…Discovered in the 19th century, the Voynich manuscript uses “alien” characters that have long puzzled cryptographers and historians. Now, however, computing scientists at the University of Alberta say they are decoding the mysterious 15th-century text.
The first stage of the research was working out the manuscript’s language. The experts used 400 different language translations from the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” to identify the language used in the text. Initially, it seemed like the text was written in Arabic, but the researcher’s algorithms revealed that the manuscript is written in Hebrew.
“That was surprising,” said Kondrak, in a statement. “And just saying ‘this is Hebrew’ is the first step. The next step is how do we decipher it.”
Kondrak and Hauer worked out that Voynich manuscript was created using ‘alphagrams’ that use one phrase to define another so built an algorithm to unscramble the text. “It turned out that over 80 per cent of the words were in a Hebrew dictionary, but we didn’t know if they made sense together,” said Kondrak.
Scientists using the AI managed to piece together a sentence, which will then allow them to apply this knowledge to the rest of the text.
The sentence was: “She made recommendations to the priest, man of the house and me and people.”
Experts will now have to enlist the help of historians of ancient Hebrew to try and piece together its meaning, with many of words appearing to be jumbled up.
Step number one, Kondrak told CTVNews, was figuring out what the language is. The statistical algorithms he and his co-author designed proved about 97-percent accurate when translating the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (into 380 languages). The same process, applied to the Voynich manuscript, suggested the language was Hebrew. As for the code, they believe that it involves the letters in each individual word being shuffled, and their vowels dropped.
According to their algorithms, the manuscript’s first complete sentence reads, “She made recommendations to the priest, man of the house and me and people.” They also believe the text includes the words “farmer,” “light,” “air” and “fire,” according to CTVNews.
related article, Sept. 2017.
general historical background; video dated May 2017.
Researchers from University of Alberta have used artificial intelligence to decode sections of the ancient manuscript, using a technique called algorithmic decipherment to reveal the underlying, encrypted language hidden behind the strange book’s words.
825 voynich manuscript 4(Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library)
It’s not an easy thing to do, the team explains in their paper, given the number of unknowns involved.
“The Voynich manuscript is written in an unknown script that encodes an unknown language,” the authors write, “which is the most challenging type of a decipherment problem.”
Testing their algorithm on 380 different translations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the researchers’ system was able to correctly identify the language of origin 97 percent of the time.
h/t Digital mix guy