Home > Greek, Writing > Copy and Conversion Errors

Copy and Conversion Errors

Here is a piece of Greek from the Vienna Dioscurides.

Greek from the Vienna Dioscurides

Take the second line of text: we can make a simple substitution cipher to convert the Greek characters to Voynich glyphs:

One line glyph conversion

Now suppose there is a second step, where the Voynich glyphs are re-arranged into “words” according to some rules, and are then written into the manuscript.

So where am I going with this? Depending on how easily the original Greek characters are read (e.g. some lines are faint), and whether the characters are recognised correctly, would change the choice of which Voynich glyph to use. If a very old manuscript was being enciphered, this would probably be the case. Besides which, the mapping between a Greek character and a Voynich glyph might change depending on e.g. a table of equivalent characters/glyphs, or a choice of substitution cipher.

Thus if a) the original text is in a language unfamiliar to the scribe, and/or b) the original text is indistinct or otherwise hard to read, then the process of converting it to ciphertext causes errors. The same Greek letters might end up being enciphered differently depending on their readability.

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Categories: Greek, Writing
  1. June 9, 2012 at 8:55 am

    very interesting angle on the ways that text and cipher might relate to each other.

  2. June 10, 2012 at 12:39 am

    Could you explain why you chose Greek as your example?

    • JB
      June 12, 2012 at 9:58 am

      I was working on the theory that the VMs might be a copy of an ancient text the language and symbols of which weren’t familiar to the scribe. A Greek text is an obvious choice.

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