Tag Archive: English

Provisional count of Mycenaean-derived vocabulary in Linear A = 33.4 %:

provisional count of New Minoan words in Linear A

I have just finished calculating the provisional maximum number of probable/possible Mycenaean-derived New Minoan words in our Linear A Lexicon of 988 words, and the count comes to 330, which is 33.4%. However, there is still a good deal of research to be done before I can determine how many of these potential New Minoan words are in fact just that. I estimate that, once I have eliminated the possible candidates, and restricted myself to the probable, this figure should drop to around 25%, which is roughly in line with the percentage of French words in English = 29%.

Proto-Greek or Mycenaean kiritai = barley on Minoan Linear A tablet HT 114 (Haghia Triada):

Like many other Linear A tablets, HT 114 (Haghia Triada) does not appear to be inscribed only in the Minoan language. The proto-Greek or, more accurately, the Mycenaean word, kirita2 (kiritai), which means barley and which is almost exactly equivalent to Linear B, kirita, meaning the very same thing, appears on the very first line of this tablet. The only difference is that the Linear A word, kiritai, is plural, whereas the Linear B, kirita, is singular, as we can see here:

Minoan Linear A tablet HT 114 Haghia Triade

While the rest of HT 114 is inscribed in Minoan, the appearance of this one Mycenaean word gives pause. Was Linear A the syllabary of proto-Greek or of Mycenaean Greek just before the advent of the new official syllabary, Linear B? The fact is that it was not. However, this does not mean that there was not proto-Greek or Mycenaean vocabulary on Linear A tablets. How can this be, when the language itself is not proto-Greek?

The phenomenon of the superimposition of a superstratum of vocabulary from a source language (Mycenaean in the case of Linear A) onto a target language (Minoan), is historically not unique to the Minoan language. A strikingly similar event occurred in English with the conquest of England by William the Conqueror in 1066 AD. Before that date, the only English was Anglo-Saxon. This is what is called Old English. But after conquest of England in 1066 AD, over 10,000 Norman French words streamed into the language between 1100 and 1450 AD, altering the landscape of English vocabulary almost beyond recognition. In fact, believe it or not, only 26 % of English vocabulary is Germanic versus 29 % is French, 29 % Latin and 6 % Greek. So the latter 3 languages, amounting to 64 % of the entire English lexicon, have completely overshadowed the Old English (Anglo-Saxon) Germanic vocabulary, as illustrated in this Figure:

origins of English vocabulary

This phenomenon is unique to English alone among all of the Germanic languages. While the grammar and syntax of English is Germanic, the great majority of its vocabulary is not. A strikingly similar event appears to have occurred when the Mycenaeans conquered Knossos, is dependencies and Crete ca. 1500 – 1450 BCE. Just as the Norman French superstratum has imposed itself on Old English, giving rise to Middle and Modern English, Mycenaean Greek operated in much the same fashion when it superimposed itself on Old Minoan, leading to New Minoan vocabulary, which is proto-Greek or Mycenaean. I have already isolated no fewer than 150 proto-Greek or Mycenaean words out of 510 intact words (by my own arbitrary count) in the Linear A lexicon. Again, while the Minoan language itself is not proto-Greek in its grammar and syntax, but is of another, to date still unknown, origin, a large portion of its vocabulary is not Old Minoan, but instead proto-Greek or Mycenaean, as I shall demonstrate in no uncertain terms in my decipherments of numerous Linear A tablets to follow this one. One striking feature of New Minoan is this: the percentage of proto-Greek or Mycenaean vocabulary in Linear B comes to 29 %, precisely the same level as Norman French in English. Although this is sheer co-incidence, it is quite intriguing.

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

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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


For I:

For DA:

For MA:

For TE:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

2 more black haiku in Mycenaean Linear B, ancient Greek, English and French:




2 more haiku in Mycenaean Linear B, ancient Greek, English & French, this time about silence in the temple…



Happy New Year 2017 in Linear B, Greek, English & French!

Happy New Year 2017 in Linear B, Greek, English & French! 


Just added to my academia.edu: Did you know you speak Mycenaean Greek? You do! An amusing read too!
Click on the banner to read, bookmark or download the article:

Did you know you speak Mycenaean Greek

To my utter astonishment, in the first two weeks alone I have been present on academia.edu, my little research corner has already been visited 552 times, and I now have 75 followers.

I would be delighted if you were to follow me on academia.edu, and if you yourself are already a member, please be sure to send me a message on site, and I shall follow you back.  



New article on academia.edu. My translation of Sappho’s Ode, “The Moon has set, and the Pleiades...” from Aeolic Greek to Mycenaean Linear B, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, English and French, here: Click to OPEN

This article with my translation of Sappho’s Ode, “The Moon has set, and the Pleiades...” into two archaic Greek dialects (Linear B & Linear C), as well as into English and French, is the first of its kind ever to appear on the Internet.

Osbert sapho ou  la poésie lyrique
It will eventually be followed by my translations of several other splendid lyrics by Sappho, as well as by serial installments of my translation of the entire Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad by Homer, and several haiku which I have already  composed in parallel Mycenaean Linear B, English & French (I kid you not!)

If you would like to keep up with my ongoing research on academia.edu, you should probably sign yourself up with them, and follow me. Additionally, you can follow anyone else you like, especially those researchers, scholars and authors who are of particular interest to you (not me). And of course, once you have signed up with academia.edu, which is free, you can upload your own research papers, documents, articles, book reviews etc. to your heart’s content.

Oh and by the way, we have a surprise coming up for you all, a research paper by none other than my co-administrator, Rita Roberts of Crete. 


Did you know you speak Mycenaean Greek? You do! K-Z = kunaya to zeukesi

Mycenaean Greek in Modern English: korete to zeukesi: Click to ENLARGE

korete to zeukesi

[1] kunaya – Mycenaean Greek has no “g”, but ancient Greek does. Many English words begin with Greek words, as for instance gynecology + all others in this table marked with [1] 
[2] The same goes with prefixes. Many English words begin with the Greek prefix “peda”.
[3] The ancient Phoenicians were famous for their purple cloth, which they inherited from the splendid purple cloth, the finest in the entire then known world (the middle Mediterranean & the Aegean) the Minoans at Knossos had produced before them. Hence, Phoenician is a synonym for “purple”.
[4]The Mycenaean syllabary can express words beginning with “te”, but for some reason, they spelled 4 the same was the Romans did, “qetoro”, and there is nothing wrong with that. Archaic Greek sometimes expressed the number 4 with “petro” and sometimes with “tetro”. This too is not at all unusual with early alphabetic Greek, in which the various East Greek dialects derived from Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C flipped between these two spellings. Orthography was uncertain in archaic Greek, in other words, it had not yet fossilized into the final spelling used in Attic Greek in Classical Athens = tettares.
[5] The English word “quartet” is derived from the Latin “quattro”, which in turn was preceded historically by the Mycenaean “qetoro”, although the Latin spelling is unlikely to have derived from the latter. It is just that Mycenaean Greek and Latin happened to resort to the same basic spelling for 4. 
[6] Since Mycenaean Greek had no “l”, words beginning with “lambda” in (archaic) Greek had to be spelled with “r” + a vowel in the syllabary. Hence, “rewo” = archaic Greek “lewon” = English “lion” & “rino” = ancient Greek “linon” = English “linen”
[7] The ancient words “sasama” = “sesame” & Mycenaean “serino” = ancient Greek “selinon” = English “celery” are in fact not Greek words, but proto-Indo European. 
[8] While “sitophobia” = “fear of eating” in English does not seem to correspond with “sitos” = “wheat” in ancient Greek, in fact it does, since wheat was one of the main staples of their diet, just as it was for the Egyptians, Romans and most other ancient civilizations. In other words, wheat was a staple food.
[9] Although the Mycenaean infinitive “weide” = archaic Greek “weidein” = English “to see”, the aorist began with “weis”, hence “vision” in English.


Ode to the Archangel Michael = Ode à l’Archange Michel: Click to ENLARGE = Cliquer pour ÉLARGIR :

Ode to the Archangel Michael a l-archange Michel

As far as I am concerned, the French version of the original Ode in Mycenaean Greek is more successful and more convincing than the English.

Franchement et à mon avis, la traduction du texte intégral de l’Ode en grec mycénien est plus réussi, donc plus convaincant que celle en anglais.     


Je suis Charlie - in French, English & Greek + 11 modern languages & 3 ancient Greek dialects!


I beg you, please be sure to RETWEET this, folks! As a polyglot Canadian, fluent in English and French, conversant with both modern languages and ancient, especially ancient Greek, with some 20 dialects under my belt, including Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, I hope to reach not only everyone alive now, but as many of our ancestors as possible. I do this out of love for all the millions upon millions of people who have been slaughtered by warmongers, manaics, religious fanatics & terrorists, past, present and... God forbid... future!

Je vous prie de tout mon coeur de faire des RETWEETs de ce message des plus urgents! Tout en étant canadien parfaitement bilingue, je suis également polyglotte, connaisseur de plusieurs langues modernes et anciennes, dont une vingtaine de dialèctes grecs tels que le mycénien en linéaire B et le chypro-arcadien en linéaire C. Dans ce but, j’espère communiquer ce message de solidarité bienveillante à tous ceux qui sont encore vivants autant qu’à tous nos ancêtres, dont d’innombrables millions qui ont perdu la vie, tous massacrés par des bellicistes, des maniaques, des fanatiques religieuses et des terroristes d’antan, de nos jours et... à Dieu ne plaise ... incontournablement à l’avenir.

Richard Vallance Janke,
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


Happy New Year in Greek, Linear B, Linear C, English, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, Romanian & German! Click to ENLARGE:

Happy New Year Linear B Knossos & Mycenae

Richard and Rita

Significant Phonetic Variations in the Pronunciation of the L & R + Vowel Series as Reflected in the Linear B & Linear C Syllabaries 

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

Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado Cypriot Syllabaries compared

Where the phonetic values of the syllabogram series R + vowel series (the L series missing in Linear B) do sound somewhat different in the two syllabaries, Linear B & Linear C, there is in fact a very sound phonetic reason for this.

But first, let me tell you a little story. If there were such a thing as time-travel into the past or the future, modern Greeks from Athens travelling back to the city in 500 BCE would indeed be shocked at how Greek was pronounced then. Ancient Greeks thrust into the future would have the same reaction – utter disbelief. I myself put this hypothesis to test while I was in Greece in May 2012. I could read modern Greek fairly well even then. But when I tried to communicate with some folks I met in a restaurant with my own plausible version of the ancient Attic dialect (there are actually 3 or 4 possible versions), no-one could understand scarcely a word I spoke. And when I asked my colleagues to speak modern Greek to me, I was equally at a loss. But I could read the menu with no problem.          

Moving on then.

Although the Mycenaean Greeks were apparently unable to pronounce the letter “L”, nothing in fact could be more deceptive to the unwary Occidental ear. It all comes down to a matter of our own ingrained linguistic bias in our own social-cultural context. To us, the Arcadians & Cypriots indeed appear to have already made the distinction between L & R, given that their syllabary contains syllabograms consisting of both of these consonants (L & R) followed by vowels. But I stress, to us, we cannot be sure how they pronounced L & R, or to what extent they had by then become phonetically separate. Looking at the Linear C Syllabary, you can see the distinction right away. See above.

Now some of you may already be aware of the “fact” that to our ears in the West, the Japanese seem utterly incapable of pronouncing either L or R, but appear to be pronouncing something half-way between the two, which sounds like mumble-jumbo to our ears. Since the Linear B syllabary has no L + vowel series of syllabograms, the Mycenaeans too might have conflated L and R into one consonant in a manner similar to the way the Japanese pronounce it, at least in the early days of the Mycenaean dialect (possibly from 1450-1300 BCE). On the other hand, since the Arcadians and the Cypriots had apparently already made the distinction between L & R from as early as 1100 BCE, their immediate forebears, the Mycenaeans, might have already been well on the road to being able to pronounce L & R distinctly as consonants by 1300-1200 BCE, although they still may have been confusing them from time to time. However, they probably could see no point in adding an L + vowel series such as we see in Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, given that they had already used the Linear B syllabary for at least 2 and half centuries (ca 1450 – 1200 BCE). I am inclined to accept this hypothesis of the gradual emergence of L & R towards the end of Linear B's usage ca. 1200 BCE, in preference to a hypothetical Japanese-like pronunciation based on the assumption that the L+R concatenation is a merging of L & R as semi-consonants. Still, either scenario is perfectly plausible.

Allophone English speakers invariably find the pronunciation of L & R in almost all other Occidental languages (French, Spanish, Italian etc.) much too “hard” to their ears. This is because the letters L & R in English alone are alveolars, mere semi-consonants or semi-vowels, depending on your perspective as an English speaker, which is in turn conditioned by the dialect you speak. There are some English dialects in which the letter R is still pronounced as a trilled consonant, but for the most part, allophone English speakers pronounce both L and R very softly – at least to the ears of allophones from other European nations. Practically all other modern European languages trill the letter R, making it a consonant in their languages. But not English. This is due to the “Great Vowel Shift” which occurred in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in English, whereby the earlier trilled R was abandoned in favour of the much softer semi-consonant or semi-consonant R we now use in English. For this reason and others besides, English alone of the Germanic languages is not guttural at all. At the same time, L, which had previously been pronounced just as in other European languages, became a semi-consonant.

You can put this to the test by pronouncing either letter aloud, paying close attention to where you touch the interior of your mouth with your tongue. Your tongue will instantly feel that the semi-consonant L scarcely makes any contact with any firm area of the mouth, but is pronounced almost the same way the vowels are – almost, but not quite. On the other hand, R, which is a true semi-vowel, at least in Canadian and American English, does not make any contact with any firm part of the mouth, in other words, it is pronounced just as the vowels are – no contact. So it really is a vowel. But English scholars and linguists in the sixteenth century could see no point in changing R to a vowel, any more than the Mycenaeans could be bothered with a new series of syllabograms beginning with L.      

But it matters little, if at all, whether or not we pronounce L & R as semi-consonants or semi-vowels, as in English, or as separate consonants as in the other European languages, since we all pronounce them as distinct letters. This ingrained linguistic bias greatly colours our perceptions of how others pronounce the “same” letters, if indeed they are the same at all. So it all boils down to just one thing: it all depends on your socio-culturally conditioned perspective as a speaker of our own language.

This state of affairs leaves me forced to draw the inescapable conclusion that to the Japanese it is we who have made a mess of things by separating the pronunciation of L & R, which sound identical to their ears, in other words as one consonant (which is neither a semi-consonant nor a semi-vowel). To assist you in putting this into perspective, consider the Scottish pronunciation of the letter R, which is also clearly a consonant, and is in fact the pronunciation of R before the Great Vowel Shift in Middle English. This is not to say that the Scottish pronounce their consonant R anywhere near the way the Japanese pronounce their single consonant, to our ears an apparent conflation of our two semi-consonants L & R.    

Again, the whole thing comes down to a matter of linguistic bias based on the socio-cultural conditions of two very distinct meta-cultures, Occidental and Oriental. In that context, the languages in their meta-classes (Occidental versus Oriental) are symbolic of two entirely different perspectives on the world. Need I say more?

In conclusion, it is extremely unwise to draw conclusions for phonetic distinctions between the socio-culturally “perceived” pronunciation of any consonant or any vowel whatsoever from one language to another, especially in those instances where one of the languages involved is Occidental and the other is Oriental. The key word here is “perceived”. It is all a question of auditory perception, and that is always conditioned by the linguistic norms of the society in which you live.

This still leaves us up in the air, so to speak. How can we be sure that the Mycenaean Greeks apparently could not pronounce their Ls “properly” (to be taken with a grain of salt). We cannot. Since we were not there at the time, our own linguistic, socio-cultural biases figure largely in our perception of what the so-called “proper” pronunciation was. If we mean by proper, proper to themselves, that is an altogether different matter. But what is proper to us was almost certainly not proper to them, of that we can pretty much rest assured. The same situation applies to every last ancient Greek dialect. What was proper pronunciation and orthography to the Dorian dialect most certainly was not for the Arcado-Cypriot dialect any more than it was for Attic Greek. To be perfectly blunt, we cannot ever be quite sure how anyone in ancient Greek pronounced their own dialect of the language, again because we weren't there.


In Memoriam Aeternam Corporal Nathan Cirillo, shot to death 9:52 a.m., Oct. 22 2014 (in Linear B, ancient Greek, Latin, French & English): Click to ENLARGE:

in memoriam Corporal Nathan Cirillo
Yesterday, at 9:52 a.m. a crazed madman stylizing himself as a “jihadist”, a despicable word if ever there was, fired two rounds from a high powered rifle into the back of Corporal Nathan Cirillo, who was standing guard at the National War Memorial in our lovely city, Ottawa, the Capital of Canada. The killer then drove in a stolen car straight over to the House of Commons, rushed through the front doors of Parliament, and fired at least 30 shots in the main corridor leading to the Library of Parliament, before being shot to death by the Sargent at Arms, Kevin Vickers. Fortunately, the Members of Parliament were all in caucus at that time. Had the shooter arrived only an hour later, when the corridors were full of M.P.s and other people, the death toll would have been horrendous, in this, the first terrorist attack ever directly on the seat of government in any nation.

The shock waves that ran through Canada and all around the world were instantaneous and horrifying. As a devout Canadian, I was so stunned, and then enraged yesterday that even today I cannot get over this brutal act of violence. Shame on radical Muslims, shame on Daesh! You are the very antithesis of civilized people; you are barbaric monsters. We will never forget what you have done to our peaceful nation, and you shall never live this down, so help us God.

Please note that I tweeted this eulogy to all of the TV networks above.


My Translation of lines 474-510 of “The Catalogue of Ships” in Book II of the Iliad: Click to ENLARGE

Homer Iliad 2 Catalogue of Ships Lines 474-510 

This is Part 1 of 9 Parts of my running translation of the “The Catalogue of Ships”, lines 474-815 in Book II of the Iliad. The cardinal aim of our translation is to underscore the close relationship between the most archaic vocabulary in the Iliad, almost all of which appears in Book II, and primarily in “The Catalogue of Ships”, with both of the earlier Mycenaean Greek & Arcado-Cypriot dialects. With this in mind, I expect to be able to regressively extrapolate derived (D) vocabulary in the Mycenaean Greek & Arcado-Cypriot dialects from archaic vocabulary found in “The Catalogue of Ships” in Book II of the Iliad. Derived vocabulary (DV) in Mycenaean Linear B and Arcado-Cypriot Linear C is not to be found on any extant tablets in either script. Vocabulary on extant tablets is designated as attested (AV).

I am quite convinced that it will be possible for us to derive a considerable number of Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot words, which are presently nowhere attested. This derived vocabulary (DV) should appreciably expand the corpus of Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot vocabulary in Linear B and Linear C respectively. My research colleague, Rita Roberts, and I expect to eventually be able to compile a truly comprehensive topical English-Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C Lexicon, which may very well double the existing vocabulary in Mycenaean Greek, and supplement somewhat the already considerable vocabulary of Arcado-Cypriot, which appears in both in Linear C and in alphabetic Greek. Our Lexicon, which should appear in PDF sometime in 2016 will prove to be greatly superior to the Mycenaean (Linear B) – English Glossary, currently available on the Internet. This glossary should be consulted with the greatest caution and wariness, as it was so poorly proof-read that its entries in Linear B, alphabetic Greek and English are riddled with well over 100 errors. In fact, I would strictly advise anyone who is familiar with either or both Linear B & ancient Greek to double-check every single entry for errors. On the other hand, Chris Tselentis’ Linear B Lexicon, which can be downloaded in PDF format from the net, is a reliable source of considerable merit of Mycenaean Linear B vocabulary. It has the additional advantage of including a large number of eponyms and toponyms, which play a formative rôle on extant Linear B tablets, regardless of provenance.



The Homophone HA, used less often than AI, but equally significant: Click to ENLARGE:

HA homophone series Linear B 

This makes for entertaining reading, though possibly somewhat perplexing to some.
Let no-one be under any illusion that the Linear B homophone HA is any less significant than AI, regardless of the fact that it appears less often in Linear B texts on extant tablets. The homophone HA is not a diphthong! This homophone (HA) takes an enormous leap forward, specifically and exclusively in the Linear B syllabary, by explicitly expressing initial or even internal aspirated A’s. This incredible achievement eclipsed even the ancient Greek alphabet, which, need I remind you, was always written in CAPS (uppercase) alone, and hence, was utterly incapable of expressing any aspirated, let alone, unaspîrated vowels.

"What” I hear you indignantly explain, "Of course, they had aspirated and unaspirated vowels.” Yes, they did. But they never expressed them. Search any ancient alphabetical text in any dialect whatsoever for aspirated or unaspirated vowels, and you search in vain. Search Linear B, and voilà, staring us squarely in the face, is the aspirated A. Astonishing? Perhaps... perhaps not. But what this tells us unequivocally is that the ancient Greeks, even after the appearance of the alphabet, must have pronounced aspirated and unaspirated vowels, because in Mycenaean Greek, the aspirated A is squarely in the syllabary.
"But”, I hear you exclaim again, "If those Mycenaeans were so smart, why didn’t they also have a homophone for the aspirated E, which pops up all over the place in Medieval manuscripts in Classical Greek?”  The answer is that Mycenaean Greek almost certainly had no use for the aspirated E, since all classical Greek words beginning with an aspirated E invariably begin with an aspirated A in Mycenaean Greek, as for instance, Mycenaean "hateros” versus classical Greek "heteros” (well, in most dialects, if not all). In other words, Mycenaean Greek grammar has no homophone for aspirated E, simply because they never used it, nor were they even aware of its existence. 

Still, the fact remains that, at least where the aspirated A is concerned, Linear B was one step ahead of ancient alphabetical Greek. Both aspirated and unaspirated initial consonants were a feature introduced into written classical Greek alphabet only in the Middle Ages, when monks & other scribes began making extensive use of lower case letters. And, sure enough, along with the aspiration and non-aspiration of initial vowels (most often A, E & U), they also introduced all those other crazy accents we all must now memorize: the acute, grave, circumflex and susbscripted iota, just to make reading ancient Greek wretchedly more complicated. Don’t you wish they had left well enough alone? I often do. But this was not to be, since from the Middle Ages, and especially from the Renaissance on, almost all Occidental languages (Greek & French being two of the worst offenders) used accents liberally. Apparently only the Romans never bothered with accents ... but even here we cannot be sure, as they too wrote only in CAPS (uppercase).  Even English, which is the Western language most adverse to accents, always uses them in borrowed words from French, Italian, Spanish etc.  So you just can’t win.
Once again, amongst the ancient languages, at least as far as I know, Linear B alone was able to explicitly express the initial aspirated A, just as Linear B had the common sense to separate every word on the tablets from the next with a vertical line (|). After that, "something got lost in translation” (so to speak), and for at least 2 millennia, when all of a sudden everyone in the whole world went bonkers for accents.

Such are the vagaries of linguistics.


What is all this Fuss about “Translating” Fragments of.... Let's just say for a laugh... English!

Let's just say for a laugh that some 3,000 years from now, when English has long since disappeared from the face of the Earth, or more likely, that that the face of the Earth has itself disappeared, some would-be hyper adventurous aliens just happen to pop by our solar system, and manage to mine out of the detritus of the Earth's debris a few bits and pieces of digital records of text in English (for the sake of simplicity, though any “modern” language would do), and what they found were fragments such as this (Click to ENLARGE):

So now we see what we are really up against when we try to “translate” or “interpret” fragments of Linear B tablets, if indeed they are in Linear B, and not in Linear A. While the vast majority of tabulary fragments Sir Arthur Evans discovered at Knossos were in Linear B, plenty of them were not, and since so many of the syllabograms in Linear A & B are identical, how on earth can we even be sure that the fragment we are trying to “translate” or “interpret” is not in Linear B, but (God forbid!) in Linear A, in which case, no matter how hard we bash our brains, we simply cannot translate it!

For instance, what if from that loot of so-called “English” fragments discovered by our curious wee aliens in the far future, some of the fragments were not in English at all, but, say, in Ojibway, or Algonquin or Polynesian?  And what poor benighted alien could possibly recognize any of those languages, if all he or she had to go on was a very limited corpus of some 2,500 English words.... much as we nowadays have to make do with whenever we are forced up against the wall, and bound (pardon the pun!) to translate what we merely think are fragments of Linear B?  

Oh the pitfalls! I rest my case.  Or put it another way (Click to ENLARGE):

Ideograms humor what do they mean

Haiku in Linear B, Homeric Greek, English & French

Haiku in Linear B, Homeric Greek, English & French
Haïku en Linéaire B, Grec homérique, en anglais et en français

Click to ENLARGE:

seaside wheat

* In the second version below the haiku in Linear B, the Linear B syllabograms and vowels are given in their Latin equivalents, so that you can get some idea of the pronunciation of the Mycenaean Greek (ca. 1300-1200 BCE). 

** The Greek version of this haiku is composed in very ancient Greek (ca. 800 BCE), matching the Greek of “The Catalogue of Ships” in Book II of the Iliad as closely as possible.


Archaic Greek in Book II, The Iliad, “The Catalogue of Ships” Translation into English: Part II, Lines 35-75 (Click to ENLARGE):

Homer Iliad Book 2 Lines 35-75

My commentary on the derivation of the archaic Greek vocabulary and grammar in Book II of the Iliad from its much older Mycenean Linear B counterparts appears immediately after this post, and after every consecutive post of my running translation of Book II.  As we proceed through Book II of the Iliad, we shall come to realize, quickly enough, that in fact the grammar and vocabulary of Book II, and in particular of the Catalogue of Ships (Lines 484-779), is inextricably woven with its parent dialect, namely, Mycenaean Greek, and consequently with the grammar and vocabulary of Linear B itself, from which the archaic Greek of this book of th Iliad is ultimately derived.

One thing I would like to make perfectly clear. While the Greek of Book II of the Iliad is archaic in many places, there is no way on earth that I would translate any of the Iliad into archaic English! Far too many translations of the Iliad reek of archaic English, and to my mind at least, have no place whatsoever in the annals of twenty-first century translations of ancient Greek texts into English, or into any other modern language, for that matter.  The whole idea of the exercise is to make the ancient Homeric Greek as accessible and as readable as is humanly possible to today's allophone readers of the Iliad.  Otherwise, I see no point in translating the text at all. If we are to get any real enjoyment out of any translation of the Iliad, for heaven's sake, let it be easy (and perhaps even fun) to read!



Again, thanks to Rogue Classicism for reblogging.


Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae

The Extreme Significance of the Archaic Greek of the Catalogue of Ships in Book II of Iliad in the Reconstruction of Mycenaean Greek

View original post

LinneaTanner.com - Apollo's Raven

LinneaTanner.com - Apollo's Raven

When Women Inspire

Highlighting Inspiring Women Around the World


by Evelina Di Lauro

God Is Everything

Jesus Lord Jehovah God Christian Bible Religion Holy Spirit

The Deadliest Blogger: Military History Page

The historical writing of Barry C. Jacobsen


Artistic Reconstruction and Original Translation From Homer's "Iliad" by Kathleen Vail

Akhelas Writing

Myriad Musings of Austin Conrad

Be Like Water

Music, Film and Life

Little Fears

Flash fiction tales of humor, horror and whimsy

Im ashamed to die until i have won some victory for humanity.(Horace Mann)

Domenic Garisto/havau22.com / IF YOU CAN'T BE THE POET, BE THE POEM (David Carradine) LIFE IS NOT A REHERSAL,SO LIVE IT.

Φιλολογικά φύλλα

... από την περιπέτεια της θεωρίας, της ερμηνείας και της διδασκαλίας

Le Blog BlookUp

Imprimez et transformez vos contenus digitaux, blogs et réseaux sociaux, en magnifiques livres papier sur blookup.com

Diwiyana's Dreamscape

Just another WordPress.com site

The Evolutionary Mind

Raw, Unfiltered, Motivation


Just another WordPress.com site

Adham Smart

Often written, sometimes read

Elder Mountain Dreaming

Dreamer's Collective, Dream & Soul Journeys, Magic Soul Circles, Sacred Artist's Retreat-Residency, Traditional Food Gardens, 13 Moon Lunar Work-Study, Art Circles, Fire Circles, Seasonal Moon Sweats, Folk Healing, Medical Intuitive, Readings, Grounded Mysticism and Disciplined Dream Advancement and More.


Just another WordPress.com site

Memnison Journal

Jim Rittenhouse's semidaily journal of news, commentary and reports

Under the influence!

Myths, legends, folklore and tales from around the world


...in small doses




A Mental Repository

My Blog

This WordPress.com site is the cat’s pajamas

Hidalgo & Suárez - Estudio de Historia y Genealogía

Genealogista profesional en España - Professional genealogist in Spain - Généalogiste professionnel en Espagne

Rearview Mirror

Music, Film, Art, History and more....

Virginia Views

Country Living for Beginners

Varina's Moon Rising

To Strive, To Seek, To Find, And Not To Yield


4 out of 5 dentists recommend this WordPress.com site

ArchaeoFox: Exploring the World Through the Past

Follow the research of an Archaeology Phd student over the next four years: The things he discovers, the places it brings and the people he meets along the way. (Site spelling variations; Arceofox archeofox archeryfox)

Rafael Tenório

Jornalista | Escritor | Redator


He Come Groovin' Up Slowly

A Closer Look

This is the blog where I read, think about reading or complain about it.

%d bloggers like this: