur:Echapfr and http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikip%C3%A9dia:Le_Bistro/30_novembre_2012#Manuscrit_de_Voynich

    respectivly Eric CHAPUZOT

    • Salut Eric,
      Sorry to hear that you have been banned from the French Wikipedia, but, as a contributor to the German and English editions myself, I agree that your original research doesn’t belong there: Wikipedia is not a forum for the discussion of ongoing research, but for the presentation of *established* knowledge. You’d be better advised to set up a blog for yourself (like I did here, which isn’t too hard), or to join the Voynich mailing list: http://voynich.net/ There is a fairly large and welcoming community of VM researchers there who will be happy to discuss your ideas with you.
      Can you explain your theory a little more in detail? I’m not sure I understand your concept, but I know that the idea of “graphical codes” has been championed by David Suter as well — David, do you read?

      • Wikipedia france forced me to take this way then i don’t like at all the manners they’re making. They are less than robocops applying laws thet’ll never understand. They may purchase the Truth but when you give it to them, they have only the capacity to delete it definitivly. They rather like speek of pornography and how they will destroy the next article…For David, with the few i read, it doesn’t seem to be the same method but i’ve read very quickly, i’ll try to verify more quietly after the hollydays.I expect it has been helpful for you and your researchs progress better with that. I’ve made a discovery essential for deciphering, i think.But perhaps it was already known. But, if it was, why all those wrong theories still on the net (say i to me) ? And there a lot of work before finish perfectly the demonstation.i’ve the proof there’s lot of graphic code, but no proof that is not mixed with text-code yet, even i think to make the objects, it should be very few… for the moment, code for decorative objects mainly. and i expect i’m wrong… Have good hollidays !!!

        Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2012 08:24:36 +0000 To: echapfr@live.fr

  3. no, but i ‘li try to go to read… did he found that the clue was on the other side of pages ? There is two levels of graphics deciphering and i’ve only deciphered the first, the second is to clean what is pure graphic symbols (80%) and what can be other code (less than 20%, i think, perhaps 0%)

    • Yes, excuse me… i’m learning how wordpress works. it should not be harder than decipher Voynich… Again,excuse me.

      • It’s okay, Eric!
        The problem is just, when people start to throw wild comments into just any topic of the blog, it gets fairly confusing for everyone. Once you have your own designated blog, it’s also mucheasier for other to find you and follow your thoughts. And WordPress really isn’t that difficult. ;-)

  4. I would also recommend Andrew Robinson’s other book, “The Man Who Deciphered Linear B- the story of Michael Ventris”. Robinson does cover this story pretty well in “The Enigma…”, but it is worth reading the whole story of Ventris and what he did, and how. I find in Ventris a good method of balance for the Voynich Net. He had a good attitude for sharing information, and encouraging others to do the same through his own bulletin… the 1950’s equivalent of the mailing list. I won’t give anything away from the Ventris/Linear B story for anyone not familiar with it, suffice it to say it reads like the best detective story, is all true, and the methods and solutions apply to problem solving of all kinds… not just lost languages.

    • Eric, rather than repeating yourself, would you simply start listening to what others are saying? I’m getting annoyed here. (Sorry, Rich, this shouldn’t have gone your direction.)

      • they all say that there is a language in it, and i say that there’s no language, just graphic and patterns for materials… without cleaning th graphic part, they’ll find no word of any sense, i think.

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