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  “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  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 , 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 , 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.
Tag Archive: adjectives
7 more Minoan Linear A words under PA-PAI, 6 of possible proto-Greek origin & 1 of proto-Scythian origin: Of these 7 new Minoan Linear A words under PA-PAI, 6 are of possible proto-Greek origin, while 1  is, surprisingly, probably the (proto-) Scythian infinitive pata = the ancient Greek infinitive, kteinein = “to slaughter, slay”. Of the remaining 7, 2  &  are very likely variant spellings of the same word Paean, which may mean “physician” or “saviour”, but since the attributed meaning “physician” is not standard Greek, the decipherment is surely open to question. The standard Mycenaean Linear B word for “physician” is iyate, equivalent to the ancient Greek iater (Latinized).  PAKU may possibly be an archaic Minoan Linear A word equivalent to ancient Greek pakhos (Latinized), but since the Minoan Linear A ultimate U, while attested everywhere, can only speculatively be linked with the ancient Greek ultimate OS (Latinized), PAKU may not be a valid proto-Greek word at all. But if it is , [2a] PAKUKA may very well be the feminine singular for the same.  PARIA is so close to the ancient Greek, pareia, that it is quite likely it means “the cheek piece (of a helmet)”, especially in view of the fact that military terminology is very common in Mycenaean Linear B, and may thus have been so in Minoan Linear A. But this is not necessarily the case.  PASU, once again terminating in the commonplace Linear A ultimate U, may possibly be the Minoan Linear A equivalent of Mycenaean Linear B paso, which is neut. singular for “everything”, but this decipherment is speculative.  PAIDA is possibly an archaic proto-Greek form of the ancient Greek paidia = “children”.  PAISASA may be an archaic form of the second pers. sing. aorist (simple past tense) of the Greek verb paizo = “to play, to engage in sport”, which is itself in turn the verb corresponding to  the putative noun, PAIDA = “children”. In short, every last one of these decipherments of 6 Minoan Linear A words of possible proto-Greek origin (excluding , which is (proto-) Scythian, is speculative. However, if all of them are on target, which is doubtful, the potential total number of Minoan Linear A words of putative proto-Greek and Scythian origin rises to 42 (or less).
5 more putative proto-Greek or pre-Greek Minoan Linear A words, MI-MU & 1 is a winner! The preceding table lists 5 more putative proto-Greek or pre-Greek Minoan Linear A words from MI-MU. Of these 5,  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  mini, which very likely means “month”, and which is probably proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean.  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.  musaja might possibly mean “shut/closed”, if it is an adjective, but this is a bit of stretch.
An Introductory Glossary of General Linguistics Terminology: Part C: R-Z: This glossary is ostensibly not comprehensive in any sense of the term, but it serves as a solid baseline introduction to linguistics terminology. R recursive definition: a definition that refers to itself and thus defines an infinite set of things. = circular definition. Recursive definitions are all too frequently found in research, and they are a dangerous trap. rhotacism: 1. an exaggerated use of the sound of the letter R 2. inability to pronounce the letter R. + 3. a linguistic phenomenon in which a consonant changes into an R, as in Latin flos, where flos becomes florem in the accusative case. root: a morpheme from a lexical class, typically verbal, nominal or adjectival, from which a lexical word is built (by adding affixes). Examples: -song- in -songster- + -sing- in -singer- + -singing- See also, stem S segment: any discrete unit or phone (sound), produced by the vocal apparatus, or a representation of such a unit. semanteme: an indivisible unit of meaning. See also: semantics, semiology semantic role: the underlying relationship that a participant has with the main verb in a clause. Also known as: semantic case, thematic role, theta role (generative grammar), and deep case (case grammar). Semantic role is the actual role a participant plays in some real or imagined situation, apart from the linguistic encoding of those situations. Examples (active & passive): If, in some real or imagined situation, someone named John purposely hits someone named Bill, then John is the agent and Bill is the patient of the hitting event. Therefore, the semantic role of Bill is the same (patient=object) in both of the following sentences: John hit Bill. Bill was hit by John. In both of the above sentences, John has the semantic role of agent. semantics: 1. (linguistics) the science of the meaning of words. 2. the study of the relationship between words and their meanings. 3. the individual meanings of words, as opposed to the overall meaning of a passage. 4. the study of meaning in language; in generative grammar: how the meanings of words combine to form complex meanings of phrases and sentences. semi-consonant: see semi-vowel (English only) semiology: the study of meaning. semiotics: the study of signs and symbols, especially as means of language or communication. semi-vowel: speech sound produced with a little more constriction of the airflow in the oral cavity than a vowel. Semi-vowels in English = l & r, but not in any other modern Occidental Indo-European language, in which l & r are pure consonants. In English only, semi-vowels or semi-consonants are the result of the great vowel shift in the Middle Ages, which softened the harder consonantal pronunciation of l & r typical of French, German, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Russian and many other Occidental languages into a much softer l & r. simulfix: a change or replacement of vowels or consonants (usually vowels) which changes the meaning of a word. Examples (English): -eat- becomes -ate - in past tense + -tooth- becomes -teeth- when plural. speech community: a group of people sharing characteristic patterns of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. stative verb: a verb that expresses a state of affairs or being rather than action. Stative verbs differ from verbs of action not just in meaning but in formal structure and usage. Some verbs can be both stative, expressing a state of affairs, and active. Stative English verbs include: be, concern, have. The verb -become- is both stative and active. stem: a morphological constituent larger than the root and smaller than the word. Derivational affixes are inside of the stem, and inflectional affixes attach to the stem. Examples: root = run + stem = runner + word = runners & root = sing + stem = singer + word = singers stress: a syllable having relative force or prominence. substantive: (broadly) a word or word group functioning syntactically as a noun. suffix: an affix that is attached to the end of a root or stem. Example (English): the past tense suffix -ed- attaches to the end of the verb stem -walk- to form the past tense -walked- Likewise, -ingest- to -ingested- & -transport- to -transported-. syllabary: 1. table or list of syllabic letters or syllables 2. writing system where each character represents a complete syllable. Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot are all syllabaries. syllable: 1.a unit of spoken language that is next bigger than a speech sound and consists of one or more vowel sounds alone or of a syllabic consonant alone or of either with one or more consonant sounds preceding or following; 2. one or more letters (as syl, la, and ble) in a word (as syllable) usually set off from the rest of the word by a centered dot or a hyphen and roughly corresponding to the syllables of spoken language and treated as helps to pronunciation or as guides to placing hyphens at the end of a line. synchronic: relating to the study of a language at only one point in its history. For instance, when a researcher limits his or her study to Mycenaean Linear B in the context of ancient Greek, the research is synchronic. Thus, synchronic linguistics is a key definition in the study of Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C & Homeric Greek. syncretism: the fusion of different inflexional forms. synecdoche: a figure of speech in which the one of the following (or its reverse) is expressed either as: (a) a part stands for a whole (b) an individual stands for a class OR (c) a material stands for a thing. Examples (English): -fifty head- referring to -50 head of cattle- & -cat- referring to -lion-. synonomy: the relationship between words (or expressions) of sameness of meaning in some or all contexts. Synonyms: words (or expressions) that have the same meaning in some or all contexts. Examples: car = automobile + house = residence syntagma: syntactic string of words that forms a part of some larger syntactic unit; a construction. syntax: the study of the rules governing the way words and morphemes are combined to form phrases and sentences. synthetic: pertaining to the joining of bound morphemes in a word. Compare analytic synthetic language: a language with a high morpheme-per-word ratio, as opposed to a low morpheme-per-word ratio in what is described as an isolating language. Agglutinative languages tend to exhibit synthetic properties. Indo-European languages, Greek + languages of the Romance family (Latin, Italian, French, Romanian, Spanish etc.), of the Germanic family (English, German, Swedish etc.), of the Slavic family (Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Czech, Slovak,Serbo-Croatian etc.) and of the Indoaryan family (Sanskrit, Hindi, Persian etc.) are all synthetic languages. T time deixis: time diexis refers to time relative to a temporal reference point. Typically, this point is the moment of utterance. Examples (English)= Temporal adverbs: now/then/yesterday/today/tomorrow = adverbial function. tmesis: (prosody) the insertion of one or more words between the components of a compound word. Example: How bright (+the) chit (+and) chat, inserted into chit-chat trope: the figurative use of an expression. Tropes include euphemisms, hyperbole (exaggeration), irony, litotes (understatement), metaphor, metonymy, onomatopoeia and various other devices. typology: the systematic classification of the types of something according to their common characteristics. U unbound root: a root which can occur by itself as a separate word. Another morpheme need not be affixed to it to make it a word. Examples: root (instead of – roots- -rooted- - rooting- etc.) & think (instead of -thinks- -thinking- -think-tank- etc.) univocal: 1. having only one possible meaning. -or- 2. containing only one vowel Ursprache: proto-language, such as the proto-language from ancient Greek and Sanskrit presumably arose. Although we can never know the actual structure, vocabulary etc. of a proto-language, we can attempt to re-construct it retrogressively. V vocable: a word or utterance, especially with reference to its form rather than its meaning vowel: speech sound produced without a significant constriction of the airflow in the oral cavity. vowel modification: an addition or alteration to the basic way that a vowel is articulated. For instance, in most languages, including English, most vowels can be articulated as long or short, as in: -a- in -father- (short) in -ate- (long), -e- in -set- (short) -meet- (long) & -o- in -got- (short) -goat- (long)
Associative versus Attributed Supersyllabograms Illustrated in Mycenaean Linear B: Click to ENLARGE This is Slide H of my lecture, “The Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B ” I shall be giving at the Conference, “Thinking Symbols” at the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, associated with the University of Warsaw, Poland, between June 30 & July 2, 2015. It clearly illustrates the marked difference between an associative (as) and an attributive supersyllabogram (at). Associative Supersyllabograms: Associative SSYLs relate to physical objects or items, places, specific locations & geographic identifiers which are independent of the ideograms they are associated with, and which do not define them in any way, except as additional information relative to the latter. A sheep is still a sheep, a horse is still a horse & an ox is still an ox, even when it has no associative supersyllabogram modifying it. However, associative SSYLS are extremely informative, since they always circumscribe the circumstances in which the ideograms, almost always animate and animal, find themselves placed. As such, associative SSYLS (as) replace whole words and even entire phrases, which offer us a great deal more insight into the ideogram involved than would have been supplied by the ideogram alone. There is a huge difference between the ideogram for “sheep” or “ram” all on its own, and the same ideograms accompanied by an associative supersyllabogram. For instance, in this illustration, the SSYL (as) KI informs us that “the ram is on a plot of land”. That is an entire sentence in English symbolized by the SSYL (as) KI + the ideogram for “ram” (only two characters!). The SSYL (as) O + “sheep” is even more informative, telling us that “the sheep is on a lease field.” and even “the sheep is on a usufruct lease field.” Not only that, the scribes frequently combined two or more SSYLs (as), such as KI & O with an ideogram, usually for “ram”, “ewe” or “sheep”, replacing a very long sentence in both Mycenaean Linear B and in English (or any other target language into which the source – Mycenaean Greek – is translated). Thus, the SSYLs (as) KI + O + the ideogram for “ewe + the number 114 mean no less than, “114 ewes on a plot of land which is a usufruct lease field”. Associative supersyllabograms proliferate in the agricultural sector of the Mycenaean economy, and are also characteristic of the military sector. Associative SSYLS are not symbiotic. Talk about a shortcut! Of course, many of us already know by now that the Mycenaean scribes frequently resorted to this clever stratagem to save plenty of space on what are, after all, very small tablets, rarely more than 30 cm. wide by 15 cm. deep, and usually much smaller. Attributive Supersyllabograms: On the other hand, attributive SSYLs (at) always modify the the sense of ideograms on which they simultaneously depend as the ideograms themselves depend on them through the attributive qualities they assign to the latter. In other words, the relationship between the attributive supersyllabogram and the ideogram which it modifies is both symbiotic and auto-determinative. The plain ideogram for “cloth” has nothing inside it. But when the ideogram for “cloth” is assigned an attribute (usually defined as an adjectival modifier) that ideogram contains inside itself the supersyllabogram which unequivocally modifies its meaning. Thus, the ideogram for “cloth” with the SSYL NE inside it can mean one thing and one thing only, “new cloth”. Likewise, the SYL PU inside the ideogram for “cloth” can only mean “purple cloth”, and nothing else. Similarly, the SSYL TE inside the same ideogram has the specific meaning, “well-prepared cloth” or “finished cloth prepared for market or sale”. Thus, all attributive supersyllabograms modify the unqualified meaning of the simple syllabogram for “cloth” in the textile sector, while similar SSYLS in other sectors, especially the vessels, pottery & vases sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy operate in the exact same fashion. Associative supersyllabograms proliferate in these two sectors. Richard
Associative Versus Attributive Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B: Appendix H Appendix H neatly summarizes the rôle of supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B. Click to ENLARGE: I wish to stress one thing in particular. There is a marked difference in associative supersyllabograms, which account for the greatest number of SSYLS in Mycenaean Linear B, and attributive supersyllabograms, which appear primarily in the textiles and vessels (pottery, amphorae, cups etc.) sectors of the Late Minoan III & Mycenaean economies. Associative supersyllabograms inform of us of some element, usually a land tenure factor, which relates to the ideogram itself, or which circumscribes its environment, especially in the livestock raising sub-sector of the agricultural sector. For instance, the supersyllabogram O, which you see in this Appendix, plus the ideogram for sheep + the number of sheep accounted for in the inventory of any particular tablet, informs us that the sheep are being raised on a lease(d) field, more specifically a usufruct lease field (i.e. a lease field which a farmer tenant cultivates for the use of his own family and village neighbours, with a taxation imposed by the overseer). In other words, the supersyllabogram is associated with the raising of x no. of sheep. The scribe could have simply informed us that x no. of sheep were raised, and left it at that. But he did not. By adding just one syllabogram, in this case a simple vowel = O, he has given us a great deal more information on the raising of the sheep (rams & ewes) on this particular tablet. And he has done all of this without having to resort to writing it all out as text. Since it was critical for the scribes to use as little space as possible on what were (and are) extremely small tablets, the use of supersyllabograms as a substitute for wasteful text is illustrative of just how far the scribes were willing to go to save such invaluable space. They did not do this only occasionally. They did it a great deal of the time, and they always followed the exact same formula in so doing. Not only are syllabograms such as O (on a lease field), KI (on a plot of land) & NE (in their sheep pens) in the field of sheep husbandry associative, they are all what I designate as dependent supersyllabograms, since they are meaningless unless they are immediately adjacent to the ideograms they qualify. No ideogram, no supersyllabogram. Period. To illustrate the radical difference between a Linear B tablet on which a supersyllabogram + an ideogram is used, and another on which the text is spelled out, take a good hard look at this comparison: Click to ENLARGE This comparison between the real tablet from Knossos using only supersyllabograms and ideograms (left) and a putative one using text in full (right) is precisely the reason why so many scribes much preferred the former formulaic approach to inscribing tablets to the latter discursive and space wasting technique. A textual version of this tablet would have been twice as long as the actual tablet. Even if no one nowadays has ever managed to decipher dependent supersyllabograms until now, that cannot conceivably mean that the Linear B scribes did not know what they were, since otherwise, they would never have used them so liberally in the first place. In other words, using SSYLS for no reason at all is tantamount to a reductio ad absurdum. There are thousands of supersyllabograms found on 700 tablets from Knossos. They are there because all of the scribes, as a team or, if you like, as a guild, all understood each and every supersyllabogram to mean one thing and one thing only in its proper context. In other words, supersyllabograms are standardized and always formulaic. This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Homer, who also heavily relied on formulaic expressions, though for entirely different reasons. My point is that formulaic language is a key characteristic of ancient Greek texts, right on down from Mycenaean times through to Attic and beyond. We should never overlook this extremely important characteristic of ancient Greek, regardless of period (1450 – 400 BCE). Attributive dependent supersyllabograms always appear inside the ideogram which they qualify, never adjacent to it. They always describe an actual attribute (usually known as an adjectival function) of the ideogram. For instance, the syllabogram PO inside the ideogram for “cloth” is the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of the Mycenaean word ponikiya = “purple”, hence the phrase = “purple cloth”. Likewise the syllabogram TE, when it appears inside the ideogram for “cloth” is the supersyllabogram for the Mycenaean word tetukuwoa, which means “well prepared” or if you like, “well spun”. Hence, the syllabogram TE inside the ideogram for cloth must mean one thing and one thing only, “well-prepared cloth”. I have discovered, identified & classified well over a dozen examples of associative supersyllabograms. Neither type of dependent supersyllabogram, associative or attributive, was ever isolated and tabulated in Mycenaean Linear B until I systematically studied, deciphered and classified scores of them on some 700 tablets from Knossos. Richard
Table of Athematic Third Declension Nouns & Adjectives in “eu” in Mycenaean Linear B: Click to ENLARGE NOTE: this table took me 12 hours (!) to compile. I sincerely hope that some of our visitors will acknowledge this in some way or other, by tagging the post with LIKE, assigning it the numbers of STARS they believe it merits, by re-blogging it, posting it on Facebook, tweeting it, posting it on Scoopit, whatever... Based on the template declension of the noun qasireu = “viceroy” in Mycenaean Linear B, itself derived in large part from extant archaic forms in The Catalogue of Ships of Book II of the Iliad by Homer, we have here all of the nouns, including proper, and adjectives I have been able to cull from various sources, all of which are referenced in the KEY at the top of the table. There are a few items in particular we need to take into consideration: (a) Apart from proper nouns, there are very few extant or derived nouns or adjectives in “eu” in Mycenaean Linear B; (b) The astonishing thing about the extant proper nouns is that a considerable number of them are also found in The Catalogue of Ships of Book II of the Iliad, in the most archaic Greek, hence, the most reliable source for derived Mycenaean proper names. While some proper names which are found in the Linear B Lexicon by Chris Tselentis are not found in The Catalogue of Ships, they are nevertheless Homeric. When I say “Homeric”, I refer specifically to proper names solely from The Catalogue of Ships, as those which are found elsewhere in the Iliad or the Odyssey may not be authentic Mycenaean eponymns or names, unless of course they are replicated in The Catalogue of Ships. I am, in short, extremely reticent to accept proper names as Mycenaean, unless they occur in The Catalogue of Ships. (c) On the other hand, the rest of the proper names found in this table may very well be, and some of them must be authentic Mycenaean proper names. Given this, it is quite probable that at least some of these names not to be found anywhere in Homer are nevertheless the names of original Mycenaean heroes and warriors, which might have been mentioned in an original Mycenaean epic of the Trojan War, almost certainly oral. It is absolutely critical in this scenario to underscore one point in particular: that if there ever did exist a Mycenaean epic upon which the Iliad was based, such a (stripped-down) epic could only have seeded The Catalogue of Ships, and no other part of the Iliad or Odyssey, since it is in The Catalogue of Ships alone that we find far and away the greatest number of occurrences of archaic Greek, and not in the remainder of the Iliad or the Odyssey. Some will of course argue that some archaic remnants still pop up here and there in the the remainder of the Iliad and Odyssey, but it is important to realize in this particular that Homer most likely – indeed, almost certainly – (unconsciously) carried over the habit of using bits and pieces of archaic Greek, much more common in The Catalogue of Ships, to the rest of the epic cycle. In fact, there is real doubt that he ever did compose outright The Catalogue of Ships. Rather, it appears, he may very well have had access to an earlier, archaic epic, which had indeed been copied from its original Mycenaean template. He then in turn copied the whole thing lock-stock-and-barrel, embellishing it with his own peculiar style in so-called Epic Greek, as he went along. That seems the more likely scenario to me. At any rate, the more simplistic structure, and above all other considerations, the characteristically Mycenaean inventory have stamped themselves prominently on The Catalogue of Ships alone. If nothing else, there can be little or no doubt that the entire Catalogue of Ships (exclusive of the rest of Book II of the Iliad, which was a later addition) was composed well before the rest of the Iliad, and long before the Odyssey. So the question remains, Who were all those Mycenaean warriors? Which ones had Homer forgotten, or conveniently omitted from The Catalogue of Ships? One thing appears almost undeniable. The proper names we see in this table, which are not in The Catalogue of Ships, are very likely those of Mycenaean wanaka or kings, qasirewe or viceroys, heroes and other assorted warriors. Why they do not appear anywhere in the Iliad is beyond our reckoning. But they do appear on extant Mycenaean Linear B tablets, and this constitutes enough evidence for me that they were important figures to the Mycenaeans. Richard
REVISED: Archaic Declensions in “eu” in Mycenaean Greek = “eus” in Homeric Greek: Click to ENLARGE One of the most archaic declensions in ancient Greek is the Athematic Third Declension in which nouns in the nominative end in “eus” in Homeric Greek or “eu” in Mycenaean Greek, as illustrated by the complete declension table above of the noun “qasireu” = “viceroy” in Mycenaean Linear B, and of “basileus” = “(lesser) king” in Homeric Greek. The process whereby I can reasonably reconstruct any verb conjugation or any nominal or adjectival declension from the Homeric Greek of The Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad or, failing that, from Book II of the Iliad, I call regressive extrapolation. In the table of the athematic third declension above for “qasireu” = “viceroy” in Mycenaean Linear B, very few forms are already attested on the tablets (mainly the nominative singular), but all of the cases, singular, dual and plural, can be reconstructed with almost complete accuracy by means of regressive extrapolation. It is critical in this regard to understand that, if at all possible, the forms derived in this manner must reflect their most archaic equivalents in Homer, which is why I always resort to The Catalogue of Ships in Book II, and also why I have taken it upon myself to translate The Catalogue in its entirety (although I still have 4 more sequential sections to translate). Once I have reconstructed any conjugation or declension, and the table is complete, as seen above, the process of reconstruction in Mycenaean Linear B forward through all the cases (nominative, genitive, dative/locative/instrumental & accusative) and all three numbers (singular, dual & plural) I call progressive extrapolation. Starting this month, and working through the spring of 2015, I shall attempt to reconstruct as many declensions of nouns and adjectives as I am convinced can stand the test of regressive-progressive extrapolation, without resulting in absurdities, i.e. without falling into the trap of reductio ab adsurdum. Unfortunately, such reconstruction can be and sometimes is open to precisely that pitfall. So where it is impossible to reconstruct any verbal conjugation or nominal/ adjectival declension without unsubstantiated Homeric or Arcado-Cypriot forms, I shall not do so. Last year (2014), we successfully reconstructed verb tables for the present, future, imperfect, aorist & perfect tenses of the active voice of both thematic and athematic verbs in Mycenaean Linear B, of which the complete tables can be consulted in the CATEGORY, PROGESSIVE LINEAR B, of this blog. In the next post, I shall provide a reasonably comprehensive list of nouns and adjectives in the Athematic Third Declension, ending in “eu” in Mycenaean Greek. The likelihood that the Mycenaean Linear B syllabogram for WE is indicative of the nominative plural of certain Mycenaean nouns and adjectives of the athematic third declension was first brought to my attention by Ms. Gretchen Leonhardt, whose site is: Click on this Banner to visit - By extapolation, the same principle can be applied to the Mycenaean Linear B syllabogram for WA, which is reperesentative of the accusative plural of certain nouns and adjectives of the athematic third declension, among others. Richard
Linear B “To all the gods... ” There is much more than meets the eye in Rita Roberts’ Astute Translation: Click to ENLARGE Now that Rita has been translating tablets from Linear B into English for well over a year, she has come to learn quite a few tricks of the trade, and is well aware of the numerous pitfalls that beset translators of Mycenaean Greek, who can and all too often do fail to “read” everything that the scribes meant to convey, leaving unsaid what they all knew perfectly well they actually were saying to one another, regardless of inventorial context. This phenomenon occurs over and over on the majority of Linear B tablets, and always for the same reason: the scribes were forced to save as much valuable space as they possibly could on a very small, cramped medium, the Linear B tablet. They quickly became extremely adept at finding clever little shortcuts around the problem of cramming as much essential – versus inessential - information as they could into the little space afforded them. What Rita has assumed in the specific context of this text, which happens to be uncharacteristically religious for Linear B, is just this: the text does not merely read, “to all the gods oil 1”. That is a patently ridiculous, semantically stripped translation. This would be tantamount to an inventory nowadays stating something silly like, “for the car oil 1”, when we really mean,“1 refill can of type XX oil for our car.” She is fully aware that the Linear B scribe who wrote this text was actually saying much more than that. The scribe was able to telescope or abstract the full content of his message into just 2 Linear B words + 1 ideogram + the numeral 1. So what exactly was he saying? Today, we no longer know, nor can we. But rest assured that all his fellow scribes knew exactly what he was saying, because they all followed the same “script”, consisting of the same formulaic, usually partial, phrases; the same logograms and ideograms; and the same supersyllabograms repeated over and over, from Knossos to Phaistos to Pylos to Mycenae to Thebes, you name it, anywhere where Mycenaean Greek was written down in Linear B. The Mycenaean Greek as composed in Linear B was by far the most uniform ancient Greek script, because it was an inventorial language, and nothing more, in other words, a finely telescoped subset of the Mycenaean dialect. No one has ever seen the Mycenaean dialect per se actually written out in full sentences, paragraphs and documents, because it never was. I repeat, Linear B is a small statistical inventorial subset of Mycenaean Greek. To view it any other way is tantamount to forcing it far beyond its clearly defined, restricted boundaries, and to twist it into something it was never meant to be, i.e. a dialectical script. However, just because we can no longer really be sure nowadays what the formulaic language the Minoan/Mycenaean scribes actually conveyed in each and every specific context (agricultural, textiles, military, religious etc.), this does at all not imply that we cannot hazard various tenable reconstructions of their original intent... because in fact we can. In some cases, the underlying full context lies closely enough to the surface that only a few, possibly as many as four, truly tenable translations are likely to arise. That is the case with this tablet. Rita and I discussed at some length the putative meanings that could possibly be assigned to this text, and we could only come up with four. These are: (a) Rita’s own translation, “To all the (our) gods an offering * of one gift of oil.” (b) “To all the (our) gods one vessel (vial) of oil.” (c) “To all the (our) gods an offering * of one vessel (vial) of olive oil.” (d) “To all the (our) gods a gift of one vessel (vial) of oil.” OMITTED: any of these words: our, offering, gift, vessel, vial, olive oil & anyway, just who are “all the gods”! The scribes all knew. We don’t. Too bad. Tough. The reason for the insertion of the Mycenaean Linear B word, * APUDOSIS * (offering) is transparent enough. It was frequently used on Linear B tablets in contexts just such as this, and so, if omitted, it can still be supplied. Secondly, the oil used by the Greeks was almost always olive oil, which of course had to be contained in some type of vessel. There are well over 20 Linear B ideograms for vessels. But why mention the vessel when (as I am sure any scribe would have told you) it is obvious to any idiot that you put olive oil in a vessel. Omit what it obvious to “everyone” (us scribes) & save lots of space. Great! Ergo... one thing is pretty much certain. At least one of the translations above has to be almost spot on, regardless of word order, which does not amount to much more than a hill of beans in Mycenaean Greek anyway, given that as much is left unsaid as is spelled out. In our next post, we shall discuss in greater detail the profound implications this methodology of interpretation has on the decipherment and translation of practically all Linear B tablets right acrossthe board. Richard
Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae 2014: The Year in Review and then some, our new blog, Transcendence and The Singularity, in 2015 Although our blog is only 20 months old, it has assumed a prominent rôle as one of the Internet’s primary resources on current research into Mycenaean Linear B and much more besides. We are also the fist and foremost source for the ongoing study of Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, for which until now very few adequate resources have existed on the Internet. We have carefully classified our blog into several main Categories, which appear right at the top of the Home Page of our blog, as you see here: Click to ENLARGE The Categories of PRIMARY concern to ourselves and, we hope, to all of us worldwide who are deeply committed to the furtherance of research into Mycenaean Greek & Linear B, as well as into Arcado-Cypriot and Linear C, are highlighted in UPPER CASE. This does not imply that the other Categories are not important. They are. It is just that we devote less of our time and resources to them than to the PRIMARY Categories. In our first full year of operation, 2014, we set out to reach certain goals, and we are pleased to announce that we have attained or exceeded them all. These are prioritized as follows: 1. The theory and practical implementation of the new theory of SUPERSYLLABOGRAMS in Mycenaean Linear B. While Prof. John Chadwick, Michael Ventris, Prof. Thomas G. Palaima and Chris Tselentis were all aware of the existence of supersyllabograms in one form or another, and while the latter three had each isolated certain instances of their appearance in Linear B, none of them actually “defined” them as such, since none of them was aware of all of the practical applications of supersyllabograms in Linear B, of which there are three, as we shall soon enough see in 2015. It is my intention to publish, in concert with my research colleague, Rita Roberts, a full-length research article in PDF format, The Theory and Applications of Sypersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B, sometime in 2015, probably no earlier than the summer, as we fully intend to have it peer-reviewed by at least 2 of the world’s leading experts or institutions intimately involved with Linear B prior to publication, among whom we can hopefully count on Prof. Thomas G. Palaima, Chris Tselentis and the Heraklion Museum: Click to ENLARGE 2. The translation of as many extant Linear B tablets as we could reasonably hope to handle, without over-stretching our human resources. There are two translators of Linear B on our Blog, my now advanced student of Linear B, Rita Roberts, and myself. Between us, we have managed to translate into English scores of Linear B tablets from Knossos, four from Pylos, and one each from Mycenae and Thebes. You can review all of our translations for yourself by clicking on the Categories SCRIPTA MINOA for tablets from Knossos and Tablets for Linear A, B & C tablets and fragments from anywhere else. 3. Throughout the spring of 2014, I also began reconstructing the grammar of Mycenaean Greek from the ground up, successfully building complete verb conjugations for the active voice in all of the these tenses of both thematic and athematic verbs: present, future, imperfect, aorist & perfect, leaving other tenses aside for reasons which will be made clear later in 2015: Click to ENLARGE I intend to continue with the reconstitution of derived forms for the declensions of nouns and adjectives, and for the use of cases with prepositions, including the early instrumental case which fell into disuse by the time alphabetic Greek came to the fore in the eighth century BCE. 4. We also believe that a successful decipherment of Minoan Linear A may be around the corner (i.e. within the next five years or so), for reasons which will become apparent with the creation of our new blog, TRANSCENDENCE, as of early 2015: The title of our new blog is, of course, based on the movie of the same name, Transcendence & The Singularity, 2014, starring Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall. Our new Blog is to serve as an international online forum for the sharing of novel ideas, new theories and advances in the following areas of scientific research now dominating the world scene: the implications of the Curiosity Project on Mars and of the search for exoplanets for the potential and probable discovery if life elsewhere in the universe; the active involvement of NASA, other major international Space agencies and organizations in extraterrestrial communication; the emergence of cosmic consciousness beyond our earthly sphere of knowledge for the first time in human history and, of course, the search for the practical application of artificial intelligence and its implications for human affairs in all spheres of life, with reference to the likelihood that the well-touted Singularity will occur sometime in our century, possibly as early as 2025-2030, more likely around 2040-2050. These will be our primary concerns on that blog. It is not so much a question of I myself sharing my own knowledge, pitifully limited as it is, of these critical advancements in the sphere of our scientific knowledge-base as of seeking as much input and as variegated feedback from the scientific and technological community worldwide, as well as from amateurs such as ourselves, on these amazing developments now sweeping over the planet. 5. Concurrent with the creation of our Blog, Transcendence and the Singularity, we shall be pursuing the possibilities for the practical application of Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C on this blog to extraterrestrial communication, a project which is already well underway here under the rubric, NASA at the top of our home page. Click on the NASA banner to read more about this truly fascinating research project: 6. We shall also be taking our first steps towards the compilation of the most comprehensive vocabulary of Mycenaean Linear B ever yet developed, A Topical English-Mycenaean Greek Lexicon. We intend to double the Mycenaean Greek lexicon of some 2,500 attested (A) words currently known to 5,000 attested (A) and derived (D) at the very minimum, with a large number of derived (D) words regressively extrapolated from these sources in descending order of priority: (a) the extant vocabulary of Arcado-Cypriot, in both Linear C and in the alphabetical Arcado-Cypriot dialect, since this dialect is more closely related to Mycenaean Greek than even Attic Greek is to Ionic; (b) The Catalogue of Ships in Book II of Homer’s Iliad, in which we find the most archaic Greek after the Arcado-Cypriot dialect, a Greek which still contains a number of grammatical elements left over from Mycenaean Greek. I shall have translated the entire Catalogue of Ships into English before the end of winter 2015 as the framework or template, if you like, for the regressive extrapolation of derived (D) Mycenaean Greek; (c) from the rest of the Iliad and (d) from the early Aeolic, Ionic and Attic dialects, prior to the fifth century BCE. I must lay particular stress on the fact that Mycenaean Greek vocabulary can only be derived (D) from these dialects alone, since all are East Greek dialects, right on down from Mycenaean to Attic Greek. Mycenaean Greek words emphatically cannot be derived (D) from West Greek dialects such as the Doric, as these are not directly related to it. Richard
Significance of the Statistical Frequency of Syllabograms in % according to Michael Ventris (1952) Michael Ventris was on to much more than even he imagined when he began to unravel the mysteries of the Linear B script by the spring of 1952, when he constructed the following table, in which he extrapolated the statistical frequency in percentage (%) of most of the syllabograms [Click to ENLARGE]: What he didn't realize then, and what has become not only apparent but of paramount importance to myself and, I sincerely hope, to other researchers in the field of Linear B today is that most of the syllabograms with high or moderate frequencies (in %) play an enormous role in the progressive-regressive reconstruction of Mycenaean grammar and vocabulary alike. I cannot stress this point too much. Some syllabograms, in fact, play such a decisive role in the grammar and vocabulary of Mycenaean Greek that they cannot be safely ignored in the reconstruction of the language. Of these, for the time being, the most significant for our purposes are, above all, JO (genitive sing. masc. & neut. adjs. & nouns) and SI (dative plural & endings for several forms of verb conjugations, as well as U (nom. sing. masc. nouns), YA (fem. sing. nom. & gen. adjs. & nouns), TA (fem. sing. nom. & neut. pl. nom.) and TE (verb conjugations). Keep posted for our analyses of the contextual significance of each of these syllabograms in turn, beginning with the 2 most relevant to the reconstruction of both Mycenaean grammar & vocabulary, i.e. JO & SI. We shall address the rest of the high and moderate frequency syllabograms late this year. Richard
KEY POST! Complete Conjugations in the Active Voice of Thematic Verbs in Mycenaean Linear B (Click to ENLARGE): It is of vital importance to researchers and serious students of Mycenaean Linear B grammar to carefully read and study this post, as it serves as the basis and starting point for the complete reconstruction of both Mycenaean Linear B grammar & vocabulary, following the tenets of my Theory of Regressive-Progressive Linear B Grammar, by the end of 2015. This reconstruction encompasses, but is not necessarily limited to, the recovery of: 1 All tenses in all voices of Mycenaean verbs, active, middle & passive, and of the optative and (possibly) the subjunctive moods. 2 The recovery of as much of the system of participles as can be reasonably achieved. 3 The restoration of as many adverbs as can be reasonably expected. 4 The restoration of the first, second & third declensions of adjectives and nouns, in so far and to the extent that this is feasible. There are several roadblocks and gaping holes in declensions which I will address later this year or early in 2015. 5 The use of prepositions and the cases they govern. 6 Any other aspects of Mycenaean grammar which I have not addressed here. 7 A considerable increase in the corpus of Mycenaean vocabulary, both attributed and derived, from the current 2,500 words or so to at least double that, i.e. at least 5,000 words. Richard