Dr Dolittle was a cryptologist!
Well I never.
Statistical translation techniques have been successfully applied to decode an 18th century document written using an encryption scheme that has baffled scholars for decades. The Copiale Cipher was found in book housed in an East Berlin Academy after the Cold War. The book’s pages contained about 75,000 neatly hand-written …
It's not difficult. A cypher transforms by means of substitution (at its most basic level); a code OTOH transforms by means of a key. Without the key a code is .. ahem.. indecipherable
'AHLIdN' may transform to 'London' by means of a cypher, & this is crackable by brute force &/or mathematcs; however 'AHLIdN' may transform to 'Send the bread rolls on Tuesday' or 'Harden the bomb shelters - we're going to attack in June' depending upon the code key used.. & is therefore uncrackable by the same methods.
Obviously repetitions of similar messages or concepts will give an insight into the coded message (cf enigma et al at Bletchley, although strictly speaking that too was a cypher), but without the key the absolute text remains unclear
I suppose you could call all slang a code of sorts: 'I'm just going up these apples' doesn't have any connotation of what the principal is actually doing, but most Londoners would recognise Cockney Rhyming Slang for what it is & what it describes..
ciphers are one to one character replacements where as codes are dictionaries that provide word for word replacements. I'm not sure what the modern computer encryption technique or re-arranging the positions of the letters in the transmission is called but it is neither code nor cipher. And then you've got the whole steganography (sp?) thing.
Good luck with that. IIRC, analysis of the symbols in the Voynich Manuscript have shown it to lack the statistical characteristics of language, coded or otherwise. I other words, it's most likely meaningless and probably a hoax. Hardly surprising when the illustrations appear to be of non-existent plants and animals.
The Voynich is more complex than that.
There's the huge problem of how many characters are used - there's almost no agreement about whether some characters are distinct or whether they are actually different characters with ligatures. Estimates vary that Voynichese uses between 20 and 30 characters for the bulk of its text plus a few other rare characters.
Then when you start doing the number crunching odd things begin to appear - there are definitely word-like groups in the text, but the word lengths do not resemble any known language - there are very few short words and very few ones over 10 characters long. Some words are only found in certain parts of the manuscript. Individual words are often repeated either identically or with slight variations - a pattern not usually found in real texts.
The patterns of characters are definitely not random, there are rules about which characters follow others and which do not and whether they appear anywhere in a word or only at the beginning.
When you measure the entropy of the whole text (ie. how predictable the text is), it comes much lower than most European languages, around the same as English or Latin - but neither of those match the previous patterns found in the text.
It most probably is completely meaningless, but a huge amount of work was put into its creation and it would be wonderful to know more about where this thing came from and why it was made.
The best suggestion is that it was an alchemical fake designed to impress the rich and powerful in Central Europe, but there is a frustrating lack of contemporaneous evidence for the book prior to the early 17th Century (we now know from C-14 that the vellum is early 15th Century, but that does not necessarily mean the book itself is that old).
@"making sense of languages that are not currently spoken by humans, including ancient languages and communication between animals."
I'm reminded of a Farside joke about a dog translator... :)
But then it could just as easily be this other Farside joke about dog thinking... ;)
Ah, so that's where that vitrectomy procedure originated (Look it up if you dare!!!).
Yeah, I've had that, and also I've seen the business end of a 20 Watt Argon laser, and it is....GREEN!
Fortunately, both were done by a VERY talented ophthalmological surgeon. Thank you Dr. Thompson!
"..also prove useful in making sense of languages that are not currently spoken by humans, including ancient languages and communication between animals"
Unlikely; the statistical method only works if you know the language that is encoded/enciphered - in this case German. As no one alive speaks animal or many of the dead languages, how would they know the relevance of symbol or sequence frequency? That is why a Rosetta Stone is so important - it provides a basic glossary in the unknown and a known language.
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