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Ancient Cryptography » Ancient Texts » Edward Elgar's Dorabella Cipher » Dorabella Solved

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escher7

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Dorabella Solved
« on: December 01, 2011, 06:00:46 AM »
AMENDMENT. I HAVE MADE THE FOLLOWING POST BELOW, BUT PLACE IT HERE SO AS TO SAVE THE READER FROM WASTING TIME READING MY FALSE START.

With great humility I now know that my "solution" to this cypher, while very creative, is quite wrong. While laughing at others who have imagined wonderful things to make their solution fit, most notably blaming Elgar's word games, I fell into the same trap. My solution is as much fantasy as the others.

Ironically, I believe that I have found the correct clear text. Unfortunately the key, while partially coming out, is not consistent. This means that either the "Jones" interpretation of the symbols, (taken from Elgar's own  notes) is incorrect or EE made mistakes in encryption. The fact that part of the key makes sense, tells me that only part of the English cypher text I am using is correct.  The conclusion can only be that Elgar used one of the other variations of his cypher. There are only so many ways the symbols can practically be used and I am now pursuing the variations, hoping to get the correct key.




I am a little frustrated. I just wrote an entire post only to have it erased because I forgot to log on.

I had hoped to post this solution Wednesday night but I am on another project and fell asleep.

This is what I believe to be the real solution to the Dorabella Cypher. It is not a stretch of language as other efforts have been. Nor is it the result of some complex cryptanalytic effort involving music or some other over-complicated method. The Dorabella Cypher is a simple substitution cypher that Dora Penny could have easily decoded if she knew the key.

     I have attached two jpgs of spreadsheets,  (One I had to insert into Word and then take a screen shot because the shot of Excel was too big for an attachment to this forum. It is not as clear as I would have liked, but still readable.)  The first is the method of decryption showing the solution to the characters, based upon Elgar's own simple linear key, the frequency of the resulting table, and the steps in achieving a final standard English frequency table for comparison to that of the Dora cypher. It also shows the table of obvious words that required no changes, evidencing the fact that the table is correct statistically. The second jpeg shows a shot of Elgar's notes, the transcription and the clear text in common English. There are two letters at the very first "CL" that I am not certain of. They were either inserted to confuse or are a play on the word "Seal" as in "I seal this document".

     I started as many others did, by running a frequency analysis of the alphabetical transcription of the Elgar characters. (See "Dora" column on jpg 1). The frequency of each letter is shown on the far right column. Two things were different than the efforts of others. First I chose the "Jones" version of transcribing the symbols, which is evident from Elgar's notes on jpeg 2. The result is shown in the table:"BPECAHTC etc. Secondly, I chose an English frequency table for comparison, which was slightly different than that used by others. It is shown as Ver 1. Secondly, after many attempts I realized that the letter "H" was getting in the way and in fact was a null. This in in line with EE's habit of leaving out letters to confuse. Later I found that "T" was also a null.
Ver2 is the resulting frequency table. Finally, after many many hours, I worked out the switching of three letter sets that had the same or similar frequencies, but were in the wrong order. ("V" and "N", "D" and "R" and "F" and "W". Ver 3 is the final English frequency table used for the solution.

     Comparing the Dora letter frequency and Ver 3, it can be seen that "R" equals "E", "G" equals "O", "S" equals "T" (which is a null) and so on. When this is applied to the first decrypt table, one can immediately see the words:
     "I", "am", "sad", "very"(spelled backwards), "belle" and so on.

     There are so many pertinent words that it defies statistic probability to believe they were random. Clearly this is the correct approach. The remaining problem was the most difficult - that is trying to make sense out of Elgar's Victorian shorthand. Here is where I spent the most time. The first sentence is clear: "I am very sad Belle."
     The third sentence also was not too difficult. The words "EE", "ever" and "fond" were obvious. The rest came fairly easy except that I was left with the letters "D" and "O". These would become useful after the last sentence.
     The meaning of the final sentence, excluding the shorthand "AOMA", was also reasonably apparent. "one" and "lov" again were obvious. The word "pn" (pen) took much longer. Of course in Victorian times one did not write a letter, one "penned" a letter. Hence the sentence: "I no I pn one I lov". However, after finalizing this sentence I had the letters "A" and "O" left over. I then realized that if these letters were shifted to the beginning of the sentence, they would combine with the previous left over "D" and "R" - Dora! And so the third sentence became "EE is ever fond of U Dora"
     Finally, I returned to the second sentence. "roses" was clearly one word. I looked at SADGAI and tried various combinations of "ag" thinking it was a reference to EE's considerable age compared to Dora, but nothing worked. Then I tried "sag" and out came the phrase "I sag as we se (see) roses do".
     I am the first to admit that this second sentence can be arranged many ways:

     "I sag as we see roses do"
     "As we see roses sag, I do"
     "Roses sag as we see I do" etc.

Any contributions here would be welcome, although I think i picked the correct one. The sentence is a little strained, but I believe it is a statement of how EE's heart sags as roses wilt, when he is away from Dora.

The last four words are from the acronym AOMA and I can only surmise that they mean "All of My Affection".
Again, usage in line with the times.

So there it is. Please feel free to comment, criticize (intelligently), or suggest changes. If you feel I have it right, then say so.

P.S. The site would not let me attach the jpgs together so I will post the second one separately.
Richard Henderson
Winnipeg, Canada
December 1, 2011
« Last Edit: December 19, 2011, 05:31:13 PM by escher7 »

escher7

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Re: Dorabella Solved
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2011, 06:03:31 AM »
Here is the second jpg.

Aaron

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Re: Dorabella Solved
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2011, 06:22:01 AM »
Aw, what a sweet message! :) I'm still not 100% sure if that's the right solution but it's certainly the most sensible solution I've seen so far! Also I get the feeling Elgar would be right at home texting with a cellphone, heh.

escher7

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Re: Dorabella Solved
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2011, 09:23:26 AM »
Aaron. If it is not correct please tell me why. The plaintext came straight from the Jones translation. The removal of the nulls was in line with Elgar's usages. And the switching of three letters was between letters with the same frequency.  If I am wrong, please tell me why. It's not enough to just say you feel it's not correct. The "obvious words" were actually obvious. I really cannot see a flaw in my logic. I'm not grasping at straws here. I am simply following the obvious path. Do the steps yourself and tell me that "I am very sad Belle" does not come straight from the cypher text.

escher7

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Re: Dorabella Solved
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2011, 09:29:48 AM »
Here is the latest attempt from the Yahoo group:

DRUNK I TRULY BE, BUT CAP'N IF YOU PREACHEE, PREACHEE; AND IF YOU FLOGGEE,
FLOGGEE; BUT NOT PREACHEE AND FLOGGEE TOO.

Tell me this is correct?????

Aaron

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Re: Dorabella Solved
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2011, 11:14:49 AM »
Haha what?? XD

I just have a little trouble following the logic, but by "not 100%" I didn't mean failure, I just meant "it's 98% likely to be correct". All the letters are there like you said, they just had to be reordered according to the right pattern. And the shorthand isn't so bad as to be entirely unreadable, the words that follow make sense. It's possible that a couple words are actually meant to say something else (you never know with shorthand) but you do seem to have grasped the correct meaning at the very least.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2011, 11:15:56 AM by Aaron »

escher7

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Re: Dorabella Solved
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2011, 02:18:50 PM »
I'll take 98%.
               Thanks.

     With respect to the fine points, I did acknowledge that a lot of the vernacular is subjective and may not be 100% accurate. I still feel the second sentence is a little awkward and if anyone can improve upon it I would be grateful. For me, I feel I have beat the thing and have no energy to rework it any more. Further, I don't believe any changes will affect the meaning.

     I had provided a copy to Stuart Freed, Vice Chairman of the Elgar Society, who suggested I might publish it in their journal. I will wait for a couple of other posts, hopefully confirming your opinion, and will then submit it.

Meanwhile I am looking at KRYPTOS 4. Definitely not a simple substitution, and it may be over my head. We'll see.

escher7

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Re: Dorabella Solved
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2011, 02:45:48 PM »
Re Yahoo group reference. I think I was mistaken. That appears to be the solution to another cypher.

Aaron

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Re: Dorabella Solved
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2011, 02:33:31 PM »
Re Yahoo group reference. I think I was mistaken. That appears to be the solution to another cypher.
Heh, I would hope so!