About a month ago reader nolandda reported in a comment here that progress had been made in deciphering the famous Voynich manuscript. This week a more detailed report was issued by the University of Bedfordshire:
Some published reports overstate the significance of the news by referring to this as a decipherment of the document. It would be more accurate (and a bit more prosaic) to indicate (as Professor Bax does) that what has been proved is that the ms. is internally cohesive and consistent with a true language, and not simply a nonsensical folly or hoax.An award-winning professor from the University has followed in the footsteps of Indiana Jones by cracking the code of a 600 year old manuscript, deemed as ‘the most mysterious’ document in the world.Stephen Bax, Professor of Applied Linguistics, has just become the first professional linguist to crack the code of the Voynich manuscript using an analytical approach. The world-renowned manuscript is full of illustrations of exotic plants, stars, and mysterious human figures, as well as many pages written in an unknown text...
Professor Bax however has begun to unlock the mystery meanings of the Voynich manuscript using his wide knowledge of mediaeval manuscripts and his familiarity with Semitic languages such as Arabic. Using careful linguistic analysis he is working on the script letter by letter.
“I hit on the idea of identifying proper names in the text, following historic approaches which successfully deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs and other mystery scripts, and I then used those names to work out part of the script... already my research shows conclusively that the manuscript is not a hoax, as some have claimed, and is probably a treatise on nature, perhaps in a Near Eastern or Asian language.”
Note: You can view a complete digitized copy of the Voynich manuscript online at Yale's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
Addendum: Here's a dissenting opinion by someone who does not feel that the possibility of a hoax has been eliminated.