Category: Ancient Greek



Proto-Greek Decipherment of Minoan Linear A silver pin from Mavro Spelio (Middle Minoan III = MM III) in the Heraklion Museum, Greece:

epingle-argent-kn-zf-31 620

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. 


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: 

Konosos.net

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):

Altaic Wikipedia TI

Micro-Altaic includes about 66 living languages,[9] 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.[13] 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.

Altaic Wikipedia sometimes

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):

Japan

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:

Japanese race

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

how not to rcon a

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:  

Leonhardt kira kiro kura juro

Wiktionary Proto-Japonic

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. Leonhardts 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:

Urii Mosenkis academia.edu


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:

a partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A HT 86a
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

minoan-language-blog

Ms. Gretchen Leonhardt of

Konosos.net

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.


867 people on Academia.edu have read my articles and papers:

Click on the 867 to see my account.

867-have-read-richard-vallances-papers-on-academia-edu


867 people on academia.edu have read my articles and papers since I joined academia.edu in 2015. Since I am in the top 0.5% of all accounts on academia.edu, which amount to 40 million or so, I stand in the top 200,000 users on academia.edu. Researchers in the top 0.1 % would expect about 5 x the number of downloads I have received, or about 4,500.

In the next year or so, I expect that my standing may rise  to the top 0.2 %, in view of the fact that I have at least 2 new major research articles in the pipeline.


KEY POST! The truly formidable obstacles facing us in even a partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A:

Any attempt, however concerted, at even a partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A is bound to meet with tremendous obstacles, as illustrated all too dramatically by this table:

minoan-linear-a-prefixes-roots-stems-suffixes

These obstacles include, but are not prescribed by:

1. The fact that there are far fewer extant Minoan Linear A tablets and fragments, of which the vast majority are mere fragments (no more than 500), most of them un intelligible, than there are extant tablets and fragments in Mycenaean Linear B (well in excess of 4,500), of which the latter are mostly legible, even the fragments.

2. The fact that Mycenaean Linear B has been completely deciphered, first by Michael Ventris in 1952 and secondly, by myself in closing the last gap in the decipherment of Mycenaean Linear B, namely, the decipherment of supersyllabograms in my article, The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B, in the illustrious international archaeological annual, Archaeology and Science, ISSN 1452-7448, Vol. 11 (2015), pp. 73-108, here:

cover-as-2015


This final stage in the decipherment of Mycenaean Linear B has effectively brought closure to its decipherment.

As illustrated all too conspicuously by this table of apparent roots/stems and/or prefixes of Minoan Linear A lexemes and their lemmas, we are still a long way off from being able to convincingly decipher Minoan Linear A.

At the categorical sub-levels of the syntax and semiotics of Minoan Linear A, we cannot even begin to determine which categories to isolate, let alone what these categories are. Allow me to illustrate in discriminative terms:

3. As the table of Minoan Linear A so-called roots & stems + prefixes above all too amply highlights, we cannot even tell which first syllable or which of the first 2 syllables of any of the Minoan Linear A words in this list is/are either (a) roots or stems of the Minoan Linear A lexemes or lemmas which it/they initiate or (b) prefixes of them, even if I have tentatively identified some as the former and some as the latter (See the table).

4. In the case of roots or stems, which ones are roots and which are stems? What is the difference between the two in Minoan Linear A? Let us take a couple of entries as examples to illustrate my point:

4.1 The 3 words beginning with the apparent root or stem asi, (I cannot tell which is which), the first 2 syllables of asidatoi, asijaka & asikira may not even be roots or stems of these words at all, but prefixes of 3 probably unrelated words instead. Who is to know?
4.2 If asidatoi, asijaka & asikira are either nouns or adjectives, what is the gender and number of each one? To say the very least, it is rash to assume that asidatoi is plural, just because it looks like an ancient Greek masculine plural (as for example in Mycenaean Linear B teoi (gods) or masculine plurals in any other ancient Greek dialect for that matter, since that assumption is based on the most likely untenable hypothesis that Minoan Linear A is some form of proto-Greek, in spite of the fact that several current linguistic researchers into Minoan Linear A believe precisely that. The operative word is “believe”, since absolutely no convincing circumstantial evidence has ever come to the fore that Minoan Linear A is some form of proto-Greek.
4.3 The conclusion which I have drawn here, that Minoan Linear A may not be proto-Greek, arises from the fact that almost all of the Minoan words in this table bear little or no resemblance at all even to Mycenaean Greek.
4.5 But there clearly exceptions to the previous hypothesis, these being words such as depa and depu, of which the former is a perfect match with the Homeric, depa, meaning  “a cup”.

On the other hand, depu is less certain. However, in my preliminary tentative decipherment of 107 Minoan Linear A words (which are to appear in my article to be published in Vol. 12 of Archaeology and Science, 2017-2018), I have come to the tentative conclusion that the ultimate u in almost all Minoan Linear A words is quite likely to be a macro designator. If this were so, depu would be larger than depa. So a translation along the lines of [2] “a large cup” or “a libation cup” might be in order. Still, I could be dead wrong in this assumption.
4.6 However, the lexeme depa does appear to reveal one probable characteristic of Minoan Linear A grammar, that the ultimate for the feminine singular may very well be a, as in so many other languages, ancient or modern (let alone Greek). If that is the case, then words such as asijaka, asikira, keta, kipa, saja, sina and tamia may possibly all be feminine singular... that is to say, if any, some or even all of them are either nouns or adjectives, clearly a point of contention in and of itself. Who are we to say that one or more of these words may instead be adverbs or some person, singular or plural, of some conjugation in some tense or mood of some Minoan Linear A verb? On the other hand, at least one or more or even most of these words and the other words in this table ending in a may be nouns or adjectives in the feminine singular. But one again, who can say at all for sure?
4.7 If the ultimate u is supposed to be a macro designator, how then are we to account for the fact that [3] maruku, which very much looks like a (declensional) variant of maru, means “made of wool”, which itself has nothing whatsoever to do with a macro designator, if at the same time the apparent lexeme maru actually does mean “wool”? After all, one might conclude, maru looks a lot like Mycenaean Linear B mari or mare, which as everyone knows, does mean “wool”. But it is just as likely as not that the assumption that maru means “wool”, and its variants maruku “made of wool” ? (a guess at best) and maruri = “with wool” have nothing whatsoever to do with wool in Minoan Linear A.
4.8 In fact, the hypothesis that maruri = “with wool” is based on yet another assumption, namely, that the termination ri is dative singular, similar to the commonplace dative singular oi, ai or i in Mycenaean Linear B. But if that is the case, this implies that Minoan Linear A is probably proto-Greek, for which there is no substantive evidence whatsoever. So we wind up mired in a flat out contradiction in terms, in other words, an inescapable paradox.  
4.9a Next, taking all of the words beginning with the root or stem? - or prefix? sina [4], what on earth are we to make of so many variants? Perhaps this is a conjugation of some verb in some tense or mood. If that is the case, we should expect 6 variations, first, second and third persons singular and plural. Or should we? What about the possible existence of the dual in Minoan Linear A? But here again we find ourselves smack up against the assumption we have just made in 4.5, 4.6, 4.7 & 4.8, that the putative Minoan verb beginning with the so-called root or stem sina is itself proto-Greek.

But I have to ask out loud, are you aware of any verb in ancient Greek which begins with the root or stem sina? Well, according to  Liddell & Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon, there are in fact 2, which I have Latinized here for ease of access to those of you who cannot read Greek, and these are, (1) sinamoreo (infinitive sinamorein), which means “to damage wantonly” and (2) sinomai, “to plunder, spoil or pillage”. The problem is that neither of these ancient Greek verbs bears any resemblance to or corresponds in any conceivable way with the 7 Minoan Linear A variants post-fixed to sina. So I repeat, for the sake of emphasis, are these 7 all variants on some Minoan Linear A verb or are they not?

4.9b What if on the other hand, all 7 of these variants post-fixed to sina are instead a declension of some Minoan noun or adjective in Linear A? It is certainly conceivable that there are 7 cases in the Minoan language, in view of the fact that plenty of ancient and modern languages have 7 cases or more. Latin has six: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, ablative and vocative. But ancient Greek has only 5, nominative, genitive, dative and accusative and vocative, the ablative absolute (which occurs in Latin) subsumed under the genitive absolute. From this perspective, it would appear quite unlikely that the 7 Minoan Linear A variants on sina are proto-Greek declensions, especially in light of the fact that, once again, none of them bears any resemblance to the ancient Greek, sinapi = “mustard”, sinion = “sieve” or sinos = “hurt, harm, mischief, damage” (nominative).

5. Moving on to taniria and tanirizui [5], we could of course once again draw the (most likely untenable) conclusion if taniria is a feminine singular noun, then tanirizui must be/is dative singular, following the template for the dative singular in Mycenaean Linear B (i, ai or oi). But once again, there is no word in ancient Greek bearing any resemblance to these critters. And once again, even if Minoan Linear A had a dative singular, why on earth would it have to end in i?

6. However, when we come to the 4 words reza, adureza, kireza and tireza, we are confronted with another phenomenon. 3 of these 4 words (adureza, kireza and tireza) each in turn apparently are prefixed by adu, ki and ti. Makes sense at first sight. However, once again, appearances can be terribly deceiving. 

Nevertheless, in my preliminary decipherment of Minoan Linear A, I have drawn the tentative conclusion that all four of these words are intimately interconnected. And in the actual context of the few extant Minoan Linear A tablets and fragments in which these 4 terms appear, it very much looks as if they are all terms of measurement. But you will have to await the publication of my article on the tentative decipherment of 107 Minoan Linear A words in Vol. 12 (2017-2018) of Archaeology and Science to discover how I came to this conclusion.

7. Notwithstanding the fact that almost all of the words in this highly selective table of Minoan Linear A lexemes and lemmas (whichever ones are which), with the exception of depa and depu, as well as winu, which may be the Minoan Linear A equivalent of Mycenaean Linear B woino = “wine”, appear not to be proto-Greek, that does not imply that at least a few or even some are in fact proto-Greek, based on this hypothesis: a number of words in Mycenaean Linear B, all of which appear to be proto-Greek, disappeared completely from later ancient Greek dialects. Among these we count a number of Mycenaean Greek words designating some kind of cloth, namely, pawea, pukatariya, tetukowoa and wehano [pg. 94, The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B, in Archaeology and Science, Vol. 11 (2016)], plus several other Mycenaean Linear B words listed in the same article, which I do not repeat here due to space limitations. However, I must toss a wrench even into the assumption that the words designating some kinds of cloth (but which kinds we shall never know) are Mycenaean Linear B Greek or even proto-Greek, when they may not be at all! What if a few, some or all of them are in the pre-Greek substratum? If that is the case, are they Minoan, even if none of them appear on any extant Minoan Linear A tablet or fragment? Who is to say they are not?

For instance, there is another so called Mycenaean or proto-Greek word, kidapa, which may very well mean “(ash) wood” or “a type of wood”, found only on Linear B tablet KN 894 N v 01. This word has a suspiciously Minoan ring to it. Just because it does not appear on any extant Minoan Linear A tablet or fragment does not necessarily imply that it is not Minoan or that it at least falls within the pre-Greek substratum.

CONCLUSIONS:
It must be glaringly obvious from all of the observations I have made on the Minoan Linear A terms in the table above that the more we try to make any sense of the syntactic and semiotic structure of the Minoan language in Linear A, the more and more mired we get in irresolvable contradictions in terms and paradoxes. Moreover, who is to say that the so-called proto-Greek words which surface in Minoan Linear A are proto-Greek at all, since they may instead be pre-Greek substratum words disguised as proto-Greek. We can take this hypothesis even further. Who is to say that the several so-called proto-Greek words we find in Mycenaean Greek, all of which disappeared completely from the ancient Greek lexicon in all Greek dialects after the fall of Mycenae ca. 1200 BCE, are also not proto-Greek but are instead in the pre-Greek substratum or even, if they fall into that substratum, that they are instead Minoan words or words of some other non Indo-European origin? We have landed in a real quagmire.

So I find myself obliged to posit the hypothesis that, for the time being at least, any attempt at the putative decipherment of Minoan Linear A is inexorably bound to lead straight to a dead end. I challenge any philologists or linguist specializing in ancient languages to actually prove otherwise even with circumstantial evidence to the contrary.



Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, the Elegant Culmination of Syllabaries from Minoan Linear A through to Mycenaean Linear B

The title of my submission to Vol. 13 (2017) Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448 is to be:

Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, the Elegant Culmination of Syllabaries from Minon Linear through to Mycenaean Linear B.

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This article will feature an overview of each of the syllabaries in turn and the languages and dialects they represent: Minoan for Linear A, the earliest East Greek dialect Mycenaean for Linear B, and the slightly later dialect Arcado-Cypriot for Linear C. It will be quite some time before I will even be able to make my submission, as Vol. 12 (2016) is still in the pipeline, and authors articles have not been returned to them in their master format for proof-reading. Nor will they be returned to us before the end of 2017. But I like to hedge my bets, and anyway, the aforementioned topic for Vol. 13 (2017) is right down my alley, in view of the fact that I am expert in all three syllabaries (Linear A, B & C) and their respective languages.

the-arcado-cypriot-linear-c-syllabary-annotated

NOTE it is absolutely de rigueur to read the table of the Arcado-Cypriot Linear C syllabary above, if you are to get any real grasp of its enormous significance, not only for the development of literary ancient Greek, which it pioneered, but retrospectively for a proper understanding of Mycenaean Linear B phonetics.

The article will explore in great depth the legacy of Minoan Linear A for Mycenaean Linear B and that of Mycenaean Linear B for Arcado-Cypriot Linear C in turn. Finally, we shall address the even more striking historical legacy of Arcado-Cypriot Linear C itself, as this last syllabary in the series of 3 syllabaries was to have a real impact on the historical Greek era (ca. 1100 BCE – 400 BCE).

What is most striking about the evolution of these three syllabaries is that, as we pass from one to the next, the syllabaries become more streamlined and more simplified. The Minoan Linear A syllabary is the most complex, with a very large number of syllabograms, many of which are undeciphered. While there are ideograms in Minoan Linear A, there are fewer of them in Linear A than in Mycenaean Linear B, which made extensive use of them for the purposes of accurate, minimalized inventory taking. On the other hand, by the time we get to Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, the picture changes drastically. Almost all of the syllabograms in Linear C look completely unlike their Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B forbears. They look different. But appearances can be and are, in the case of Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, very deceiving. While the syllabograms in Arcado-Cypriot Linear C look different from those in Mycenaean Linear B (leaving Minoan Linear A aside, because it is too archaic and too complex), almost all of them bear the same phonetic values as their Linear B counterparts. But what is most remarkable about Arcado-Cypriot Linear C is that it utterly abandoned ideograms, once and for all. There are several cogent reasons for this amazing development, which I shall address when I finally come around to writing this article, probably sometime in 2018.

I have already discussed this topic in recent posts on the Linear A, Linear B & Linear C keyboard templates, and so I would ask you to refer back to them for clarification on any issues which may elude you, and which I do not address in this post, for the simple reason that I have not even yet begun my article for Archaeology and Science. But, of one thing you can be certain, it is bound to be a ground-breaker, like all of my previous articles in this prestigious international archaeological journal.


The Arcado-Cypriot Linear C keyboard template & the significantly revised timeline for (proto-) historic ancient Greek society:

arcado-cyrpriot-linear-c-keyboard-template-620

This image of the Arcado-Cypriot Linear C keyboard template has been downsized to 620 pixels to fit the restrictive exigencies of Word Press image size. You may request the full-sized 1200 pixel Linear C keyboard template by contacting me at:

vallance22@zoho.com

The Arcado-Cypriot Linear C keyboard template reveals several fascinating characteristics of this extremely important and highly tenacious syllabary. These are:

1. The Arcadians and Cypriots thoroughly redesigned Linear C, almost completely abandoning the Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B syllabograms, but only in superficial appearance.
2. The only Linear C syllabograms which bear resemblance with their Mycenaean Linear B forbears are: NA SE PA & PO.
3. But almost all of the rest of the syllabograms in Linear C bear the same phonetic values as their Linear B forbears. 
4. The DA series of syllabograms in Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B has completely disappeared from Arcado-Cypriot Linear C.
5. The RA RE RI RO (RU) series of syllabograms in Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B has split into 2 discreet, separate series: LA LE LI LO LU & RA RE RI RO RU. But what was the reason for this deliberate split? Here is my hypothesis: it would appear that the Minoans and Mycenaeans were unable to distinguish between the liquids L and R, pronouncing L something along the lines the Japanese did.
6. The syllabograms XA and XE, and the syllabogram GA are non-existent in Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B.
7. Arcado-Cypriot Linear C abandoned ideograms completely. This makes for a much more -
8. streamlined syllabary.
9. The Arcado-Cypriot Linear C syllabary was diachronically extremely tenacious, lasting 7 centuries (ca. 1100 BCE – 400 BCE) co-existing in parallel with the Arcado-Cypriot alphabet.
10. philologists and linguists expert in ancient Greek are accustomed to drawing the timeline for the first appearance of written Greek from 800 BCE onward (ca. the time of Homers Ilad to Attic Greek, ca. 400 BCE).

arcado-cypriot-distribution

revised-timeline-wirtten-greek-1200-bce-300-bce

But I am in fundamental disagreement with this hypothesis. Since Arcado-Cypriot Linear C came to the fore ca. 1100 BCE, a mere 100 years or approximately one century after the fall of Mycenae and the demise of the Linear B syllabary, it is surely open to doubt whether or not the so-called Greek Dark Ages actually lasted at least 400 years (ca. 1200 – 800 BCE). So we have to wonder whether or not that small gap of a mere century or so between the demise of  the Linear B syllabary (ca. 1200 BCE) and the sudden appearance of Arcado-Cypriot Linear C (ca. 1100 BCE) makes much of a difference at all in the actual timeline for written ancient Greek, which to my mind runs from 1600 BCE, with the advent of Mycenaean Linear B, all the way through to 400 BCE, i.e. for 12 centuries – 1 century (because of the 1 century gap between Linear B and Linear C), i.e. for 11 centuries! This makes for a huge difference between the previously held timeline of a mere 4 centuries from 800 – 400 BCE. It sets back the timeline for Greek civilization 500 years, receding back from 1100 BCE to 1600 BCE.  I also strongly object to the commonly held notion that Mycenaean and Mycenaean Minoan Greece was a prehistoric civilization. Since writing did exist in the form of the Linear B syllabary, albeit only in scribal format, I believe we can safely conclude that the Mycenaean civilization was proto-historic. And there is more: if we also take Minoan Linear A into account (which we definitely should), then the proto-historic period, if we are to include the pre-Greek substrate of Minoan society, recedes several centuries more into the distant past, to at least 2,900 BCE! Just because we cannot read the Minoan language does not mean it not also proto-historic phenomenon. 

That Arcado-Cypriot Linear C lasted for such a very long time attests to the fact that syllabaries such as Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C itself were much more suitable to inscribing or writing ancient Greek than most philologists or diachronic historical linguists would care to admit. I shall have plenty to say about this in the article I shall soon be posting on my academia.edu account:

Templates for the layouts of the Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C fonts.

You can download the Linear C font here:

download-arcado-cypriot-linear-c-font


  



Archaeology and Science annual: the Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B, the last & most formidable frontier in the decipherment of Mycenaean Linear B:

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For the past 65 years since Michael Ventris first deciphered Linear B, one phenomenon has eluded historical linguists and philologists. This is the supersyllabogram, which is always a single syllabogram, being the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of a particular Mycenaean word in any one or more of the major economic sectors of the Mycenaean economy: agriculture, military, textiles and the vessels and pottery sector, along with a few religious supersyllabograms. Supersyllabograms are always independent; they always stand alone on extant Linear. My discovery, isolation and classification of supersyllabograms represents the final frontier in the decipherment of Mycenaean Linear B. Some 800 tablets from Knossos alone contain primarily supersyllabograms, with a subset of these incised with supersyllabograms and nothing else. It is difficult to decipher the former, and impossible to decipher the latter without fully accounting for the presence of supersyllabograms. The decipherment of supersyllabograms accounts for the last and most difficult remaining 10 % of Mycenaean Linear B to be deciphered.

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You may also download The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B here:

archaeology-and-science-download

This article is 35 pages long (pp. 73-108) in a 29 cm. x 22 cm. format, which is far oversized compared with the standard north American format for research journals (ca. 20 cm. vertical), meaning that if it had been published in the standard north American format, it would have run to some 50 pp., which is the size of a small book.

The Editorial Board consists of 21 peer reviewers, all of them matriculated professors and researchers at the Ph.D. level or higher, from Ancona, Belgrade, Belgium, Bologna, Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.A., Moscow, Münich, Philadelphia, U.S.A., Rome, Warsaw & Trieste. Every author must pass muster with the majority of these peer reviewers if his or her article is to be published in Archaeology and Science. That is one tall hurdle to overcome.

Note also that I am ranked in the top 0.5 % of all researchers and publishers on academia.edu

richard-vallance-on-academia-edu

 


TOTAL no. of followers of KO NO SO & Rita Roberts on Twitter = 2,653

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rita-roberts-twitter-628


In just 1 month, the number of followers to my twitter account KO NO SO has risen from just over 1,900 to 2,025, while Rita Roberts now has 628 followers, yielding a total of 2,653 for both of our twitter accounts. I have posted 17.2 K tweets on KO NO SO, while Rita Roberts has 18.2 K tweets.  This is explosive growth for a diachronic linguistics twitter site as esoteric as KO NO SO, which deals with the rare syllabaries, Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B and Arcado-Cypriot Linear C. 


Revisiting & deciphering 2 (TE & DA) of the 27 supersyllabograms in Minoan Linear A in light of the decipherment of 69 additional Minoan words:

Last year (2016), I isolated and categorized all 27 supersyllabograms in Minoan Linear A. This was an extremely exhaustive task, as I had to scan through all the extant Linear A tablets and fragments in order to tally them all. This took at least a month. It is important to understand that the Minoans, and not the Mycenaeans, invented supersyllabograms. A supersyllabogram is defined as the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of any given specific Minoan word, economic sector dependent. In other words, when we cross from one economic sector to another, the meaning of any single supersyllabogram can and often does change. The exact same phenomenon recurs in Mycenaean Linear B. For the past year and a half, I have thoroughly covered and deciphered all 36 supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B, and I have as well tentatively deciphered 9 or 33 % of the 27 supersyllabograms in Minoan Linear A. Yet in spite of my initial attempts at decipherment, I was unable to assign any proto-Greek significance to any of them.

But since I have now deciphered 69 new Minoan Linear A words of putative proto-Greek, proto-Hebrew, proto-Semitic and proto-Scythian origin, I have been able to revisit at least 2 of the 27 supersyllabograms, namely, DA & TE & I have discovered that a proto-Greek reading of them on at least one Minoan Linear A tablet, HT 133, makes perfect, unified sense in translation, as seen in this table:

adu-te-da-tenai-to-cut-dainai-to-distribute

The only observation I should make is the following: the supersyllabogram TE, which is the first syllabogram of the middle voice TENAI = archaic Greek teinai, appears first in the list, because the 55 standard units grains or wheat must be cut down first before they are distributed. For this reason, the middle voice DAINAI (of which the ultimate NAI is identical with that of TENAI), meaning “they are distributed” (i.e. the 55 standard units of grains or wheat). So the word order is entirely rational, and intuitive to the Minoan language. Cut the 55 units of grains or wheat first, and then distribute them. In short, the word order is identical to English. This should come as no surprise in view of the fact that both Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B generally read from left to right, just as does modern English.

This new development raises the number of Minoan Linear A supersyllabograms tentatively deciphered from 9 to 11 or 40.8 % of all 27 Linear A supersyllabograms.


3 more Minoan Linear A words under TE-TU of possible or probable proto-Greek origin:

3-more-minoan-linear-a-words-under-te-tu-of-possible-proto-greek-origin

While I have listed 7 Minoan Linear A words of potential proto-Greek origin in this table, only 3 of them pass the test of credibility.  It is absolutely de rigueur to read this table from top to bottom to get the entire gist of my conclusions.


3 Minoan Linear A words under TA of possible, even probable proto-Greek origin + 1 word in the pre-Greek substratum:

3-more-linear-a-words-under-ta-of-proto-greek-origin-1-in-the-pre-greek-substratum

In this table, we find 3 Minoan Linear A words under TA of possible, even probable proto-Greek origin + 1 word in the pre-Greek substratum. The 3 words of possible or probable proto-Greek origin are [1] TAKU = “quickly, soon” + [2a] TAMIA = “someone who cuts” or “a distributor”. Think of it! When someone is distributing items or merchandise, he or she is in fact cutting them into different categories for distribution + [3] TANI, which is an exact match with (proto-) Dorian for “this or that time of day”.

On the other hand, the Minoan Linear A word TAPA, which is identical to its Mycenaean Linear B equivalent, is NOT proto-Greek, but rather sits in the pre-Greek substrate, meaning of course that the Mycenaean Linear B is also in the pre-Greek substratum. This should really come as no surprise, since Mycenaean Greek contained a number of archaic words which never resurfaced in any later East Greek dialects. In other words, they were archaic and anachronistic right from the outset even in Mycenaean Greek. The Mycenaean Greek word tapa is in fact the exact same word as its Minoan Linear A forbear, implying that both are in the pre-Greek substratum. As I have already pointed out in previous posts, there are in fact a few other (Minoan Linear A?) words in the pre-Greek substratum in Mycenaean Linear B.

This brings the cumulative total number of new Minoan Linear A words to 50, increasing the 107 Minoan Linear A words = 21.5 % of the total lexicon of extant 510 Minoan Linear A words in my original Minoan Linear A Glossary to 157 or 30.7 % of the total Linear B Lexicon. This is a significant leap in the number of Minoan Linear B terms I have already deciphered since I set out on the journey to REVISE the original Minoan Linear A Glossary of 107 words.

And I still have yet to extrapolate further decipherments as far as the syllabogram ZU.


2 Minoan Linear A words under SI-SU of possible proto-Greek and 1 of probable proto-Semitic origin:

2-minoan-linear-a-words-under-si-su-of-proto-greek-origin-1-of-proto-semitic-origin

In this table, two of the words are quite likely of proto-Greek origin, while the third, SURIA, probably means “Syria”, especially in light of the fact that since approximately 10,000 BC, Syria was one of the Neolithic centres of culture (known as Pre-Pottery Neolithic A), where agriculture and cattle breeding appeared for the first time in the world. 

This brings our cumulative total of Minoan Linear A words of proto-Greek, proto-Hebrew and proto-Semitic origin to 46.


1 Minoan Linear A word under SA-SE of putative proto-Hebrew origin, sato = saton?

1-minoan-linear-a-word-under-sa-se-of-apparent-proto-hebrew-origin

There appears to be a single word under the syllabograms SA-SE in Minoan Linear A, which is of putative proto-Hebrew origin, and it is sato, which apparently is the equivalent of (proto-) Hebrew saton, a unit of measurement.


KEY POST: A significant advance in the decipherment of Minoan Linear A: 7 new Minoan Linear A words under NE of possible, even probable proto-Greek origin for a total of 140 terms to date:

minoan-linear-a-words-under-ne-of-possible-proto-greek-origin

Under the syllabogram NE in Minoan Linear A, we find no fewer than 7 new Minoan Linear A words of possible proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean origin. Of these 7 terms, 4 [1] [3] [6] & [7] are probably of proto-Greek origin. [2] & [3] may be on target, but they are less convincing than the previous 4.  [4] may also be valid, but since the Mycenaean Linear B equivalent to nemaruja, which is epididato, is not a match, this casts some doubt on the decipherment of “distributed” in Minoan Linear A, especially in light of the fact that I have already posited an alternative decipherment of this exact word in my current version of the Glossary of Minoan Linear A terms, that word being kaudeta. While [5] nesa is almost a perfect match with the ancient Greek for “duck”, this decipherment is rather fanciful, even funny, as I have to wonder what possible interest Minoan Linear A, let alone Mycenaean Linear B, scribes would have had in ducks! But you never know. Perhaps they kept track of the number of ducks served at royal feast for the king and queen and company.  Weird, but hey, why not?

The most striking thing about the cumulative effect of the total number of Minoan Linear A words of putative proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean origin, already tallied at 33, even though we have only arrived at the syllabogram NE in Minoan Linear A (the last being ZU) is this:
The cumulative number of Minoan Linear A terms in our REVISED Minoan Linear A Glossary has already reached 140, i.e. 27.5 % of all 510 attributed Minoan Linear A terms by my arbitrary count, up from the original count of 107 or 21.5 % of 51o. Since this trend is bound to result in a somewhat exponential increase in the summative total of all Minoan Linear A terms I am bound to extrapolate by the time I reach the syllabogram ZU, it is well within the realm of reason that we will end up with at least 160 terms or about 31.5 % of all 510 extant Minoan Linear A terms. That would represent a substantial chunk of the Minoan Linear A lexicon. Potentially, this implies that we shall be able to posit the conclusion that we shall have deciphered, more or less accurately, not just a relatively small portion of the Minoan language, but almost 1/3 of it!

This would account for a substantive leap in the potential decipherment of Minoan Linear A.  And as everyone will see by the time I publish my second article on the partial, though significant, decipherment of Minoan Linear A, to be published in the prestigious international annual, Archaeology and Science in around 2018 or 2019, I shall have made signal inroads into the eventual almost complete decipherment of Minoan Linear A.  


5 more putative proto-Greek or pre-Greek Minoan Linear A words, MI-MU & 1 is a winner!

minoan-linear-words-mi-mu-of-possible-proto-greek-origin

The preceding table lists 5 more  putative proto-Greek or pre-Greek Minoan Linear A words from MI-MU.  Of these 5, [3] mita = “minth”, is by far the most compelling because it is identical to the Mycenaean Linear B word, right down to orthography. Both words may be either proto-Greek or part of the pre-Greek substratum. The next most convincing decipherment is [1] mini, which very likely means “month”, and which is probably proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean. [4] muko = “recesss/corner”  also makes quite a lot of sense, in view of the fact that it appears to be an architectural term. Such terms are relatively common in Mycenaean Linear B; so it stands to reason that they may also be so in Minoan Linear A.  [5] musaja might possibly mean “shut/closed”, if it is an adjective, but this is a bit of stretch.


3 more Minoan Linear A words of possible proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean origin. But are they really?

minoan-linear-a-words-in-ma-of-possible-proto-greek-origin

One of them definitely is not of proto-Greek origin; nor is it pre-Greek. It is manna, which is (proto-) Hebrew. The Hebrew word manna lasted right on through classical Greek to New Testament Greek.  Mannafii may be instrumental plural, meaning “for (the storage of) grains”, but only if the Minoan instrumental plural (if there was one) was similar to the instrumental plural in archaic Greek, which is unfortunately doubtful. The word maru definitely means “wool” in Linear A, corresponding to Mycenaean Linear B mari. It appears that both the Minoan and Mycenaean words are in the pre-Greek substratum. Masi, which is Doric Greek, is probably not a Minoan word, unless the Doric Greek word is in the pre-Greek substratum, in which case it could have co-existed in both Minoan and proto-Doric Greek. But it is rather doubtful. 

6 more Minoan Linear A putative proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean words: DA-DI. But are they proto-Greek at all?

minoan-linear-a-pre-greek-substrate-da-di

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:

wikipedia-greek-language

has this to say about Greek vocabulary.

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) [25] 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:

wikipedia-pre-greek-substrate

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; 
Theonyms: Hermes; 
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.


Tentative confirmation of 10 possible proto-Greek words out of 18 under the first vowel, A, in Prof. John G. Younger’s Reverse Linear A Lexicon:

a-minoan-linear-a-possible-greek

When I subjected the first alphabetical entries under A in Prof. John G. Younger’s Reverse Linear A Lexicon to rigorous analysis in order to determine whether or not any of the entries under A just might have been proto-Greek, or more likely than not, proto-Mycenaean. I was able to extrapolate tentative archaic Greek “definitions”, if you like, for no fewer than 10 of the 18 entries under A. That is quite a staggering return! However, in spite of these encouraging findings, we must exercise extreme caution in assigning proto-Greek significance to any number of Minoan words.

Of course, the discovery right fro the outset of 10 words which might possibly be proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean, is highly tempting. One could, if one were so inclined, that as a consequence of this discovery, the Minoan language must have been proto-Greek. But I would warn us away from such a rash assumption, for several cogent reasons, all of which will become clear as we run alphabetically through the Reverse Linear A Lexicon. One of the most obvious roadblocks to accepting, even on a tentative basis, a proto-Greek reading of words such as the 10 I have isolated under A above is the extreme paucity of consecutive, running text and, what is even worse, the even rarer instances of extant Linear A words providing sufficient context on the tablets for us to be able to extract any real meaning at all from the tablets. This is the brick wall we run up against again and again in any endeavour at deciphering any Minoan word, taken as a single entity.

There is one tenet at least which bears out confirmation or abnegation, and it is this: if we continue to discover a considerable number of potential proto-Greek under subsequent initial syllabograms alphabetically from DA on through to ZU, then there might very well be a case for concluding that either (a) the Minoan language was entirely proto-Greek or (b) the Minoan language was pre-Greek and very probably non Indo-European, but which contained a great many proto-Greek words, for reasons which will become apparent as we proceed through our extrapolative analysis of Minoan words from DA to ZU.

This is bound to be one exciting journey of discovery!

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