Category: Grammar & Vocabulary

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 account here:

Urii Mosenkis

Here is a selective electronic bibliography of the highly qualified decipherments Mosenkis has made of several Minoan Linear A inscriptions:


Mosenkis, Urii. Flourishing of the Minoan Greek State in the Linear A Script
1700 – 14560 BCE.

Mosenkis, Urii. Graeco-Macedonian goddess as Minoan city queen.

Mosenkis,Urii. Linear A-Homeric quasi-bilingual

Mosenkis, Urii. ‘Minoan-Greek’ Dialect: Morphology

Mosenkis, Urii. Minoan Greek Farming in Linear A.

Mosenkis, Urii. Minoan Greek hypothesis: A short historiography

Mosenkis, Urii. Minoan Greek phonetics and orthography in Linear A

Mosenkis, Urii. Minoan-Greek Society in Linear A.

Mosenkis, Urii. Researchers of Greek Linear A.

Mosenkis, Urii. 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.

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:


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:


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.

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.

Are there any proto-Greek words under the syllabogram NA in Minoan Linear A?  It is doubtful.


The 3 words of putative proto-Greek origin in Minoan Linear A I have flagged under the syllabogram NA are all doubtful. So I cannot in good conscience add them to the revised Glossary of Minoan Linear A words.

6 Minoan Linear A words from KE to KO which might be proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean:

Here is the table of Minoan Linear A words from KE to KO in Prof. John G. Younger’s Reverse Linear A Lexicon.


As is the usual case, there are inherent problems with the “Greekness” of almost all of the Minoan Linear A words I have tagged as possibly being proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean. This should come as no surprise in view of the fact that I made myself crystal clear on this account in the previous post. The most convincing Minoan Linear A word by far of apparent proto-Greek origin is keite, which is highly likely to be the equivalent of archaic Greek keithen = “thence/from there”.  The least credible is [6] koiru, which is far enough off in its orthography from ancient Greek, kairos = “due measure” to cast sufficient doubt on it.

But in almost all cases, appearances can be, and often are, deceiving. I have said this already, and I repeat it for the sake of emphasis. We cannot be too overcautious.

This brings the total number of so-called proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean words I have managed to isolate in Minoan Linear A to 22.

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


As we forge our way through Prof. John G. Younger’s Reverse Linear A Lexicon, in which he Latinizes the orthography of Minoan Linear A words,  we now arrive at Linear A words beginning with the syllabograms DA through to DI.  It is absolutely de rigueur to read the Notes in the table above; otherwise, my tentative decipherments of 6 more Minoan words in Linear A as being possibly proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean will not make any sense at all.  The table also draws attention to those words which are of moderate frequency (MF) on Minoan Linear A tablets and fragments, with the far greater proportion of them appearing on mere fragments. I cannot emphasize this point enough. In view of the fact that the vast majority of Minoan Linear A extant remnants are just that, remnants or fragments and nothing more, it is of course next to impossible to verify whether or not the 6 words I have extrapolated (or for that matter any other so-called proto-Greek words)  as possibly being  proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean are that at all. 

Add to this caveat that researchers and linguists specializing in ancient Greek often hypothesize that, and I quote verbatim:

It is possible that Greek took over some thousand words and proper names from such a language (or languages), because some of its vocabulary cannot be satisfactorily explained as deriving from the Proto-Greek language (italics mine). Among these pre-Greek substratum words we find Anatolian loanwords such as:
dépas ‘cup; pot, vessel’, Mycenaean di-pa, from the Luwian = tipa = sky, bowl or cup, one of the pre-Greek substratum words right in the table above! 
+ eléphas ‘ivory’, from Hittite lahpa;
+ kýmbachos ‘helmet’, from Hittite kupahi ‘headgear’; 
+ kýmbalon ‘cymbal’, from Hittite huhupal ‘wooden percussion instrument’; 
+ mólybdos ‘lead’, Mycenaean mo-ri-wo-do, from Lydian mariwda(s)k ‘the dark ones’ etc.

But there is more, significantly more. Wikipedia, Greek language:


has this to say about Greek vocabulary.


Greek is a language distinguished by an extensive vocabulary. Most of the vocabulary of Ancient Greek was inherited, but it includes a number of borrowings from the languages of the populations that inhabited Greece before the arrival of Proto-Greeks. (italics mine) [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:


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:


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!

Is the Minoan Linear A labrys inscribed with I-DA-MA-TE in Minoan or in proto-Greek? PART B: OR is it in proto-Greek?What?” I hear you asking, “... is that even even remotely possible?” The keyword here is remotely. Remotely, yes, but only remotely. Recall that in the last post, in which I postulated that the four consecutive supersyllabograms ID + DA + MA + TE might conceivably stand for the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of 4 consecutive Minoan Linear A words, though which ones among God knows how many possibilities it is exceedingly difficult to determine.

On the other hand, the four consecutive supersyllabograms ID + DA + MA + TE might conceivably stand for the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of 4 consecutive proto-greek Greek words, most likely proto-Mycenaean. If that is the case — and, mark  my words, it is far more likely than not that it is not the case — we are once again confronted with a myriad of combinations and permutations of proto-Greek words which have the potential, however thin, of standing in for the 4 consecutive supersyllabograms I + DA + MA +TE. So be forewarned. The putative decipherment of these 4 supersyllabograms into the one possible decipherment I have arbitrarily posited among hundreds is just  that, putative and tentative, and nothing more.

The tentative decipherment I have come up with runs as follows when the Mycenaean Greek of which it is the apparent forerunner is Latinized:

The supersyllabograms in turn might conceivably mean (but only as a long shot):

I = iyereya (feminine nominative singular), meaning “priestess”
DA =  Damateroyo (feminine genitive singular), meaning “of Damater”
MA =  Matereteiyai (feminine dative singular, meaning “to Mater Thea (the Divine Mother” 
TE = temenoi (masculine dative or locative singular), meaning “(in) the temple”

yielding this Latinized decipherment (which is but one possibility out of 100s): 

iyereya Damateroyo ... matereteiyai (eni) temenoi

... which roughly translates as:

The priestess of Damater... (is making offerings -or- sacrificing to) Mater  Thea (i.e. the Divine Mother) (in) the temple.

In this partial sentence, the phrase  (is making offerings -or- sacrificing to) and the preposition eni = “in” do not appear in the original supposed proto-Greek text, which I have extrapolated forward to Mycenaean Greek to make it fully accessible. Although these words are in fact absent from the original putative proto-Greek, they be supplied  with relative ease to fill in the gaps.

This proto-Greek translation is neatly encapsulated in this chart:


On closer examination, it turns out that, although this decipherment is only one among 100s of possible candidates, it is nevertheless one of the most plausible decipherments, for the following reasons:

1. If as I have pointed out in the previous post, Idamate is an actual Minoan word, as well as being in addition a series of 4 supersyllabograms. Thus, in the Minoan language it may very well mean something along the lines of Damate in Mycenaean Linear B: in other words, Idamate in the Minoan language may be the approximate equivalent of Damate in Mycenaean Linear B and of Demeter in ancient Greek. And if that is the case, the second supersyllabogram (DA) in my parallel proto-Greek translation, which I have deciphered as Damate, almost perfectly matches the Minoan word. This co-incidence, if co-incidence it is, is far too great to be ignored, and it lends a great deal of credence to my proto-Greek translation extrapolated forward to Mycenaean Greek of the second supersyllabogram DA in idamate.
2. But there is more, much more. As it so turns out, there is a sacred cave dedicated to Zeus on Mount Ida, which is very close to the Minoan site of Phaistos. Another co-incidence? The name of the cave dedicated to Zeus on Mount Ida is the “Dictaean Cave”, as illustrated here:


3. It is nothing short of a remarkable co-incidence that Idamate, as inscribed on the labrys, may very well signify “Mount Ida”, as I have clearly indicated  in the previous post. But what does that imply?  I have to wonder whether or not there was a Minoan peak sanctuary on the summit of Mount Ida. This is what a Minoan peak sanctuary probably looked liked:


And if there was, it was of course a temple. Referencing our proto-Greek translation of Idamate, we find that the last supersyllabogram, TE, may readily and realistically rendered as temeno, which in Mycenaean Greek means “a temple”. How fascinating!

Does this imply that the priestess to Damater might have been sacrificing to Mater Thea in a temple or peak sanctuary which may possibly have existed on the summit of Mount Ida? The correlation is truly tempting. However, I must sound a strong note of caution. Such an interpretation of  the last supersyllabogram of Idamate = TE, as the putative Mycenaean word, temeno = “a temple” as being a peak sanctuary is nothing less than a real stretch of the imagination. So it must be taken with a huge grain of salt. Nevertheless, it is possible, however remotely, that the temple in which the priestess of Damater is worshipping just might have been a peak sanctuary. But  I wouldn’t bet my bottom dollars on it.  It is thus remotely possible that Idamate signifies both “Mount Ida” in Minoan and “Mater Thea” in proto-Greek extrapolates forward to later Mycenaean Greek. Further credence is possibly lent to this decipherment by the fact that Mount Ida is clearly visible in the near distance behind the ancient site of Phaistos, as illustrated here and on map below:



But we must be extremely skeptical of such an interpretation. Why so? Just as Pavel Serafimov and Anton Perdith erroneously read proto-Slavic into Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada), thereby grossly misinterpreting it, my own attempt to superimpose proto-Greek on the 4 supersyllabograms I + DA + MA +TE may amount to the same genre of fundamental (and gross) inaccuracy in the putative decipherment into proto-Greek of a Minoan Linear A text, in this case, of the word idamate inscribed on the labrys. So we must exercise extreme caution in hypothesizing that the 4 supersyllabograms  I + DA + MA +TE are the first syllabograms, i.e. the first syllables of the 4 consecutive proto-Greek words I have arbitrarily assigned to them. So the fact remains that these 4 supersyllabograms are far more likely to be the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of 4 consecutive Minoan words than of proto-Greek words. I cannot stress this enough. 

Is the Minoan Linear A labrys inscribed with I-DA-MA-TE in Minoan or in proto-Greek? PART A: Is it in the Minoan language?

In my previous post on the Minoan Linear A labrys inscribed with I-DA-MA-TE, I postulated that the word Idamate was probably either the name of the king or of the high priestess (of the labyrinth?) to whom this labrys has been ritually dedicated. But in so doing I was taking the path of least resistance, by seeking out the two most simplistic decipherments which would be the least likely to prove troublesome or controversial. In retrospect, that was a cop-out.

No sooner had I posted my two alternate simplistic translations than I was informed by a close colleague of mine in the field of diachronic historical linguistics focusing on Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B that at least two other alternative decipherments came into play, these being:

1. that the term Idamate may be the Minoan equivalent of the Mycenaean Linear B Damate, which is apparently an early version of the ancient Greek, Demeter, who was the goddess of cereals and harvesting:



2. that the term Idamate may be Minoan for Mount Ida, in which case, the word Mate = “mount”, such that the phrase actually spells out  “Ida mount(ain)” :


Since both of these decipherments make eminent sense, either could, at least theoretically, be correct.
But there is a third alternative, and it is far more controversial and compelling than either of the first two. 

3. It is even possible that the four syllabograms I DA MA & TE are in fact supersyllabograms, which is to say that each syllabogram is the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of a word, presumably a Minoan word. But if these 4 supersyllabograms represent four consecutive Minoan words, what on earth could these words possibly signify, in light of the fact that we know next to nothing about the Minoan language. It appears we are caught in an irresolvable Catch-22.

Yet my own recent research has allowed me to tease potential decipherments out of 107 or about 21 % of all intact words in Prof. John G. Youngers Linear A lexicon of 510 terms by my own arbitrary count. Scanning this scanty glossary yielded me numerous variations on 3 terms which might conceivably make sense in at least one suppositious context. These terms (all of which I have tentatively deciphered) are:

1. For I: itaja = unit of liquid volume for olive oil (exact value unknown)

2. FOR DA: either:
daropa = stirrup jar = Linear B karawere (high certainty)
datara = (sacred) grove of olive trees
data2 (datai) = olive, pl. date = Linear B erawo
datu = olive oil
daweda = medium size amphora with two handles

3. For TE:
tereza = large unit of dry or liquid measurement
tesi = small unit of measurement

But I cannot find any equivalent for MA other than maru, which seemingly means “wool”, even in Minoan Linear A, this being the apparent equivalent of Mycenaean Linear B mari or mare.  The trouble is that this term (if that is what the third supersyllabogram in idamate stands in for) does not contextually mesh at all with any of the alternatives for the other three words symbolized by their respective supersyllabograms.

But does that mean the phrase is not Minoan? Far from it. There are at least 2 cogent reasons for exercising extreme caution in jumping to the conclusion that the phrase cannot be in Minoan. These are:    
1. that the decipherments of all of the alternative terms I have posited for the supersyllabograms I DA & TE above are all tentative, even if they are more than likely to be close to the mark and some of them probably bang on (for instance, daropa), which I believe they are;
2. that all 3 of the supersyllabograms I DA & TE may instead stand for entirely different Minoan words, none of which I have managed to decipher. And God knows there are plenty of them!  Since I have managed to decipher only 107 of 510 extant intact Minoan Linear A words by my arbitrary count, that leaves 403 or 79 % undeciphered!  That is far too great a figure to be blithely brushed aside. 

The > impact of combinations of a > number of Minoan Linear A words on their putative decipherment:


To give you a rough idea of the number of undeciphered Minoan words beginning with I DA & TE I have not been able to account for, here we have a cross-section of just a few of those words from Prof. John G. Younger’s Linear A Reverse Lexicon:
which are beyond my ken:


For I:

For DA:

For MA:

For TE:

But the situation is far more complex than it appears at first sight. To give you just a notion of the enormous impact of exponential mathematical permutations and combinations on the potential for gross errors in any one of a substantial number of credible decipherments of any given number of Minoan Linear A terms as listed even in the small cross-section of the 100s of Minoan Words in Prof. John G. Younger’s Reverse Linear A Lexicon, all we have to do is relate the mathematical implications of the  chart on permutations to any effort whatsoever at the decipherment of even a relatively small no. of Minoan Linear A words:

CLICK on the chart of permutations to link to the URL where the discussion of both permutations and combinations occurs:


to realize how blatantly obvious it is that any number of interpretations of any one of the selective cross-section of terms which I have listed here can be deemed the so-called actual term corresponding to the supersyllabogram which supposedly represents it. But, and I must emphatically stress my point, this is just a small cross-section of all of the terms in the Linear B Reverse Lexicon beginning with each of  the supersyllabograms I DA MA & TE in turn.

It is grossly obvious that, if we allow for the enormous number of permutations and combinations to which the supersyllabograms I DA MA & TE must categorically be  subjected mathematically, it is quite out of the question to attempt any decipherment of these 4 supersyllabograms, I DA MA & TE, without taking context absolutely into consideration. And even in that eventuality, there is no guarantee whatsoever that any putative decipherment of each of these supersyllabograms (I DA MA & TE) in turn in the so-called Minoan language will actually hold water, since after all, a smaller, but still significant subset of an extremely large number of permutation and combinations must still remain incontestably in effect.

The mathematics of the aforementioned equations simply stack up to a very substantial degree against any truly convincing decipherment of any single Minoan Linear A term, except for one small consideration (or as it turns out, not so small at all). As it so happens, and as we have posited in our first two alternative decipherments above, i.e.
1. that Idamate is Minoan for Mycenaean Damate, the probable equivalent of classical Greek Demeter, or
2. that Idamate actually means “Mount Ida”,

these two possible decipherments which do make sense can be extrapolated from the supersyllabograms I DA MA & TE, at least if we take into account the Minoan Linear A terms beginning with I DA & TE (excluding TE), which I have managed, albeit tentatively, to decipher.

However, far too many putative decipherments of the great majority of words in the Minoan language itself are at present conceivable, at least to my mind. Yet, this scenario is quite likely to change in the near future, given that I have already managed to tentatively decipher 107 or 21 % of 510 extant Minoan Linear A words, by my arbitrary count.  It is entirely conceivable that under these circumstances I shall be able to decipher even more Minoan language words in the near future. In point of fact, if Idamate actually does mean either Idamate (i.e. Demeter) or Ida Mate (i.e. Mount Ida), then:
(a) with only 2 possible interpretations for IDAMATE now taken into account, the number of combinations and permutations is greatly reduced to an almost insignificant amount &
(b) the actual number of Minoan Linear A words I have deciphered to date rises from 107 to 108 (in a Boolean OR configuration, whereby we can add either  “Demeter” or “Mount Ida” to our Lexicon, but not both).  A baby step this may be, but a step forward regardless. 

Réponse par Richard Vallance Janke à la recherche très récente sur la tablette AN PY 55 = AN 724, menée par Tina et Enriqueta Martinotti, dont leur étude : 

Tina MARTINOTTI, Enriqueta MARTINOTTI. Poétique Mycénienne dans la Tablette PY 724 An ( PY 55) de Pylos, classfiée comme " liste de rameurs ". Épigraphie mycénienne: traduction de la tablette en linéaire b Py 55=An 724 de Pylos classifiée c.. 2015. 


HAL Id: hal-01147208
Submitted on 29 Apr 2015

Depuis Chadwick, la tablette en linéaire b, classifiée Py 55=An 724 a été interprétée à partir de la lecture des séries de signes ro-o-wa comme le nom du port de Pylos et e-re-ta comme « rameur/s » ; plusieurs auteurs pensent que ce texte est une liste de rameurs. Mais la présence de la série ki-ti-ta, interprétée d’abord comme « agriculteur », a produit des controverses : Que faisait le mot « agriculteur » dans une liste de rameurs ? Finalement ki-ti-ta a été interprétée, de manière un peu téméraire comme «unité fiscale»3. Cette dernière hypothèse imagine le cas de l’infortune des agriculteurs qui, ne pouvant payer leurs taxes foncières, s’engageaient dans la marine.

Néanmoins, la tablette n’a aucune similitude avec une liste, elle présente des lignes complètes. Toutes ces approximations théoriques, en étant arbitraires, suggèrent une défaillance dans l’interprétation. Ainsi, cette tablette est l’objet de l’analyse que nous exposons ici, en prenant la méthode épigraphique des systèmes syllabaires dont un signe est homophonique, polysémique et logographique. La traduction, ici proposée, suit la méthodeinterprétative4 des phonèmes, et recherche l’énoncé produit pour l’homophonie. Notre analyse démontre que la tablette PY 55 ne traite pas d’une liste de rameurs, mais qu’il s’agit d’un admirable texte littéraire où le mythe, le culte et la tradition se trouvent étroitement liés aux données philologiques, archéologiques, iconographiques et géographiques. Cette tablette est une oeuvre littéraire mycénienne et une des premières chansons épiques ; un texte narratif qui renvoie aux rituels et offrandes dans la grotte dite aujourd’hui « Grotte de Nestor », ainsi que le sacrifice du taureau « auprès de la mer salée », tel que nous l’a transmis la tradition homérique. On verra que ce texte décrit l’épique d’une figure héroïque divine ; les exploits d’un dieu qui étaient dignes de mémoire pour les pyliens. Ce texte décrit un héros divin mythique, guérisseur, guerrier, fécondant, en étroit rapport avec la déesse Terre, et représentant, à ses yeux, l’idéal de la valeur et des vertus bienfaisantes...

à laquelle ma réponse à mon compte sur, ici :


Bonjour, Tina !

Je tiens à vous répondre cette fois de la manière la plus respectueuse, vu que je viens de lire très attentivement deux de vos articles. J’en lirai les autres dès que j’aurai le temps libre de les assimiler avec le plus grand soin.
Je dois vous avouer franchement que je suis très impressioné de votre recherche concernant le déchiffrement du syllabaire Linéaire B. Mais en dépit de mon admiration considérable de vos efforts énergiques à cet égard, je suis toujours constraint de garder plusieurs réservations relatives à votre hypothèse essentielle, là où il s’agit de la nature polysémiotique des syllabogrammes et des mots mycéniens, surtout à la lumière du syllabaire Linéaire C du dialecte arcado-chyprien, qui n’obéit en aucune manière à votre hypothèse essentiel, ce qui me rend plutôt soupçonneux, voire méfiant de quelques-unes des conclusions auxquelles vous souscrivez. De l’autre part, je suis ravi que mes propres hypothèses vous incitent finalement à promulguer les votres, car il est carrément évident que le monde international de la recherche historique et diachronique des syllabaires ne tire pas avantage de votre perspicacité pénétrante depuis je ne sais combien d’années. Néanmoins, il est vraiment à regretter que vous conduisez vos recherches, paraît-il, uniquement en français, étant donné que la plus grande proportion de loin des recherches dans tous les domaines scientifiques et techniques est menée, comme vous le savez très bien, uniquement en anglais.  Cela signifie en un mot que la très grande majorité des rechercheurs en linguistique historique et diachonique sont par forfait dépourvus des implications à grande portée, à fort impact et certes à long terme de vos recherches si importantes. Et cela, presqu’inutile de dire, c’est vraiment grand dommage ! Et c’est dans cette optique que presque toute la communauté mondiale de la recherche en linguistique restera  malheureusement dépourvue de l’impact considérable, voire, révolutionnaire, de vos recherches sur les syllabaires du monde antique. 

En plus de tout cela, il me reste à assumer la responsabilité de répondre nettement et de façon strictement logique à plusieurs de vos conclusions, non pas en français, mais en anglais, pour que les rechercheurs allophones en anglais puissent suivre la trame de notre discussion continue en ce qui regarde le déchiffrement des syllabaires Linéaire A et B, nonobstant le Linéaire C, dont je ferai au fur et à mesure plusieurs observations et commentaires d’extrême importance et pertinence à ce même égard.

Reste à constater qu’à partir d’aujourd’hui, je me sentirai obligé de discuter en anglais tout aspect des trois syllabaires dont il s’agit (les Linéaires A, B, et C)  de telle sorte que nos collègues allophones puissent suivre et comprendre notre dialogue soutenu.


Merci bien, ma collègue très estimée

Richard Vallance Janke

The ubiquitous present participle passive in Mycenaean Linear B & in all subsequent ancient Greek dialects:

Here is a chart of attested (A) present participles passive in Mycenaean Greek found on Linear B tablets, and derived (D) present participles passive nowhere to be found extant in Mycenaean Greek:


As anyone familiar with ancient Greek can attest to, the present participle passive was ubiquitous in Mycenaean Linear B and in all subsequent ancient Greek dialects. Since (a) students and researchers with ancient Greek understand the full functionality of the present participle passive and (b) since all others not familiar with any ancient Greek dialect do not understand how the present participle passive functions, I am not bothering to provide examples of its usage in any ancient Greek dialect... although perhaps I should.

KEY! The all-pervasive present participle active in Mycenaean Linear B & in all subsequent ancient Greek dialects:

Table of attributed (A) and derived (D) present participles actives in Mycenaean Linear B & in Attic Greek:


NOTE: It is crucial that you read all of the notes in this table in their entirety; otherwise, a sound grasp of the conjugation of the present participle, especially of the feminine singular, in Mycenaean Linear B will not make any sense whatsoever.

The present participle active was all-pervasive and extremely common in both Mycenaean Linear B & in all subsequent ancient Greek dialects. It was heavily used to express continuous action in the present tense as well as accompaniment, i.e. to indicate that someone or something was with someone or something else. Thus, in Mycenaean Linear B, the phrase eo qasireu could mean either “being an overlord” or “with an overlord”, just as in Attic Greek eon basileus could mean either “being king” or “with the king”. As I have pointed out in the table above, the word qasireu never meant “king” in Mycenaean Linear B, since king was always wanaka. The qasireu was a lower ranking supernumerary, something equivalent to an overlord or baron.

Another point which we simply must keep uppermost in mind is the fact that digamma (pronounced something like “wau” or “vau”, was extremely common in both Mycenaean Linear B and its kissing cousin dialect, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, only falling permanently out of use in ancient Greek after the decline of these two dialects (Linear B, ca. 1600-1200 BCE & Linear C, ca. 1100-400 BCE). As is clearly attested by the table above, the feminine singular form of the present participle active, which was characterized by the all-pervasive presence of digamma in Mycenaean Linear B & in Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, had completely shed digamma even as early as the artificial amalgam, Homeric Epic Greek, even though digamma was still pronounced in the Iliad. 

CRITICAL Links to KEY PERSEUS/Tufts ancient Greek pages for persons knowledgeable in ancient Greek:

1. Homer, Iliad, Book II, The Catalogue of Ships:


If you are wondering why I have deliberately zeroed in on Book II, the Catalogue of Ships of Homers Iliad, as I am sure you are, wonder no more. Only Book  II alone, the Catalogue of Ships of Homers Iliad, can provide us with sufficient examples of Homeric grammar with distinctly Mycenaean characteristics, from which we can thereby retrogressively extrapolate numerous examples of grammatical forms in many of the major categories of Homeric Greek to their putative, and in fact, actual, Mycenaean ancestral roots.

2. Jeffrey A. Rydberg-Cox, Overview of Greek Syntax:


is a superb source for the study of ancient Greek grammar. The link is parsed into the major sub-categories of ancient Greek grammar, i.e. nouns, verbs, participles etc. etc., and is thus an extremely valuable and highly practical source for ancient Greek grammar, all but eliminating the necessity of having to buy a hard-copy or e-book publication on ancient Greek grammar. In short, it is a perfectly sound source for ancient Greek grammar aficionados.

The 3 derived (D) tenses of active optative of athematic verbs in Mycenaean Linear B, as represented by the template verb, didomi:

Here is the chart of the 3 derived (D) tenses of active optative athematic verbs in Mycenaean Linear B, as represented by the template verb, didomi:


Note that in the second example sentence in Mycenaean Greek, since the verb didomi is in the future active optative, the Mycenaean Linear B infinitive nikase = to defeat, must also be in the future. This is just another one of those remarkable eminently logical subtleties of ancient Greek, including Mycenaean. 
As you can see for yourself, I have been unable to reconstruct a paradigm table for the perfect active optative of athematic verbs in Mycenaean Linear B, as represented by the template verb, didomi. Since I have been unable to find any instances of that tense in any ancient Greek dialect, I am driven to conclude that it could not have existed in Mycenaean Linear B either. This is in contrast with the paradigm table for the active optative tenses of thematic verbs in Mycenaean Linear B, of which there are 4, as attested to here:


Since in this previous post I outlined almost all of the uses of the active optative in ancient Greek, including Mycenaean Linear B, there is no point rehashing these uses here. Simply refer back to the post to glean as full a grasp the multiple uses of the active optative as you can, on the understanding of course that you are already familiar with least Attic grammar.  If you are not versed in ancient Greek grammar, even if you are in modern Greek (in which there is no optative mood), there is really not much point to mastering all of the uses of the active optative in ancient Greek, except in so far as a basic understanding at least may offer you at least some insight into the more subtle and arcane operations of ancient Greek, of which there are plenty, as you might have already imagined by this point.

CRITICAL POST! The 4 major tenses of the derived (D) optative mood of thematic verbs in Mycenaean Linear B:

Here is the paradigm of the 4 major tenses of the optative mood in Mycenaean Linear B, based on the derived (D) template verb, naie (ancient Greek, naiein) = to dwell in, inhabit:


Note that we have provided two examples of derivative (D) sentences in this table of the paradigms for the 4 tenses of the optative mood in Mycenaean Linear B and ancient Greek in order to facilitate a better understanding of its functionality.

As can be seen from the table above, there are only 4 primary tenses for the optative mood of thematic (and indeed for athematic) verbs in Mycenaean Linear B, as well as in ancient Greek. These are:

the optative present
the optative future
the optative aorist (or simple past)
the optative perfect

There is no optative imperfect. It is a contradiction in terms. How is it possible that something was in fact happening, kept on happening or used to happen, when it is readily apparent that the optative mood always runs contrary to reality. The optative mood only and always refers to potentialities or possibilities, never to actual situations, which of course strictly call for the indicative mood. 

The optative mood has no equivalent whatsoever in any modern Centum or Occidental language, including modern Greek. It lapsed out of use before the advent of modern Greek. The optative mood sometimes plays a similar role to the subjunctive mood in ancient Greek, but by no means always. As a matter of course, we shall not be deriving a table of the tenses of the subjunctive mood in Mycenaean Linear B, for two conclusive reasons:
1. The subjunctive mood occurs nowhere on any Linear B tablets, i.e. it is not attested, or so it would seem so... because...
2. The subjunctive mood is virtually indistinguishable from the active in Mycenaean Linear B, whether or not we are dealing with thematic or athematic verbs, for the simple reason that Mycenaean Linear B cannot distinguish between short and long vowels. In other words, while ancient Greek allows for the subjunctive mood, which calls for the lengthening of the vowel in any person of the present tense, this is impossible in Mycenaean Linear B.

So there would simply be no point in attempting to reconstruct a mood which could not even be observed on Mycenaean Linear B tablets, even it were present. But it never is to be found on any extant tablet, i.e. it is nowhere attested (A), because Mycenaean Linear B tablets almost exclusively deal with inventories, which are by nature factual, thereby automatically calling for the indicative, and precluding the subjunctive.

It may seem counter-intuitive to find the optative on at least one Linear B tablet, but there is a tenable explanation for this phenomenon. Since the tablet in question deals with religious matters, it makes sense for the optative to be present. For instance, it is possible to say in Mycenaean Linear B,

May we all worship the Goddess of the Winds.
If only they believed in the gods!

These sentences make perfect sense in Mycenaean Greek.

But this still leaves us with the burning question, what on earth is the optative mood?

This is no easy question to answer. But I shall do my level best. To begin with, it is highly expedient to consult the Wikipedia article on the optative mood in ancient Greek:


since doing so will expedite your understanding of the functions of the optative. Essentially, these are as follows:

1. to express a wish on behalf of the welfare of someone, e.g.:

May you be happy.
May you live long and be prosperous.

2. to express the wish or hope,... if only (which is contrary to reality, as it never happened anyway, no matter how much or how dearly one might have wished it had happened), e.g.:

If only the Mycenaeans had not conquered Knossos.
If only Donald Trump had not won the U.S. Election! (Fat chance of that!)

3. The potential optative expresses something that would or could happen in a hypothetical situation in the future, e.g.

I wouldnt be surprised if the fortress of Mycenae were to fall in the next few years.
I wouldnt be surprised if Donald Trump were impeached. (Good luck for that one!)

4. Potential in the aorist or the past tense, e.g.     

The king of Knossos fled the city for fear that he might be caught and imprisoned.

5. For purpose clauses in past time, the optative can follow the conjunction so that:

The king has brought us all together so that we might discuss the situation regarding the possibility of an outbreak of war.

6. After verbs expressing fear: 

I was afraid that he had gone out of his mind.

7. for formal benedictions or prayers (primarily in the New Testament), e.g.:

May the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
May the Lord grant you mercy.

There are even more uses of the optative, but I do not wish to belabour the point. Suffice it to say, this mood is extremely flexible in ancient Greek. It always references actions or situations contrary to reality. It is often quite difficult for us in this present day and age to really get a grip on the various functionalities of the optative tense in ancient Greek, but get a grip we must if we are ever to really, clearly grasp what ancient Greek sentences relying on the optative actually mean, once we have embarked on that most challenging of journeys, to learn ancient Greek, to easy matter, let me tell you from personal experience.

CRITICAL POST: The active middle voice template, akeomai = I repair or I make amends for...  in the five major tenses in Mycenaean Linear B & ancient Greek:

In all of the ancient East Greek dialects, right on down from Mycenaean Linear B to Arcado-Cypriot, its closest cousin (ca. 1100-400 BCE), through to Homeric Greek (ca. 800 BCE, a hodgepodge amalgam of various early ancient Greek dialects), to Ionic and Attic Greek (ca. 500-400 BCE), right on through to Hellenistic Greek (ca. 300-100 BCE) to New Testament Koine Greek (ca. 100 AD) and even to modern Greek, the active middle voice was extremely common, playing an indispensable role in the expression of verbal actions. In fact, it was probably even more common than the standard active voice, which we have already covered under the verb kauo = to burn.

In Mycenaean Linear B and in all subsequent ancient Greek dialects, the template for active middle voice is here represented by the verb, akeomai = I repair -or- I make amends (for myself). The 5 major indicative active tenses represented are, once again:

the present active middle voice
the future active middle voice
the imperfect active middle voice
the aorist (or simple past) active middle voice
the perfect active middle voice

all conjugated in full in this table:


What is the function of the active middle voice in Mycenaean Linear B & ancient (as well as modern) Greek?

It is a very good thing to ask — in fact, it is crucial to the proper understanding of the critical difference between the standard active voice and the middle voice of verbs in Greek. The two voices are simply not the same. The standard active voice, as in the verb, kauo (present), kauso (future), ekauon (imperfect), ekausa (aorist or simple past) & kekausa (perfect) simply indicates something that someone does, will do, was doing, did or has done, with no further qualifications.

The active middle voice is quite another kettle of fish. It is much more active (quite literally!) and much more dynamic. The active middle voice denotes any of the following activities:

1. Any action undertaken by the subject, in which the subject takes a powerful personal interest in whatever action he or she is undertaking;
2. Any action undertaken by the subject, in which the subject acts strictly on his or her own behalf, without any direct influence of or consideration of whatever anyone else may think or adjudge about said action;
3. Any action undertaken by the subject, in which the subject acts independently, of his or her own volition, regardless;
4. Any action undertaken by the subject, which is of a reflexive nature, ie. by means of which the subject does something for or to oneself.

It goes without saying that an active present voice as so utterly complex as the active middle voice exists in no modern language, except for the fourth (4th.) application. The middle voice was of primal importance to the ancient Greeks because they were highly individualistic and egocentric (as opposed to being egoistic, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the active middle voice, except in rare instances). Reflexive verbs (4) are common in practically all modern languages. Thus, we have:

in English: I wash myself, you wash yourself, we wash ourselves etc.
et en français : je me lave, tu te laves, nous nous lavons – et ainsi de suite,
to cite just two examples.

On the other hand, the strict emphasis on personal responsibility for one’ s actions which is the preeminent characteristic of the active middle voice in Mycenaean Linear B and in ancient and modern Greek is nowhere to be found in modern Centum (Occidental) Indo-European languages such as English, French, Italian, Spanish, German etc. etc. In order to express the emphasis on direct personal responsibility innate to the active middle voice in ancient and modern Greek, modern languages have to resort to (sometimes cumbrous) circumlocutions. For instance, to express the first (1.) function of the active middle voice in ancient Greek, English has to resort to this circumlocution:

I am taking a powerful personal interest in repairing... etc.

And for the second (2.) function, this is what English has to resort to:

I am acting strictly on my own behalf in repairing (regardless of what anyone else thinks of it)

And for the third (3.) function:

I am acting entirely on my own (or independently) to repair etc.

Quite the circumlocutions in comparison with the active middle voice in ancient Greek, which is always so compactly and eloquently expressed by a single word, regardless of tense!

Consequently, it is virtually impossible to grasp the several meanings (at least 4) inherent to the active middle voice in ancient Greek, unless one has a firm grasp on the 4 principal functions I have outlined here. I repeat, the distinction between the simple active voice and the active middle voice in both ancient and modern Greek is fundamental to a proper understanding of the divergent functioning of these two active tenses, the simple active and the active middle.

The virtual invariability of the most archaic athematic MI verbs in ancient Greek from 1200 BCE (Linear B) – New Testament Koine Greek (ca. 100 AD):

The following table clearly illustrates that the most archaic of ancient Greek verbs, namely, athematic verbs in MI, underwent only barely perceptible changes over a span of 1,700 years.


This is because these verb forms were already fully developed even as early as in the Mycenaean Greek dialect, written in Linear B (ca. 1600-1200 BCE). This phenomenon falls under the purview of diachronic historical linguistics, whereby the term diachronic means “linguistic change or lack of it over an extended period of time”. The importance of the minimal changeability of archaic athematic MI verbs cannot be over stressed. Regardless of the period and of any particular dialect of ancient East Greek (early: Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot, middle: Homeric Epic, an amalgam of various dialects, Classical: Ionic & Attic) & late (Hellenistic & Koine Greek), very little change occurred.  In fact, only the second & third person singular underwent any change at all. In Mycenaean Greek alone, the second person singular was didosi & the third person singular was didoti. In all subsequent dialects, the form of the 2nd. person singular became that for the third, while the second person singular itself morphed into didos in all ancient East Greek dialects pursuant to Mycenaean. This was the one and only change the conjugation of the present tense of archaic athematic verbs such as didomi underwent diachronically from 1,600 BCE to 100 AD. The verb didomi effectively serves as the template for the conjugation of the present active of all athematic verbs in MI throughout this historical period.  This is just one notable aspect of progressive (D) derived Linear B grammar. There are many others, which of course we shall address in the gradual reconstruction of ancient Mycenaean Greek grammar over the next few months. 

Reduplication in the perfect active of the verb pine = to drink, derived (D) from the attested (A) perfect active of kaue = to burn in Mycenaean Linear B:

The attested perfect active of the Mycenaean Linear B verb, kaue = to burn, serves as the template upon which any number of derived (D) verbs in the active perfect may be extrapolated. This table illustrates this process:


In order to form the active perfect tense, the ancient Greeks usually (but not always) resorted to the technique of reduplication, whereby the first syllable of the verb is prepended to the initial syllable of the conjugation of the same verb in the aorist (simple past), with this proviso, that the orthography of first syllable, or in Mycenaean Linear B, the vowel of the first syllabogram, is morphed into e from the initial vowel of the first syllable of the aorist, which is usually a or o in the aorist, prior to reduplication. Thus, in Mycenaean Linear B, the first syllabogram must reflect the same change. Hence, ekausa (aorist) = I burned (once only) becomes kekausa (perfect) = I have burned, while epoka (aorist) = I drank (once only) becomes pepoka= I have drunk. This transformation is critical, since both the aorist and the perfect active tense are very common in ancient Greek.

For the first time in history, the conjugation of athematic MI verbs in 5 active tenses in Mycenaean Linear B:

We now continue with the conjugations of 5 active tenses for athematic MI verbs in Mycenaean Linear B, represented here by the athematic verb, didomi (Latinized), which was  extremely commonplace right on down from Mycenaean Greek through to Attic and Hellenistic Greek and beyond, to New Testament Greek. We can safely confirm that the conjugation of athematic MI verbs underwent almost no perceptible changes (if any at all) from the Mycenaean era to the New Testament. The reason for this is apparent. Since the conjugation of athematic MI verbs was already cemented, in other words, fossilized, by as early as the Mycenaean era, there would have been no need whatsoever to change, modify or supposedly improve on its conjugations. For this reason alone, regressive extrapolation of the conjugations of 5 active tenses of athematic MI verbs is a simple matter. So in the case of athematic MI verbs, the method of retrogressive extrapolation we normally apply to grammatical elements in Mycenaean Linear B derived (D) from later ancient Greek dialects does not apply. Since the conjugations  of MI verbs were already fully consolidated in Mycenaean Greek, it is quite beside the point. It The 5 tenses of the indicative active we have accounted for in our table of conjugations of athematic MI verbs are:

the present active
the future active
the imperfect active
the aorist active (both first and second)
the perfect active

as illustrated in this table of paradigms:


As I have already pointed out in the previous post on thematic active verbs in 5 tenses, I  have deliberately omitted the pluperfect tense active, as it was extremely rare in all ancient Greek dialects. Note that it is assumed that scholars, researchers and linguists reviewing our tables of conjugations of verbs in Mycenaean Greek are well versed in ancient Greek, and hence familiar with the subtle distinction between the first and second aorist (simple past tense). For this reason, we shall not attempt to differentiate between the two. Should anyone wish to do so, that person can refer him or herself to the Wikipedia articles on this topic. As for those of you who are not yet versed in ancient Greek, most notably, the Attic dialect, you will have to learn ancient Greek in the first place before you can even hope to grasp the distinction between the first and second aorist, let alone understand so many other elements of ancient Greek grammar.

For the first time in history, the complete conjugations of 5 major derived (D) active indicative tenses of thematic verbs in Linear B progressive grammar:

The tenses of active thematic verbs are:
the present indicative active
the future indicative active
the imperfect indicative active
the aorist indicative active
the perfect indicative active

Here is are the 2 tables (A & B) of the complete derived (D) conjugations of these 5 tenses of the active thematic verb kaue = the archaic ancient Greek kauein (Latinized), to set on fire:


The ability of a linguist specializing in Mycenaean Linear B, i.e. myself, to cognitively restore no fewer than 5 active tenses of thematic verbs by means of progressive Mycenaean Greek derived (D) grammar boils down to one impressive feat. However, I have omitted the pluperfect indicative active, since it was rarely used in any and all of the numerous dialects of ancient Greek, right on down from Mycenaean to Arcado-Cypriot to Aeolic, Ionic and Attic Greek, and indeed right on through the Hellenistic and New Testament eras. So since the pluperfect tense is as rare as it is, why bother reconstructing it? At least, this is my rationale. Other researchers and linguists specializing in Mycenaean Linear B may disagree. That is their perfect right.  

Is Mycenaean Greek in Linear B a proto-Greek dialect? Absolutely not!

There are still a few researchers and historical linguists specializing in Mycenaean Linear B who would have us believe that Mycenaean Greek is a proto-Greek dialect. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact that so many fully developed grammatical forms are attested (A) on Linear B tablets confirms once and for all that Mycenaean Greek is the earliest intact East Greek dialect. Among the numerous grammatical forms attested (A) in Mycenaean Greek, we count: [1] verbs, including infinitives active and some passive for both thematic and athematic MI verbs; a sufficient number of verbs either in the active present or aorist tenses; a considerable number of participles, especially perfect passive; and even the optative case in the present tense, [2] nouns & adjectives, for which we find enough attested (A) examples of these declined in the nominative singular and plural, the genitive singular and plural and the dative/instrumental/ablative singular & plural. The accusative singular and plural appear to be largely absent from the Linear B tablets, but appearances can be deceiving, as I shall soon convincingly demonstrate. Also found on the extant Linear B tablets are the comparative and superlative of adjectives, and [3] almost all of the prepositions to be found in later ancient Greek dialects. Taken altogether, these extant attributed (A) grammatical elements form a foundation firm enough to recreate templates for all of the aforementioned elements in a comprehensive derived (D) progressive Mycenaean Linear B grammar. If you are still not convinced, I simply refer you to the previous post, where examples of many of  these grammatical elements are accounted for.  Moreover, once I have completely recompiled ancient Mycenaean Greek grammar, you should be convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Mycenaean Greek was the very first true ancient Greek dialect.

What is progressive derived (D) Mycenaean Linear B grammar? 

By progressive I mean nothing less than as full a restoration as possible of the corpus of ancient Mycenaean Greek grammar by means of the procedure of regressive extrapolation of the (exact) equivalents of any and all grammatical elements I shall have reconstructed from the two major sources of slightly later archaic Greek, namely: (a) the Arcado-Cypriot dialect, in which documents were composed in the Linear C syllabary, a direct offshoot of Mycenaean Linear B (Even though the two syllabaries look scarcely alike, the symbolic values of their syllabograms are in almost all instances practically identical), and from so-called Epic Greek, which was comprised of diverse elements haphazardly drawn from various archaic Greek dialects, in other words yielding nothing less than a mess, but a viable one nonetheless.

At this juncture, I must emphatically stress that, contrary to common opinion among ancient Greek literary scholars not familiar with either Mycenaean Linear B or Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, the gap between the scribal Linear B tablets and the next appearance of written ancient Greek is not around 400 years (1200-800 BCE), as they would have it, but only one century. Why so? Hard on the heels of the collapse of the Mycenaean Empire and of its official script, Linear B, ca. 1200 BCE, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C first appeared in writing a mere 100 years after, give or take. The revised timeline for the disappearance and reappearance of written Greek is illustrated here:

If this is not convincing enough, Mycenaean Greek’s intimate cousin, Arcado-Cypriot, of which the syllabary is Linear C, is even more closely related to Mycenaean Greek than Ionic is to Attic Greek. In fact, you could say that they are kissing cousins. Now it stands to reason that, if Arcado-Cypriot in Linear C is a fully developed East Greek dialect, as it most certainly is (subsisting at least 700 years, from 1100 – 400 BCE), then it follows as day does night that Mycenaean Linear B must also be a fully functional East Greek dialect (in fact, the first). The two factors addressed above should lay to rest once and for all that Mycenaean Greek is merely proto-Greek. That is sheer nonsense.

CRITICAL POST: What is Mycenaean Linear B progressive grammar & how do we derive it from attested (A) grammatical forms?

We must first extrapolate as many elements of attested (A) grammar from extant Linear B tablets as we possibly can before even thinking of addressing Mycenaean Linear B derived (D) progressive grammar.  I shall significantly expand this post in a new article soon to appear on my account. Pardon the pun, but keep posted. This article, which is to serve as the formal introduction to derived (D) Mycenaean Linear B grammar, is bound to have a decisive impact on the Linear B research community. If this is not enough, just wait until researchers are confronted with the entire corpus of derived (D) Mycenaean Linear B grammar, which is much larger and more comprehensive than anyone can currently imagine, apart from myself.  Since no one to date has ever assayed a relatively complete reconstruct of Mycenaean grammar, THAT will really hit home! The essays on derived (D) Mycenaean Linear B grammar will need to be subdivided by grammatical categories, verbs first, then nouns, etc., to prevent us from overwhelming our readers with the substantial mass of data we shall be covering.    

Before we can even pose the question, “What is Mycenaean Linear B derived (D) progressive grammar?”, we must account for any and all traces of Mycenaean grammar on the extant tablets. If we are to rely on the Mycenaean Linear B tablets, regardless of provenance, for signs of Mycenaean grammar, we are bound to be somewhat disappointed. Nevertheless, there remains on the Linear B tablets a corpus of Mycenaean grammar, considerably more substantial than we might have suspected, which is sufficiently viable for the reconstruction from the ground up of significant corpus of Mycenaean derived (D) grammar. In fact, the attributed (A) elements of Mycenaean grammar on extant Linear B tablets provide us with more than enough ammunition to reconstruct a wide spectrum of derived (D) Mycenaean grammar, as we shall soon see. From scanning through Chris Tselentis’ splendid Linear B Lexicon and other extant sources of Mycenaean Greek, I have been able to isolate the following snippets of extant, i.e. attributed (A), Mycenaean grammar.  These I have categorized by the discrete grammatical categories with which we are all familiar. 


NOTE that I am resorting to Prof. L.R. Palmer’s convention of LATINIZING all Linear B syllabograms, hence, words and phrases, since listing as many Mycenaean Linear B as I have even for attested (A) grammatical forms is a very tedious process not worth my trouble, let alone anyone else’s. However, I am providing in this post a few examples of actual attested (A) Linear B words, along with the complete derived (D) conjugation of didomi (I give), derived from the attested (A) didosi (they give) below. Here is the conjugation in the present active tense of the athematic verb didomi, fully restored:


Here you see examples of some of the grammatical forms listed in the attested (A) glossary below:


For Prof. L.R. Palmer’s extremely comprehensive glossary of Mycenaean Linear B words, see The Interpretation of Mycenaean Texts (1963), pp 403-466. Apart from Chris Tselentis’ Linear B Lexicon, this is far and away the most useful source of Mycenaean Linear B. 

KEY to abbreviations:

ps = person singular; pp = person plural; f = future; o = optative; dat = dative; pi (siffix)= instrumental or primeval ablative case e.g teukepi = with instruments or paraphernalia



akee = to send
akere = to gather, collect
apieke – to be covered all over
apudoke = to deliver
ekee = to have, hold
eree = to row
ereuterose = to set free, deliver from  
pere = to bring
piriye = to saw
woze = to work

Future passive:
dekasato = to be accepted

eureuterose = to set free (in the future)

Present indicative active:
ake 3 ps = he or she guides (sends?)
apeeke 3ps = he or she lets go
apieke 3ps = it contains???
apudoke 3ps = he or she delivers
didosi 3pp = they give, devote, grant
dose(i) 3ps = he or she gives
dososi 3pp = they give
ekamate 3ps = he or she stays
eke 3ps = he or she has
eko 2ps = I have
ekome 1pp = we have
ekote 2pp = you have
ekosi 3pp they have
eesi 3ps 3pp = he or she is, there is/they are?
ereutero 1ps = I set free
kitiyesi 3pp = they cultivate 
operosi 3pp = they owe
oudidosi 3pp = they do not give, are not giving
pasi 3pp = they say 
pere = he or she brings
piriyo = I saw (i.e. a log)
ponike 3ps = he or she decorates with a griffin
teke = he or she puts or sets
toqide 3ps = it has spirals
weke = he or she works
wide = he or she sees
zeukesi 3pp = they yoke or span  

Present passive:
ekeyoto = they are included

Present optative:
epikowo 3ps = that he or she may pay attention to
euketo 3ps = that he or she may wish (for)
qiriyato = that he or she may buy
uruto = he or she may guard

didosi = they gave = 3rd. person plural present tense
odoke = he or she gave
oporo = they owed
teke = he or she assigned
owide (wide) = he or she saw


Present Active:
apeaso/a 3ps = absent 
diuyo/a or diwiyo/a 3ps = belonging
eko/ekontes 3ps/3pp = having
eo 3ps = being
iyote 3pp = coming
kesenewiyo/a = hospitable (a divine epithet)
opero 3ps & operoso/a + operote 3pp = owing
oromeno/a = watching over
ouwoze = not working
temidweta/te = having rims, i.e. with rims  
tetukuwoa/tetukuwea2 = well prepared, ready (for distribution on the market)
toqideyo/a + toqideweso/a = with spirals
zesomeno/a = boiling

Present passive:

anono = not rented
audeweso/a = decorated with rosettes?
dedemeno/a = bound
dedomeno/a = (things) being offered
dedukuyo/a = being apprenticed to
epididato/a = distributed
erapameno/a = sown (as of cloth)
ereutero/a = set free
kuparisiyo/ya = made of cypress
pitiro2weso/a = adorned with feathers 
zeukesi 3ppdat = yoked, spanned
wozomeno/a = being fashioned/well made  

tetukuwo/a = well prepared, ready Cf. etoimo/a (D)

Perfect passive:
aetito/a = not used?
akitito/a = untitled?
amoiyeto/a = just delivered
anamoto/a = not assembled
apato/a = not sown?
emito/a = hired, paid
epididato/a = distributed
epizoto/a = bound, tied on top of
iyeto/a = delivered, offered up (religious connotation)
kakodeto/a = bound with copper?
kekaumeno/a = burned, razed to the ground
metakekumeno/a = dismantled?
qeqinomeno/a = made by twisting

Future perfect passive:
ewepesesomena = things to be returned *

pi (siffix)= instrumental or primeval * ablative case:
We refer to the ablative case as primeval, since it had completely disappeared from ancient Greek as early as Homer.

teukepi = with instruments or paraphernalia
seremokarapi  = decorated with sirens

In the next post, we shall be addressing the present, future, imperfect, aorist and perfect tenses of thematic verbs in Mycenaean Linear B.  

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