Voynichese – a Turkic language?

About twelve months ago, a father and son claimed to have identified the language of the Voynich manuscript as ‘Old Turkic’.

Ignore the introduction.  Like so many newcomers, journalists and others, the introduction shows the usual habit of mistaking Rene Zandbergen’s personal website  for an official and impartial source.  As a result we see taken on faith, but imagined to be fact, the usual impressionistic and guesswork descriptions for what are asserted the manuscript’s different “sections”. These descriptions are based on nothing more than superficial impressions taken in the first half of the twentieth century – and by looking at (not analysing) the pictures.

Sentence added because a reader supposed Rene invented those section descriptions: It wouldn’t be fair to blame  Rene for that when all he’s done is to maintain the ideas which already had almost a century’s ‘tradition’/habit behind them when he revived his webpage in c.2012 or so.

The fact is that we don’t know what the ‘bathy-‘ sections are about; what we have is an assumption they are literal images where they might be allegorical or allusive.  The idea that the plant pictures are a ‘herbal’ is based on nothing but an assumption of western Christian authorship and failure to consider the many other contexts in which people draw pictures of, or based on, plant-forms.

That the leaf-and-root section is ‘pharmaceutical’… is another unproven and very possibly erroneous idea.   So far.

Maybe the ‘Turkic’ theory will prove them – who knows?

Once the first video shifts to the actual research, and researchers the first video gets much better.

And I think the second interesting too.

Here it is:

“It’s not Turkish”

The elder scholar doesn’t say it’s modern Turkish but [an] ‘old Turkic’ language.

The ‘Turkic’ language group extends across much of the region coinciding with the high (northern) ‘Silk Road’ – not just the modern Turkish language spoken in Turkey. (more details below)

It’s not the first time a researcher has looked in that direction, though to do it one has first to escape the cage created by reliance on the  ‘Wilfrid-Friedman-d’Imperio’ narrative.

  • Way back when, Jorge Stolfi gave it as his opinion that the language would turn out to be one from inner Asia – he suggested Jurchen.
  • Emma May Smith – the linguist – has been investigating Cuman (one of those medieval lingua francae mentioned before – see e.g. below).  Smith’s blog is called ‘Agnostic Voynich’ and its definitely one for the specialists.
  • Full disclosure – the present author has also had the view, for some time, that the language might well turn out to be one of the small number of traders’ lingua francae spoken along that northern ‘silk road’, and more specifically (as she has has mentioned to one or two correspondents since 2014) that she would advise specialists in historical linguistics to look into the administrative languages current in Amaliq over the period between the thirteenth century and the early decades of the fourteenth.  I have no intention of repeating, here, the mass of information both internal and external which led her finally to form that view.


The wiki article doesn’t mention every member of the group of Turkic languages (omitting to mention Cuman, for example), but a full list of the subdivisions  is provided  here.

Turkic languages are not all mutually comprehensible. That point was emphasised by the anonymous wiki writer:

Linguists distinguish four main groups among Turkic languages. They include the Northwestern (Kipchak), Southwestern (Oghuz), Southwestern (Karluk), and Northwestern (Siberian), the latter exhibiting the highest level of linguistic variance from the others. Linguistic comprehension of all forms is generally high within and between each one of those groups. Speakers of different groups from the first three groups, and a speaker of one of the first three groups cannot communicate with speakers of the North Eastern group except counting from one to ten, and designating some very common animals, body parts, colors, basic adjectives, which is still amazing considering the thousands of kilometers separating those regions.

If you understand modern Turkish  the videos are available:

Video News Links (In Turkish): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8aEFF…

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5ckH…

Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3S87…

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