With all the computing power we see employed to serve study of the Voynich manuscript’s written text, I have long hoped to see a statistical study made of where and when we find similar glyphs within other scripts, whether alphabetic, abjad or otherwise.
It seems reasonable to suppose that the creators or the later copyists responsible for our present manuscript might employ forms already familiar to them in some way; the Voynich glyphs present as ‘real’ script, not a collection of artificial and newly devised signs. At the same time, we know that the complete set has so far found no match. So far as we know – but who has troubled to really look into it?
Obviously other factors come into play in considering the present form of this text. Copyists, for example, tend to naturalise the shapes of any foreign letters that strike them as ‘like’ one they are used to writing. An originally oval form, perceived as like the Latin “o” may be rendered as a circle .. and so forth. Speaking of “o” shapes – it is obvious that not every Voynich ‘glyph’ is worth including in such a study. An “o” shape is near ubiquitous and its occurrences unlikely to tell us much. But to find that a glyph of the more unusual sort does occur in a standard script is surely of some interest, and a map showing where and when they occur most often would surely be of interest too – all the more if we find the range sits within definable geographic and/or temporal limits.
I’m not suggesting that we could announce Voynichese to be this language or that by so simple a method, but we might gain insight into the range of precedents available to the persons who first set down the Voynich script in its present form.
As illustration of what I mean …
This fragment, being considerably earlier than 1405-1438, and a product of Christian Egypt, nicely chimes with the manuscript’s history as Georg Baresch envisaged (or knew) it to be, outlined in his letter to Athanasius Kircher. We might also recall that another document from Egypt (this time from a medieval work) includes glyphs closely similar to some of the ‘gallow glyphs’.
Naturally, I’m not trying to lead readers to infer that the text is Coptic. Proper investigation of the glyphs’ occurence and range will require input from specialists in epigraphy, comparative languages, palaeography and statistics. I’m simply showing that such an investigation might produce very helpful information.
The Coptic fragment above as published on Alin Suciu’s site. It is reproduced with his permission, and was earlier shown in connection with Beinecke MS 408 (here).
If anyone does feel curious about where and when the more unusual Voynich-like forms occur in other scripts, may I suggest a control: the Voynich glyphs include no “x” form.
 often mentioned now, credit for bringing these glyphs to the notice of Voynicheros is owed to Nick Pelling, via his comment on Okasha El Daly’s book. (see here).
 I have noticed some confusion in recent secondary writings. Wilfrid Voynich himself translated the letter to Kircher from Marcus Marci (with the notorious rumour about Rudolf’s 600 ducats) but Neal’s translations are now the standard for citation.
I am happy to credit other translations that may have been made of one or more documents, but I would ask that people consider the amount of time wasted (including Zandbergen’s time) when they wrongly attribute origins for information found on Zandbergen’s website voynich.nu to Zandbergen himself. To the best of my knowledge, Zandbergen reads no Latin and has never made an original translation from any Latin text.