I’ve been in this “game” for a few years now, and like everyone involved with the Voynich, read everything I could find written on the subject. The thing is, there seems to be a problem. I mean, it should be obvious there is a problem: The Voynich has not been deciphered. Of course we all know this… but that is not the exact point I’m making. What I mean is, the Voynich has not been deciphered by the means known, and the means tried, so that is in itself an important clue… a fact which often is not taken into consideration when trying again. The same attempts are made, over and over, with the same problems, and the same results.
It seems to always go the same route: It is wondered what language it might be, and what code or cipher, and then, what the counts of the characters and words might tell one. Then the counts are compared to various texts in various languages, and the structure of the words, and the structure of the sentences. The next step is to put some plaintext in a program, and compare that plaintext to the VMs characters, and look for “hits”.. and nothing is found, usually. Or worse than that, when something is found, the source is adjusted to make the hits improve. Before this point it is usually noticed that the system tried will not work for the labels, or, it will not work with the line breaks, and, “…why do the counts change at the ends of sentences?’. And so on…
Round ‘n Round we go. I am no expert in anything code related, not by a long shot. But from what I have learned, and read, the greatest minds in the world have attacked this thing for many decades in just this way. The Bletchley Park crew, I understand, during and after WWII… and Friedman, and Newbold. And more recently, so many newer attempts made, with amazing computer processing power at the ready. And always, the same thing. It is happening again, as I write this: Looking at bits of Latin word structure, and so on, for comparisons. Plugging in plaintext, and looking for similarities.
And I admit I don’t know the answer, no one does. But some time ago I tried to think of solving this in a different way. Because it occurs to me that if the Voynich cannot be broken from the front end, if any results tend to quickly counter the structure seen in the text, and counter the labels, and so on and so forth… maybe it should be broken from the back door. I wrote a post last year for the VMS-net, which I called “Working Backward With Cipher”, which outlined doing something like this, and it’s possible value.
When I was a kid I enjoyed mazes. I found that many of them could be solved by starting at “end”, and working to “start”. This, because the author of the maze would often not take such an approach into consideration. So when I began drawing mazes of my own, I would always start designing it from both ends and make the paths meet in the middle. As though anyone would ever see them besides my friends, or try them backwards! But I found it satisfying, that it would be as hard to solve from both ends. But the point is, I thought of this when thinking of ways of approaching the Voynich problem, that there may be a value in starting from the finish, and working forward.
What I mean is, that there might be a value in trying to encipher, rather than decipher, the Voynich. That is, look at it’s structure, and not try to crack it… but rather, try to emulate it. Because if one could create a Voynich from scratch, which looked like it, and behaved like it in counts, and which was encodable and decodable… then one might have a candidate for what it actually is. And then, the source language for the experiment would not be so important, nor the source content, except in a more general sense. Because one would not be trying to copy or discern the exact content of the Voynich, only the mechanism used in creating it. Then if the mechanism can be discerned this way, a technique might be devised to use that mechanism to find the underlying text. I strongly feel that trying to find the underlying text, when the mechanism is not known, will only result in the same frustrations so many have encountered.
In another post I will outline one of my own attempts at encoding in Voynichese, and why I chose it, and what the results have been so far.