The Voynich Manuscript is 600 years old, written in a strange script, and it’s never been deciphered.

Is it a guide to the universe, a book of secrets, or is it just pages and pages of gibberish? Modern techniques are now shedding new light on this ancient mystery.

Linguist Daniel Midgley tries to piece it all together on this episode of Talk the Talk.


Listen to this episode

Or subscribe via iTunes
Click here for more options: How to listen to Talk the Talk


Promo with James Hall


Show notes

Coca-Cola ran with a multicultural ad
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=10142

There were pages and pages of angry, and sometimes racist, tweets.
http://deadspin.com/dumb-people-mad-at-multilingual-america-the-beautiful-1514567876
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/02/coca-cola-america-the-beautiful-racists_n_4714931.html

Reminds me of last year, when kids at a Colorado high school wanted to recite a loyalty oath in Arabic.
http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2013/02/04/colorado-students-recite-pledge-of-allegiance-in-arabic-freakout-ensues/
http://www.9news.com/news/article/313505/0/Fort-Collins-students-read-Pledge-of-Allegiance-in-Arabic

There’s a Skeptoid article about the Voynich Manuscript. Start here.
http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4252

Is the Voynich Manuscript a huge hoax?
http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/archive/permalink/the_voynich_manuscript

Or does it have a real meaning?
http://www.sci-news.com/othersciences/linguistics/science-voynich-manuscript-message-01195.html

A couple of botanists think it has links to the New World
http://phys.org/news/2014-02-botanists-voynich-similar-mexico.html

Earlier: Computational linguists find that the text is non-random.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23740-new-signs-of-language-surface-in-mystery-voynich-text.html?full=true#.UvReOHn7RRw

“What We Know About The Voynich Manuscript” by Sravana Reddy and Kevin Knight. A technical look at computational approaches to the VMS. Very complete. A must-read. (PDF)
http://www.isi.edu/natural-language/people/voynich-11.pdf

The VMS has the same letter patterns as Latin.
http://hurontaria.baf.cz/CVM/a26.htm

The word counts in human languages follows Zipf’s Law.
http://norvig.com/mayzner.html
So does the VMS.

The Codex Seraphinianus is also interesting.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codex_Seraphinianus

Tetris as a verb? Sure; just check out My Kitchen Rules S5E7, at 11:00.
http://au.tv.yahoo.com/my-kitchen-rules/episodes/21246479/my-kitchen-rules-wed-5-feb-series-5-episode-7

The first instance I could find on the Net is the one from Urban Dictionary.
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=tetris’ed


Show tunes

‘Shit from an Old Notebook’ by the Minutemen
from the album Double Nickels on the Dime

‘Games’ by Hüsker Dü
from the album Flip Your Wig