Voynich-Flowers-bar

Several Voynich Manuscript experts have published statements about the alleged Voynich Manuscript solution by Kondrak and Hauer. Here’s a summary.

There’s one important difference between the Voynich Manuscript solution suggested by Kondrak and Hauer and dozens of other alleged Voynich solutions: the Kondrak/Hauer work was published in a renowned scientific magazine, while almost all other decipherments never made it through a peer-review.

Considering that the Kondrak/Hauer work passed the litmus test of a peer-review, there seem to be only two possibilities: either the solution makes sense, or the reviewers did a bad job. However, as I explained in one of my last posts, I believe that this time neither the one nor the other is the case. Instead, the Kondrak/Hauer solution is just an experimental add-on to a serious scientific work, described in the last chapter of a research paper. It is based on the assumption that the text in the Voynich Manuscript was created using a MASC encryption with anagrammed words – an assumption that is probably wrong. However, the two authors are aware of this, and they don’t claim that they really have solved the mystery.

Voynich-3-bar

It should be noted that Kondrak’s and Hauer’s paper is already two years old. Apparently, the two have not advertised their finding in the Voynich scene, which is further evidence that they consider their decipherment more an experiment than a real solution.

If you want to read my thoughts about the Kondrak/Hauer work in German, I recommend an interview I have given to the German skeptics society GWUP (being a member of this organisation, I also recommend looking at other GWUP web pages; it’s worth it).

Other Voynich Manuscript experts have commented on the Kondrak Hauer solution, as well.

 

René Zandbergen’s statement

René Zandbergen, a Dutch engineer and language genius living in Germany, is in my view the world’s leading Voynich Manuscript expert.

Rene-Zandbergen

René’s Voynich Manuscript website is a must-read for everybody interested in this topic. Especially, I recommend the page, on which René describes his personal believes about the Voynich Manuscript.

The latest text on René’s site is a statement about the Kondrak/Hauer work. This statement gives a very good summary of the paper – ideal for everybody who has trouble understanding the original, which is quite technical.

Like me, René doesn’t think that Kondrak and Hauer have solved the Voynich Manuscript. In addition to mentioning the assumptions (MASC with anagrammed words), which are far from compelling, he writes:

The Voynich MS has a number of features that are not addressed in the paper. The most important one is that the character bigram entropy is anomalously low. The only way that this could happen in the proposed scenario is that this is the result of the anagramming, but earlier experiments in this direction have not been successful. The bigram entropy, which is associated with peculiar word patterns in the Voynich MS text, is simply too low.

Moreover, René notes that Kondrak’s and Hauer’s results are dependent of the transcription used (there are several transcriptions of the text in the Voynich Manuscript; they differ in many respects).

 

Nick Pelling’s statement

Nick Pelling, London-based Voynich Manuscript and cipher mysteries expert, has published a blog post about the Kondrak/Hauer decipherment, too.

Pelling

Already in Nick’s headline, “Have Kondrak and Hauer finally revealed the Voynich Manuscript’s secrets? (Errrm… no, not really, sorry. But…)”, you get a taste of his British humor.

In his article, Nick explains why the Kondrak/Hauer decipherment is not correct. In addition, he explains that many others have had similar ideas before. So, it would have made sense for Kondrak and Hauer to add a “related work” chapter to their paper. It can certainly be criticised that they didn’t do this.

 

Jürgen Hermes

Jürgen Hermes, a linguist and Voynich Manuscript expert from Cologne, has an interesting website (TEXperimentales) with several voynich Manuscript articles (in German). He recently commented on the Kondrak/Hauer paper.

Hermes

Like René Zandbergen, Jürgen criticises that Kondrak and Hauer ingore imporant properties of the Voynich Manuscript text. In addition, Jürgen suggests that a text created with the method the two linguists write about (MASC-encrypting and anagramming Hebrew text) should be compared with other Voynich text creation methods described in the literature – certainly a good idea.

 

Conclusion

All in all, it is absolutely clear that Kondrak and Hauer have not deciphered the text in the Voynich Manuscript. Their “solution” is the result of an experiment based on probably wrong assumptions. However, as the authors regard their Voynich decipherment as an experiment, too, there is not much to be criticised.


Further reading: Has the Voynich manuscript been deciphered by Russian scientists?

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/13501820
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/763282653806483/

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Gib Deine E-Mail-Adresse an, um diesen Blog zu abonnieren und Benachrichtigungen über neue Beiträge via E-Mail zu erhalten.

Kommentare (8)

  1. #1 Thomas
    6. Februar 2018

    Klaus:
    If Kondrak and Hauer are right, the index of coincidence of the VM must be identical to the IoC of 15th century Hebrew, because neither MASC nor anagramming influence the IoC. Has this been tested? But, as Jürgen Hermes pointed out, their approach isn’t consistent with other statistical properties of the VM.
    BTW: What is the current state of Hermes’ hypothesis that there could be an underlying text generating method similar to Trithemius’ Polygraphia III? Has there been further research after his doctoral dissertation?

  2. #2 Jürgen Hermes
    6. Februar 2018

    Thank you for your nice summary, Klaus! And of course Thank you for mentioning me in a line with two VoynichMS-luminaries like Renè Zandbergen and Nick Pelling! Both explain better than I do and much more in detail what we should know about the “AI-approach” in deciphering the manuscript.

    Just to briefly summarize my points in English:

    1) If you have an algorithm that determines the most similar substituted-anagrammed natural language compared to the VoynichMS, you have gained nothing if the VoynichMS is not a substituted-anagrammed cipher (and there is a lot of evidence that it is not).

    2) The generative capacity of anagram decoding – especially for written languages without vowels – is extremely high. If you additionally make “some spelling corrections” and after that use of Google translate, because the deciphered text makes no sense for you, I’m sure that you will get a meaningful English sentence on the base of each character sequence, regardless of whether you found it in the VoynichMS or not.

  3. #3 Jürgen Hermes
    6. Februar 2018

    @Thomas
    I havn’t done any further research on the PIII-hypothesis because in the meantime I have passed Occham’s razor to Torsten Timm. His hypthesis (which I’ve called autocopist theory – see https://texperimentales.hypotheses.org/1076) explains in a simpler way how the Voynich manuscript could have been created. I still don’t think that my PIII-hypothesis has been disproved, but I decided to defer it for the time being.

  4. #4 Patric Hausammann
    Basel
    6. Februar 2018

    I agree with Mr. Pelling’s opinion, quote: ” Errrm… no, not really, sorry. But…” 😉

  5. #5 René Zandbergen
    Darmstadt
    6. Februar 2018

    I also went to search for the source texts used by the authors: the 380 versions of the UDHR. They refer to:

    Guy Emerson, Liling Tan, Susanne Fertmann, Alexis Palmer, and Michaela Regneri. 2014.
    Seedling: Building and using a seed corpus for the human language project. In Workshop on the Use of Computational Methods in the Study of Endangered Languages, pages 77–85.

    which can be found online. This gives the source:

    http://unicode.org/udhr/d

    The file names include a 3-character language code in accordance with ISO-639-3, which is defined here:
    http://www-01.sil.org/iso639-3/codes.asp

    For each text, there is already a file with the character frequency counts.

  6. #6 Nikolai
    6. Februar 2018

    There is a key to cipher the Voynich manuscript. The manuscript was not written in Hebrew.
    The key to the cipher manuscript placed in the manuscript. It is placed throughout the text. Part of the key hints is placed on the sheet 14. With her help was able to translate a few dozen words that are completely relevant to the theme sections.
    The Voynich manuscript is not written with letters. It is written in signs. Characters replace the letters of the alphabet one of the ancient language. Moreover, in the text there are 2 levels of encryption. I figured out the key by which the first section could read the following words: hemp, wearing hemp; food, food (sheet 20 at the numbering on the Internet); to clean (gut), knowledge, perhaps the desire, to drink, sweet beverage (nectar), maturation (maturity), to consider, to believe (sheet 107); to drink; six; flourishing; increasing; intense; peas; sweet drink, nectar, etc. Is just the short words, 2-3 sign. To translate words with more than 2-3 characters requires knowledge of this ancient language. The fact that some symbols represent two letters. In the end, the word consisting of three characters can fit up to six letters. Three letters are superfluous. In the end, you need six characters to define the semantic word of three letters. Of course, without knowledge of this language make it very difficult even with a dictionary.
    If you are interested, I am ready to send more detailed information, including scans of pages showing the translated words.
    And most important. In the manuscript there is information about “the Holy Grail”.
    Nikolai.

  7. #7 Thomas
    6. Februar 2018

    Holy Grail? Sure, the VM is the Holy Grail of cryptology.

  8. #8 anderer Michael
    20. Februar 2018

    What a happy circumstance .
    Next weekend I would have time to take care of this problem.