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]. Comment: 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): Micro-Altaic includes about 66 living languages, 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. 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. 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. Comment: 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: 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 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: 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.
Tag Archive: hypothesis
Can super efficient quantum computers be of assistance at overcoming the seemingly insurmountable obstacles facing us in even a partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A? Quantum computers, as exemplified by the fantastically powerful D-Wave computer system invented by Canadians and now fully operational in 2017 (Click on their banner to jump to their site): most probably will prove to represent or in fact be a revolutionary development in the power and artificial intelligence of computers even now, as early as twenty-first century (say bu 2025 or so). The D-Wave computer is purported to be 10 million times faster than the most powerful supercomputer on earth! It was recently put to the test to solve an exceedingly complex protein synthesis model, and it did so 3,600 times faster than the the most powerful supercomputer on earth! That is a simply astonishing feat. In fact, quantum computers are purported to be able to solve seemingly impossible problems totally beyond the ken of the fastest supercomputer in the world. If this proves to be so, is it not conceivable that applying the smarts of a quantum computer such as the D-Wave might lead to real advances in the potential decipherment of Minoan Linear A? Take for instance my recent analysis and synopsis on the practically unimaginable formidable obstacles facing us in even beginning to get a handle on the syntax and semiotics of Minoan Linear A: Is it not conceivable that a quantum computer such as the D-Wave might be able to at least make a dent in the potential decipherment, however partial, of Minoan Linear A? Or is it not? The question is not hypothetical. Proponents of the awesome power of quantum computers purport to be able to resolve supremely complex problems completely beyond the reach of even the most powerful of conventional digital supercomputers, as illustrated in this composite: However, there may very well remain possibly insurmountable obstacles even for quantum computers in tackling a seemingly unsolvable problem as fractious as the decipherment of Minoan Linear A, however tentative. Some of the truly form obstacles that can and almost certainly shall practicably stand in the way of quantum computers being able to tackle this redoubtable challenge are: In spite of the astonishing claims that proponents of quantum computing make for its potential in solving intractable problems which even the most powerful supercomputers cannot even hope to address, what is the substance of these claims? This scenario needs to be logically parsed. 1. Just because quantum computers have unquestionably proven to be able to realize exponentially more efficient leaps in some (and I lay the emphasis on just some) activities, this does not necessarily mean that these quantum leaps imply a parallel or even corresponding quantum leap in AI (artificial intelligence) learning. 2. Even if such a corresponding quantum leap in AI (artificial intelligence) learning were to prove practicable, and in effect take place (possibly by 2025), what is meant by AI (artificial intelligence) or to take the proposition even further, what is implied by the admittedly vague term superintelligence? 3. Do advanced AI or superintelligence necessarily have to conform to or mimic human intelligence, or might they possibly constitute a discrete, self-contained phenomenon in and of themselves? 4. And if so (i.e. if 3), then would such a superintelligence (or 1 among many) be able to resolve problems, such as specifically, the potential decipherment, even if merely partial, of Minoan Linear A, (anywhere near) as well as human intelligence can? Or put another way, can quantum computing AI or superintelligent learning strategies mimic and even complement human learning strategies? 5. Or if they cannot (i.e. accomplish 4.), can they perhaps accomplish something along the same lines as human learning strategies just because they may in fact not actually resemble human intelligence? These are just a few of the factors we must absolutely take into consideration if we are to make any assumptions whatsoever over the potential for quantum computers, no matter how clever they may turn out to be and in what sense clever, to accomplish a task as mind-boggling as even the partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A. I shall have plenty more to say about the potentialities of quantum computing in the realm of diachronic linguist decipherment in future, but the introduction suffices for now.
Are there any proto-Greek words under the syllabogram NA in Minoan Linear A? It is doubtful. The 3 words of putative proto-Greek origin in Minoan Linear A I have flagged under the syllabogram NA are all doubtful. So I cannot in good conscience add them to the revised Glossary of Minoan Linear A words.
Just added to my academia.edu page, Translation of the Introduction to Book II of the Iliad, and its Profound Implications in the Regressive-Progressive Reconstruction of Unattested, Derived (D) Mycenaean Greek Vocabulary and Grammar, here: This is the first of a series of several papers I shall be publishing this year and next (2016) on my hypothesis underpinning the theoretical and proposed actual links between the archaic Greek of Book II of the Iliad by Homer, and in particular of the Catalogue of Ships (lines 459-815). These papers are of extreme significance to the methodology, process and procedure of regressive extrapolation of Mycenaean Greek vocabulary or grammatical constructs derived from the most archaic Greek in the Iliad, considered by many researchers to be an in)direct offshoot of Mycenaean Greek itself. Vocabulary or grammatical constructs thus derived are then progressively applied to reconstruct parallel elements missing from any attested Linear B sources regardless. I cannot stress too much the extreme significance of this particular line of research I am pursuing in the reconstruction of numerous elements (possibly even into the hundreds) of Mycenaean Greek derived from these sections alone of the Iliad. Richard
An Easy Guide to Learning Arcado-Cypriot Linear C & I mean easy!: Click to ENLARGE If any of you out there have already mastered either Minoan Linear A or Mycenaean Linear B or both, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C is likely to come as a bit of a shock. Although the phonetic values of the syllabograms in Linear C are identical to their Linear B counterparts, with very few exceptions, the appearance of Linear C syllabograms is almost always completely at odds with their Linear B counterparts, again with very few exceptions. If this sounds confusing, allow me to elucidate. A: Appearance of Linear B & Linear C Syllabograms. Linear C syllabograms look like this. If you already know Linear B, you are probably saying to yourself, What a mess!, possibly even aloud. I can scarcely blame you. But courage, courage, all is not lost. Far from it. Click to ENLARGE: Only the following syllabograms look (almost) alike in both Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C [see (a) below]: NA PA TA * SE * LO * PO * * There is a slight difference between those syllabograms marked with an asterisk * DA in Linear B is identical to TA in Linear C because Linear C has no D + vowel series, but uses the T + vowel series instead. SE in Linear B has 3 vertical strokes, whereas in Linear C it has only 2. RO in Linear B is identical to LO in Linear C. While Linear C has both and R + vowel series, it uses the L + vowel series as the equivalent of the Linear B R series. PO stands vertically in Linear B, but is slanted about 30 degrees to the right in Linear C. All other syllabograms in these two syllabaries are completely dissimilar; so you might think you are on your own to learn the rest of them in Linear C. But in fact, you are not. I can help a lot. See below, after the section on the Phonetic Values of Linear B & Linear C Syllabograms. B: Phonetic Values of Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C Syllabograms: Here the reverse scenario applies. Once you have mastered all of the Linear C syllabograms by their appearance, you can rest pretty much assured that the phonetic values of almost all syllabograms in both syllabaries are identical, with very few exceptions. Even in those instances where their phonetic values appear not to be identical, they are in fact identical, for all intents and purposes. This is because the ancient Greek dialects were notorious for wide variations in pronunciation, ergo in orthography. Anyone at all familiar with ancient Greek dialects can tell you that the pronunciation and spelling of an identical document, were there ever any such beast, would vary markedly from, say, Arcado-Cypriot to Dorian to Attic alphabetic. I can hear some of you protest, “What do you mean, the Arcado-Cypriot alphabet? I thought the script for Arcado-Cypriot was the syllabary Linear C.” You would be only half right. In fact, the Arcadians and Cypriots wrote their documents either in Linear or in their version of the ancient Greek alphabet, or in both at the same time. This is the case with the famous Idalion decree, composed in the 5th. Century BCE: Click to ENLARGE The series of syllabograms beginning with the consonant R + any of the vowels A E I O & U is present in Mycenaean Linear B. However, the series of syllabograms beginning with the consonant L + any of the vowels A E I O & U is entirely absent from Mycenaean Linear B, while Arcado-Cypriot Linear C has a series of syllabograms for both of the semi-consonants L & R. It rather looks like the Arcadians & Cypriots had already made the clear distinction between the semi-vowels L & R, firmly established and in place with the advent of the earliest form of the ancient Greek alphabet, which sported separate semi-vowels for L & R. Likewise, the series of syllabograms beginning with the consonant Q + any of the vowels A E I & O is present in Mycenaean Linear B, but entirely absent from Arcado-Cypriot Linear C. Conversely, the series of syllabograms beginning with the consonant X + the vowels A or E (XA & XE) is entirely absent from in Mycenaean Linear B, but present in Arcado-Cypriot Linear C. For the extremely significant socio-cultural linguistic explanation for this apparent paradox (I say, apparent, because it is in fact unreal), we shall have to defer to the next post. WARNING! Always be on your guard never to confuse Linear B & Linear C syllabograms which look (almost exactly) alike – the sole exceptions being NA PA TA SE LO & PO, since you can be sure that their phonetic values are completely at odds. Various strategies you can resort to in order to master Linear C fast! (a) The Linear B & Linear C syllabograms NA PA TE SE LO & PO are virtually the same, both in appearance and in pronunciation.
(b) Taking advantage of the real or fortuitous resemblance of several syllabograms to one another & (c) Geometric Clustering: Click to ENLARGE What is really astonishing is that the similarities between the syllabograms on the second line & their geometric clustering on the third are identical! So no matter which approach you adopt (b) or (c) or both for at least these syllabograms, you are a winner. Failing these approaches, try (d) Mnemonics: For instance, we could imagine that RO is a ROpe, PE = Don’t PEster me!, SA = SAve $, TO is TOFu etc. or we could even resort to (e) Imagery! For instance, we could imagine that A E & I are a series of stars, RI NI & KE all look like variations on the letter E, that LE is the symbol for infinity, WE is an iron bar etc. For Mnemonics & Imagery, I am not suggesting that you follow my own arbitrary interpretations, except perhaps for LE, which is transparent. Take your imagination where it leads you. Finally (f) the really great news is that the Linear C syllabary abandoned homophones, logograms and ideograms, doing away with them lock-stock-and-barrel. This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B syllabaries. The first had so many syllabograms, homophones, logograms and ideograms that it can be a real pain in the butt to learn Linear A. Mycenaean Linear B greatly simplified the entire mess, reducing the number and complexity of syllabograms & homophones, but unfortunately retaining well over a hundred logograms and ideograms, which are equally a pain in the you know what. In other words, the process of greater and greater simplication was evolutionary. This phenomenon is extremely common across the spectrum of world languages. What the Linear C scribes agreed upon, the complete elimination of anything but syllabograms, was the last & greatest evolutionary phase in the development of the Minoan-Greek syllabaries before the Greeks finally reduced even Linear C to its own variable alphabet of some 24-27 letters, depending on the dialect. But even the 3 syllabaries, Linear A, B & C, all had the 5 vowels, A E I O & U, which already gave them an enormous advantage over almost all other ancient scripts, none of which had vowels, with the sole exception of Sanskrit, as far as I know. That alone was quite an achievement. If you have not yet mastered the Linear B syllabary, it goes without saying that all of these techniques can be applied to it. The same goes for the Minoan Linear A syllabary, though perhaps to a lesser extent. The Real Potential for Extrapolation of these Principles to Learning any Script: Moreover, at the most general level for learning linguistic scripts, ancient or modern, whether they be based on pictographs, ideograms alone (as with some Oriental languages, such as Chinese, Japanese & Korean, at least when they resorted to the Kanji script), or any combination of ideograms, logograms & syllabograms (all three not necessarily being present) or even alphabetic, they will almost certainly stand the test of the practical validity of any or all of these approaches for learning any such script. I have to wonder whether or not most linguists have ever considered the practical implications of the combined application of all of these principles, at least theoretically. Allow me to conclude with this telling observation. Children especially, even from the age of 2 & a half to 3 years old, would be especially receptive to all of these techniques, which would ensure a rapid assimilation of any script, even something as simple as an alphabet of anywhere from 24 letters (Italian) to Russian Cyrillic (33 letters), as I shall clearly demonstrate with both the modern Greek & Latin alphabet a little later this month. PS. If any of you are wondering, as I am sure many of you who are familiar with our blog must be, I have an extremely associative, cross-correlative mind, a rather commonplace phenomenon among polyglot linguists, such as myself. In fact, my thinking can run in several directions, by which I mean I frequently process one set of cross-correlative associations, only to consider another and another, each in quite different directions from the previous. If that sounds like something Michael Ventris did, it is because that is precisely what he did to decipher almost all of Mycenaean Linear B - almost all, but not quite. As for the remaining 10 % or so which has so far defied decipherment, I promise you you are in for a great surprise very soon, perhaps as early as the spring of 2015, when my research colleague, Rita Roberts, and I shall be publishing an in-depth research paper in PDF on the Internet - a study which is to announce a major breakthrough in the further decipherment of Linear B. Those of you who frequent this blog on a regular basis already know what we are up to. As for those of you who are not regular visitors, if you read all the posts under the rubric, Supersyllabograms (at the top of this page), you are going to find out anyway. Richard