Tag Archive: historical linguistics

Is the Minoan language proto-Altaic or proto-Japanese? The vast bulk of current diachronic linguistic research stacks up squarely against this hypothesis:

According to Ms.Gretchen Leonhardt of: 


and I quote:

While there has been much debate about the underlying language of Linear A, I disagree that LinA does not resemble a known language. Despite its similarities to Japanese, historical linguists dismiss a correlation for at least two reasons: (1) the apparent lack of genetic evidence and (2) the universally held belief that LinA is an Indo-European language. Regarding the first justification, if linguists are looking to mainland Japan for genetic evidence, they are looking too far north. By whatever means, it appears that, around 1000 BCE, the Minoans entered Japan from the southern islands, and gradually moved north. Regarding the second justification, Minoan scholarship generally agrees that the Minoans migrated from the Anatolian region**, which suggests an Altaic origin or influence. Likewise, Japanese scholarship suggests that the Japanese language belongs to the Japonic-language family, which is believed to have an Altaic origin or influence.

General consensus dates the demise of the high Minoan civilization as late as 3,500 years ago, with the widespread destruction of the palace centers, while Neil Gordon Munro dates the commencement of the Yamato culture, which is the presumed progenitor of modern Japanese civilization, as early as 3,000 years ago. According to Munro, the origin of the Yamato culture is unknown but had arrived in a highly advanced state. The culture is notable for its grave goods–bronze arrowheads, bells, and halberds. The culture is also notable for its wheel-thrown pottery, which employed “restrained” decoration with “subdued color” [1908:4].

Munro was writing in 1908, when linguistic assumptions about Altaic languages were in their infancy! Modern scholarship has all but refuted the assumptions about Altaic languages in vogue at the beginning of the twentieth century, i.e. 100 years ago!

She continues:
The Okinawan (Uchina’a) Japanese remain culturally, genetically, and linguistically distinct from the mainland (Yamato) Japanese, although the two cultures are believed to share a common proto language. This forum will provide support–through disciplines such as archaeology, architecture, art, genetics, and language–for my dual theories that LinA is proto Japanese and that the Minoan civilization provides a rich backdrop for Japanese history, which, for millennia, has been shrouded in mystery.

I hasten to add that in the preceding passage, Ms. Leonhardt has made egregious errors with respect to Minoan Linear A. These are:
1. On the one hand, she claims to disagree that LinA does not resemble a known language.
2. and then goes straight ahead to flatly contradict herself by decrying “the universally held belief that LinA is an Indo-European language. Universally held? Very far from it. The controversy over the origin and language class Linear A purportedly belongs to still rages on, as attested by innumerable studies on academia.edu alone which contradict one another with respect to the language family or class to which Linear A purportedly belongs.  All this after she has just lament the fact that Linear A does not resemble any known language (1.)
3. She goes on... it appears that, around 1000 BCE, the Minoans entered Japan from the southern islands, and gradually moved north. Regarding the second justification, Minoan scholarship generally agrees that the Minoans migrated from the Anatolian region** (Does it? Perhaps in 1908, but I sincerely doubt this is the case today), which suggests an Altaic origin or influence. But what she obviously overlooks in this statement is the distinct probability, and indeed strong likelihood that the Minoan language almost certainly had already existed for some 1,200 years before the Minoans migrated to the southern Japanese islands, if they ever did so in the first place... which is a highly contentious claim. Moreover, while a few researchers still claim that the proto-Japanese dialect she is referencing belongs to the Altaic class of languages, the majority of current researchers number are convinced that this cannot be so.

And I quote (all italics mine):

Altaic Wikipedia TI

Micro-Altaic includes about 66 living languages,[9] to which Macro-Altaic would add Korean, Japanese and the Ryukyuan languages for a total of about 74. (These are estimates, depending on what is considered a language and what is considered a dialect. They do not include earlier states of languages, such as Middle Mongol, Old Korean or Old Japanese.)
Opponents maintain that the similarities are due to areal interaction between the language groups concerned. The inclusion of Korean and Japanese has also been criticized and disputed by other linguists.
The original Altaic family thus came to be known as the Ural–Altaic.[13] In the "Ural–Altaic" nomenclature, Finno-Ugric and Samoyedic are regarded as "Uralic", whereas Turkic, Mongolic, and Tungusic are regarded as "Altaic"—whereas Korean is sometimes considered Altaic, as is, less often, Japanese.

In other words, proto-Japanese, including the dialect with which Ms. Leonhardt is concerned, may not be (proto-) Altaic at all.

Altaic Wikipedia sometimes

4. Moroever, the following timetable seems to be the most realistic for the appearance of written Japanese (italics mine):

(3) Timetable:

To illustrate the prehistory of Japan, I'd put two lines on the timetable. The first line comes around 400 to 300 BC. This is the time when wet rice culture and iron processing came to the Japanese Islands, and the way of life there changed. Yet an older form of the Japanese language started to be spoken from that time. I'd call this phase of the language "proto-Japanese", which later evolved to our Old Japanese.

Now it is clear from this diachronic timeline that proto-Japanese appeared at least 1,800 years after the first attestation of the Minoan language ca. 2200 BCE. 

And again (italics mine):


Along with the foreign faith, Japan establishes and maintains for 400 years close connections with the Chinese and Korean courts and adopts a more sophisticated culture. This new culture is essentially Chinese and includes literature, philosophy, art, architecture, science, medicine, and statecraft. Most important is the introduction of the Chinese writing system, revolutionizing Japan, which heretofore had no writing system of its own, and ushering in the country’s historical period.  (Comment: in other words, writing appeared in Japan only after 500 AD, some 2,700 years after the advent of the Minoan civlization.

5. Leonhardt continues, Minoan scholarship generally agrees that the Minoans migrated from the Anatolian region**, which suggests an Altaic origin or influence. after asserting in 1. above that LinA does not resemble a known language. and in 2. above, touting the universally held belief that LinA is an Indo-European language.  Good God, can she make up her mind? Is it 1. 2. or 5.?
6. Leonhardt then cites research a century old! (again, italics mine) She states, “According to Munro, the origin of the Yamato culture is unknown but had arrived in a highly advanced state. The culture is notable for its grave goods–bronze arrowheads, bells, and halberds. The culture is also notable for its wheel-thrown pottery, which employed “restrained” decoration with “subdued color” [1908:4].

For confirmation of the general span of dates of his publications, see:

Japanese race

Munro was writing in 1908, when linguistic assumptions about Altaic languages were in their primitive infancy! Modern scholarship has all but refuted the assumptions about Altaic languages in vogue at the beginning of the twentieth century, i.e. 100 years ago! And he wrote in this very journal.

7. But the most damning evidence against her thesis comes from (italics mine):

Paleoglot: How NOT to reconstruct a protolanguage

how not to rcon a

Paleoglot: ... So let's go through my cheeky list of important strategies that we can follow (using examples from the Tower of Babel project) if we want to isolate ourselves and be rejected by all universities around the world.
1. Use "phonemic wildcards" obsessively! Cast the net wider and you might catch something!

The abuse of mathematical symbols like C, V, [a-z], (a/é/ö), etc. are an excellent way to make your idle conjecture look like a valid theory. It might be called "reconstruction by parentheses" since parentheses are either explicitly shown or hidden by a single variable. An example of this is *k`egVnV (claimed to be the Proto-Altaic word for "nine" in the Tower of Babel database). Obviously, if V represents all possible vowels in this proto-language and there are, say, ten of them possible in either position, then the fact that there are two wildcards in the same word means that the word represents a humungous, two-dimensional matrix of ONE HUNDRED possible permutations (10*10=100):

*k`egana, *k`egena, *k`egina, *k`egüna, *k`egïna, etc.
*k`egane, *k`egene, *k`egine, *k`egüne, *k`egïne, etc.
*k`egani, *k`egeni, *k`egini, *k`egüni, *k`egïni, etc.
*k`eganü, *k`egenü, *k`eginü, *k`egünü, *k`egïnü, etc.
etc. language

Since no single form is actually being posited when wildcards are present, any claim of regular correspondence by such a theorist can be easily identified as fraud. If such linguists can't take themselves seriously enough to hypothesize a structured and testable theory, why then should we take them seriously in turn? 

It is this very method, if you can call it that by any yardstick of scientific methodology that Ms. Leonhardt indulges in:  

Leonhardt kira kiro kura juro

Wiktionary Proto-Japonic

as we can see all too clearly from this chart of her derivations of Minoan words from so-called Altaic roots:

To summarize, Ms. Leonhardt has seized herself in a web of self-contractions, severely outdated research and claims with respect to the authenticity of southern proto-Japanese as a so-called proto-Altaic language which cannot possibly stand the test of valid scientific methodology. I short, her pretensions that southern proto-Japanese is at the root of the Minoan language are just that, presentions, and egregious to boot.

So what are the alternatives? What language family or class might the Minoan language fall into? We shall address that question head on in the next post.

Gretchen Leonhardt is up against some stiff competition from Urii Mosenkis concerning her so-called proto-Japanese origins of Minoan Linear A:  

Urii Mosenkis makes a very strong case for Minoan Linear A being proto-Greek, and he does it over and over, like clockwork. This includes his own completely different interpretation of Ms. Leonhardts highly contentious decipherment of kuro as so called proto-Japanese. I strongly suggest that Ms. Leonhardt read his articles. He is much more qualified than I am in Linear A (and, I contend, than Ms. Leonhardt as well), and I admit it without a shadow of hesitation. I am forced to revise my predictions about the partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A as I outlined them in my first article on Linear A, and I admit openly that Mosenkis is probably right, by and large. Ms. Leonhardt would do well to read all of his articles, as they flat-out contradict everything she claims about the so-called proto-Japanese origins of the Minoan language. I at least have the humility to lay down my cards when I am confronted with convincing evidence to the effect that my own partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A is defective, even though I have already reached many of the same conclusions as Mosenkis.

Not that he would ever convince Ms. Leonhardt of the infallibility of her own dubious decipherments of Linear A tablets. I have a very great deal more to say about Ms. Leonhardt’s contentious claims to eventual fame with respect to her clearly flawed interpretations of Linear A tablets, and to drive my points home, I shall have occasion to cite Mosenkis whenever and wherever he contradicts her, and that is always. 

To view all of Mosenkis superbly conceived research papers, please visit his academia.edu account here:

Urii Mosenkis academia.edu

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


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

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

Mosenkis,Urii. Linear A-Homeric quasi-bilingual

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

Mosenkis, Urii. Minoan Greek Farming in Linear A. 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 

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

Mosenkis, Urii. Researchers of Greek Linear A.  

Mosenkis, Urii. Rhea the Mother of Health in the Arkalokhori Script

PS I came to almost exactly the same conclusions as Mosenkis re. this
inscription, although my Greek translation is different.

I wonder what Ms. Leonhardt has to say for herself in light of so many astonishingly insightful decipherments by Urii Mosenkis of a large number of Linear A tablets. I look forward to cogent and rational counter arguments on her part, which stand up to rigorous scientific criteria.

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

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


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

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

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

Can quantum computers assist us in the potentially swift decipherment of ancient languages, including Minoan Linear A?



No-one knows as yet, but the potential practical application of the decryption or decipherment of ancient languages, including Minoan Linear A, may at last be in reach. Quantum computers can assist us with such decipherments much much swifter than standard digital supercomputers.



Here are just a few examples of the potential application of quantum computers to the decipherment of apparently related words in Minoan Linear A:

kireta2 (kiretai) *
kiretana *
kuro *
maru (cf. Mycenaean mari/mare = “wool” ...  may actually be proto-Greek
maruku = made of wool? 
pajai (probably a diminutive, as I have already tentatively deciphered a few Minoan Linear A words terminating in “ai”, all of which are diminutives.  

All of these examples, with the exception of  * kireta2 (kiretai), kiretana & kuro *, each of which I have (tentatively) deciphered, are drawn from Prof. John G. Youngers Linear A Reverse Lexicon:


It is to be noted that I myself have been unable to decipher manually on my own any of the related terms above, with the exception of the 3 words I have just mentioned.  The decipherment of kuro = “total” is 100 % accurate. I would like to add in passing that I have managed to (at least tentatively) decipher 107 Minoan Linear A words, about 21 % of the entire known lexicon. But everyone anywhere in the world will have to wait until 2018 to see the results of my thorough-going and strictly scientific research until the publication of my article on the partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A in Vol. 12 (2016) of Archaeology and Science (Belgrade), actually to be released in early 2018. But if you would like to get at least a very limited idea of what my eventual decipherment is all about, you can in the meantime consult this preview on my academia.edu account here:


The British Museum on Twitter only follows back about 5 % of those who follow them, but they do follow us! 


While The British Museum has 1.01 million followers, they only follow back 50.9 K Twitter accounts, and KONOSO is one of those with whom they reciprocate. In other words, we are among the 5 % of Twitter accounts they follow back. This goes to demonstrate the enormous impact our Twitter account, KONOSO:


Moreover, in the past 3 months alone, the number of our twitter followers has risen from 1,600 to over 1,900 (1902). This, in combination with the 625 followers of our co-researcher colleague's twitter account (Rita Roberts):


brings the total number of followers of our 2 accounts combined to 2,527, up from less than 2,000 only 3 months ago.
Among other prestigious international Twitter accounts following us we find:

Henry George Liddell:


the latest in a long line of generations of great historical Greek linguists who over the centuries have compiled the world’s greatest classical Greek dictionary, the Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon.

Phaistos Project:


Greek History Podcast:


@antiquitas @eterna:


Dr Kalliopi Nikita:


Expert in Greek Archaeology-Ancient Glass Specialist-Dedicated to Greek Culture, Language & Heritage Awareness Art lover-Theatrophile-Painter- Olympiacos-Sphinx 

The Nicholson Museum, antiquities and archaeology museum, Sydney University Museums, Sydney, Australia, also follows us:



Bacher Archäology (Institute, Vienna):


Canadian Archaeology:


University of Alberta = UofAHistory&Classics (Alberta, Canada):

All of our followers confirm that Minoan Linear A, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae:


is having a profound impact on the vast field of diachronic historical linguistics, especially the decipherment of ancient languages, most notably Mycenaean Linear B, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C and even Minoan Linear A.  MLALBK&M has in effect become the premier diachronic historical linguistics site of its kind in the world in the space of less than 4 years. 

The staggering implications of the power of our unconscious mindset coupled with quantum computint in the endeavour to make great technological strides in linguistics! PART A:


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.

International Historical Linguistics journals I will contact to review my articles in Archaeology and Science, 2016 & 2017:

Following is a list in 2 PARTS of international Historical Linguistics journals I will contact to review my articles in Archaeology and Science:

[1] Janke, Richard Vallance. The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B, Archaeology and Science. Vol. 11 (2015), pp. 73-108.

As soon as this ground-breaking article is published in early 2017, I shall submit it for review in every one of the international journals below. 

[2] Janke, Richard Vallance. Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the “Rosetta Stone” to Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) vessels and pottery, Archaeology and Science. Vol. 12 (2016)

Since this article is not going to be published before mid-2017, and as yet has no pagination, I shall have to wait until then before I submit it for review to all of the periodicals below.



I have just finished the first draft of the article, “Pylos Tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the ‘Rosetta Stone’ for Linear A tablet HT 31, vessels and pottery, which is to appear in Vol. 12 (2016) of the prestigious international annual, Archaeology and Science (Belgrade)  ISSN 1452-7448,


and I fully  expect that I shall completed the draft Master by no later than Oct. 15 2016, by which time I shall submit it to at least 5 proof-readers for final corrections, so that I can hopefully submit it to the journal by no later than Nov. 1 2016.   This article is to prove to be a ground-breaker in the decipherment of at least 21.5 % = 116 terms of the extant vocabulary = 510 terms by my count, of  Minoan Linear A, although I cannot possibly claim to have deciphered the language itself. Nor would I, since such a claim is unrealistic at best, and preposterous at worst. Nevertheless, this article should prove to be the most significant breakthrough in any partially successful decipherment in Minoan Linear A since the first discovery of a meagre store of Linear A tablets by Sir Arthur Evans at Knossos 116 years ago.

Slated for publication in Archaeology and Science Vol. 12 (2016),“Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the ‘Rosetta Stone’ to Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) vessels and pottery”:

archaeology-and-science-vol-12-2016-2018Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the ‘Rosetta Stone’ to Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) vessels and pottery”, is definitively slated for publication in Vol. 12 (2016) in the prestigious international annual, Archaeology and Science ISSN 1452-7448 (release date spring 2018). To be submitted by Nov. 15, 2016.

This is the ground-breaking article in which I announce to the world my success at a partial decipherment of some of the vocabulary of Minoan Linear A, not of the language itself, which no one is in a position to decipher, given the extreme paucity of extant tablets and fragments (<500), of which the vast majority are fragments.  

In the progressive layout of the draft of this revolutionary article, I shall be featuring the following Minoan Linear A tablets and commentaries on Minoan Linear A in my article (in this approximate order), as per previous posts on this blog (Click on each link to visit its post):


Linear B tablet Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is the Mycenaean Linear B “Rosetta Stone” for Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada)


5 words of vessel types in Minoan Linear A: Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada)


Linear A tablet tagged “19” & the Minoan word for “tripod” = puko (confirmation)




Proto-Slavic interpretation of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada) — another decipherment gone awry


2 vastly different decipherments of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada). Does either measure up?



How far can we go deciphering Minoan Linear A? And now for the bad news


What are the current prospects for deciphering Minoan Linear A? Dismal but…




The 5 principles applicable to the rational partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A

The principle of cross-correlative cohesion between Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B & logical fallacies



Minoan Linear A tablet HT 132 qareto = lease field (post lost, to be reposted)


Mycenaean Linear B tablets on terms and activities related to olive oil as templates for cross-correlation to Minoan Linear A tablets


Minoan Linear A tablet HT 12 & qatidate = Mycenaean Linear B erawa = olive tree(s)


UPDATE on the military Minoan Linear A tablet HT 94 (Haghia Triada) = attendants to the king/foot soldiers

Minoan Linear A kirita2 (kiritai) = delivery & kiretana = delivered (nos. 67 & 68 deciphered)


Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada) & wine


Minoan Linear whorls unearthed by Heinrich Schliemann at Troy in 1875 & their striking similarity to the Linear A whorls (recto/verso) illustrated here


Minoan Linear A words: 7 types of cloth on tablet HT 117 (Haghia Triada) compared with 7 types of cloth in Mycenaean Linear B



Glossary of 134 words & Partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A : a rational approach from Mycenaean Linear B (final version)


The proportion of eponyms & toponyms in percentage to all terms in Minoan Linear A and in Mycenaean Linear B. Does it all add up? 

There are 45 eponyms and toponyms in our Glossary of 134 words in Minoan Linear A, comprising 33 % of the total.

excerpt eponyms and toponyms in Minoan Linear A

Calculating the total number of terms in Chris Tselentis’ Linear B Lexicon as 1,500 give or take, and the number of eponyms and toponyms as 380 give or take, the percentage of the latter is 25 % of the total.

excerpt eponyms and toponyms in Mycenean Linear B

It should come as no surprise at all anyone at all familiar with Mycenaean Linear B that there are so many eponyms and toponyms (e&ts) in the Lexicon. This being the case, it is reasonable to expect that the same phenomenon should repeat itself in Minoan Linear A. And so it does. Yet, while it is clear that eponyms and toponyms account for a significant percentage of the total number of terms in each syllabary, why the 8 % discrepancy between the percentage of eponyms and toponyms (e&t) in Minoan Linear A = 33 % and in Mycenaean Linear B = 25 %? 

There are several cogent reasons for the divergence:
1. Whereas philologists have squarely deciphered the vast majority of words in Mycenaean Linear B, the same cannot conceivably be said of Minoan Linear A. Hence, the over-weighted preponderance of e&ts in Minoan Linear A. We simply have not been able to decipher enough Minoan Linear A words, however accurately or not, to be able to state with confidence that we have even approached a comprehensive lexicon of Minoan Linear A. This fact alone would account for the relatively higher percentage of e&ts in Minoan Linear A (33 %) than in the wide-ranging Linear B Lexicon by Chris Tselentis (25 %).
2. However, even Tselentis, in spite of his admirable thoroughness, has not by any means accounted for all of the terms deciphered in Linear B, as these amount to at least 2,500. So unless we count all of the eponyms and toponyms on every last extant Mycenaean Linear B tablet, the percentage of the e&ts cannot be accurately accounted for.    
3. The same goes for our Minoan Linear A Glossary of 134 terms. Since the number of terms deciphered, exclusive of eponyms and toponyms, amounts to 89, these account for only 17.5 % of all intact words in Prof. John G. Younger’s Linear B Lexicon (ca. 510). So in the case of Minoan Linear A, the total percentage of eponyms and toponyms (33 %) is decidedly lop-sided to the up side. There is no way of telling how positively biased the percentage of e&ts in our Minoan Linear A Glossary of 134 terms is, but it is certain that it is out of whack, just as the percentage of e&ts  in Mycenaean Linear B is (but for entirely different reasons).    
4. Thus, we cannot definitively conclude that the frequency of e&ts in Minoan Linear A is as closely aligned with the frequency of the same in Mycenaean Linear B as we might imagine or wish it to be.  Such an expectation is entirely misguided. 
5. On the other hand, it is quite clear the eponyms and toponyms account for a considerable segment of the total vocabulary in both Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B. This set of circumstances must never be overlooked in any sober attempt at the decipherment of Minoan Linear A, however partial.

There still remains one ineluctable sticking point with eponyms and toponyms in Minoan Linear A. Whereas in Mycenaean Linear B, which has been deciphered for the most part with considerable accuracy, we can virtually always distinguish between a word which is an eponym and one which is a toponym (with only a handful of exceptions at best), the same cannot be said of Minoan Linear A. There is just no guarantee that the 27 words I have identified as eponyms in our Glossary of 134 Minoan Linear A words are in fact all eponyms, or vice versa, that the 18 toponyms are indeed all toponyms. The most glaring example of this crossover transposition is the name Kaudeta (?), which may be either an eponym or a toponym (which is why I have listed it in both categories), or which may be neither. That is made clear enough by my marked hesitancy in defining it either way, while at the same time I find myself hedging my bets by including it also in the list of terms I have tentatively deciphered, more or less accurately, where I define it as possibly meaning “ to be distributed (fut. part. pass.) approx. = Linear B, epididato = having been distributed (aorist part. pass.) ”. But you cannot have it three ways. All this goes to show how precarious the partial decipherment of even a relatively small subset of Minoan Linear B (26 %) is bound to be.

PUBLISHED! Archaeology and Science. Vol. 10 (2014). An Archaeologist's Translation of Pylos Tablet 641-1952 pp. 133-161 (academia.edu):
Click on banner to view the article:

academia.edu Archaeology and Science Vol 10 2014

pp. 133-161



In partnership with The Association of Historical Studies, Koryvantes (Athens), our organization,Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae (WordPress), conducts ongoing research into Mycenaean archaeology and military aff airs and the Mycenaean Greek dialect. This study centres on a fresh new decipherment of Pylos tablet TA 641-1952 (Ventris) by Mrs. Rita Roberts from Crete, who brings to bear the unique perspectives of an archaeologist on her translation, in all probability the most accurate realized to date. We then introduce the newly minted term in Mycenaean Linear B, the supersyllabogram, being the first syllabogram or first syllable of any word or entire phrase in Linear B. Supersyllabograms have been erroneously referred to as “adjuncts” in previous linguistic research into Mycenaean Linear B.

This article demonstrates that their functionality significantly exceeds such limitations, and that the supersyllabogram must be fully accounted for as a unique and discrete phenomenon without which any approach to the interpretation of the Linear B syllabary is at best incomplete, and at worse, severely handicapped.


Introduction to the article:

Why are there so many ideograms in Mycenaean Linear B, 123 all told, with 30 in the pottery and vessels sector alone? This is no idle question. Of the 123 Linear B ideograms listed in Wikimedia Commons,1 fully 30 or 24.5 % are situated in the pottery and vessels sector of the Mycenaean economy, as illustrated in Table 1. But why so many? As I emphatically pointed out in the talk I gave at The Third Interdisciplinary Conference, “Thinking Symbols”, June 30-July 1 2015, at the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, just outside of Warsaw, Poland, in partnership with The Association of Historical Studies, Koryvantes (Athens), with whom our organization, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae (WordPress), is in full partnership, “No-one deliberately resorts to any linguistic device when writing in any language, unless it serves a useful purpose beneficial to more eff ective communication, contextual or otherwise.” (italics mine)...

Archaeology and Science Vol 10 2014
Rita Robert's translation of Pylos tablet 641-1952

Minoan dolphin amphora 2nd millennium BCEvessels on Pylos tablet 641-1952

Linear B tablet K 04.5 from the Knossos Armoury: the redoubtable challenges for translation

04.5 iqiya piriniyo opoqo keryapi opiiyapi

 Linear B tablet K 04.5 from the Knossos Armoury: the redoubtable challenges for translation

While some of the military tablets from the Knossos Armoury dealing with the construction and design of chariots pose a few problems in the translation of certain words which yield at least two or possibly even three different possible meanings, others are much more of a challenge to the translator. Some vocabulary in the more challenging tablets proves to be much more fractious. There are several reasons for this phenomenon when we are dealing with Mycenaean Greek vocabulary, let alone that of any truly archaic ancient language, such as Babylonian and Assyrian cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphics. These are:

1 Some words in Mycenaean Greek may closely or somewhat resemble their later counterparts in Homeric Greek or Classical Greek, conveying the same or a similar meaning. Such is the case with – wanax – = “king” in Mycenaean Greek.
2 Some of the words in Mycenaean Greek may closely or somewhat resemble their later counterparts in Homeric Greek, and yet not convey precisely the same meaning or might even mean something more remotely associated, such as – qasireu – , which does not mean the same thing as “basileus” = “king” in Homeric Greek. A – qasireu – in Mycenaean Greek is merely a local leader of a town, citadel, redoubt or similar small centre and nothing more.   A king in Mycenaean Greek is a – wanax – , for which there is an almost exact match in Homer’s Iliad.  
3 Some words in Mycenaean Greek may look like variants of later Homeric or Classic Greek words, although they are spelled in a fashion alien to the latter, never appearing in them. 
4 Some of the words in Mycenaean Greek may closely or somewhat resemble their later counterparts in Classical Ionic or Attic Greek, and yet convey an entirely different meaning.
5 Some vocabulary in Mycenaean Greek may be archaic Greek which later fell entirely out of use even prior to Homeric Greek, in which case it may be next to impossible to confirm that such words are even archaic Greek at all.
6 Some vocabulary in Mycenaean Greek may possibly be proto-Greek or even more ancient proto Indo-European, but we can never be certain of this at all.
7 Some vocabulary in Mycenaean Greek may possibly or even likely be Minoan or of Minoan origin. Such is the case with the word – kidapa – on tablet KN 894 N v 01, the very first tablet I translated in this series of tablets on chariots. L.R. Palmer assumes this word refers to a kind of wood, and I agree. This assumption is based on the fact that two other kinds of wood are referenced on the same tablet, i.e. elm and willow. With this evidence in hand, I have gone even further than L. R. Palmer and have taken the calculated risk to identify this word as meaning “ash (wood)”, a wood which Homer uses for weapons.
8 Just as is the case with Classical Greek, in which a few thousand words are not of Indo-European origin, Mycenaean Greek contains a fair proportion of such vocabulary. Words such as – sasama –  (sesame) & – serino –  (celery) come to mind.

This is the scenario which confronts us in the translation of at least two of the words on this tablet, namely, – piriniyo – and – mano –, both of which are certainly open to more than one possible interpretation. The first word - piriniyo – meets the criteria outlined in 1 & 3 above. It probably means “an ivory worker”, but we cannot be sure of this. Since the latter – mano – may not have any relation to later Homeric or Classical Greek at all, it is a crap shoot to try and translate it. This word meets the criteria in 1,2 and 4 above. But I took the chance (as I always do), on the assumption, however fanciful, that – mano – may be related to the Classical Greek word – manos – , meaning “thin”, as defined in Liddell & Scott.

And what applies to Mycenaean vocabulary on this and all other tablets dealing with chariots, whether or not they originate from Knossos, equally applies to all of the vocabulary on each and every tablet in the military sector of the Mycenaean economy. By extension, this principle must also apply to all of the vocabulary on Linear B tablets, regardless of provenance (Knossos, Pylos, Mycenae, Thebes etc.) and regardless of the sector of the Mycenaean economy with which they are concerned. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. In short, the 8 criteria outlined above must be applied on an equal footing, through the procedure of cross-comparative extrapolation, to all of the vocabulary of Mycenaean Greek.

We shall return to this phenomenon in our article on chariot construction and design, which is to appear on my

 account under the auspices of Koryvantes, the Association of Historical Studies (Athens):

Koryvantes Association of Historical Studies Athens Category Linear B & the Iliad
sometime later this winter.

Knossos tablet KN 894 N v 01 (Ashmolean) as a guide to Mycenaean chariot construction and design

KN 894 An1910_211_o.jpg wheel ZE

In spite of my hard gained experience in translating Linear B tablets, the translation of this tablet on chariot construction and design posed considerable challenges. At the outset, several of the words descriptive of Mycenaean chariot design eluded my initial attempts at an accurate translation. By accurate I not only mean that problematic words must make sense in the total context of the descriptive text outlining Mycenaean chariot construction and design, but that the vocabulary entire must faithfully reconstruct the design of Mycenaean chariots as they actually appeared in their day and age. In other words, could I come up with a translation reflective of the actual construction and design of Mycenaean chariots, not as we fancifully envision them in the twenty-first century, but as the Mycenaeans themselves manufactured them to be battle worthy?

It is transparent to me that the Mycenaean military, just as that of any other great ancient civilization, such as those of Egypt in the Bronze Age, of the Hittite Empire, and later on, in the Iron Age, of Athens and Sparta and, later still, of the Roman Empire, must have gone to great lengths to ensure the durability, tensile strength and battle worthiness of their military apparatus in its entirety (let alone chariots). It goes without saying that, regardless of the techniques of chariot construction employed by the various great civilizations of the ancient world, each civilization strove to manufacture military apparatus to the highest standards practicable within the limits of the technology then available to them.

It is incontestable that progress in chariot construction and design must have made major advances in all of the great civilizations from the early to the late Bronze Age. Any flaws or faults in chariot construction would have been and were rooted out and eliminated as each civilization perceptibly moved forward, step by arduous step, to perfect the manufacture of chariots in their military. In the case of the  Mycenaeans contemporaneous with the Egyptians, this was the late Bronze Age. My point is strictly this. Any translation of any part of a chariot must fully take into account the practicable appropriateness of each and every word in the vocabulary of that technology, to ensure that the entire vocabulary of chariot construction will fit together as seamlessly as possible in order to ultimately achieve as solid a coherence as conceivably possible. 

Thus, if a practicably working translation of any single technical term for the manufacture of chariots detracts rather than contributes to the structural integrity, sturdiness and battle worthiness of the chariot, that term must be seriously called into question. Past translators of the vocabulary of chariot construction and design who have not fully taken into account the appropriateness of any particular term descriptive of the solidity and tensile strength of the chariot required to make it battle worthy have occasionally fallen short of truly convincing translations of the whole (meaning here, the chariot), translations which unify and synthesize its entire vocabulary such that all of its moving and immobile parts alike actually “translate” into a credible reconstruction of a Bronze Age (Mycenaean) chariot as it must have realistically appeared and actually operated. Even the most prestigious of translators of Mycenaean Linear B, most notably L.R. Palmer himself, have not always succeeded in formulating translations of certain words or terms convincing enough in the sense that I have just delineated. All this is not to say that I too will not fall into the same trap, because I most certainly will. Yet as we say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.      

And what applies to the terminology for the construction and design of chariots in any ancient language, let alone Mycenaean Linear B, equally applies to the vocabulary of absolutely any animate subject, such as human beings and livestock, and to any inanimate object in the context of each and every sector of the economy of the society in question, whether this be in the agricultural, industrial, military, textiles, household or pottery sector.

Again, if any single word detracts rather than contributes to the actual appearance, manufacturing technique and utility of said object in its entire context, linguistic as well as technical, then that term must be seriously called into question. 

When it comes down to brass tacks, the likelihood of achieving such translations is a tall order to fill. But try we must.

A convincing practicable working vocabulary of Knossos tablet KN 894 N v 01 (Ashmolean):

While much of the vocabulary on this tablet is relatively straightforward, a good deal is not. How then was I to devise an approach to its translation which could conceivably meet Mycenaean standards in around 1400-1200 BCE? I had little or no reference point to start from. The natural thing to do was to run a search on Google images to determine whether or not the results would, as it were, measure up to Mycenaean standards. Unfortunately, some of the most convincing images I downloaded were in several particulars at odds with one another, especially in the depiction of wheel construction. That actually came as no surprise. So what was I to do? I had to choose one or two images of chariots which appeared to me at least to be accurate renditions of actual Mycenaean chariot design. But how could I do that without being arbitrary in my choice of images determining terminology? Again a tough call. Yet there was a way through this apparent impasse. Faced with the decision of having to choose between twenty-first century illustrations of Mycenaean chariot design - these being the most often at odds with one another - and ancient depictions on frescoes, kraters and vases, I chose the latter route as my starting point. 

But here again I was faced with images which appeared to conflict on specific points of chariot construction. The depictions of Mycenaean chariots appearing on frescoes, kraters and vases unfortunately did not mirror one another as accurately as I had first supposed they would. Still, this should come as no real surprise to anyone familiar with the design of military vehicles ancient or modern. Take the modern tank for instance. The designs of American, British, German and Russian tanks in the Second World War were substantially different. And even within the military of Britain, America and Germany, there were different types of tanks serving particular uses dependent on specific terrain. So it stands to reason that there were at least some observable variations in Mycenaean chariot design, let alone of the construction of any chariots in any ancient civilization, be it Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece throughout its long history, or Rome, among others.

So faced with the choice of narrowing down alternative likenesses, I finally opted for one fresco which provided the most detail. I refer to the fresco from Tiryns (ca 1200 BCE) depicting two female charioteers.

This fresco would go a long way to resolving issues related in particular to the manufacture and design of wheels, which are the major sticking point in translating the vocabulary for Mycenaean chariots.

Turning now to my translation, I sincerely hope I have been able to resolve most of these difficulties, at least to my own satisfaction if to not to that of others, although here again a word of caution to the wise. My translation is merely my own visual interpretation of what is in front of me on this fresco from Tiryns. Try as we might, there is simply no escaping the fact that we, in the twenty-first century, are bound to impose our own preconceptions on ancient images, whatever they depict. As historiography has it, and I cite directly from Wikipedia:      

Questions regarding historicity concern not just the issue of "what really happened," but also the issue of how modern observers can come to know "what really happened."[6] This second issue is closely tied to historical research practices and methodologies for analyzing the reliability of primary sources and other evidence. Because various methodologies categorize historicity differently, it's not possible to reduce historicity to a single structure to be represented. Some methodologies (for example historicism), can make historicity subject to constructions of history based on submerged value commitments. 

wikipedia historicity
The sticking point is those pesky “submerged value commitments”. To illustrate even further, allow me to cite another source, Approaching History: Bias:

approaching history

The problem for methodology is unconscious bias: the importing of assumptions and expectations, or the asking of one question rather than another, by someone who is trying to act in good faith with the past. 

Yet the problem inherent to any modern approach is that it is simply impossible for any historian or historical linguist today to avoid imposing not only his or her own innate unconscious preconceived values but also the values of his own national, social background and civilization, let alone those of the entire age in which he or she lives. “Now” is the twenty-first century and “then” was any particular civilization with its own social, national and political values set against the diverse values of other civilizations contemporaneous with it, regardless of historical era.

If all this seems painfully obvious to the professional historian or linguist, it is more than likely not be to the non-specialist or lay reader, which is why I have taken the trouble to address the issue in the first place.  

How then can any historian or historical linguist in the twenty-first century possibly and indeed realistically be expected to place him— or herself in the sandals, so to speak, of any contemporaneous Bronze Age Minoan, Mycenaean, Egyptian, Assyrian or oriental civilizations such as China, and so on, without unconsciously imposing the entire baggage of his— or -her own civilization, Occidental, Oriental or otherwise? It simply cannot be done.

However, not to despair. Focusing our magnifying glass on the shadowy mists of history, we can only see through a glass darkly. But that is no reason to give up. Otherwise, there would be no way of interpreting history and no historiography to speak of. So we might as well let sleeping dogs lie, and get on with the task before us, which in this case is the intricate art of translation of an object particular not only to its own civilization, remote as it is, but specifically to the military sector of that society, being in this case, the Mycenaean.

So the question now is, what can we read out of the Tiryns fresco with respect to Mycenaean chariot construction and design, without reading too much of our own unconscious personal, social and civilized biases into it? As precarious and as fraught with problems as our endeavour is, let us simply sail on ahead and see how far our little voyage can take us towards at least a credible translation of the Tiryns chariot with its lovely belles at the reins, with the proviso that this fresco depicts only one variation on the design of Mycenaean chariots, itself at odds on some points with other depictions on other frescoes. Here you see the fresco with my explanatory notes on the chariot parts:


as related to the text and context of the facsimile of the original tablet in Linear B, Linear B Latinized and archaic Greek, here:

Knossos tablet KN 894 N v 01 original text Latinized and in archaic Greek
This is followed by my meticulous notes on the construction and design of the various parts of the Mycenaean chariot as illustrated here:

Notes on Knossos tablet 894 N v 01 Wheel ZE

and by The Geometry of chariot parts in Mycenaean Linear B, to drive home my interpretations of both – amota - = - (on) axle – and – temidweta - = the circumference or the rim of the wheel, referencing the – radius – in the second syllable of – temidweta - ,i.e. - dweta - , where radius = 1/2 (second syllable) of – temidweta – and is thus equivalent to one spoke, as illustrated here:

The only other historian of Linear B who has grasped the full significance of the supersyllabogram (SSYL) is Salimbeti, 

The Greek Age of Bronze chariots

whose site is the one and only on the entire Internet which explores the construction and design of bronze age chariots in great detail. I strongly urge you to read his entire study in order to clarify the full import of my translation of – temidweta – as the rim of the wheel. The only problem remaining with my translation is whether or not the word – temidweta – describes the rim on the side of the wheel or the rim on its outer surface directly contacting the ground. The difficulty with the latter translation is whether or not elm wood is of sufficient tensile strength to withstand the beating the tire rim had to endure over time (at least a month or two at minimum) on the rough terrain, often littered with stones and rocks, over which Mycenaean chariots must surely have had to negotiate.  

As for the meaning of the supersyllabogram (SSYL)TE oncharged directly onto the top of the ideogram for wheel, it cannot mean anything other than – temidweta -, in other words the circumference, being the wheel rim, further clarified here:

wheel rim illustration

Hence my translation here:

Translation of Knossos tablet KN 984 N v 01 Wheel ZE

Note that I have translated the unknown word **** – kidapa – as – ash (wood). My reasons for this are twofold. First of all, the hardwood ash has excellent tensile strength and shock resistance, where toughness and resiliency against impact are important factors. Secondly, it just so happens that ash is predominant in Homer’s Iliad as a vital component in the construction of warships and of weapons, especially spears. So there is a real likelihood that in fact – kidapa – means ash, which L.R. Palmer also maintains. Like many so-called unknown words found in Mycenaean Greek texts, this word may well be Minoan. Based on the assumption that many of these so-called unknown words may be Minoan, we can establish a kicking-off point for possible translations of these putative Minoan words. Such translations should be rigorously checked against the vocabulary of the extant corpus of Minoan Linear A, as found in John G. Younger’s database, here:

Linear A texts in transciption

I did just that and came up empty-handed. But that does not at all imply that the word is not Minoan, given that the extant lexicon of Linear A words is so limited, being as it is incomplete.

While all of this might seem a little overwhelming at first sight, once we have taken duly into account the most convincing translation of each and every one of the words on this tablet in its textual and real-world context, I believe we can attain such a translation, however constrained we are by our our twenty-first century unconscious assumptions. As for conscious assumptions, they simply will not do. 

In conclusion, Knossos tablet KN 894 N v 01 (Ashmolean) serves as exemplary a guide to Mycenaean chariot construction and design as any other substantive intact Linear B tablet in the same vein from Knossos. It is my intention to carry my observations and my conclusions on the vocabulary of Mycenaean chariot construction and design much further in an article I shall be publishing on academia.edu sometime in 2016. In it I shall conduct a thorough-going cross-comparative analysis of the chariot terminology on this tablet with that of several other tablets dealing specifically with chariots. This cross-comparative study is to result in a comprehensive lexicon of the vocabulary of Mycenaean chariot construction and design, fully taking into account Chris Tselentis’ Linear B Lexicon and L.R. Palmer’s extremely comprehensive Glossary of military terms relative to chariot construction and design on pp. 403-466 in his classic foundational masterpiece, The Interpretation of Mycenaean Texts.

So stay posted. 

Just uploaded to academia.edu, An Introductory Glossary of General Linguistics Terminology (PDF)


This glossary serves as a baseline introduction to linguistics terminology. As such, at first glance, it may not appear to be of much value to those of us who are linguists. However, if you are a professor or teacher of linguistics, you may find this little glossary of benefit to your students, especially undergraduates. As for those of you who are archaeologists and whose field of specialization is not linguistics, you will more than likely find this little lexicon of some real practical value if ever you have need to have recourse to linguistics terminology. There are as well plenty of other people whose specialization is not linguistics, but who would like to familiarize themselves with at least some of the most generalized terminology of linguistics. Moreover, there are those among you who are not professional linguists at all, but who may have contributed something of real merit to the field, or are about to to do so.

Recall the astonishing contribution of Michael Ventris,

Michael Ventris

an architect and not a professional linguist at all, who single-handedly deciphered the Linear B syllabary as the script of the earliest East Greek dialect, Mycenaean Greek, not to mention many other geniuses outside the orbit of linguistics who have also made revelatory if not revolutionary discoveries that no linguist ever realized. We should keep firmly in mind that Michael Ventris alone managed to decipher Linear B, after a half-century of utterly fruitless attempts by professional linguists to accomplish this astounding feat of the intellect. This is not to say that a great many academic linguists have not accomplished similar remarkable breakthroughs in the field, because they most certainly have. Still, linguistics, like any other field of study in the humanities or sciences, is not the exclusive purview of the so-called ivory tower league. Whether or not we are ourselves matriculated linguists, we should always bear this in mind.

Finally, lest we forget, there are many among us may simply be curious about general Linguistics Terminology, in order to familiarize yourself with it, just in case a glossary such as this one, however limited, may whet your appetite for more. You never know. Nothing venture, nothing gained.


Because this little glossary is in PDF format, it is very easy for you to download it, save it on your computer so that you can view it in Adobe Acrobat, and even print it out at your leisure. To download this glossary, click on this LINK:


As for my own status on academia.edu, of which I have been a member for just under a month, yesterday I had 94 followers, today I have 100, while at the same time my page has already been viewed 1,215 times as of the time of this writing. Yesterday I was in the top 1% of researchers cited, or whose work was downloaded on academia.edu, while now I am in the top 0.5%. The most astonishing thing is that my paper, Did you know you speak Mycenaean Greek? You do! sas already been downloaded 373 times from academia.edu, placing it firmly in the top 2% of all articles, documents, research papers etc. downloaded from there in the past 30 days. And it has only been online for three weeks at most.
Is academia.edu for you? You bet it is!
If nothing else, I have come to the definitive conclusion that academia.edu is a far better venue than any other on the entire Internet for students and researchers in any academic field whatsoever. If you wish to see your research papers downloaded more often than anywhere else on the Internet, this is the place to be. It is far more efficient in attracting the attention of the international open research community than any other place on the Internet, bar none. So if you are an academic or even a student in any discipline whatsoever, you really should sign up for academia.edu, and it is free! Go here to sign up:


I am truly grateful for the attention that researchers, academics and students on this prestigious site are giving to my research, yet surely not mine alone, but also that of my distinguished colleague and fellow researcher, Rita Roberts of Crete.

Rita Roberts academia.edu

Keep your eyes on Rita's own academia.edu page,   where she will soon be uploading her seminal article on her translation of Pylos Tablet Py 641-1952, the very first that Michael Ventris himself translated in 1952.

Rita's translation is bound to arouse a lot of attention on academia.edu, since she is an archaeologist with a unique perspective on the import of this famous tablet, thus in a position to produce a translation which those of us as linguists may have overlooked. I for one would never have been able to accomplished a translation in the manner Rita Roberts has finessed hers. Please remember to follow Rita on academia.edu, as that the place where she will eventually be publishing all of her research articles and documents on Mycenaean Linear B.  Until such time as it appears on academia.edu, to review  her excellent translation, please click here:

Rita Roberts Py 641-1952 translation

Our special offer to assist in the promotion of our fellow researchers who often visit our blog:

By the way, if any of you who often visit us here at Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae would like us to promote you on academia.edu (once you have signed up there), we will be delighted to do so, regardless of your own area of research, even if it has nothing to do with linguistics. We shall post the links to the academia.edu pages of the first 5 people who request this of us, once that many have contacted us with this in mind (but not before). So please be patient and bear with us. We are behind you all 100%.


Happy Second Anniversary to Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae! Now the largest Linear B blog on the Internet

We are delighted to announce that Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae

Linear B Knossos & Mycenae May 2015
reaches its second anniversary on May 1 2015.

What have we accomplished in the past two years? A great deal indeed. Here are the highlights.

1. The discovery, extrapolation, collation and classification of supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B, of which there are 34 (to date) out of 61 syllabograms in Linear B, excluding counting homophones (with the sole exception of RAI = saffron).

2. We have entered into close partnership with The Association of Historical Studies, Koryvantes (Athens, Greece), here:

Koryvantes Association of Historical Studies
where we have been assigned our own category for posting on their blog,

Linear B & the Iliad


3. As a direct result of 1. & 2. above, Richard, our blog moderator, has been invited to give his talk

at the Conference, “Thinking Symbols” (June 30-July 2 2015), sponsored by The Association of Historical Studies (Koryvantes), Athens:

Supersyllabograms by Richard Vallance Janke Pultusk Academy Humanities Warsaw

at the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, just outside of Warsaw.

Pultusk Academy and logo

His talk, and those of all other presenters at the Conference will be published by the University of Warsaw. The University of Warsaw also plans to publish the General of Supersyllabograms and its application to the translation of some 700+ Mycenaean Linear B tablets across the board, in a book to be titled, The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B, to appear sometime in 2016.  

4. In the past two years, Richard and his research colleague, Rita Roberts of Crete, have translated in excess of 100 Linear B tablets, most of them from Knossos, along with some from Pylos, Mycenae and Thebes.

5. Richard has compiled the following elements in his ongoing project to reconstruct as much as possible of Mycenaean Greek grammar from the ground up:
5.1 the complete table for the conjugations of the active voice, present, future, imperfect, aorist & perfect of Mycenaean verbs;
5.2 the table of adjectives and nouns ending in the archaic “eus” in the nominative singular.
5.3 Richard plans to continue with the compilation of Mycenaean Greek grammar throughout the remainder of 2015 and into 2016.

6. Richard has translated most of The Catalogue of Ships from Book II of the Iliad by Homer, and will finish off his translation this year (2015). This will be followed by his translation of Book I of the Iliad in its entirety (2015-2016).

7. We are in the process of compiling the largest Lexicon of both attested and derived Mycenaean Greek in Linear B ever to have appeared anywhere, in print or on the Internet. We have already finished with the draft of the first Section on Military Affairs, which is to appear on our blog and on the blog of The Association of Historical Studies, Koryvantes (Athens, Greece) sometime in the summer or autumn 2015. It is to be subdivided into several primary Sections, (1) Agriculture (2) Crafts, Trade and Commerce (3) Military Affairs (4) Domestic Affairs, including the production of vessels and pottery & (5) Religious  Affairs. This is such a huge undertaking that it is unlikely that we will be able to complete it before 2018.

8. Richard has offered his services as Professor to Rita Roberts, Crete, who is now in her first year of university, working towards her three-year Bachelor of Arts in Linguists (BAL) in the field of Mycenaean Linear B. Both Rita and I can assure you that the curriculum is of the highest order and extremely demanding. Already, in her first semester of her first year, Rita has been tasked with the tough chore of translating several difficult Linear B tablets from Knossos on military affairs, and this is just the beginning! As far as we can tell, this online university undergraduate course, specifically focusing on Mycenaean Linear B, will be the first ever of its kind ever to have been offered worldwide. I am of course open to inviting others who are seriously committed to learn Mycenaean Linear B, but just as Rita has had to do, new students will have to first finish their secondary school level in Linear B before moving onto university studies. It took Rita two years to fulfill the requirements for a secondary school matriculation in Linear B. This and the full course of studies (secondary school and a bachelor’s degree) requires 5 full years of unstinting commitment to the mastery of Mycenaean Linear B.  At the end of these five years, the student (Rita being our first) will possess the credentials to be an expert in the field.  

9. We have begun posting on Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, having already translated 3 tablets in that syllabary. We have also made available for the first time ever the standard keyboard layout for Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, which you may download free at your convenience. We plan on continuing with posts on Linear C throughout 2016 & 2016, eventually tackling the famous Idalion Tablet of the 5th. Century BCE. Throughout 2015 and 2016, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, the closest cousin dialect to Mycenaean Linear B, will play a significantly greater rôle than it presently does on our blog. Both Linear B and Linear C will be thoroughly cross-compared with the archaic grammar and vocabulary of the Catalog of Ships in Book II of the Iliad, the latter generally being considered as an indirect descendant of the Mycenaean & Arcado-Cypriot Greek dialects, at least in these two respects. This cross-comparative study will help us to properly situate the Mycenaean & Arcado-Cypriot Greek dialects in the diachronic time line of ancient Greek dialects. 

10. We have begun a thorough-going investigation of the relationship between the Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B syllabaries, which are almost identical in most respects, the latter being derived from the former with other major Bronze Age scripts and alphabets, including the Phoenician and Proto-Hebrew alphabets, soon the Proto-Arabic, and any others which bear up well under comparison with Linear A & Linear B.

12. We have posted some information on Minoan Linear A, but it is not our intention to attempt to decipher this unknown language – at least for the next five years. However, certain aspects of Linear A itself are of prime importance to our concerns, especially its intimate relationship with Linear B, as well as its place in the development of ancient scripts in the context of 10. above.

13. We have begun exploring the possibilities for the application of Linear B & C to extraterrestrial communication. If this sounds wacky or even peculiar to you, think twice. NASA itself has already begun its own investigation of such intriguing prospects for Linear B and Linear C.

As the direct result of our unflagging commitments to these areas of research into Mycenaean Linear B, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C and several other areas relating to these, our blog has grown to be the largest on the entire Internet devoted to the study of Mycenaean Linear B. I had hope for 50,000 visitors in the first two years, but these were exceeded, as we have had over 51,000. We thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts for your interest in what is manifestly an extremely specialized and narrow area of interest in the vast sea of linguistics, ancient and modern, and we look forward to seeing more of you visit our site throughout our third year, May 2015-April 2016. I am confident that we shall exceed 100,000 visits by the end of our third year. With our gratitude. Richard 	     


These are the primary concerns of our Blog, but there are others, which are intriguing to special interest groups. Our goals are ambitious but we mean to fulfill them.

At the same time, our Twitter account has attracted some 920 followers, compared with about 500 at the end of first year (May 1 2014). We have sent out over 13,600 tweets in the past 2 years. Click here to visit our Twitter account:

Knossos KONOSO twitter May 2015

Our research colleague, Rita Roberts, now has over 380 followers on her Twitter account, here:

Rita Roberts Twitter

This makes for some 1,300 followers for us both on Twitter, a considerable number indeed, in light of the fact that the study of Linear B and the specialized interests in archaeology and similar arcane fields which Rita follows are rare birds indeed!

I also urge you to follow Rita’s superb blog, here:

Ritaroberts blog May 2015

Finally, we have set ourselves up on Google +, where you can find our page here:

Google + Richard Vallance Janke
We started up on Google + just a couple of months ago, and we already have 383 followers in our Circle.



An Introductory Glossary of General Linguistics Terminology: Part A: A-G

introductory glossary of general linguistics terminology Part A A-G 

NOTE: This glossary is ostensibly not comprehensive in any sense of the term, but it serves as a solid baseline introduction to linguistics terminology.   


abstract noun: a noun that denotes something viewed as a non-material referent, as opposed to a concrete noun. Examples: abstraction, attitude, communication, constitution, dependency, language, linguistics, magic, proliferation, rectitude, telecommunications.

acrolect: the variety of speech that is considered the standard form. For example: the Attic dialect by the fourth century BCE.

affix: a functional bound morpheme, typically short and with a functional meaning. Example: re in re-write. 

ambiguity: the property of words, terms, and concepts (within a particular context) as undefined, undefinable, or without an obvious definition, thus having an unclear meaning. A word, phrase, sentence, or uttered communication is called “ambiguous” if it can be interpreted in more than one way. Ambiguity is distinct from vagueness, which arises when the boundaries of meaning are indistinct. See also, connotation

analytic language: language that conveys grammatical relationships without using inflectional morphemes. A grammatical construction can similarly be called analytic if it uses unbound morphemes, which are separate words, and/or word order. English, which began as a synthetic language, has become more & more analytic over time. Afrikaans & Hebrew are also analytic. Contrast with synthetic language (below). 

anaphora: anaphora is the co-reference of a second expression with its antecedent. For example: This lexicon of Greek terms is comprehensive; it is very useful.

anthroponymy: the study of personal names.

antonym: from Greek anti ("opposite") and onoma ("name") are word pairs that are opposite in meaning, such as -hot- -cold- + -fat- -skinny- & -down- -up-. Words may have different antonyms, depending on the meaning. Both -long- and -tall- are antonyms of -short-. Antonyms are of four types:
Gradable antonyms stand at opposite ends ends of the spectrum: Examples: -cold- -hot- +  -slow- -fast
Complementary antonyms are pairs that express absolute opposites, like mortal and immortal.
Relational antonyms are pairs in which one describes a relationship between two objects and the other describes the same relationship when the two objects are reversed, such as parent and child, teacher and student, or buy and sell.
Auto-antonyms are the same words that can mean the opposite of themselves under different contexts or having separate definitions. Examples:  to enjoin (to prohibit, issue injunction -or- to order, command) + fast (moving quickly -or- fixed firmly in place) + sanction (punishment, prohibition -or- permission) + stay (remain in a specific place -or- postpone) 

aspect: a grammatical category associated with verbs, which expresses the temporal view of the event or state expressed by the verb. Examples: she learns (simple present aspect + she is learning (progressive present aspect) + she has learned (present perfect aspect)

auxesis:  an exaggeration of the importance of a referent by the use of a referring expression that is disproportionate to it. Example: referring to a scratch as a wound. Synonym: exaggeration 

basilect: a variety of a language that has diverged greatly from the standard form. For instance, the West Greek Doric dialect is a basilect quite far removed from the standard East Greek Attic dialect of the fifth century BCE. Doric Greek is also a basilect of Mycenaean Greek, for the obvious reason that the latter was predominant prior to the Doric invasion of Greece. 

bound morpheme: a morpheme which cannot stand alone to make a word, but must be combined with something else within a word. Examples: the -s- in the plural for tree = trees is a bound morpheme. Similarly, -cran- in cranberry.  
See also, free morpheme.


case: the grammatical category determined by varying syntactics or semantic functions of a noun, adjective or pronoun. Case is a function of only those languages which indicate certain functions by the inflection of nouns, adjectives, pronouns, or numerals. Greek, German, Latin & Russian are inflected languages.
circular definition: definitions can be circular or recursive. The definition refers to itself, thus defining an infinite number of things. Example: a thing is an object and an object is a thing. Circular definitions are always self-referential, hence closed. They can be dangerous traps. See also, recursive definition.

classifier: is an affix (often a suffix) that expresses the classification of a noun. Examples: Italian -raggazzo, raggazzi - (boy, masculine, sing. & pl.) + raggazza, raggazze (girl, feminine, sing. & pl.), where nouns are classified by gender & number.

collocation: a grouping or juxtaposition of words that commonly occur together. Example: by me, on a, with & the. 

comitative case: this is the case expressing accompaniment, expressed in inflected languages such as Greek & Latin by a preposition with the meaning "with" or "accompanied by." In Greek, meta = with + para = by (plus other prepositions expressing subtle distinctions). The usage of the comitative case in Greek is complex, and must be determined by context.

concrete noun: a noun that refers to what is viewed as a material entity, i.e. a thing . Examples: box, car, flag, lumber, post, rock, stump, table.     

connotation: 1. a meaning that is suggested or implied, as opposed to a denotation, or a literal definition. A characteristic of words or phrases, or of the contexts that words and phrases are used in. Connotations of the phrase, "You are a dog" = you are physically unattractive or morally reprehensible, not that you are a canine. 2. In semiotics, connotation arises when the denotative relationship between a signifier and its signified is inadequate to serve the needs of the community. A second level of meanings is termed connotative. These meanings are not objective representations of the thing, but new usages produced by the language group.

consonant: a speech sound produced with a significant constriction of the airflow in the oral tract. 

co-ordination: the linking of two or more elements as conjuncts in a coordinate structure such as -and- or -or- + in a list.   
corpus: a collection of writings, often on a specific topic, of a specific genre, from a specific demographic, a single author etc. 

co-reference: a reference in one expression to the same referent in another expression. Example: You said that you would come (English). Est-ce que vous me dites que vous viendrez? (French).  

corruption: word that has adopted from another language but whose spelling has been changed through misunderstanding, transcription error, mishearing, etc.  

continuous aspect: the imperfect(ive) aspect that expresses an ongoing, but not habitual, occurrence of the state or event expressed by the verb. Examples: he is running, he was running (English) + amant, amabant (they love, they loved: Latin). Ancient Greek & Latin cannot distinguish between continuous habitual & inceptive aspects in the present, future & imperfect tenses, and their compounds.    

copula: an intransitive verb which links the subject with an adjective, a noun phrase or a predicate. Examples: The book is on the table (English) Le livre est sur la table (French).    


definite pronoun: a pronoun that belongs to a class whose members indicate definite reference. Examples: the, this, that in English. The indefinite pronoun -the- is non-existent in Latin, in Mycenaean Linear B & in Homer but existent in Arcado-Cypriot, Classical Ionic, Attic, Hellenic & Koine (New Testament) Greek.

denotation: 1. The act of denoting, or something (such as a symbol) that denotes. 2. the primary or explicit meaning of a word, phrase or symbol. 3. something signified or referred to; a particular meaning of a symbol. 4. In semiotics, denotation is the surface or literal meaning encoded to a signifier, and the definition most likely to appear in a dictionary.

derivation: 1. formation of new words by adding affixes. Example: -singer- from -sing- + -adaptation- from -adapt- 2. derivation in linguistics is the process of changing the meaning and/or lexical class of a lexeme by adding a morpheme. 

derivative: 1. In a lexical database or lexicon, a derivative is sub-entry. Only irregular, semantic derivatives are entered as separate major entries. 2. a stem formed by combining a root with an affix to add a component of meaning that is more than inflectional. The meaning of a derivative is determined by its context, not its parts. Also known as: derived form, derived stem 3. A derivative is a stem formed by derivation, which is a morphosyntactic operation.
Kinds of derivatives:
1. Grammatical derivatives: Example:
nominalized stems, such as encouragement from encourage
adverbialized stems, such as courageously from courageous
2. Semantic derivatives such as generation from generate + isolation from isolate.  

diachronic linguistics: the study of language change over time, is also called historical linguistics. This is extremely important to research in ancient Greek, which was subject to significant changes in all of its dialects over time, especially when the time frame is extreme (i.e. a millennium, from Mycenaean to Attic Greek).   

diachrony: the study of change over time, especially changes to language.

dialectology: the study of dialects.

diphthong: a phonetic sequence, consisting of a vowel and a glide, that is interpreted as a single vowel. Examples: ai, ei, oi in English.

dummy word: a grammatical unit that has no meaning, but completes a sentence to make it grammatical. Examples: It is raining + Do you understand? 


elision:  the omission of sounds, syllables, or words in spoken or written discourse. Unstressed words are the most likely to be elided. Examples: camra for camera + evry for every in English. Elision is very common in ancient Greek, but not in Mycenaean Linear B or in Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, since the latter are both syllabaries, in which all syllabograms must end with a vowel, making elision impossible.

enclitic: a clitic (suffix) that is phonologically bound to (i.e. inseparable from) the end of a preceding word to form a single unit. Examples: can’t, won’t & shouldn’t in English. Aminisode & Konosode (towards Amnisos, towards Knossos) in Mycenaean Greek. Enclitics are very common in ancient Greek.
epigraphy: from the Greek: epi-graph, literally "on-writing", "inscription" is the study of inscriptions or epigraphsas writing + the science of identification, classification, dating & drawing conclusions about graphemes.

epigrapher: person using the methods of epigrapher or epigraphist, who studies inscriptions, most of which are brief. 

epistemic modality: a modality that connotes how much certainty or evidence a speaker has for the proposition expressed by his or her utterance. Examples: We will  come (certainty) + She must have come + He may have come (uncertainty) + They might come (uncertainty) (English). The subjunctive expresses uncertainty in several languages, including English (rarely), German, French, Italian, Latin & Greek. Greek also has the optative to express uncertainty. In a lexicon as general as this one, it is not expedient to attempt to express the distinctions between the optative and the subjective in ancient Greek, as the relationship between the two is complex. In other words, you have to know ancient Greek very well to understand these distinctions and their several applications. 

etymology: 1 the study of the historical development of languages, particularly as manifested in individual words. 2 an account of the origin and historical development of a word. 3. the study of the origins of words. Through old texts and comparison with other languages, etymologists reconstruct the history of words — when they entered a language, from what source, and how their form and meaning have changed. From Greek: true meaning = etymos (true) + logos (word). Etymology is extremely important in the archaic in Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot, which in turn determine the etymology of a number of words in several later ancient Greek dialects.

extraposition: the movement of an element from its normal place to one at the end, or near the end, of a sentence.


family: a group of languages believed to have descended from the same ancestral language, e.g. the Indo-European language family from Proto-Indo-European.

finite verb: a verb form that occurs in an independent clause, and fully inflected according to the inflectional categories marked on verbs in the language. 

fossil: in linguistics, a fossilized word or term is extremely old, extinct, or outdated. Some words in Mycenaean Greek were already fossilized by the time Homer wrote the Iliad, and a much more significant number of Mycenaean words completely disappeared from later ancient Greek dialects. On the other hand, a number of Mycenaean words, such as apudosi (delivery) were never fossilized. 

free morpheme: 1. a grammatical unit that can occur by itself. Additional morphemes such as affixes (prefixes, suffixes) can be attached to it. Examples: berry, blue, cat, colour (hence: colourful, colourless), dog, elephant, green (hence: greenery), house, intern (hence: internship), orange, red, white, yellow. 2. a morpheme which can stand alone to make a word by itself. Example: -blue- in -blueberry- See also, bound morpheme.  

function word: a word which has little or no meaning of its own but which has a grammatical function. Examples in English: a, of, on, in, the. Function words play a key obligatory role in all languages. They are the glue that hold languages together syntactically.


gender. See, grammatical gender

gloss: A gloss (from Koine Greek glossa, meaning 'tongue') is a note made in the margins or between the lines of a book, in which the meaning of the text in its original language is explained, sometimes in its own language, sometimes in another language. Glosses vary in comprehensiveness and complexity, from simple marginal notations of difficult or obscure words, to entire interlinear translations of the original text and cross references to similar passages.

glossary: 1. a collection of glosses is a glossary 2. a collection of specialized terms with their meanings. Example: An English-Mycenaean Linear B Glossary 3. a list of terms defined in a particular domain of knowledge. Glossaries often appear at the end a book and often include either newly introduced or uncommon terms. 

glottochronology: the study of languages to determine when they diverged from being the same language. For instance, the divergence of Italian from Latin.

glottogony: 1. the genesis of language, i. e. the emergence of a system of verbal communication from proto-linguistic or non-linguistic means of communication 2. the study of language origins.

grammatical gender: a class system for adjectives & nouns, composed of two or three classes, whose nouns have at least human male and female referents and in some languages an inanimate referent (neuter). In many languages, gender is very often not classed by any correlation with natural sex distinctions. The genders of nouns classified in this fashion (masculine, feminine, neuter) do not necessarily refer to the masculine (male gender), feminine (female gender) or inanimate (neuter gender). In many cases a masculine noun can also be feminine or even neuter, or any other combination of genders. Genders for the exact same word may differ in different languages.  Examples: il mare (sea, masculine Italian) + la mer (sea, feminine, French), mare (sea, neuter, Latin) le tour (walk, stroll,  run, e.g. le Tour de France) + la tour (tower, French) etc. Examples of languages with two genders are French, Italian & Spanish & with three genders: German, Greek & Latin.

by Richard Vallance Janke, 2015

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