Linguists crack vintage Code of Secret Ocular Society

Linguisten haben mit einem Algorithmus, ähnlich dem von Google Translate, den Code eines Geheimbundes aus dem 18. Jahrhundert geknackt. Das Schöne: Der Geheimbund bestand aus Anatomen und Augenärzten. Superspannend und ein bisschen so wie der Film „Anatomie“, nur im echten Leben und (leider) nicht so blutig. Wie auch immer, guter Einstieg ist der Artikel bei der NYTimes:

a team of Swedish and American linguists has applied statistics-based translation techniques to crack one of the most stubborn of codes: the Copiale Cipher, a hand-lettered 105-page manuscript that appears to date from the late 18th century. They described their work at a meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics in Portland, Ore.

Discovered in an academic archive in the former East Germany, the elaborately bound volume of gold and green brocade paper holds 75,000 characters, a perplexing mix of mysterious symbols and Roman letters. The name comes from one of only two non-coded inscriptions in the document. […] They turn out to be a detailed description of a ritual from a secret society that apparently had a fascination with eye surgery and ophthalmology.

How Revolutionary Tools Cracked a 1700s Code, hier ein Blogeintrag des Codeknackers dazu, hier gibt’s diverse Scans und Übersetzungen, aus den Reddit-Comments:

As a law student i am used to reading rediculous texts in outdated language, so here is my rough summary of the document:

It describes the initiation process to a secret club or cult (the applicant and master have specific lines to say to each other, and specific movements) The other members chant and stand in a circle holding candles. Several of the instruction deal with the eyes “with the right hand touch the left eye” or even weirder, having to do with an eye exam (the applicant stares at a blank paper for some time, declares he cant read it, and glasses are put on him , after which he should declare again he cant read it)

Glancing through the rest, there seem to be a lot of “do not talk about fight club” type rules and the punishments of talking about the group. The remainder seems to be about the various rules of the organization (how the secret keys shall be handled and such.)