Home > ay, Glen Caston, Nick Pelling, oy, oy > Odd Distributions of “oy” and “ay”

Odd Distributions of “oy” and “ay”

A few weeks ago I posted some images showing the positions of the 
gallows characters on each of the VMs folios.
(The blog post is here is you missed it: https://voynichattacks.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/page-positional-gallows-mk-ii/ )

With a couple of small changes to the code, I have generated a set of 
images showing the positions of the "oy" and "ay" glyphs on each of the 
folios. (I believe the oy and ay are transcribed in EVA as ol and or, 
not sure.) This was prompted by the observations that
a) these glyph pairs often occur many times on a folio,
b) on some folios they don't appear at all
c) on some other folios only "ay" appears, on others only "oy"
d) often the "oy" glyphs appear to the left of each line, and the "ay" 
to the right, and sometimes vice-versa.

I wanted to link to a few example images from the set. The colour code 
is "oy" yellow and "ay" pink, with the coloured square indicating the 
position of the "o" or "a", a grey square indicating another glyph, and 
a black square a space.

1)  Examples of "oy"s at the left, and "ay"s at the right:
f18v http://imageshack.us/photo/jjbunn/31/gffolio18v.jpg/
f29v http://imageshack.us/photo/jjbunn/571/gffolio29v.jpg/

2) Example of the opposite: "ay"s at the left, "oy"s at the right:
f26v http://imageshack.us/photo/jjbunn/826/gffolio26v.jpg/

3) Example of only "oy" on the folio:
f21r http://imageshack.us/photo/jjbunn/809/gffolio21r.jpg/

4) Example of only "ay" on the folio:
f26r http://imageshack.us/photo/jjbunn/402/gffolio26r.jpg/

5) Example of numerous "oy"s to only one "ay":
f37v http://imageshack.us/photo/jjbunn/51/gffolio37v.jpg/

6) Example of an even mixture of both types, across the lines:
f39v http://imageshack.us/photo/jjbunn/19/gffolio39v.jpg/

What might be going on here? Nick Pelling commented on my blog that GC, 
while working on the Voyn_101 transcription, got the impression that the 
change from dominant "oy" to dominant "ay" was a vocabulary change in 
the text (at least, that's what I understood from Nick's comment).

I'd welcome comments on this. Also, if you would like me to generate 
images for your favourite glyph's distribution, it's a trivial process - 
just let me know
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Categories: ay, Glen Caston, Nick Pelling, oy, oy Tags:
  1. August 23, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Philip Neal showed that “o” and “a” can substitute for each other, but “y” has no substitute. Because of this, I think “o” has two values. So essentially “oy” and “ay” can be the same. As an example: oy = on, ay = in.

    If there is a rule governing which one is used where, I haven’t found it. I think it might be an aesthetic choice.

  2. JB
    August 23, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Thanks for the comment, Robert. If “o” and “a” are indeed interchangeable, then the patterns on some folios where the “oy” are all at the left hand sides of the lines, and the “ay” are all on the right, is even odder.

    To me, what makes most sense in those cases is if the left hand parts of the lines are written using one cipher setting, and the right hand parts are written using another. In other words, the cipher changes as a function of line position.

    • thomas spande
      October 2, 2012 at 12:30 pm

      Dear JB, I am new to this blog and was unable to leave a comment on your other blog that deals with the distribution of those gallows figures on each folio page of the VM. What I am adding is probably expatiating on the obvious but: I think there are way too many gallows glyphs to be ligatures; typically 5-8 per line. They are not laid down at random or else there were be the appearance of adjacent gallows glyphs and there are only two that I could spot in the whole of the VM (f52v, line 2 from top; 104v, line 18 from top) but the glyphs are not the same. BTW I think there are two gallows that have not been characterized as such. One is a mirror image of the “f” and the other is just two vertical parallel lines. Both are very rare. The mirror image “f” occurs only a few times but I don’t think it is an flawed “backward p-p” combination. There are also a number of gallows glyphs where the parts are widely separated, even in adjacent words. The question naturally arises as to where these are located? At the start or at the end? The mirror image “f” is a ligature used in medieval Armenian. Also o and a are used in some medieval Armenian cursive. I am not sure if they have a different sense but both represented the “o” in Roman/Latin. An idea I throw out is that each gallows glyph does not represent two characters as would be normal for a ligature but only one and the blue and green are less common letters in whatever language is being used. I think it likely also that the two c’s linked is another type of gallows glyph and represents a single letter. Such substitution codes were commonly used by Armenians. To reiterate, just too many gallows per line to be ligatures and perhaps they are part of a substitution code. One last point pertinent to defending a substitution code and that is: if a gallows glyph does represent a single letter, then we are dealing with a strange language where no letters appear in pairs as is common in English. I like Armenian but even there double letters, while rare, do occur, mainly with “nn” and some words even end with “nn”. One might suspect that cccc is actually a letter repeat, one for each “cc”. Perhaps something like an “nn” could be hidden this way? I suspect that a lot of this is a “rediscovery of the wheel” but I found your graphical layout of the gallows glyphs were exactly what I needed to test out a few ideas. BTW, I don’t think the absence of punctuation in the VM is that odd. Medieval Armenian cursive did this also. Cheers and again, thanks for all the effort you put into bringing those gallows into the sunshine. Tom

      ps. Just eyeballing things before I found your work, I did notice that both scribes seemed to use gallows glyphs with the same frequency. Maybe a definitive check of this point using your software program might be worthwhile?

      • JB
        October 2, 2012 at 2:07 pm

        Dear Tom,

        Many thanks for this interesting comment. Your suggestions are well taken. I am taking a break from the Voynich at the moment, as I have some other pressing tasks that are keeping me busy. I recommend that you join the Voynich mailing list and write there about your ideas – I’m certain that several of the members would be most interested to hear them.

  3. September 23, 2012 at 2:47 am

    It may be worth checking if the left hand & right hand sides occurences correspond to different hands.

  4. December 24, 2012 at 5:43 am

    Hi Julian,
    I’ve always had a question in the back of my mind as to whether the ‘text’ mightn’t be a weaving pattern, given its numerous repetitions and the number of plants in the botanical section which appear to be ones used for textiles and dyes in the east.

    I would very much like to see an entire page printed with each different glyph in a different colour. I don’t expect it would be a clear pattern at first glance; the number of threads per inch would determine the clarity of the final pattern. A carpet would be a little simpler. Fabrics can be woven to produce a reverse fabric and so on.

    If you can produce a whole page, it would be interesting.

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