Progress and Problems in Decipherment

  • Jules JanickEmail author
  • Arthur O. Tucker
Part of the Fascinating Life Sciences book series (FLS)


The decoding of the Voynichese symbols based on plant names has led to the hypothesis that they might represent a phonetic alphabet and the language appears to be based on a combination of Nahuatl, Spanish, Taino, and Arabic (in the case of stars). There has been some success in deciphering the names of plants, an animal, a mineral, a few Mexican cities, and the labels on a few of the apothecary jars. However, despite these successes, the basic text remains undeciphered and is clearly not Classical Nahuatl, despite the fact that many Nahuatl cognates were found. One conclusion is that Voynichese is a mixed synthetic language (as proposed by William Friedman), and it also is possible that a lost dialect is involved. We believe that the labels associated with various images provide the key to decipherment.


Arabic Nahuatl Spanish Synthetic language Taino Voynich Voynichese symbols William Friedman 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Horticulture & Landscape ArchitecturePurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.Department of Agriculture & Natural ResourcesDelaware State UniversityDoverUSA

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