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

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.

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

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 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. 

Mycenaean Linear B Units of Dry Measure, Knossos Tablet KN 406 L c 02: Click to ENLARGE

Mycenaean Linear B Units of Dry Measure, Knossos Tablet KN 406 L c 02: Click to ENLARGE

KN 416 L c 02 akareu paito spice total

The translation of this tablet from Knossos into English is relatively straightforward. The problem is that no one really knows what exactly the unit of measure designated by the Linear B symbol that looks like a T means. My best guess is that the 9 shakers of coriander (I say, shakers, because the ideogram looks like a shaker & it is most likely folks used shakers back in the good old days in Knossos, just as we do nowadays). However, the problem remains, how do 9 shakers of coriander add up to only 2 units. My best guess is that the shakers were boxed, 5 units per box. So 9 shakers would have filled one box and most of another... something along those lines.

Andras Zeke of the Minoan Language Blog gives a value of approx. 3 kilograms per unit, meaning we would end up with about 5 kg. or so for 9 shakers of coriander. They would have had to be really huge shakers! No one could have held them. So it is quite apparent that the measured value Andras Zeke has assigned to our wee little T is in fact way off the mark, if we are to believe our eyes. On the other hand, that T might very well have been divisible by 10 or even 100, given that the Mycenaean numeric system is based on units of 10, just like our own. So it is conceivable that we are dealing with some kind of metric system here. Given that the Mycenaean numeric is base 10, that would make sense. So we could be dealing with something like 50 grams and not 5 kilograms of coriander... that would make a hell of a lot of sense.  But since we were not there to see how the scribes allocated the spice jars into so-called units, we shall never really know. Still, there is no harm in speculating.

Now, as for my translation of the ideogram for a spice container (spice shaker), I have translated it specifically as a “a coriander spice shaker”, since on every single every tablet, bar none, from Knossos mentioning spice containers, it is always coriander that is spelled out. The folks at Knossos must have been crazy about coriander!  Since there are only 2 or 3 tablets which do not mention coriander outright, that leaves us with around 95 % of all tablets referring to spices which do spell it out. Linear B scribes were very fussy about having to spell out the names of spices, or for that matter, anything on Linear B tablets which could be easily represented, i.e. symbolized by an ideogram. The ideogram appears on this tablet, but the word does not. This is practically beside the point. It appears that the scribe simply did not bother writing it, for some reason or another. The practice of spelling out the name of any item on a Linear B tablet which can easily be illustrated with an ideogram is very unusual. The scribes were sticklers for saving space at all costs on what is admittedly a very small medium, rarely more than 30 cm. wide by 15 cm. deep, and more often than not, even smaller than that!  So the fact that the scribes generally did spell out coriander as the spice of choice for Minoan Knossos seems to imply that the king, queen, princes and the palace attendants prized it very highly. 

Another point: almost all of the tablets mentioning koriyadana = coriander also use the word apudosi = delivery, i.e. they tabulate the actual delivery of so many units of coriander to the palace. So this tablet can be translated any of these ways:

Achareus delivers to Phaistos 9 shakers of coriander for a total of 2 units
Achareus delivers for deposit at Phaistos 9 shakers of coriander for a total of 2 units.
or even
Achareus delivers for deposit at the palace of Phaistos 9 shakers of coriander for a total of 2 units.

These are all valid translations, since after all everyone who was anyone, meaning the scribes, the nobility and the wealthy businessmen) knew perfectly well that such precious commodities as coriander could only be consumed by the well-to-do, and that these folks all lived – you guessed it – in the palace! There was absolutely no need in the minds of the scribes, meaning, in practice, for them to write out what was obvious to everyone. This is precisely why nowadays we need to learn to read out of the tablets what the scribes were actually inventorying, rather than trying to read into them. If this sounds like a tough slog, you bet it is. But it is far better to aim at getting the actual gist of the message on the tablet (whether or not spelled out in text, or simply with logograms and ideograms) than to strip down your translation to the point where it becomes unintelligible.

This is all the more true in light of the fact that at least 800 of 3,000 tablets I meticulously consulted from the Scripta Minoa from Knossos contain very little if any text at all, and rather a lot of supersyllabograms (single syllabograms), ideograms and logograms. The reason for this is obvious: in order to save as much space as humanly possible, the Linear B accountants (scribes) never wrote out what was obvious to them all as a guild. In other words, Mycenaean Linear B, as an inventory and statistical accounting language – which is what it basically is – combines two notable features: (a) the language is highly formulaic & (b) the greater part of it is shorthand for Mycenaean Greek text inferred but rarely explicitly spelled out. If this sounds peculiar to us nowadays, we need only recall that this is exactly how modern shorthand functions. All too many Linear B translators have completely overlooked this fundamental characteristic of Mycenaean Linear B, which in large part explains its almost total uniformity over a wide geographic area, from Knossos to Phaistos and other Mycenaean sites on the island to Crete itself to Pylos on the opposite coast, all the way to Mycenae and Tiryns on the far side of the Peloponnese and even as far away as Thebes in Boeotia, which was a key Mycenaean centre and which has been continually occupied from then on right through to today. Click on the map to ENLARGE:

Thebes Boetia

All of this further implies that, while Linear B, the accounting and inventorying language for Mycenaean Greek, was homogeneous, uniform and formulaic to the teeth, the actual Mycenaean dialect may very well have not been. In fact, I sincerely doubt it was, since it is symptomatic of all ancient Greek dialects, even those which are closely related (such as the Ionic and Attic) to diverge and go their own merry way, regardless of the structure, orthography and grammatical quirks of their closest relatives. Since that was surely the case with every ancient Greek dialect with which we are familiar – and God knows it was! - then it must have also been the case with Mycenaean Greek and with its closest, kissing cousin, Arcado-Cypriot Greek, the latter written in Linear C or in the quirky Arcado-Cypriot alphabet. Even though no other ancient Greek dialects were as closely related as were Mycenaean and its kissing cousin, Arcado-Cypriot, these dialects were somewhat different. What is more, it is almost certain that there were notable variations within each of these dialects, the further afield you went. In other words, the Mycenaean Greek spoken at Knossos and Phaistos, which would have been much more influenced by its forbear, the Minoan language, was a little different from that spoken at Pylos, and doubtless even more from the Mycenaean Greek at Mycenae, Tiryns and especially Thebes.

But spoken Mycenaean Greek and the Mycenaean Linear B accounting and inventorying language are not the same beast. The latter is a homogeneous, formulaic and largely shorthand subset of the former. I shall have a great deal more to say about this extremely important distinction between the two in future.


Categories now Separated into MAJOR (in CAPS) & Regular on Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae, to Facilitate Serious Research into Linear B

Categories now Separated into MAJOR (in CAPS) & Regular on Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae, to Facilitate Serious Research into Linear B: Click to ENLARGE

Categories Classification Linear B Knossos & Mycenae 2014 REVISED
I have just separated the Categories on our blog, as listed above, into MAJOR Categories (in CAPS or UC), and Regular. To search any Category, just click on its name. A few words of explanation. I have had to make this distinction between Major and Regular Categories because, as of 2015, Rita, my research colleague and I, shall be focusing our attention more and more on the Major Categories, and less and less on the Regular. In particular,

I myself will be translating the entire Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad, in which we find the most archaic Greek in the entire Iliad. It is therefore of utmost significance in the confirmation of Attested (A) vocabulary, found on any and all Linear B tablets discovered to date, and in the restoration of Derived (D) Mycenaean Greek vocabulary, nowhere Attested (A).

LEXICONS & GLOSSARIES: At the moment, there are only two Linear B lexicons of any note on the Internet, (a) The Mycenaean (Linear B) – ENGLISH Glossary, which although useful is extremely unreliable, riddled as it is with over 25 errors in the Mycenaean Linear B entries alone, and with at least 100 more errors in either ancient Greek or English. Students of Linear B should use this glossary with the utmost of caution, as they are liable to make serious errors in deciphering or translating Linear B tablets, if they rely on it solely. 

You can download the .PDF file of this unreliable Glossary here:

Explore Crete
And you definitely should check out all the errors I highlighted in the Linear B entries alone in our previous post here:

Mycenaean Linear B English Gliossary ERRORS!
On the other hand, Chris Tselentis’ Linear B Lexicon is not only far more comprehensive, it is also extremely accurate and very well researched. The Title Page of Chris Tselentis’ extremely reliable Linear B Lexicon: Click to ENLARGE:

Tselentis Linear B Lexicon
Both are available in .PDF format on the Internet. If you must insist on using the first glossary (a), you should be certain to cross-check every single reference you find in it against the Lexicon (b).

In order to compensate for the unreliable Glossary (a), Rita Roberts, my research associate, and I shall be compiling an all new Topical English – Mycenaean Value-Added Linear B Lexicon throughout 2015 and into 2016, which we hope to release in PDF format sometime in 2016 or at the very latest in 2017. Our Lexicon is meant to complement, and not replace Chris Tselentis’ fine Lexicon. Whereas Tselentis has laid particular emphasis on the inclusion of as many personal names and toponyms (place names) as he could possibly find on extant Linear B tablets, our Lexicon is to focus instead on these particular areas:

(a) the correction of absolutely all errors in the sloppily conceived Mycenaean (Linear B) – ENGLISH Glossary +
(b) the addition of 1,000s of new Mycenaean Linear B Derived (D) words, not Attested (A) on any extant Linear B tablets, vocabulary which nevertheless we believe almost certainly was in regular use in Mycenaean Greek. The criteria for inclusion of any and all such Derived (D) Vocabulary will be clearly defined in the introduction to our new Linear B Lexicon, which is bound to at least double the current Mycenaean Linear B corpus from about 2,500 discreet words (non-inclusive of personal names & toponyms) to at least 5K. +
(c) We shall not, however, duplicate the excellent work Chris Tselentis has done with personal name & toponyms in his fine Linear B Lexicon, because to do so would simply be a waste. On the other hand, we shall include all major Minoan & Mycenaean personal names & toponyms which play a critical rôle in extant Linear B texts.

MICHAEL VENTRIS: It goes without saying that I regard absolutely any information and research, original or new, relevant to my hero, Michael Ventris, as of critical importance. I hope you do so too.

PROGRESSIVE LINEAR B: Progressive Linear B is a brand new Theory of Mycenaean Greek Grammar and Vocabulary in Linear B. This theory enables me to reconstruct large swaths of Mycenaean Greek grammar and vocabulary, by means of the techniques of Regressive Analysis from later Greek textual resources, in the following order of relevance, highest to lowest: Arcado-Cypriot Linear C sources (that dialect being the closest cousin to Mycenaean Greek); The Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad (See Iliad above); the Iliad itself; and finally, all of the East Greek dialects other than Arcado-Cypriot related to Mycenaean Greek, the older dialects taking precedence over the later, in this approximate order: early Ionic, Aeolic, Ionic & Attic Greek.

Having regressively extrapolated grammatical forms (conjugations, declensions, prepositions & adverbs, numerics etc.) from their latter-day equivalents in the aforementioned dialects, I shall then proceed to reconstruct as much of the corpus of Mycenaean Greek grammar as I safely can, within strict parameters based on equally strict criteria, which I shall of course detail in my Introduction to the grammar, whenever I am finally able to release it in.PDF format on the Internet (2017-2018).

Naturally, the reconstruction of Mycenaean vocabulary in our new Lexicon first (2015-2016) and of the most complete Mycenean grammar ever seen to date (2017-2018) are both immense undertakings, so please do not hold either myself or Rita to account if we take longer to release them than we might have anticipated. This is so simply because we expect from ourselves only the finest quality. And you should expect the same, nothing less.

SUPERSYLLABOGRAMS: Finally comes the biggest surprise of them all, an entirely new Theory of Linear B Supersyllababograms, which we seriously believe will prove to be a major breakthrough in the decipherment of much of the remaining 10 % of Linear B single syllabograms (i.e. where we find only 1 syllabogram all by itself written on a Linear B tablet, heretofore entirely resistant to decipherment). But as it turns out almost all of these single syllabograms, of which – get ready for this! - at least 31 of 61 Linear B syllabograms – are actually supersyllabograms. Trust me on this one, a supersyllabogram, as you shall all soon enough discover, is much more than a simple syllabogram.

Moreover, the implications of the impact of sypersyllabograms on our understanding of just what (kind of syllabary) Linear B is are bound to be profound and wide-reaching. I would even venture to go so far as to claim that Supersyllabograms (SSYs) will represent the first major breakthrough in the decipherment of Linear B in the 64 years since Michael Ventris’ astonishing achievement in cracking Linear B with the decipherment of Linear B Tablet Pylos PY 641-1952 in that year (1952). And just to whet your appetite, I shall be posting the completely revised Linear B Syllabary (2014), which I myself recently posted on our blog and on the Internet, with all the Supersyllabograms highlighted in BOLD, but without letting you know what these Supersyllabograms actually mean... although you can already find out for yourself what they mean simply by reading all the posts under the Major Category, SUPERSYLLABOGRAMS. So go for it. More news on this exciting breakthrough in the next post, which you are going to have to read anyway, if you are a Linear B researcher or translator really, really serious about new, unexpected developments into the Linear B syllabary.

Stay posted!


20 Greek Words in the Arcadian Dialect Translated into Tentative & Actual Linear B

20 Greek Words in the Arcadian Dialect Translated into Tentative & Actual Linear B: (Click to ENLARGE):

Arcadian Linear C Linear B

As I just did in our previous post with a much larger vocabulary of the Cypriot dialect, from which I extracted as many putative or hypothetical Linear B concrete and semi-abstract words as I could, leaving purely abstract words aside (as they almost never appear in in Linear B in Mycenaean Greek), I am providing 20 hypothetical Linear B equivalents to everyone on our blog or on the Internet fascinated by the near intimate relationship between the Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot dialects, written in Linear B and C respectively, with a vocabulary in the Arcadian dialect, somewhat briefer than that I posted for the Cypriot.

By way of introduction, I should like to draw your attention to some highly pertinent facts. In his ground-breaking exhaustive survey of all of the ancient Greek dialects, C. D. Buck, in The Greek Dialects (a), has this to say about the relationship of the Arcadian and Cypriot dialects, which are fact but minor variants on the same dialect (all italics mine):No two dialects, not even Attic and Ionic, belong together more obviously than do those of Arcadia and the distant Cyprus. They share in a number of notable peculiarities which are unknown elsewhere. See 189 and Chart I. This is to be accounted for by the fact that Cyprus was colonized, not necessarily or probably from Arcadia itself, as tradition states, but from the Peloponnesian coast, at a time when its speech was like that which in Arcadia survived the Doric migration. This group represents, beyond question, the pre-Doric speech of most of the Peloponnesus whatever we choose to call it... passim...

... There are in fact notable points of agreement between Arcado-Cypriot and Aeolic (see 190.3-6 and Chart I,) which cannot be accidental... passim... and there are certain points of agreement with Attic-Ionic...”  

C.D. Buck’s comments pretty much speak for themselves. But it is extremely important to stress the very intimate relationship between Arcado-Cypriot Greek (being the natural conflagration of the Arcadian and Cypriot dialects into one almost seamless continuum) on the one hand to Aeolic and Attic-Ionic on the other, all of these dialects inclusive falling squarely within the orbit of East Greek, as we move chronologically forward in time. On the other hand, along the same timeline, only in reverse chronological order, we can confirm that (proto-)Arcadian and Mycenaean Greek also unquestionably belong to the same class of ancient Greek dialects, namely, the East Greek. This is precisely why I choose to term both Mycenaean and (proto-)Arcadian as proto-Ionic, since that is in fact what these dialects were. 

In this perspective, we need to add one more critical comment, again quoting directly from C.D. Buck (although he and I would certainly mirror one another, if we either of us were to say this, even without knowing the other one had. He did say this, and I do.) So allow me to steal the words right out of his mouth, in the sure realization that this is precisely what I, and for that matter, all linguists worldwide would say about the relationship between the ancient Greek dialects would assert... save for a few lone renegades, whom I won’t even bother with, as it is a waste of my breath and our time. C.D. Buck has this to say:The most fundamental division of the Greek dialects is that into the West Greek and the East Greek dialects, the terms referring to their location prior to the great migrations. The East Greek are the “the old Hellenic” dialects, that is, those employed by the peoples who held the stage almost exclusively in the period represented by the Homeric poems, when the West Greek peoples remained in obscurity in the northwest. To the East Greek belong the Attic and Aeolic groups... passim... And to the East Greek (dialects) also belong the Arcado-Cyprian.” And, of course, just to be certain we have the whole picture clearly in focus, we must also include Mycenaean Greek and early Arcadian as proto-Ionic, both of which dialects held sway “prior to the great migrations.” Here C.D. Buck is referring specifically to the great Doric invasion of the Greek peninsula ca. 1200-1100 BCE or thereabouts.

The following summary can be drawn with relative ease from C.D. Buck’s linguistic analysis:
1. The division between the East Greek dialects, among which we count the Arcado-Cypriot (subsumed by its slightly different Arcadian and Cypriot variants) plus the Aeolic, Ionic and Attic dialects, as representative, there being others as well... and the West Greek dialects, under the generic, Doric, is clear and distinct. Never the twain shall meet.
2. Since Mycenaean, proto-Arcado-Cypriot and its later metamorphoses, Arcadian and Cypriot, are all in the same dialectical class, i.e. East Greek, any consideration of the function(s), historical rôle and influences of any and all of these dialects in particular play, must be decisively distinguished from the rôle the Doric dialects played, since the former were all firmly in place and fully operative all over the Greek peninsula well before the Doric invasions ca. 1200-1100 BCE. In fact, in the case of Mycenaean Greek, that dialect held sway for at least 300 years prior to the Doric invasions, so that any putative influence or impact of the latter on the former is de facto impossible.
3. The proto-Arcado-Cypriot dialect is clearly the younger cousin of Mycenaean Greek, as is its later evolution into literary Arcado-Cypriot (Arcadian/Cypriot) as found on the Idalion tablet (fifth century BCE). This fact alone serves to reinforce beyond a shadow of a doubt that Doric Greek could have had no influence on Mycenaean Greek any more than it did on Arcado-Cypriot, as both of the latter were, as C.D. Buck underlines, the “the old Hellenic” dialects. Thus, the intimate relationship between Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot doubly reinforces the total exclusion of Doric influences, however meagre.  
4. It naturally follows from 3., as day follows night, that documents composed in Mycenaean Linear B and in Arcado-Cypriot Linear C are soundly ensconced in the framework of the very same class of ancient Greek dialects, the East Greek.

Henceforth, in this blog, any discussion of the intimate relationship between the Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot dialects and of the application of their respective scripts, Linear B and Linear C is firmly set in the framework of this hypothesis, which bears extensive historical linguistic evidence mitigating strongly in its favour.

A few final comments are in order with respect to the actual Linear B correlatives of Arcadian words in the vocabulary above. These observations revolve around the methodological process of cross-correlation between Arcadian documents, in this case in alphabetical Greek, with those in Linear B. What we have already discovered, to our great astonishment and delight, even without taking the requisite step of a thorough methodology of cross-correlation, as discussed at length in our previous post on the relationship between Cypriot and Mycenaean Greek, is that at least one of the words in Linear B extracted from this vocabulary of Arcadian, and very probably two, are clearly and indisputably real attested (A) Linear B words. They are, of course, the Linear B for “and” (QE) and for “girl” (KOWA).

By extension, we may as well add a third, “boy” KOWO, since it is simply the masculine of the former. KOWA appears both in Linear B and in Linear C, and is therefore, by default, attested (A) in both.

KOWA KOWO in Linear B & Linear C

This is a rare jewel of a find, and to my mind, it is the very first instance of actual confirmation of any word in the vocabulary of Linear B & C common to Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot. This in effect constitutes our very first, albeit baby, step in the cross-correlation of Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot vocabulary by means of a tried-and-tested linguistic methodology. How many Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot will eventually (nearly) match up, whether scores, some or just a few, I cannot possibly predict right now. But it is certain that we shall eventually be able to compile at least a small vocabulary of equivalent Mycenaean & Arcado-Cypriot words, and as soon as we can (b), I shall be sure to let you know. Such a vocabulary will prove of inestimable value in going a long way to confirming attested Linear C = derivative Linear B words (ALC+DLB), as explained in the previous post.

(a) Buck, C.D. The Greek Dialects. London: Bristol Classical Press, © 1955, 1998. ISBN 1-85399-566-8. xvi, 373 pp.
(b) sometime in 2015 or at the latest, early 2016.
(c) All italics mine.

First and Second Persons Singular of Athematic Verbs Fully Restored in Mycenaean Linear B!


First and Second Persons Singular of Athematic Verbs Fully Restored in Mycenaean Linear B!

While sitting out on my patio sipping tea this afternoon for the first time this spring, I was astonished to discover that the archaic second person singular of Athematic verbs ended in in “si”, while the third person singular ended in “ti”, in other words, in a syllable, the second person singular ending having precisely the same value as the Linear B syllabogram SI  & the third person singular ending having precisely the same value as the Linear B syllabogram TI, as illustrated here (Click to ENLARGE):

Linear B Athematic Verbs Present Future Imperfect Restored

To my mind, this is a significant step forward in the genesis of a comprehensive Mycenaean Greek grammar, lending further weight to my hypothesis that archaic Greek conjugations seem to be virtually identical to their Mycenaean forerunners. But there is even more to this than first meets the eye. This is no mere happenstance. It confirms almost beyond a shadow of a doubt that certain verb conjugations and adjectival/nominal declensions in archaic (or Homeric) Greek were (almost) exactly the same as their predecessors in Mycenaean Greek some 400-700 years earlier. And the more archaic the alphabetic Greek grammatical form, the more likely it is that it will be (almost) identical to its Mycenaean “ancestor”.

This raises the appurtenant question whether Mycenaean Greek is all that different from archaic Greek, and even whether they are one and the same dialect, the latter being a later avatar of the former.  A striking parallel is found in the proximity of Ionic Greek with Attic, even though the former dates to ca. 800 – 700 BCE, somewhat earlier the latter, ca. 600 BCE – 450 BCE. One could possibly even make a case for a historical (quasi-) linear continuity right on through from the Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot dialects, to the early Ionic Greek we find in Homer, to Attic, Hellenic and, finally the “koine” Greek of the New Testament. In other words, the timeline from Mycenaean Greek to the “koine” Greek of the New Testament may indeed constitute a continuum in the evolution of the Greek language. Given that modern Greek is the “terminus post quem” of “koine” Greek, one might even hypothesize that modern Greek is  the “final” stage in the evolution of East Greek dialects from Mycenaean Greek to the present (ca. 1500 BCE – 2014 AD), i.e. some  3,500 years. Of course, while all this is, at least tentatively, pure speculation on my part, you have to wonder why the conjugation of “didomi” in Mycenaean Greek is so astonishingly similar to the “koine” conjugation of the New Testament, some 1,600 years in the future (Click to ENLARGE):

DIDOMI Linear B Archaic & New Testament
If confirmed, my hypothesis would be a real revelation! It would at least appear that Mycenaean Greek grammar changed very little over the 400 years after the fall of Mycenae itself in 1200 BCE to the first appearance of archaic alphabetical Greek around 800 BCE. If this is the case, it follows that we will be able to reconstruct a good deal more Mycenaean Greek grammar in Linear B than I had first imagined possible. However, a word of warning! I must test this hypothesis over and over with practical applications (paradigms) for as many categories of Mycenaean grammar as I can possibly survey and reconstruct, including above all else verb conjugations and nominal and adjectival declensions. If the results turn out to be as I presently project them in my busy-bee mind, the implications and ramifications for a truly comprehensive reconstructed grammar will be enormous, if not revolutionary. If nothing else, we may discover that there is a far greater affinity between grammar behind the Linear B syllabary and and that of archaic alphabetical Greek than we ever imagined to date.

On the other hand, the affinity may be weaker than I imagine, hence, probably invalid.

It will take me at least a year to carry this hypothesis to its “logical” outcome. In the meantime, I shall have to completely revise the complete conjugational tables for Athematic Verbs (present, future, imperfect, first & second aorist and perfect) I previously posted.  These necessary revisions will affect both the Athematic conjugational tables and at least some of the text of that post.



Which Greek Dialects are the Descendents of Mycenaean Greek?

Which Greek Dialects are the Descendents of Mycenaean Greek? (Click to ENLARGE):


Allow me to cite at some length four authoritative sources for the close-knit relationship between Mycenaean Greek (ca. 1500-1200 BCE) and the East Greek dialects which sprang up later, spreading out, first to Arcadia itself, as the Arcado-Cypriot dialect, which then in turn spread westward to Cyprus in the period of the great Greek migrations through colonization (ca. 750-550 BCE), also northwards towards Ionia and Attica, and eastwards to the island of Lesbos and its environs (Aeolic).

Arcado-Cypriot, as C.D. Buck states in his ground-breaking study, The Greek Dialects (University of Chicago Press, 1955; republished in 1998 by Bristol Classical Press, © 1998 – ISBN 1-85399-556-8. xvi, 373 pp.), belongs to “The East Greek... Old Hellenic dialects, that is, those employed by the peoples who held the stage almost exclusively in the period represented by the Homeric poems, when the West Greek peoples remained in obscurity in in the northwest. To the East Greek division belong the Ionic and Aeolic groups.. [and].. also the Arcado-Cyprian.” Then he makes a point of stressing that “no two dialects, not even Attic and Ionic, belong together more obviously than do those of Arcadia and the distant Cyprus.” (pg. 7), and goes on to say, “There are, in fact, notable points of agreement between Arcado-Cypriot and Aeolic... which cannot be accidental.” (pg. 8, all italics mine). I have taken pains to quote all of these observations to make it abundantly clear that following dialects, Mycenaean, Arcado-Cypriot, Attic-Ionic, Aeolic and Lesbian, are all East Greek dialects, as illustrated by his table on page 9, as opposed to the West & North-West Greek dialects, which include all of the Doric dialects, such as Argolic, Megarian, Cretan etc.

while Egbert J. Bakker. in his A Companion to the Ancient Greek (Wiley-Blackwell, © 2010. 704 pp. ISBN 978-1-4051-5326-3), asserts that “Mycenaean is clearly, therefore, an East Greek dialect, along with Attic-Ionic and Arcado-Cypriot... passim ... Some features align Mycenaean more closely with Arcado-Cypriot... passim... Mycenaean is therefore a dialect directly related to Arcado-Cypriot – not unexpected, given the geography...” (pp. 198-199),

and again, Roger D. Woodward, in The Ancient Languages of Europe (Cambridge University Press, © 2008 ISBN 9780521684958), states that “Of the first-millennium dialects, it is Arcado-Cypriot to which Mycenaean Greek is most closely related.” (pg. 52)

I wish to stress emphatically that there is no direct relationship between the East Greek dialects (Mycenaean, Arcado-Cypriot, Attic-Ionic or Aeolic) and the West Greek dialects, most notably, the Doric dialect, since the earliest of the East-Greek dialects, Mycenaean Greek, was widely spoken in the Peloponnese and around the Saronic Gulf well before the Doric invasion, and that consequently since all of the other East Greek dialects, Arcado-Cypriot, Attic-Ionic & Aeolic, spread out from the Mycenaean epicentre, they too are not and cannot be directly related to the West Greek dialects.  To add further fuel to the fire, allow me to conclude with  these highly pertinent observations Denys Page makes in, History and the Homeric Iliad (University of California Press, © 1966. 350 pp.) He says:

The new theory maintains, in briefest summary, the following position. “The dialect which we call Ionic is fundamentally akin to Arcadian; the peculiar features which differentiate it from other dialects as Ionic are all (or most) of relatively late development. In the Mycenaean period one dialect was predominant in southern Greece: when the Dorians occupied the Peloponnese, part of the Mycenaean population stayed at home, part emigrated; the stay-at-homes, to be called “Arcadians”, retained their dialect with comparatively little change through the Dark Ages, ...”

Now, from all we have just seen here, I feel I can safely draw the following conclusions:
1  there is no direct relationship between the East Greek dialects (Mycenaean, Arcado-Cypriot, Attic-Ionic or Aeolic) and the West Greek dialects, most notably, the Doric dialect;
2  All of the East Greek dialects migrated from their original home base during the great age of Greek colonization (ca. 750-550 BCE), as witnessed by the spread of the Arcadian dialect to Cyprus in the historical period, and of Attic-Ionic eastwards as Aeolic towards Lesbos and its environs.
3 these patterns of migration of the East Greek dialects were paralleled by the migration of the West Greek dialects to colonies as prosperous and large as the great city of Syracuse (Doric) and other Greek cities along the west coast of Italy.
4  Confirmation of Denys Page’s “new theory” (1966) has been re-affirmed and validated over and over again all the way through to the present day (Cf. Woodward, 2008 & Bakker, 2010), so that there remains little doubt, if any, that his  “new theory”, which is no longer new at all, having persisted a half century, is here to stay. 


Tabular Comparison of the Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C Syllabaries

Tabular Comparison of the Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C Syllabaries (Click to ENLARGE):

Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriiot Linear C Syllabograms Grid

Mycenaean Greek, which was written in the Linear B syllabary, and Arcado-Cypriot, which used the Linear C syllabary, both belong to the family of East Greek dialects, which were to spread from these two into Ionic-Attic and Aeolic during the period of Greek colonization (ca. 750-550 BCE). For more on this, see the next post, “Which Greek dialects of Mycenaean Greek”? 

What is the Relationship between Mycenaean Greek & Arcado-Cypriot? … there is a lot more to this than meets the eye!

What is the Relationship between Mycenaean Greek & Arcado-Cypriot? ... there is a lot more to this than meets the eye!

NOTE! Researchers in the field of Mycenaean Linear B, who are also fascinated with Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, would do well to read the illustrative dialectical map and text below, for on it hinges the foundation of the entire theory of Progressive Linear B as I intend to expound it in greater and greater depth throughout 2014 and 2015. And here you can clearly see where I am carrying this ball (Click to ENLARGE this huge illustrative text):

Mycenaean & Arcado Cypriot

My basic premise is this, that since Arcado-Cypriot (written in the syllabary Linear C) subsisted all the way through from ca 1100 BCE to ca 400 BCE (700 years!), before the Arcado-Cypriots, i.e. Arcadians, finally caved in to alphabetic Hellenistic Greek, otherwise known as “koine” (the common language), in the face of its otherwise universal use, is without a shadow of a doubt the ancient Greek dialect most closely related to Mycenaean Greek (written in the syllabary Linear B), being for all intents and purposes its younger cousin, it must logically follow that Mycenaean Greek must be Greek and nothing but Greek.  The really peculiar notion held by a tiny minority of self-appointed high-minded “researchers” that Mycenaean is not Greek, and that Michael Ventris, as brilliant and methodologically logical as he was to a fault, was merely “making clever guesses as to what the language was, truly boggles the mind. It intend to establish once-and-for-all that such silly notions are not only specious in the extreme, but entirely tautological.  The mere fact that the two dialects share a virtually common grammar and vocabulary is enough to lay the myth that Mycenaean Greek is not Greek to rest forever.  For if it is not Greek, then what on earth is it? And if such researchers are so clever (and apparently brighter than a genius of Ventris' stature), then they ought to have long since been able to decipher whatever the blazes they imagine it is. But they have not, and I wager my life they never will. 

To this end, I will also master Linear C this year, and subsequently translate the entire Idalion Tablet (the longest text by far composed in Linear C) into English, with the view to cross-correlating Arcado-Cypriot and Mycenaean down to the most fundamental level, by reconstructing the grammar and vocabulary of both dialects to the greatest possible extent that I can. And I shall. The next post displays Idalion Tablet. 
Progressive Linear B Grammar & Vocabulary © Richard Vallance Janke 2014