Mycenaean Linear B Spelling Conventions: Obligatory Prelude to the Progressive Reconstruction of Mycenaean Greek Grammar


Mycenaean Linear B Spelling Conventions: Obligatory Prelude to the Progressive Reconstruction of Mycenaean Greek Grammar – Click to ENLARGE:

Mycenaean Linear B Spelling Conventions Table 1
I must emphasize in no uncertain terms that it is practically impossible to master Mycenaean Greek grammar unless you have first mastered all the spelling conventions in Linear B, as these directly correspond, whether directly or elliptically (the latter case obtains far more often than the former) to those of ancient Homeric Greek. Not doing so is bound to entangle you in a hopeless mish-mash or maze of spelling discrepancies between Linear B and alphabetical Greek, most of which will seem utterly incomprehensible to you, and worse yet, make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for you to translate with any degree of fidelity the contents of almost all Linear B tablets, with the possible exception of the very simplest. So if you are as serious about learning Mycenaean Greek grammar in Linear B as I am in progressively reconstructing it from the ground up (as I have already done with the present, future, imperfect, aorist and perfect tenses of active voice of both thematic and athematic verbs), then you really have no choice but to master these conventions, even if you must memorize them as rules. Students who are already familiar with the spelling conventions of alphabetic ancient Greek should have little trouble mastering the subtleties of the Tables of Correspondences in Spelling Conventions in Linear B and Alphabetical Greek, beginning with Table 1 above. Those of you who are learning Mycenaean Greek grammar from scratch will have little choice but to memorize the correspondences, and to at least recognize at first sight the corresponding spelling conventions in ancient alphabetic Greek. And for that you will need to learn the Greek alphabet, as illustrated here – Click to ENLARGE:


ancient Greek alphabet with approximate pronunciation

Please note that the pronunciation of the ancient Greek alphabet (here in its Attic version) is only approximate, since we do not really know how the ancients precisely pronounced Greek, although our estimation of their pronunciation is probably reasonably accurate. It is crucial to understand that the pronunciation of Mycenaean Greek (the earliest East Greek dialect) is beyond our grasp, although we do know that it evolved at a steady pace through the pronunciation of Arcado-Cypriot, which was also written in a syllabary (Linear C) with a nearly identical pronunciation, and onto the pronunciation conceivably used by the Aecheans or Danians, as found primarily in the Catalogue of Ships of Book II of the Iliad. This then evolved into the later Ionic pronunciation, culminating in the Attic dialect, which in turn  was to become the universal standard koine or common Greek for Greek pronunciation in the Hellenic era (ca. 400-200 BCE). To anyone familiar with the melody of Attic Greek, various academic notions of Homeric Greek pronunciation are bound to sound very peculiar indeed. Nevertheless, any of the 3 or 4 interpretive variants on the sound of Homeric are still easily mastered by people familiar with Attic Greek. The difficulty then lies in the question: just how far had the pronunciation of proto-Ionic Greek evolved from its Mycenaean source in around 1500-1200 BCE to the Homeric ca. 800 BCE or thereabouts. No-one really knows, nor will we ever know. But we can certainly take a stab at it. And I for one eventually intend to do just that.

Richard  

Published by

vallance22

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

3 thoughts on “Mycenaean Linear B Spelling Conventions: Obligatory Prelude to the Progressive Reconstruction of Mycenaean Greek Grammar”

  1. Well Richard ! I know the Greek alphabet but I can’t write it. John and I have been to many lessons here in order to be able to speak the language but for some reason we just cannot get on so well. We find it better to pick it up from the locals, for one thing its more fun. We know many words but find it difficult to put them together and make a conversation. However, we know enough of the language to get by with when shopping or at hospitals etc., This I find strange because I seem to be getting along well with Linear B but that’s because its interesting in the sense of it being in the ancient times and of course having a good teacher.

    Like

    1. Well, that is all you need to know, Rita. So long as you can recognize the LETTERS, that is just fine.
      Then you will be able to EASILY see the relationships between the various Linear B syllabograms
      and their (usually) corresponding equivalent Greek letters. The NEXT post (Table 2) will illustrate
      this. It may look awfully complex at first, but it may come clear right away. In either case, not
      to worry, as you will quickly pick up the specific Greek vowels and consonants Linear B CANNOT
      always represent EXACTLY, though they do ALWAYS REPRESENT THEM APPROXIMATELY. Like I said, it
      all sounds complicated, but it really is not. Just ask me for help, as usual.

      Richard

      Like

Comments are closed.