One of my earliest interests in languages came from the various alphabets. I saw the Cyrillic, Greek and Mayan alphabets and became fascinated with the idea that people could actually communicate using these, rather than the writing system that I knew.
Another interest that pushed me towards languages was the strange mysteries that existed around them. I first learned about the Rosetta Stone and loved that there was a piece of stone that helped bridge centuries of understanding, allowing people to regain the lost ability to read one of the ancient writing systems, Egyptian Hieroglyphics.
Another of these strange artefacts is the Voynich Manuscript. Some of you have probably heard of it and may have even seen pictures of it. It is a collection of pages containing hand drawn images, mainly of plants. So what’s the big deal? Well, no one has yet been able to decode the language, or even recognize it.
There are somewhere between 6000 and 7000 known languages in the world, many of them extinct, but they are at least recognizable and identified. The one used in the Voynich Manuscript do not match any of those! Some attempts at translating it have scholars proposing it to be an unknown variant of another language, but no one has yet been able to provide an actual complete translation. Well, at least not one that holds up to scrutiny.
There are beliefs that it is a hoax, but statistical analysis of it shows that it has the properties of a real language. Some have proposed it is a constructed language, but that hasn’t helped them to make sense of it.
It is an intriguing mystery for language lovers, and there are few of those left in the modern world. If you would like to read more about the Voynich Manuscript, you can find an entire article on it in Parrot Time here.