Gretchen Leonhardt is up against some stiff competition from Urii Mosenkis concerning her so-called proto-Japanese origins of Minoan Linear A: Urii Mosenkis makes a very strong case for Minoan Linear A being proto-Greek, and he does it over and over, like clockwork. This includes his own completely different interpretation of Ms. Leonhardt’s highly contentious decipherment of kuro as so called proto-Japanese. I strongly suggest that Ms. Leonhardt read his articles. He is much more qualified than I am in Linear A (and, I contend, than Ms. Leonhardt as well), and I admit it without a shadow of hesitation. I am forced to revise my predictions about the partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A as I outlined them in my first article on Linear A, and I admit openly that Mosenkis is probably right, by and large. Ms. Leonhardt would do well to read all of his articles, as they flat-out contradict everything she claims about the so-called proto-Japanese origins of the Minoan language. I at least have the humility to lay down my cards when I am confronted with convincing evidence to the effect that my own partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A is defective, even though I have already reached many of the same conclusions as Mosenkis. Not that he would ever convince Ms. Leonhardt of the infallibility of her own dubious decipherments of Linear A tablets. I have a very great deal more to say about Ms. Leonhardt’s contentious claims to eventual fame with respect to her clearly flawed interpretations of Linear A tablets, and to drive my points home, I shall have occasion to cite Mosenkis whenever and wherever he contradicts her, and that is always. To view all of Mosenkis’ superbly conceived research papers, please visit his academia.edu account here: Here is a selective electronic bibliography of the highly qualified decipherments Mosenkis has made of several Minoan Linear A inscriptions: Electronic: Mosenkis, Urii. Flourishing of the Minoan Greek State in the Linear A Script 1700 – 14560 BCE. https://www.academia.edu/28708342/FLOURISHING_OF_THE_MINOAN_GREEK_STATE_IN_THE_LINEAR_A_SCRIPT_1700_1450_BCE Mosenkis, Urii. Graeco-Macedonian goddess as Minoan city queen. https://www.academia.edu/26194521/Graeco-Macedonian_goddess_as_Minoan_city_queen Mosenkis,Urii. Linear A-Homeric quasi-bilingual https://www.academia.edu/16242940/Linear_A-Homeric_quasi-bilingual Mosenkis, Urii. ‘Minoan-Greek’ Dialect: Morphology https://www.academia.edu/28433292/MINOAN_GREEK_DIALECT_MORPHOLOGY Mosenkis, Urii. Minoan Greek Farming in Linear A. https://www.academia.edu/27669709/MINOAN_GREEK_FARMING_IN_LINEAR_A_Iurii_Mosenkis Mosenkis, Urii. Minoan Greek hypothesis: A short historiography https://www.academia.edu/27772316/Minoan_Greek_hypothesis_A_short_historiography Mosenkis, Urii. Minoan Greek phonetics and orthography in Linear A https://www.academia.edu/27866235/Minoan_Greek_phonetics_and_orthography_in_Linear_A Mosenkis, Urii. Minoan-Greek Society in Linear A. https://www.academia.edu/27687555/MINOAN_GREEK_SOCIETY_IN_LINEAR_A Mosenkis, Urii. Researchers of Greek Linear A. https://www.academia.edu/31443689/Researchers_of_Greek_Linear_A Mosenkis, Urii. Rhea the Mother of Health in the Arkalokhori Script https://www.academia.edu/31471809/Rhea_the_Mother_of_Health_in_the_Arkalokhori_Script PS I came to almost exactly the same conclusions as Mosenkis re. this inscription, although my Greek translation is different. I wonder what Ms. Leonhardt has to say for herself in light of so many astonishingly insightful decipherments by Urii Mosenkis of a large number of Linear A tablets. I look forward to cogent and rational counter arguments on her part, which stand up to rigorous scientific criteria.
Tag Archive: criteria
Pylos Tablet PY 641-1952 (Ventris): The Brilliant Translation by Michael Ventris (Click to ENLARGE) This is the first ever translation of Pylos Tablet PY 641-1952 (Ventris) by Michael Ventris himself, and the first tablet in Mycenaean Linear B ever translated into English. A bit of background is in order. It was actually the archaeologist Carl Blegen, who had just unearthed this tablet along with several others at Pylos in 1951-1952, who was the first person to recognize that it was almost certainly written in Greek, because he correctly translated the very first word as tiripode, which was clearly the Greek word for “tripod”, no matter how archaic the dialect. That dialect we now call Mycenaean Greek, which is so closely related to Arcado-Cypriot Greek, later written in both Linear C and in the archaic Arcado-Cypriot alphabet (ca. 1100 to 400 BCE) as to be its kissing cousin. These two dialects were more closely allied than any other ancient Greek dialects, including the Ionic and Attic, a fact which proves to be of enormous import in any decipherment or translation in either Mycenaean Linear B or Arcado-Cypriot Linear C (or alphabetic). We must keep this fact firmly in mind at all times when translating any tablet in either of these dialects, which are both firmly ensconced in the East Greek class. As for Michael Ventris’ meticulous decipherment of this justly famous tablet in his beautiful handwriting, it still holds its own as one of the finest to this day. The only flaw of any significance was his translation of the word “Aikeu”, which he interpreted as meaning “of the Aikeu type”, for want of any more convincing alternative. But in retrospect we can scarcely blame him for that, as we have nowadays the privilege and the insight to peer back through the looking glass or the mirror, if you like, into the past 63 years ago, to pass judgement on his decipherment, armed as we are with a clearer understanding of the intricacies of Mycenaean Greek and of Linear B. To do so would be paramount to violating the integrity of his decipherment which was the very finest anyone could have come up with in the earliest days of the decipherment of Linear B, of which he was the avowed master par excellence. We shall turn next to two modern translations of the same tablet, one by Rita Roberts of Crete and the other by Gretchen Leonhardt of the U.S.A, holding them up in the mirror of Ventris’ own inimitable decipherment, to see how they both stack up against his own, and against the other. I shall be rating each of the 3 translations on its own merits and demerits on the basis of several strict criteria for decipherment, one of which was recently introduced by Ms. Gretchen Leonhardt herself, a criterion which must stand the test of theoretical validity, as well as measure up to firm empirical evidence, as we shall soon see. Richard
What is a Top-Notch Translation? Is there any such thing? Pylos Tablet 641-1952 (Ventris) Those of you who are regular readers of our blog, and who take the trouble to really delve into the fine points of our posts on the decipherment of scores of Linear B tablets which we have already translated, will have surely noticed by now that I never take any translation for granted, yes, even down to the very last word, phrase, logogram or ideogram, while strictly taking into account whether or not the tablet itself is completely intact, or – as is far more often the case - left- or right-truncated. In every instance of the latter, any decipherment, however carefully devised, is likely to be considerably more inaccurate than any translation of an intact tablet. Not to follow these strict procedures would be tantamount a one-sided, highly subjective and excessively biased exercise in imposing a single, strictly personal, interpretation on any extant Linear B tablet, a practice which is fraught with so many pitfalls as to invite certain error and misinterpretation. I would much rather offer all alternative translations of every single last word, phrase, logogram, ideogram etc. in any and all Linear B tablets, than to rashly commit myself to any single translation. It is only in this way that you, our readers, can decide for yourselves which of my translations appears to be the most feasible or appropriate to you in the precise (or more likely than not, not so precise) context of the tablet in question. No decipherer or translator of Mycenaean Linear B extant tablets or text in his or her right mind has a monopoly on the so-called “right” or “correct” translation of any Mycenaean source, because if that individual imagines he or she does, that person is dreaming in technicolour or – dare I say - even high on psychedelics. The only people who had the very real monopoly, in other words, the actual precise meaning of each and every tablet or source firmly in hand in Mycenaean Linear B were – you guessed it – the Mycenaean scribes themselves. We absolutely must bear this critical consideration in mind at all times whenever we dare approach the translation of any Linear B source, if we are to maintain any sense of the rational golden mean, of our own glaring linguistic inadequacies at a remote of some 3,500 years, and our own decidedly limited cognitive, associative powers of translation, which are in fact extremely circumscribed at the level of the individual translator. It is only through the greatest sustained, systematic international co-operative effort on the part of all translators of Linear B, let alone of Linear C or of any other ancient language, regardless of script, that we as a community of professional linguists, can ever hope to eventually approximate a reasonably accurate translation. The greater the number of times a (Linear B) tablet is translated, the greater the likelihood that our sustained, combined co-operative efforts at translation is bound to bear positive fruit. Those who insist on being loners in the decipherment or translation of any texts in any in any ancient language run the severe risk of exposing themselves to sharp critical responses and, in the worst case scenario, to public ridicule in the research community specializing in ancient linguistics. Caveat interpres ille. That sort of translator should watch his Ps & Qs. An excellent case in point, the translation of the very first tablet ever deciphered by our genius code-breaker, Michael Ventris, in 1952 & 1953, Pylos Tablet PY 641-1952 (Ventris): Click to ENLARGE: We previously discussed the letters between Emmett L. Bennett and Micheal Ventris in June 1952 which effectively broke the code for Mycenaean Linear B, when Bennett first brought to Ventris’ attention his correct translation of the very first word on this famous tablet, tiripode, which unequivocally meant “tripod”. With this master key to Linear B, Ventris was able to decipher the entire tablet in no time flat, making it the first tablet ever to have been translated end-to-end into English. For our commentary on the letters, please click on this banner: Since that time, the tablet has been translated scores and scores of times. Several translators have gone so far as to claim that theirs “is the best translation”. If you will forgive me for saying this, people making such an injudicious claim are all, without exception, wrong. It is only by combining, cross-checking and cross-correlating every last one of the translations attempted to date on this fascinating tablet, Pylos Tablet PY 641-1952, that we can ever hope to come up with at least one or two translations which are bound to meet the criteria for a really top-notch translation. Those criteria are several. I shall address them one by one, finally summarizing all such criteria, throughout the coming year. In the meantime, stay posted for the latest carefully considered, extremely well-researched and eminently consistent translation of this famous tablet, with fresh new insights, by Rita Roberts, soon to be posted right here on this blog. It is not my own translation, but trust me, it is a highly professional one, fully taking into account a number of historical translations, one of the best of which is that by Michael Ventris himself. I freely admit I could not have matched Rita’s translation myself, for reasons which will be made perfectly clear when we come to post her excellent decipherment early in March 2015. To my mind, it is one of the finest translations of Pylos PY 631-1952 ever penned. Subsequently, we shall rigorously examine Gretchen Leonhardt’ s translation of the same tablet, to which she assigns the alternative identifier, Pylos PY Ta 641, rather than its usual attribution. It strikes me as rather strange that she would have resorted to the alternate identifier, almost as if she intended - consciously or not - to distance herself from the original translation by Ventris himself. For her translation, please click on this banner: Ms. Leonhardt’ s decipherment is, if anything, unique and - shall we say - intriguing. We shall see how it stacks up against Michael Ventris’ and Rita Roberts’ translations, meticulously cross-correlating her own translation of every word or ideogram which is at variance with that of the same word or ideogram in either of the other two decipherments. Each translation will then be subjected to a range of rigorous criteria to determine in which respects it is as sound as, or inferior or superior to its other 2 counterparts. Of course, the table of merits and demerits of each of the three translations is strictly my own interpretation, and as such is as subject to sound linguistic, logical, contextual and practical counter-criticism as any other. Anyone who (strongly) disagrees with my assessments of each of these 3 translations should feel free to address his or her critiques of them. I shall be more than happy to post such criticisms word-for-word on our blog, with the proviso that both Rita Roberts and I myself are free to counter them as we see fit under the strict terms enumerated above. Richard
A Definitive Lexicon of Linear B? Is this even remotely possible? STEP 1: Determining Attributed Absolute (Aab) Mycenaean Vocabulary from later Greek Dialects: Lest anyone suppose that even this first step towards constructing a Definitive Lexicon of Linear B, or even anything approaching it, is “obviously a cinch”, allow me to disenchant yourselves of such an assumption, as can clearly be confirmed from the several tenets I am bound to observe, which I have expostulated in detail below. This of course necessarily implies that even the apparently “simple” step of reliably verifying the authenticity of Attributed Absolute (Aab) Mycenaean words is open to all sorts of pitfalls. It is for this highly germane reason that I find myself insisting on checking and if needs be, double-checking the incidence of Attributed Absolute Mycenaean words according to the strict procedure I shall outline beneath the actual Table of Attributed Absolute Mycenaean Vocabulary. See below. But what on earth is the distinction between “Attributed Absolute” as opposed to merely “Attributed” Mycenaean vocabulary actually found on the thousands of extant Linear B tablets? The distinction is subtle yet, from a linguistic perspective, demonstrable, and it is this: any “Attributed Absolute” (Aab) Mycenaean word must be spelled (almost) the same as its alphabetical Greek dialectical counterpart to warrant this label. Unfortunately, the spelling of the vast majority of Attributed Mycenaean words either diverges somewhat or greatly from that of any relevant ancient Greek dialect as to make the correlation all that more difficult. And this of course all comes back to one of the most glaring characteristics of the Linear B syllabary, namely, that its syllabograms rarely correspond accurately to any alphabetical ancient Greek dialect, with the result that one sometimes cannot be sure at all whether the Linear B spelling of the Mycenaean word, even when Attributed, corresponds to only one Greek word, or in some cases, to 2 or even more possible alternatives. Some, though certainly not all, of the Linear B syllabary is rather poorly suited to writing ancient Greek, for the simple reason that it was adapted practically lock stock and barrel from the Linear A syllabary, which was used to (almost certainly accurately) represent the vocalic values of an unknown, undeciphered language, conveniently labeled “Minoan”, which simply has no relationship whatsoever to Greek (as far as we know). That is one big problem... much more on this later. From: MYCENAEAN (Linear B) — ENGLISH Glossary = linearb.pdf (widely available on the Internet) Click to ENLARGE: As can be readily ascertained from the Table of Attributed Absolute Mycenaean words I have compiled in Linear B below, the only words I have listed in this Table are those whose spelling is (almost) exactly the same as the spelling of the same words in certain ancient alphabetical Greek dialects, prioritized according to these specific criteria from the most reliable original Greek text(s) or sources to the least reliable, as follows: EXTREMELY RELIABLE: 1 The Catalogue of Ships (lines 4... ) in Book II of the Iliad; 2 The rest of Book II of the Iliad; 3 Any text written in Linear C, used exclusively in the Arcado-Cypriot dialect of ancient Greek, especially the famous Idalion Tablet, given that the Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot dialects are extremely close; VERY RELIABLE: 4 Any text written in the Arcadian & Aeolic or other East Greek dialects of ancient Greek, and there are plenty of those (all in alphabetical Greek); 5. Any vocabulary from Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon (1986 edition), since Liddell & Scott takes into account many dialectal variants of ancient Greek words, including Aeolic, Arcadian etc, except of course the Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot Greek dialects, since texts in these 2 dialects are written in Linear B & Linear C, cousin syllabaries, which an alphabetical Greek dictionary, however comprehensive, cannot take into account. RELIABLE (up to a certain point): 6 Any text written in any East Greek dialect of ancient Greek, especially the Ionic and Attic Dialects, which are the tried and true descendants of Mycenaean and/or Arcado-Cypriot Greek. There is so much literature in Ionic and Attic Greek as to make this task an extremely easy one. However, I must remind you that vocabulary in Ionic or Attic Greek is (sometimes significantly) less reliable than vocabulary in either the Mycenaean or Arcado-Cypriot Greek dialects, as the latter are far more ancient than the former. In other words, given the choice of sources for truly reliable confirmation that any Attributed Absolute word(s), ie vocabulary actually found on Linear B tablets is in fact almost beyond a shadow of a doubt as close to absolutely authenticated, we should have far more confidence in options 1 to 4 above than in any vocabulary in Ionic or Attic Greek, for which there abound tens of thousands of examples. Source: The Greek Dialects, by C.D. Buck, Bristol Classical Press, © 1955, 373 pp., pages 141-154 WARNING! ABSOLUTELY UNRELIABLE: Any attempt to verify the authenticity of any Mycenaean Greek Attributed vocabulary or word from any West Greek dialect, is almost certainly invalid, since all West Greek dialects (Doric itself, Northwest Greek, Argolic, Corinthian, Rhodian, Cretan etc. etc.) are cousins of the Doric dialect, which did not enter into the equation until after the fall of Mycenae around 1200 BCE. I do not categorically rule out the possibility that some attributed Mycenaean words might be derived from one of the West Greek dialects, but I myself will never resort to using any of these dialects as firm confirmation of the authenticity of any attributed Mycenaean Greek word, since that would simply invalidate my procedure, which I am not prepared to do. Source: The Greek Dialects, by C.D. Buck, Bristol Classical Press, © 1955, 373 pp., pages 141-154-171 NOTE: there a lot more West Greek dialects than East Greek, so we must exercise extreme caution.) On a final note, the Attributed Absolute Mycenaean words as derived here from the MYCENAEAN (Linear B) — ENGLISH Glossary are far from constituting a complete survey, since they do not take into account the much larger vocabulary in the significantly more reliable, A Companion to Linear B, Mycenaean Greek Texts and their World (Bibliothèque des cahiers de l'Insitut Louvain), also available in .pdf format on the Internet. It will take me considerably more time to ferret out the Attributed Absolute Mycenaean Linear B words from that magnum opus, which is 220 pages long! Only when I have compiled a complete list of Attributed Absolute Mycenaean Linear B words from both of these sources will we have even begun to construct a truly comprehensive Lexicon of the Mycenaean Linear B Vocabulary, both attested and derived. Such a Lexicon is bound to run to at least 5,000 words, a vast improvement on the vocabulary in any currently available Mycenaean Linear B – English glossary. Moreover, our Lexicon of the Mycenaean Linear B Vocabulary will catalogue the vocabulary in two sections, Mycenaean Linear B – English & English – Mycenaean Linear B, a project the likes of which has never been attempted to date. I intend to rectify this lacuna, but this is a huge undertaking, which is bound to take me at least 2 years. since this task is to be realized in conjunction with the equally daunting exercise of reconstructing as much of the (lost) corpus of Mycenaean Greek grammar as I possibly can. All this together is bound to take me as long as 3-4 years, i.e. until 2018. The next post on this subject will deal with “Attributed Contextual” (Aco) Mycenaean vocabulary, which is almost as reliable as “Attributed Absolute” (Aab) vocabulary. Richard