The Relationship between Grove Words and Line Start Patterns

I’ve written before about Grove Words and what they might be, and also about the curious patterns that occur at the start of lines. There’s an obvious, but unanswered question of how these two phenomena—which both affect the first glyph in a line—might interact.

I want to present here, very shortly, partial answer to this question.

The string [oa], when at the start of a word, is quite strongly associated with the start of a line. gives 78 occurrences of words starting [oa], of which 32 are at the start of a line.

This is similar to words starting [sa], which occur 509 times in all, 190 times at the start of a line. We know that words starting [a] are very uncommon at the start of lines, and some kind of transformation may be causing [a] to become [sa]. It could be that, in certain (unknown) situations, [a] becomes [oa] instead of [sa].

Words starting [Goa] (where [G] is any gallows) occur 22 times. Of those, 15 occur at the start of paragraphs. These should be considered part of the Grove Word phenomenon. It should also be noted that words starting [Gs] are very rare.

From these observations we can draw a few of tentative conclusion: 1) that Grove Words and linestart patterns are distinct; 2) that they can both apply to a single word; and 3) that the line start patterns occur more ‘interior’ to a word and Grove Words are more ‘exterior’.

(It might be that words starting [Gy] show the same thing: 11 of 14 occurrences of words starting [py] are Grove Words, and words starting [y] are associated with the line start.)

(Also, the transcription for the first word on f29v is wrong: it is [koaiin] not [kooiin]. I’ve seen theories using the reading [kooiin], so it pays to check the transcriptions for yourself.)


2 thoughts on “The Relationship between Grove Words and Line Start Patterns

  1. Hi Emma,
    thank you for this new post: a great addition to your previous observations about Grove words! It also fits well with the idea that qoX words are formed in two steps, with the two prefixes o- and q- added “right-to-left” to X. As you say, it seems that something similar happens in the first words of paragraphs, with “line-start” additions taking place before the gallows character is applied at the beginning of the word. The attachment of q- and gallows prefixes are processes happening in different contexts and producing different words, but it is encouraging to see that they seem to share the basic feature of working by the progressive attachment of individual prefixes.

    This new post could also add to the reasons why some Grove words are unique even after the initial gallows is removed: in at least some of the cases, you obtain a word from which a line-initial transformation must still be reversed, before it can be considered as “normalized” and comparable with the bulk of the text.


  2. Emma, unlike Marco I haven’t the necessary competence to offer useful comment on your work which, nonetheless, I follow with interest. Having no opportunity to talk with you in any forum, I write to say that if it would be useful to you, I have written a study of the linguae franca used through the medieval centuries by traders using the east-west routes. The reason for that research is probably most easily explained by my latest post to ‘Voynich Revisionist’ (25th March 2019). I can be reached through the ‘contact’ section of that blog.


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