Voynich Manuscript: Months

by Sean B. Palmer, 2004-12
Page updated 2010-11, corrected July image and updated some spellings

The Voynich Manuscript has a series of words which appear to be months written in Latin script next to the figures representing the signs of the zodiacs on pages f70r-f73v. The following table presents an enlargement of all of these words, with page references from both the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library and Jorge Stolfi:

First Form Second Form (optional) Comments

(f70v2, Pisces, March)
  Voynich: Marc; Catalan: Març; Occitan: Març
The months start with March, for some reason.

(f70v1, Aries, April)

(f71r, Aries, April)
Voynich: Aberil/Aberıl; Catalan: Abril; Occitan: Abrial
Thence to April and on in regular succession...

(f71v, Taurus, May)

(f72r1, Taurus, May)
Voynich: Maŷ/May; Catalan: Maig; Occitan: Mai

(f72r2, Gemini, June)
  Voynich: Yuny (or Yony?); Catalan: Juny; Occitan: Junh

(f72r3, Cancer, July)
  Voynich: Jollet?; Catalan: Juliol; Occitan: Julhet

(f72v3, Leo, August)
  Voynich: Augst; Catalan: Agost; Occitan: Agóst

(f72v2, Virgo, September)
  Voynich: Septembr??; Catalan: Setembre; Occitan: Setembre

(f72v1, Libra, October)
  Voynich: Octembre (Octẽbre); Catalan: Octubre; Occitan: Octobre
Note that the second form is just from a different source of f72v, and not a separate form within the Voynich Manuscript itself.

(f73r, Scorpio, November)
  Voynich: Novembre (Novẽbre); Catalan: Novembre; Occitan: Novembre

(f73v, Sagittarius, December)
  Voynich: Decembre??; Catalan: Desembre; Occitan: Decembre

Summary: Marc, Aberil, May, Yuny, Jollet?, Augst, Septembr??, Octembre, Novembre, Decembre??.

The hand of the months may be related to the so-called "Michitonese" found on the last page of the Manuscript, f116v. Pasting that sample into Xerox's XRCE Language Guesser, it suggests Catalan_utf8 for it, hence the noting of modern Catalan and Occitan names in the table above. It would be nice to garner a list of 16th century month names in Catalan, Occitan, and Provencal, noting spelling variations. In fact, due to the dissimilarity of the trailers on the capital "M", I think that the hands' common authorship is in some doubt. It could always have been two Catalonians (though there's also the problem that the script appears to be German).

More information can be found from Jorge Stolfi's page of notes on the section, which was also my source for the second column of page numbers. Also in that page, Rene Zandbergen gives the start of the list as "Mars, Abril, May, Yony", though I think that the first two are clear misreads. Stolfi: "For example the word on f70v1 could also be read 'abcril' and that on f71r could be 'ab'rab' or 'abirib' or many other things. The reading 'abril' is only a fair compromise between what we expect to read and what is really there on the paper..." I'm pretty sure that f70v1 uses "abiril" and f71r the same, but with a dotless minuscule i, but it is rather difficult to tell.

Incidentally, it seems that Nick Pelling independently came to the same conclusion about Occitan months just half a year ago. His page has since disappeared, though, which is a shame—he may have had better sources for the names than me.

(Images mainly derived via those linked to from voynich.nu and are used under fair use).

Sean B. Palmer