6 more Minoan Linear A putative proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean words: DA-DI. But are they proto-Greek at all?
As we forge our way through Prof. John G. Younger’s Reverse Linear A Lexicon, in which he Latinizes the orthography of Minoan Linear A words, we now arrive at Linear A words beginning with the syllabograms DA through to DI. It is absolutely de rigueur to read the Notes in the table above; otherwise, my tentative decipherments of 6 more Minoan words in Linear A as being possibly proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean will not make any sense at all. The table also draws attention to those words which are of moderate frequency (MF) on Minoan Linear A tablets and fragments, with the far greater proportion of them appearing on mere fragments. I cannot emphasize this point enough. In view of the fact that the vast majority of Minoan Linear A extant remnants are just that, remnants or fragments and nothing more, it is of course next to impossible to verify whether or not the 6 words I have extrapolated (or for that matter any other so-called proto-Greek words) as possibly being proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean are that at all.
Add to this caveat that researchers and linguists specializing in ancient Greek often hypothesize that, and I quote verbatim:
It is possible that Greek took over some thousand words and proper names from such a language (or languages), because some of its vocabulary cannot be satisfactorily explained as deriving from the Proto-Greek language (italics mine). Among these pre-Greek substratum words we find Anatolian loanwords such as:
dépas ‘cup; pot, vessel’, Mycenaean di-pa, from the Luwian = tipa = sky, bowl or cup, one of the pre-Greek substratum words right in the table above!
+ eléphas ‘ivory’, from Hittite lahpa;
+ kýmbachos ‘helmet’, from Hittite kupahi ‘headgear’;
+ kýmbalon ‘cymbal’, from Hittite huhupal ‘wooden percussion instrument’;
+ mólybdos ‘lead’, Mycenaean mo-ri-wo-do, from Lydian mariwda(s)k ‘the dark ones’ etc.
But there is more, significantly more. Wikipedia, Greek language:
has this to say about Greek vocabulary.
Greek is a language distinguished by an extensive vocabulary. Most of the vocabulary of Ancient Greek was inherited, but it includes a number of borrowings from the languages of the populations that inhabited Greece before the arrival of Proto-Greeks. (italics mine)  Words of non-Indo-European origin can be traced into Greek from as early as Mycenaean times; they include a large number of Greek toponyms.
Further discussion of a pre-Greek substratum continues here:
Where, in addition to the pre-Greek substratum words I have already cited above, we find, and again I quote verbatim:
The Pre-Greek substrate consists of the unknown language or languages spoken in prehistoric Greece before the settlement of Proto-Greek speakers in the area (italics mine). It is thought possible that Greek took over some thousand words and proper names from such a language (or languages), because some of its vocabulary cannot be satisfactorily explained as deriving from the Proto-Greek language
Possible Pre-Greek loanwords
Personal names: Odysseus;
Maritime vocabulary: thálassa = sea;
Words relating to Mediterranean agriculture: elai(w)a = olive & ampelos = vine
Building technology: pyrgos = tower;
Placenames, especially those terminating in -nth- : Korinthos, Zakynthos
& in -ss- : Parnassos & in and -tt- : Hymettus
And, to ram my point home, one of the pre-Greek substrata identified is the Minoan language itself. It is on this basis and upon this foundation, among others, that I posit the following hypothesis:
Pre-Greek substratum words are both proto-Greek and not, simultaneously!
The assumption that certain Minoan words in Linear A appear to be proto-Greek or even proto-Mycenaean (if we wish to stretch the notion one small step further, which I believe is entirely justified) does not in and of itself necessarily imply that some or even quite possibly most of them are de facto actually of proto-Indo-European proto-Greek origin, when quite plainly (so) many of them are not of such origin. In other words, we find ourselves face to face with an apparent contradiction in terms, a dye-in-the-wool linguistic paradox: some, many or even most of the so-called pre- + proto-Greek words we encounter in Minoan Linear A are likely to be proto-Greek, but only insofar as they crop up again and again in later ancient Greek dialects, right on down from the earliest East Greek dialect, Mycenaean, through Arcado-Cypriot on down to Ionic and Attic Greek and beyond, while simultaneously being of non-Indo-european origin, if you can wrap your head around that notion... which I most definitely can.
So if anyone dares claim that all of those words in Minoan (of which there seem to be quite a substantial number) are de facto proto-Greek, that person should think again. Think before you leap. It is much too easy for us to jump to spurious conclusions with respect to the supposed proto-Greek origin(s) of many words in Minoan Linear A.
To compound the matter further, let us consider the situation from the opposite end of the spectrum. It is widely known, by both intellectual non-linguists, i.e. intelligent native speakers of any given language, and by professional linguists alike, that pretty much every modern language borrows not just thousands, but tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of words from prior languages. The one modern language which exemplifies this phenomenon par excellence is non other than English, in which we find hundreds of thousands of loanwords from ancient Greek, Latin and Norman French.
Now it goes without saying that all languages, ancient and modern, follow the same pattern of accumulating some and even as many as thousands of loanwords. Ancient Latin did so with ancient Greek. And here lies the rub. So must have Mycenaean Greek with the Minoan language. In Chris Tslentis’ Linear B Lexicon, we find many words which cannot possibly be accounted for as being proto-Greek, but which must be of some other origin. And one of the most likely origins for a relatively large subset of these words is probably the Minoan language itself. Allow me to cite just a few of the more glaring examples:
adete = binder
Akireu = Achilles
Aminiso = Amnisos harbour (Cf. Linear A, Uminaso)
Damate = Demeter (Cf. Linear A, Idamate)
dipa = cup (Cf. Linear A, depa)
erepa = ivory
kama = a unit of land
kanako = safflower, saffron (Cf. Linear A, kanaka)
kidapa = (ash) wood?
mare/mari = wool (Cf. Linear A, maru)
opa = workshop?
serino = celery (Cf. Linear A, sedina)
tarasa = sea
Now if even most of the so-called Mycenaean Greek terms listed here are actually Minoan, then it is stands to reason that Mycenaean Greek inherited them from the Minoan language itself, and ergo, that they are not necessarily proto-Greek words at all. It is as if we were in a flip-flop. Either way, whether or not any of the words which we have flagged (and shall continue to tag) as possibly being proto-Greek in the Minoan language or the other way around, whether or not certain words in Mycenaean Greek are not proto-Greek at all, and not even of proto-Indo-European origin, we find ourselves floundering in a Saragossa Sea of linguistic incertitude from which we really cannot extricate ourselves.
So to all those researchers, past and present, into the Minoan language who make the claim, categorical or not, that much of the vocabulary of the Minoan language is proto-Greek, I say “Beware!” lest you fall into a trap from which you cannot reasonably hope to extricate yourselves.
4 thoughts on “6 more Minoan Linear A putative proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean words: DA-DI. But are they proto-Greek at all?”
The word for bed in Portugue and Spanish, “Cama”, comes from late Latin, “Cama”. Isodore derives it from Chamai: https://goo.gl/JTVLgi , the meaning is http://biblehub.com/greek/5476.htm , on the ground, or to the ground. on or to the ground.
Wikitionary gives: From Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰm̥may a case form (perhaps dative or a fossilized directive?) of Proto-Indo-European *dʰéǵʰōm (whence also χθών (khthṓn, “earth”). Cognates include Latin humī. Also compare πάλαι (pálai) and παραί (paraí).
wow !! Such a lot to take in here. Nice work Richard.
Even for me… no, especially for me!
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