A Hidden Phrase?

I want to give an example of the kind of outcome that I hope my research, particularly the Transformation Theory, will eventually bring. It isn’t always easy to explain my goals in the abstract so I think an example will be better.

Please note that the following is only an example. It is plausible and in line with my research, but is not a proposed reading.

Look at the image of text below, taken from the second line of f66r.

f66r line 2

The text is easy to read and even the few ill–formed characters are not ambiguous. I would transcribe the line in EVA as: [qokeedar okal okedy qokeedy qokal okedy]. The First Study Group and Takahashi agree with this transcription (though, curiously, Currier misses out [qokeedy] altogether).

The important thing to note first of all is that only words three and six of this excerpt match: [okedy]. Were we looking for strict repetitions nothing would be found here. A looser matching might say that [qokeedar] and [qokeedy] are similar, as are [okal] and [qokal].

But by ‘similar’ what do we mean? Usually that words differ by one or two characters. Yet without understanding why or how words differ we could propose many near matches that are, in truth, unrelated. Is [okal] related to [okar] or [otal] or [okol] or [ykal]? Or all or none?

I think I can begin to shed some light on how similar words are actually related, and by doing so reveal hidden patterns otherwise obscured.

From [y] to [a]

In my very first post on this blog I explained that [y] and [a] have some kind of equivalence. They have complementary distribution and, when taken together, match the distribution of [o] fairly well. We should consider them, for the purposes of future research, to be variants of the same character (although there may be some difference in their values discoverable later).

When we apply this knowledge of [y] and [a] to the first and fourth words of the excerpt, we can see that [qokeedy] and [qokeedar] differ not by two characters but only one. Because [y] becomes [a] before [r], [qokeedar] is actually [qokeedy–r].

Even though I don’t yet know what a final [r] might mean, we can propose that some process has added [r] to the end of [qokeedy] to make [qokeedar]. (There’s other evidence, such as word structure and trigram distribution, also showing the two words are likely related).

From Nothing to [q]

We can now move on to the second and fifth words of the excerpt: [okal] and [qokal]. The kind of knowledge we’re gaining through research into Last–First Combinations suggests that the first character of a word can be dependent on the last character of the preceding word. So the difference between the two words of an initial [q] could result from the alteration from [qokeedar] to [qokeedy].

Is this possibility borne out by the evidence we have? I should first state that I haven’t yet done any specific research on initial [q]. However, the statistics we have at least suggest it is likely.

A word ending [r] has a clear preference for and against certain characters at the start of the following word. It is a strong character and thus prefers a weak one after it, such as [y, a, o, ch, sh], and has a bias against [q]. The next word begins [o], which meets the expectation.

Yet [qokeedy] ends [y], a weak character. It has a preference for a strong character, such as [q] (though, we should note, possibly not a bias against [o]). Thus [qokal] is an acceptable word to follow, even though we don’t understand why the form [qokal] is preferred rather than [kal], which also starts with a strong character.

The Result

If we consider the above to be true, or at least plausible, we then have an interesting analysis of our excerpt. The six words are actually two three–word phrases which are very closely related.

The second phrase is [qokeedy qokal okedy], which is how it appears as written in the text. The first phrase is different only by a single original character [r]. By adding that onto the end of the first word we end up with [qokeedar okal okedy] due to the variation of [y] to [a] and the transformation of [q] to nothing.

Three differences are reduced to one and the text becomes more regular and with more obvious patterns. Repeated multiple times on every page, this would lead to a much different text.

I hope this examples clarifies my thinking about where textual analysis needs to go in the future. It’s about identifying as many of these changes as possible, understanding the links between characters and their contexts, and fixing rules which let us roll back the transformed text to reveal the original text below.

4 thoughts on “A Hidden Phrase?

  1. Hi Emma,
    I have searched a few ancient texts for repetitions similar to your “hidden phrase” (i.e. the same three words immediately repeated twice, with minor alterations).
    Here are some of the “parallels” I have found:

    Dante, Divina Commedia, Inf. XIX, 62
    “Non son colui, non son colui che credi”

    Dante, Divina Commedia, Purg. XXX, 56
    “non pianger anco, non piangere ancora”
    (in this example, the third word was truncated for metrical reasons)

    In both Dante’s examples the repetition seems to have the function of stressing the importance of the phrase.

    Boccaccio, De casibus
    “XII. De Marco Tullio Cicerone. Marcus Tullius Cicero, ….”
    The title and the first words of a chapter match, but with different cases (ablative for the title, nominative for the text body).

    The King James Bible presents several exact repetitions. The following are cases in which two of the words are slightly different but still related:

    Genesis 2:24 King James Bible
    “Therefore shall a man leave * his father and his mother, and * shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”

    Leviticus 11:47 King James Bible
    “To make a difference between * the unclean and the clean, and * between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.”

    Ecclesiastes 2:8 King James Bible
    “I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me * men singers and women singers, and * the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts.”

    Finally, here is the output of the same pattern-search on Takahashi’s transcription. Most of these matches are likely coincidental, but others might be significant (e.g. those at 107r and 108r).

    qokchy.chody.qotchy.qokchy.choty.tchol
    qokeedar.okal.okedy.qokeedy.qokal.okedy
    okain.cheky.qokal.dain.chedy.okalol
    heain.cheedy.qokal.dain.sheeky.qoky
    lkain.shedy.qokeedy.okain.chedy.okeed
    qokeedy.chedy.qokar.okeey.lkedy.qokal
    dshedy.sheedy.qokedy.chedy.teedy.qokeedy
    chkain.okair.chtl.lkaiin.okair.chtl
    okedy.oteal.lkedal.okedy.otedy.okedal
    qokeedy.qokeedy.qotey.qokeey.qokeey.otedy
    okeey.lkeeey.okeeo.lkeey.lkeey.lkeedy
    daiin.oteed.aiin.saiin.yteey.aiin

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    • Hi Marco, I don’t think the phrase being immediately repeated is important. Phrases which are repeated over long distances are just as interesting, even more so if they linke two pages together which we didn’t know about before.

      For me, the important thing is that more phrases can be uncovered if we believe transformations take place and know more about their rules.

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      • I agree! I was just curious to see instances of immediately repeating phrases because I thought this pattern unusual. I guess that in some styles of writing it might not be so unusual, but it also doesn’t seem to be very frequent in the VMS (I am pretty sure that many of the 12 instances in my previous comment are not true repetitions but coincidental similarities).

        Anyway, any little bit of emerging structure is greatly encouraging. Thank you again for sharing your research!

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  2. Sorry, wordpress didn’t show VMS page references…

    (f21v.P.2;H) qokchy.chody.qotchy.qokchy.choty.tchol
    (f66r.R.2;H) qokeedar.okal.okedy.qokeedy.qokal.okedy
    (f75r.P.30;H) okain.cheky.qokal.dain.chedy.okalol
    (f75v.P1.7;H) heain.cheedy.qokal.dain.sheeky.qoky
    (f76r.R.13;H) lkain.shedy.qokeedy.okain.chedy.okeed
    (f82v.P.14;H) qokeedy.chedy.qokar.okeey.lkedy.qokal
    (f84r.P.27;H) dshedy.sheedy.qokedy.chedy.teedy.qokeedy
    (f107r.P.49;H) chkain.okair.chtl.lkaiin.okair.chtl
    (f108r.P.3;H) okedy.oteal.lkedal.okedy.otedy.okedal
    (f108v.P.39;H) qokeedy.qokeedy.qotey.qokeey.qokeey.otedy
    (f111r.P.45;H) okeey.lkeeey.okeeo.lkeey.lkeey.lkeedy
    (f114r.P1.33;H) daiin.oteed.aiin.saiin.yteey.aiin

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