Archive for March, 2017
Proto-Greek Decipherment of Minoan Linear A silver pin from Mavro Spelio (Middle Minoan III = MM III) in the Heraklion Museum, Greece: This decipherment of Minoan Linear A silver pin from Mavro Spelio (Middle Minoan III = MM III) in the Heraklion Museum, Greece relies rather heavily on the debatable notion that Minoan Linear A is by and large proto-Greek, a theory espoused by Urii Mosenkis, one of the world’s most highly qualified linguists specializing in diachronic historical linguistics, including, but not limited to Minoan Linear A. Accordingly, I have deliberately interpreted ample chunks of the Minoan Linear a vocabulary on this silver pin as being proto-Greek, even though such a decipherment is surely contentious, at least in (large) part. While the first line of my decipherment makes sense by and large, the second is more dubious. It is apparent that the Minoan Linear A word dadu on the first line is almost certainly not proto-Greek, but the last two syllables of dadumine, ie. mine appear to be the dative singular for the (archaic) Greek word for month, i.e. meinei (Latinized), such that the decipherment of this word at least would appear to read “in the month of dadu”. There is nothing really all that strange or peculiar about this interpretation, since we know the names of the months neither in Minoan Linear A nor in Mycenaean Linear B. However, a definite note of caution must be sounded with respect to the decipherment of this word, as well as of all of the other so-called proto-Greek words on this silver pin, since none of them can be verified with sufficient circumstantial evidence or on the contrary. Hence, all translations of putative proto-Greek words in Minoan Linear A must be taken with a grain of salt. While the second line on this pin, if taken as proto-Greek, makes some sense, it is much less convincing than the first, especially in light of the trailing word at the end, tatheis (Greek Latinized, apparently for the aorist participle passive of the verb teino (Latinized) = to stretch/strain, which actually does not make a lot of sense in the context. Nevertheless, it would appear that at least some of the Minoan Linear A words which I have interpreted as being proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean may in fact be that. I leave it up to you to decide which one(s) are and which are not, if any in fact are. Additionally, even if a few or some of them are proto-Greek, they may fall within the pre-Greek substratum. The most dubious of the so-called proto-Greek words on this pin probably are qami -, tasaza & tatei, since none of these are likely to have fallen within the pre-Greek substratum. But if the Minoan language itself is not proto-Greek, then what is it? I shall have ample occasion to address this apparently thorny question in upcoming posts and especially in my second article on the decipherment of Minoan Linear A, which I shall be submitting to Archaeology and Science by no later than April 17, 2017.
Minoan Linear provides significant evidence of the presence of proto-Greek or even (proto) – Mycenaean in its vocabulary:
Minoan Linear provides significant evidence of the presence of proto-Greek or even (proto) – Mycenaean in its vocabulary, as attested by this Table (Table 2a & Table 2B), which I have had to divide into two parts because it is so long. So we have
Table 2a Minoan words of apparent proto-Greek origin… or are they in the pre-Greek substratum? A-M:
and Table 2b: N-W:
It is readily apparent from this Table in two parts that all of the words listed in it may be interpreted as proto-Greek or possibly even (proto-) Mycenaean. But the operative word is may, not certainly. This is because (a) Minoan Linear A, like Mycenaean Linear B, makes no distinction between Greek short and long vowels and (b) like Mycenaean Linear B, the Linear A syllabary is deficient in representing a number of Greek consonants, which otherwise might have been the initial consonants of the successive syllabic series, e.g. da de di do du, ka ke ki ko ku, ta te ti to tu etc. The following Greek consonants, first illustrated in this table of the ancient Greek alphabet including the archaic digamma, which was in widespread use in Mycenaean Linear B, are tagged with an asterisk * :
and here Latinized for accessibility to our visitors who cannot read Greek, i.e. b, g, eita (long i) , ksi, fi (pi), chi (as in Scottish “loch”), psi and omega. Because of these lacuna and the notable ambiguities which arise from it, it is not possible to verify that the so-called proto-Greek or (proto-) Mycenaean words listed in Tables 2a & 2b are in fact that. However, chances are good that they are proto-Greek. Additionally, it is not possible to verify whether or not a few, some or even all of the words in Tables 2a and 2b, which appear to be proto-Greek actually fall within the pre-Greek substratum. If the latter scenario is true, then it is more likely than not that a few, some or even all of these words are in fact Minoan. There is no way to verify this for certain. Nevertheless, numerous international researchers into Minoan Linear A, most notably, Urii Mosenkis, one of the world’s most highly qualified linguists specializing in diachronic historical linguistics, including, but not limited to Minoan Linear A, who stands in the top 0.1 % of 40 million users on academia.edu:
have provided significant convincing circumstantial evidence that there are even hundreds of proto-Greek words in Minoan Linear A, which begs the question, is Minoan Linear A proto-Greek? But the answer to the question is not nearly so obvious as one might think, as I shall be demonstrating in my second article, “Current prospects for the decipherment of Minoan Linear A”, which I will be submitting to the prestigious international annual journal, Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) by no later than April 17 2017, the deadline for submissions.
There is no positive, indisputable proof that there are any number of proto-Greek or proto-Greek words in Minoan Linear A, any more than there is any positive proof whatsoever that, as Gretchen Leonhardt would have us believe, that there are any number of proto-Altaic or proto-Japanese words, if any at all, in the Minoan language. As for her hypothesis, for which there not even any substantive circumstantial evidence whatsoever, it is my firm belief and contention that she is, to use the common expression, wasting her time and energy barking up the wrong tree.
Is the Minoan language proto-Altaic or proto-Japanese? The vast bulk of current diachronic linguistic research stacks up squarely against this hypothesis: According to Ms.Gretchen Leonhardt of: and I quote: While there has been much debate about the underlying language of Linear A, I disagree that LinA does not resemble a known language. Despite its similarities to Japanese, historical linguists dismiss a correlation for at least two reasons: (1) the apparent lack of genetic evidence and (2) the universally held belief that LinA is an Indo-European language. Regarding the first justification, if linguists are looking to mainland Japan for genetic evidence, they are looking too far north. By whatever means, it appears that, around 1000 BCE, the Minoans entered Japan from the southern islands, and gradually moved north. Regarding the second justification, Minoan scholarship generally agrees that the Minoans migrated from the Anatolian region**, which suggests an Altaic origin or influence. Likewise, Japanese scholarship suggests that the Japanese language belongs to the Japonic-language family, which is believed to have an Altaic origin or influence. General consensus dates the demise of the high Minoan civilization as late as 3,500 years ago, with the widespread destruction of the palace centers, while Neil Gordon Munro dates the commencement of the Yamato culture, which is the presumed progenitor of modern Japanese civilization, as early as 3,000 years ago. According to Munro, the origin of the Yamato culture is unknown but had arrived in a highly advanced state. The culture is notable for its grave goods–bronze arrowheads, bells, and halberds. The culture is also notable for its wheel-thrown pottery, which employed “restrained” decoration with “subdued color” [1908:4]. Comment: Munro was writing in 1908, when linguistic assumptions about Altaic languages were in their infancy! Modern scholarship has all but refuted the assumptions about Altaic languages in vogue at the beginning of the twentieth century, i.e. 100 years ago! She continues: The Okinawan (Uchina’a) Japanese remain culturally, genetically, and linguistically distinct from the mainland (Yamato) Japanese, although the two cultures are believed to share a common proto language. This forum will provide support–through disciplines such as archaeology, architecture, art, genetics, and language–for my dual theories that LinA is proto Japanese and that the Minoan civilization provides a rich backdrop for Japanese history, which, for millennia, has been shrouded in mystery. I hasten to add that in the preceding passage, Ms. Leonhardt has made egregious errors with respect to Minoan Linear A. These are: 1. On the one hand, she claims to disagree that “LinA does not resemble a known language.” 2. and then goes straight ahead to flatly contradict herself by decrying “the universally held belief that LinA is an Indo-European language.” Universally held? Very far from it. The controversy over the origin and language class Linear A purportedly belongs to still rages on, as attested by innumerable studies on academia.edu alone which contradict one another with respect to the language family or class to which Linear A purportedly belongs. All this after she has just lament the fact that Linear A does not resemble any known language (1.) 3. She goes on... “it appears that, around 1000 BCE, the Minoans entered Japan from the southern islands, and gradually moved north. Regarding the second justification, Minoan scholarship generally agrees that the Minoans migrated from the Anatolian region** (Does it? Perhaps in 1908, but I sincerely doubt this is the case today), which suggests an Altaic origin or influence.” But what she obviously overlooks in this statement is the distinct probability, and indeed strong likelihood that the Minoan language almost certainly had already existed for some 1,200 years before the Minoans migrated to the southern Japanese islands, if they ever did so in the first place... which is a highly contentious claim. Moreover, while a few researchers still claim that the proto-Japanese dialect she is referencing belongs to the Altaic class of languages, the majority of current researchers number are convinced that this cannot be so. And I quote (all italics mine): Micro-Altaic includes about 66 living languages, to which Macro-Altaic would add Korean, Japanese and the Ryukyuan languages for a total of about 74. (These are estimates, depending on what is considered a language and what is considered a dialect. They do not include earlier states of languages, such as Middle Mongol, Old Korean or Old Japanese.) Opponents maintain that the similarities are due to areal interaction between the language groups concerned. The inclusion of Korean and Japanese has also been criticized and disputed by other linguists. The original Altaic family thus came to be known as the Ural–Altaic. In the "Ural–Altaic" nomenclature, Finno-Ugric and Samoyedic are regarded as "Uralic", whereas Turkic, Mongolic, and Tungusic are regarded as "Altaic"—whereas Korean is sometimes considered Altaic, as is, less often, Japanese. In other words, proto-Japanese, including the dialect with which Ms. Leonhardt is concerned, may not be (proto-) Altaic at all. 4. Moroever, the following timetable seems to be the most realistic for the appearance of written Japanese (italics mine): (3) Timetable: To illustrate the prehistory of Japan, I'd put two lines on the timetable. The first line comes around 400 to 300 BC. This is the time when wet rice culture and iron processing came to the Japanese Islands, and the way of life there changed. Yet an older form of the Japanese language started to be spoken from that time. I'd call this phase of the language "proto-Japanese", which later evolved to our Old Japanese. Comment: Now it is clear from this diachronic timeline that proto-Japanese appeared at least 1,800 years after the first attestation of the Minoan language ca. 2200 BCE. And again (italics mine): Along with the foreign faith, Japan establishes and maintains for 400 years close connections with the Chinese and Korean courts and adopts a more sophisticated culture. This new culture is essentially Chinese and includes literature, philosophy, art, architecture, science, medicine, and statecraft. Most important is the introduction of the Chinese writing system, revolutionizing Japan, which heretofore had no writing system of its own, and ushering in the country’s historical period. (Comment: in other words, writing appeared in Japan only after 500 AD, some 2,700 years after the advent of the Minoan civlization. 5. Leonhardt continues, “Minoan scholarship generally agrees that the Minoans migrated from the Anatolian region**, which suggests an Altaic origin or influence.” after asserting in 1. above that “LinA does not resemble a known language.” and in 2. above, touting “the universally held belief that LinA is an Indo-European language.” Good God, can she make up her mind? Is it 1. 2. or 5.? 6. Leonhardt then cites research a century old! (again, italics mine) She states, “According to Munro, the origin of the Yamato culture is unknown but had arrived in a highly advanced state. The culture is notable for its grave goods–bronze arrowheads, bells, and halberds. The culture is also notable for its wheel-thrown pottery, which employed “restrained” decoration with “subdued color” [1908:4]. For confirmation of the general span of dates of his publications, see: Munro was writing in 1908, when linguistic assumptions about Altaic languages were in their primitive infancy! Modern scholarship has all but refuted the assumptions about Altaic languages in vogue at the beginning of the twentieth century, i.e. 100 years ago! And he wrote in this very journal. 7. But the most damning evidence against her thesis comes from (italics mine): Paleoglot: How NOT to reconstruct a protolanguage Paleoglot: ... So let's go through my cheeky list of important strategies that we can follow (using examples from the Tower of Babel project) if we want to isolate ourselves and be rejected by all universities around the world. 1. Use "phonemic wildcards" obsessively! Cast the net wider and you might catch something! The abuse of mathematical symbols like C, V, [a-z], (a/é/ö), etc. are an excellent way to make your idle conjecture look like a valid theory. It might be called "reconstruction by parentheses" since parentheses are either explicitly shown or hidden by a single variable. An example of this is *k`egVnV (claimed to be the Proto-Altaic word for "nine" in the Tower of Babel database). Obviously, if V represents all possible vowels in this proto-language and there are, say, ten of them possible in either position, then the fact that there are two wildcards in the same word means that the word represents a humungous, two-dimensional matrix of ONE HUNDRED possible permutations (10*10=100): *k`egana, *k`egena, *k`egina, *k`egüna, *k`egïna, etc. *k`egane, *k`egene, *k`egine, *k`egüne, *k`egïne, etc. *k`egani, *k`egeni, *k`egini, *k`egüni, *k`egïni, etc. *k`eganü, *k`egenü, *k`eginü, *k`egünü, *k`egïnü, etc. etc. language Since no single form is actually being posited when wildcards are present, any claim of regular correspondence by such a theorist can be easily identified as fraud. If such linguists can't take themselves seriously enough to hypothesize a structured and testable theory, why then should we take them seriously in turn? It is this very method, if you can call it that by any yardstick of scientific methodology that Ms. Leonhardt indulges in: as we can see all too clearly from this chart of her derivations of Minoan words from so-called Altaic roots: To summarize, Ms. Leonhardt has seized herself in a web of self-contractions, severely outdated research and claims with respect to the authenticity of southern proto-Japanese as a so-called proto-Altaic language which cannot possibly stand the test of valid scientific methodology. I short, her pretensions that southern proto-Japanese is at the root of the Minoan language are just that, presentions, and egregious to boot. So what are the alternatives? What language family or class might the Minoan language fall into? We shall address that question head on in the next post.
Gretchen Leonhardt is up against some stiff competition from Urii Mosenkis concerning her so-called proto-Japanese origins of Minoan Linear A: Urii Mosenkis makes a very strong case for Minoan Linear A being proto-Greek, and he does it over and over, like clockwork. This includes his own completely different interpretation of Ms. Leonhardt’s highly contentious decipherment of kuro as so called proto-Japanese. I strongly suggest that Ms. Leonhardt read his articles. He is much more qualified than I am in Linear A (and, I contend, than Ms. Leonhardt as well), and I admit it without a shadow of hesitation. I am forced to revise my predictions about the partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A as I outlined them in my first article on Linear A, and I admit openly that Mosenkis is probably right, by and large. Ms. Leonhardt would do well to read all of his articles, as they flat-out contradict everything she claims about the so-called proto-Japanese origins of the Minoan language. I at least have the humility to lay down my cards when I am confronted with convincing evidence to the effect that my own partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A is defective, even though I have already reached many of the same conclusions as Mosenkis. Not that he would ever convince Ms. Leonhardt of the infallibility of her own dubious decipherments of Linear A tablets. I have a very great deal more to say about Ms. Leonhardt’s contentious claims to eventual fame with respect to her clearly flawed interpretations of Linear A tablets, and to drive my points home, I shall have occasion to cite Mosenkis whenever and wherever he contradicts her, and that is always. To view all of Mosenkis’ superbly conceived research papers, please visit his academia.edu account here: Here is a selective electronic bibliography of the highly qualified decipherments Mosenkis has made of several Minoan Linear A inscriptions: Electronic: Mosenkis, Urii. Flourishing of the Minoan Greek State in the Linear A Script 1700 – 14560 BCE. https://www.academia.edu/28708342/FLOURISHING_OF_THE_MINOAN_GREEK_STATE_IN_THE_LINEAR_A_SCRIPT_1700_1450_BCE Mosenkis, Urii. Graeco-Macedonian goddess as Minoan city queen. https://www.academia.edu/26194521/Graeco-Macedonian_goddess_as_Minoan_city_queen Mosenkis,Urii. Linear A-Homeric quasi-bilingual https://www.academia.edu/16242940/Linear_A-Homeric_quasi-bilingual Mosenkis, Urii. ‘Minoan-Greek’ Dialect: Morphology https://www.academia.edu/28433292/MINOAN_GREEK_DIALECT_MORPHOLOGY Mosenkis, Urii. Minoan Greek Farming in Linear A. https://www.academia.edu/27669709/MINOAN_GREEK_FARMING_IN_LINEAR_A_Iurii_Mosenkis Mosenkis, Urii. Minoan Greek hypothesis: A short historiography https://www.academia.edu/27772316/Minoan_Greek_hypothesis_A_short_historiography Mosenkis, Urii. Minoan Greek phonetics and orthography in Linear A https://www.academia.edu/27866235/Minoan_Greek_phonetics_and_orthography_in_Linear_A Mosenkis, Urii. Minoan-Greek Society in Linear A. https://www.academia.edu/27687555/MINOAN_GREEK_SOCIETY_IN_LINEAR_A Mosenkis, Urii. Researchers of Greek Linear A. https://www.academia.edu/31443689/Researchers_of_Greek_Linear_A Mosenkis, Urii. Rhea the Mother of Health in the Arkalokhori Script https://www.academia.edu/31471809/Rhea_the_Mother_of_Health_in_the_Arkalokhori_Script PS I came to almost exactly the same conclusions as Mosenkis re. this inscription, although my Greek translation is different. I wonder what Ms. Leonhardt has to say for herself in light of so many astonishingly insightful decipherments by Urii Mosenkis of a large number of Linear A tablets. I look forward to cogent and rational counter arguments on her part, which stand up to rigorous scientific criteria.
A ‘fairly accurate’ rendering of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 86a, according to Gretchen Leonhardt: This Linear B tablet clearly deals with various crops, with the lead in crop being grains or wheat, just as one would expect on either a Mycenaean Linear B tablet. By the same token, there is no reason to suppose that a Minoan Linear A tablet dealing with crops would not deal first and foremost with grains and wheat. The units of measurements identified on this tablet accord with those tentatively tabulated by Andras Zeke on the Ms. Gretchen Leonhardt of has duly advised me that (and I quote) “your "recto" tablet is a fairly accurate rendering of HT 86a, but your "verso" tablet is an inaccurate rendering of HT 87.... ” She is of course entirely correct in informing me that the so-called verso side is not the same tablet at all, but is in fact, HT 87 (Haghia Triada). I am nevertheless astonished that she would accord me a fair degree of accuracy in my decipherment of HT 86 a, in view of the fact that (a) I do not even know what the Minoan language is; (b) Ms. Leonhardt claims to have conclusively deciphered the Minoan language as being proto-Japanese, categorically stating as she does that “overwhelming evidence keeps me steadfast in this view...”, a claim which I intend shortly to refute in no uncertain terms, by bringing to bear on it reasonable circumstantial, though not conclusive, evidence to the contrary and; (c) she concedes that my decipherment of HT 86 A is fairly accurate, in spite of the fact that I am apparently flailing in the dark, since I know nothing of the Minoan language. Yet if I am, how on earth did I manage to achieve even a fairly accurate decipherment, I have to ask her. Although Ms. Leonhardt claims that my knowledge of Linear A is “in its infancy” (as everyone’s, including her own, must of necessity be), as a historical philologist specializing in the decipherment of ancient syllabaries such as Linear A, Linear B and Linear C, and unlike Ms. Leonhardt along with numerous other researchers who purport to have definitely deciphered the Minoan language, I neither have ever made nor would ever make the rash and untenable claim that I have deciphered it, given the exiguous size of the lexical database with which we have to work. I have said as much over and over, as for instance in this citation from one of my own works to be published in the next year or so, and I quote: Conclusions concerning the many failed attempts at deciphering Minoan Linear A: The worst of all the pretensions of the authors of the aforementioned monographs and tractata are their untenable claims that they have in fact deciphered Minoan Linear A. How is it even remotely possible that these soi- disant decipherers of Minoan Linear A can claim to have discovered the so-called magic bullet in the guise of the proto-language upon which their decipherment has been based, when the proto-languages they invoke are soà wildly disparate? These decipherers have turned to a number of proto-languages, some of them Indo-European (such as proto-Greek and Proto-Slavic), others non proto-Indo-European, running the gamut from Uralic (proto-Finnish), proto-Niger Congo to proto-Semitic and Sumerian all the way through to proto-Altaic and proto-Japanese. While it is patently impossible that all of these proto-languages could be at the base of the Minoan language, it is nevertheless remotely conceivable that one of them just might be. But which one? Given the tangled mass of contradictions these so-called decipherments land us in, I am left with no alternative but to pronounce that none of these so-called proto-languages is liable to stand the test of linguistic verisimilitude. All of this leaves me with an uneasy feeling of déjà vu. Instead, I have adopted the unique approach of declaring that it does not matter what proto- language Minoan derives from, or for that matter, whether or not it, like modern Basque, is a language isolate, meaning a natural (spoken) language, ancient (dead) or modern (alive) with no demonstrable genealogical or genetic relationship with any other language whatsoever or alternatively, a language that has not been demonstrated to descend from an ancestor common with any other language in the world. (italics mine). and again: In an article of this nature, which is the first of its kind in the world ever to deal with the partial, but by no means definitive, decipherment of Minoan Linear A, I must of necessity focus on those Minoan Linear A terms which offer the greatest insight into the vocabulary of the language, but not the language itself. Anyone who dares claim he or she has “deciphered” the Minoan language is skating on very thin ice. Any attempt to decipher the Minoan language is severely trammelled by the incontestable fact that no one knows what the language is or even what language class it belongs to, if any.