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Re: VMs: Blanks

At 22:09 02/03/2004 +0000, Nick Pelling wrote:
At 19:01 02/03/2004 +0100, Maurizio Gavioli wrote:
Does anyone with a greater familiarity with late medieval / early modern cyphers can summarize the status of the blank in them?

AFAIK, usually removed - they make it too easy to guess words. :-)

This is what I supposed.

[...]And of cyphers *restoring* 'faked' blanks (randomly?) in the cripted text?

I don't recall any of the sources I've read on early cryptography specifically mentioning the reversible coding of blanks in ciphertext, but it's certainly possible.

So, an open issue, but presumably negative.

Or, at the other end, of cyphers considering the blank a character in itself, taking part to the cripting algorithm?

Again, it's certainly possible, but I don't know of any recorded examples in early cryptography. My instinct would be that this would have been conceptually unlikely in Europe before the advent of printing (because it requires seeing space as a serialised printed character), and only vaguely plausible after that (because thinking in ASCII is a modern peculiarity). :-o

This was my idea too: we are used to consider blank spaces, new lines, etc. as 'characters', but it is a consequence of our familiarity with computers. It could be hardly supposed for XV - XVI c. peoples!

So, what we are left with regarding Vms. blanks?

I have seen several sources mentioning that blanks are either to be ignored or treated in some special, still unknown, way and this is more and more my feeling too (even taking into account my still limited familiarity with the ms.).

But if blanks are to be ignored, this would imply that they have been added 'afterward', which is possible, but probably anachronistic.


Maurizio M. Gavioli - VistaMare Software via San Bernardo 5, I-16030 Pieve Ligure, ITALY http://www.vistamaresoft.com/

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