As we all know, there is no shortage of oddities regarding the VM. One of those is that throughout the whole manuscript, no numbers can be found.*) While it has been suggested that the structure of VM words seems to be governed by rules similar to those for the composition of roman numbers, as of now no consistent system has been proposed which would allow one to generate VM words.**)
But what if we look at it from the Stroke theory’s point of view? Remember, this theory says that each VM ciphertext letter represents one plaintext penstroke, and hence that each VM word is the equivalent of one or two plaintext letters. But in the same manner the letters were enciphered, it would also be possible to encipher digits, if arab numbers were used. If roman numbers were used, they would be enciphered just like their letter equivalents.
What would be the consequences?
I have suggested in the wake of Robert Firth’s observations that in the Stroke theory the plaintext was written in capital and small letters alternating for the most part, so that a KiNd Of CaMeLcAsE writing was produced. With around 25 capital and small letter shapes each, this means the the better part of them VMs vocabulary should be composed of around 50 ciphertext “syllables”. If arab numbers were used, this number should increase by the 10 or so shapes required for the individual digits.***)
Furthermore, since it’s impossible to write “capital” and “small” numbers, a string of digits should show up as a digression of the pattern of alternating “prefixes” and “suffixes” (which are identified in the Stroke theory as capital and small letters). Note also that many of the arab numbers are fairly similar to each other (6-8-9-0, for example)****), which should lead to a string of quite similar words or syllables in the ciphertext. (As is observed.)
If roman numbers were used, they could have been written in camelcase (like MmIx rather than MMIX). Again, strings of similar or identical words should be observed, as the letters denoting the roman numbers often resembled each other. (For example, “D” was supposed to be “one half of (the letter) ‘M'”, ie 500 was the half of 1000. Same with “V” and “X”.) The total number of different syllables should not go up though.
Thus, I think it’s quite conceivable that the VM text is interspersed with numbers. They just don’t show up, because they’er enciphered as the rest of the letters are.
If the VM turns out to be the very earliest book on cocktail recipes, the first round is on me.
*) With the except of the pagination, which appears to be a later emendment though.
**) If this was possible, ie if all VM words could be explained as roman numbers, the question is — what would that mean for the deciphering of the VM? That it was one of the earliest phone books in existence, predating the phone by some 400 years, and that unfortunately all the people’s names were dropped from it…?
***) Or less, perhaps. It’s difficult to see how the Stroke theory should discriminate between “o” and “0”.
****) Bear in mind though that in period the shapes of arab numbers could significantly vary with the exact time and location when they were used.