Is it a hoax?

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The manuscript may well be a hoax in the sense of an elaborate disguise for a message of no importance; however, I do not believe that it is manufactured gibberish. The earliest example known to me of meaningless text intended to look like a meaningful utterance in an unknown language is Thomas More's poem in the Utopian language. The angelic language of John Dee and Edward Kelley and the angelic invocations of Trithemius are well known to Voynich buffs. These 'languages' are demonstrably distinct from natural language in their phonology and morphology.

These deficiencies continue to be characteristic of fictional languages to the time of Swift's Lilliputian and beyond. By contrast, the Voynich language is written with more characters than the Greek or Roman alphabets and Voynich words conform to a very rigid internal structure with no parallel in any European language.

Is it an artificial language?

A strict internal word structure is characteristic of the artificial languages designed as means of universal communication by e.g. Wilkins, Dalgarno and Kircher. It is worth pointing out the the need for such a language only arose in the period after 1600 when Latin began to give way to the national vernaculars; that no book is known to have been written in any of these languages; and that the Voynich manuscript has the appearance of an artefact deliberately given the appearance of a mystery. There are also structural reasons for rejecting this suggestion.

The artificial languages of the enlightenment, though novel in respect of word formation, adhere closely to the word order of either Latin or the native language of their authors. The words of the Voynich manuscript do not conform to the word order of any European language.

Is it an exotic language?

It remains possible that the Voynich manuscript is written in a non-European language with an unknown script, rigid morphophonemic structure and a non-European sentence structure. Jacques Guy once suggested in jest that the underlying language resembles Chinese, and the idea has been taken up with increasing seriousness by Jorge Stolfi. Against this, it has to be said that there is no reason to think that the manuscript ever left Europe before Wilfrid Voynich purchased it. It was written on vellum, illustrated with images of Western astrology, marked up for binding in abbreviated Latin, scribbled on in Latin and German, paginated in Arabic numerals and is first heard of in Prague. Stolfi's "chinese characters" are intriguing, but to my mind other interpretations of them are possible.

Above all, the considerations I have set out above concerning word order and sentence structure exclude modern, spoken Northern Chinese as much as any Western language. A corpus of radio broadcasts transcribed in Pinyin does not exhibit the Voynichese duplication of frequent words even when indications of tone are omitted (see this comparison of Chinese and Voynichese. It is always possible that Voynichese may turn out to be some other Asian language of Chinese type. (A book printed in 1592 in Roman script and preserved in a library in Lisbon was not identified as Japanese until 1902: see Roy Andrew Miller, The Japanese Language, Chicago 1967 fig. 21). However, it is worth pointing out that Jacques Guy, a sometime field linguist with a doctorate in Oriental languages, has never encountered a natural language which might be Voynichese and (I understand) does not expect to.

In view of this, the most plausible hypothesis seems to be that the manuscript is an encipherment of a plaintext in a well known European language, probably Latin or German.