THEORY 1: INTRODUCTION to Progressive Linear B: Theory, Methodology & Practice

Progressive Linear B: Theory, Methodology & Practice:

In honour of the outstanding achievement of Michael Ventris (1922-1956), who single-handedly deciphered a hitherto “undecipherable” ancient script, Linear B, as being the earliest written form of ancient Greek, which Sir Arthur Evans called “Linear B”, and rightly assumed was a syllabary, but wrongly assumed was not Greek, I intend to build on his all too remarkable achievement by applying what I choose to call the principles of Progressive Linear B, a theory of Linear B grammar, syntax and vocabulary which I am putting to the test for the first time ever. After Michael Ventris’ tragic death in a fatal car crash on 6 September 1956, his loyal collaborator and disciple, Professor John Chadwick (1920-1998) of Cambridge University carried on his work, codifying the Linear B tablets, grammar and vocabulary, confirming once and for all that Mycenaean Linear B was the earliest written form of ancient Greek, predating the earliest Greek alphabet by at least 600 years.

What is Progressive Linear B?

Progressive Linear B constitutes an entirely novel theoretical approach to the syllabary, logograms, phonetics, grammar, syntax and vocabulary of Mycenaean Linear B. By applying the methodology of progressive Linear B, we may be able to reconstruct grammatical forms and vocabulary, which are nowhere attested in the approximately 6,000 extant Linear B tablets from Knossos, Pylos, Thebes, Mycenae, Chania or any other archeological sites where tablets have been discovered to date. The recovery of more tablets in the future may fill in some of the gaps in Linear B grammar and vocabulary, but the likelihood of this seems remote.

Theory, Methodology and Practice:

It is perhaps best to illustrate how I apply the reconstitutive methodology of progressive Linear B to extrapolate unattested grammatical forms from the actual forms which have been found on the tablets. With this in mind, let us turn to the verb, EKEE, to have, for the conjugation of the present tense from forms actually found on the tablets. As far as I know. These are (CLICK to enlarge):

attested forms present tense active in Mycenaean Linear B

From these three extant forms, I believe it is possible to extrapolate and reconstruct most of the remainder of the conjugation of the present tense of the verb, EKEE, “to have”, (the classical Greek and English conjugations following the reconstructed Linear B forms), with attested forms (as found on tablets) tagged with (A), and Derived forms tagged with (D), as follows:

The Verb EKEE as paradigm for the reconstruction of the present tense active (CLICK to enlarge):

Verb EKEE EKO present tense active in Progressive Mycenaean Linear B

As you can readily see from this reconstruction of the present tense of EKEE, I am unable to make an accurate estimation of the probable form of the second person singular with any degree of certainty, which is why I have omitted it. However, with this sole exception, I have been able to reconstitute the rest of the present tense of the verb,” to have”, into the forms they most likely would have taken in Mycenaean Greek, had any tablets been unearthed with these forms. With the conjugation of EKEE (to have) as our paradigm, I believe it is possible to proceed with the reconstruction of the present tense of all verbs ending with O in first person singular of the active (not middle!) voice .

Thus, in the paradigm for the attested (A) and derivative (D) endings of the present infinitive active & present tense active, the first person singular and plural & the second person plural are derived. Hence, the Linear B forms and their Latin transcriptions for the present infinitive active & the conjugation of the present active (with the exception of the missing second person singular) of verbs ending in “ko” are (CLICK to enlarge):

Paradigm Present Tense Active Mycenaean Greek for verbs ending in "ko"

Of course, my reconstructions are always to be considered as tentative and conjectural. If anyone familiar with Linear B is at odds with my interpretative reconstructions of this or any other grammatical form in Linear B, I encourage the same to comment on my conjectures on this Blog. I will of course answer any questions, issues or doubts you may harbour over my reconstitutive grammar, which I will be gradually building on this Blog, starting with several active verbs in the present tense, based on the paradigm for the conjugation of the present tense of the verb, EKEE.

Progressive Linear B: Theory, Methodology and Practice:© Richard Vallance Janke 2013


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Historical linguist, Linear B, Mycenaean Greek, Minoan Linear A, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, ancient Greek, Homer, Iliad, only Blog ENTIRELY devoted to Linear B on Internet; bilingual English- French, read Latin fluently, read Italian & ancient Greek including Linear B well, Antikythera Mechanism

8 thoughts on “THEORY 1: INTRODUCTION to Progressive Linear B: Theory, Methodology & Practice”

  1. This introduction to Progressive Linear B is excellent and although I have already begun my lessons it has helped me to progress with more understanding of this fascinating subject. Thank you.


    1. It’s true eh? I figured the conjugation of the verb “to have” wou9ld help you a lot, Rita.
      And now you can recognize the character “KE” too, well, at least start to! It’s a tough one.
      Yes, and all of a sudden, I’ve been getting a lot of visits to this one post, 62 in the
      first 2 days! Amazing!

      Thanks! Talk to you soon, Rita.


      1. I am so pleased you are receiving more enquiries to your site Richard and with regard to your Introduction to Progressive Linear B’ Theory, Methodology and Practice. I think your explanation is perfectly O.K. I did have to study it for a while but after some concentration about l0-20 minutes I was able to grasp it.


        1. I wouldn’t go much further than this for now, Rita, with any posts on the Theory of
          Progressive Linear B, as it is just that, a theory, and I am in the very early
          stages of developing it, and things may change a lot over the next 2 years. What
          I can do is adapt some of the stuff in this theoretical framework to your needs
          in the lessons, which is what I intend to do anyway. But like I said, this isn’t
          even firm in my own mind yet. I am consolidating on the work Michael Ventris
          did by CLASSIFYING and EXPANDING Linear B grammar and vocabulary, something no
          one has systematically done ever yet. But if you try to learn this stuff, you
          will be going BEYOND the Linear B grammar and vocabulary extant on the tablets,
          and that is one thing we cannot do. It will only confuse you. I myself have
          to keep ALL my theoretical grammar and vocabulary completely SEPARATE from
          ALL existing Linear B research, and that is a huge handful even for me.

          I wouldn’t wish this on anyone else!

          So let’s stick with your lessons. Once you have mastered Linear B enough to
          read at least 20 Tablets, THEN and only then will I be willing to show you
          (or anyone for that matter) ALL the documentation I am gradually building up
          over the next 2 years.

          But of course you can FOLLOW what I am doing, but like I said already, it
          is very esoteric.

          In other words, POSTS on this Blog will deal with two entirely topics from
          here on in:

          A. Lessons, which have been going on since the beginning of the Blog
          B. The Theory and Practice of Progressive Linear B Grammar and Vocabulary.

          These are two entirely different things.

          To make matters easier for you (or anyone visiting the blog) from here on
          in, I will tag every “lesson” post with the header LESSON + the title of
          the post.

          The PLB posts will be prefixed with THEORY. Those are the ones to avoid.

          I hope this helps, Rita.

          Sorry if I have caused any confusion.




          1. Thanks, Rita. Anyway, I have made it easier for yo and others visiting the Blog.
            From here on in, Posts dealing with Lessons have LESSONS + post title, while those
            dealing with Theory have THEORY + Title in the Subject Header. That should help a lot.

            Bye for now


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