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      I don’t know much about the VMS (although I have close friends who do who refute this on other grounds), but this is, alas, complete crap from the perspective of an historical linguist.

      The 14th century is at least 500 years too late for any real record of ‘Proto-Romance’ (which is a real language, despite what some mediaevalists apparently not aware of Indo-European studies are saying). And like most efforts at historical linguistics by people who are not historical linguists, there is not even the slightest attempt to create a systematic theory of how this supposed record of a proto-language relates either to later recorded Romance languages, or to our existing knowledge of Vulgar Latin and comparatively-reconstructed Proto-Romance. (The idea put forward that we need to use the pictures to decipher the meanings of words is sign enough that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about: there’s no guarantee that the pictures have anything at all to do with the words, and most semantic reconstruction is done comparatively — which would certainly be possible if this were a real record of Proto-Romance, because of our extensive knowledge of ancient and modern Romance languages.)

      This is a pretty good blog post giving details from someone who knows a lot about the VMS.

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        As much as I would like for this to be true, there have been many claims of decipherment, and all have pretty strong counterarguments. I’m curious to see the responses from the community.

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          Especially claiming that it’s written in an otherwise completely unattested Romance language in a unique orthography that derives from Latin alphabet is… dubious at best. I’d love to be proven wrong, of course.

          My pet theory is that it’s a written entirely in some scribe’s own custom shorthand, perhaps purposefully obfuscated. Arbitrary use of abbreviations (and their numerous variant forms) would also make it really difficult to decipher in that case.

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            A completely unattested Romance language that was also apparently a lingua franca of southern Europe, but everyone just sort of…forgot.

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              Something something Albigensian Crusade and gnosticism.

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                To be fair, the Gnostics were about keeping their stuff secret…

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          Every time this comes up, I welcome it as an opportunity to recommend an old Czech movie The Emperor and the Golem.

          I believe, that the manuscript is an elaborate hoax sold by a conman to the emperor, who gave it to his gardener, who had it translated by an alchemist, who asked for help abroad…

          No true czech would resist an urge to obtain 2kg of gold from an unsuspecting moron emperor earned by writing and illustrating a cryptic nonsense book. I bet 1/4 court chuckled when he presented his new acquisition.