I seem never to have mentioned the Voynich manuscript on LH, which is a little surprising but not very, because I’ve always assumed it to be a hoax, which puts it outside the category “language-related” for me (though I can see how others would disagree). But “Cracking the Voynich Code” by Batya Ungar-Sargon, from Tablet‘s Longform series, is so good I can’t resist passing it on (thanks for the link, Paul!). It describes the history of the manuscript and the many attempts to crack its (supposed) code, and builds so nicely to its conclusion (which I find completely satisfying) that I won’t spoil it for you by summarizing. But I had known nothing about Voynich himself, and his story is so intriguing I’ll quote that paragraph here:
Wilfrid Voynich, born Wilfridas Mykolas Vojničius, had a life filled with instances of the uncanny. A Lithuanian pharmacist, Voynich was imprisoned for his role in revolutionary attempts to free Poland from Russian rule. While serving a two-year prison sentence, Voynich looked out the window of his cell one day and caught sight of a blonde in a black dress. Two years later, after escaping from a Siberian prison and arriving penniless in London (he had to sell his waistcoat and glasses for a third-class ticket and a piece of herring, the story goes), he found that same woman in the home of his contact, another revolutionary. She was Ethel Lillian Boole, daughter of the famous mathematician George Boole, and a revolutionary in her own right. They were married, and Voynich managed to become, quite mysteriously, a recognized antiques dealer in just eight short years.
Adventure! Romance! Herring!
Addendum. See the first comment for a link to Jerry Norman’s Concise Manchu-English Lexicon, if Manchu is your thing.