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: linguistic
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:  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.  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.
MASTER Article, “The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B”, Archaeology and Science, Vol. 11 (2015) received: excerpts follow I have just received the DRAFT of the entire issue of Vol. 11 (2015) Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448, in which my ground-breaking article, “The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B” appears on pp. 73-108 (35 pages long). I have proof-read it and I found errors only in the transcription of the SPIonic.ttf Greek font, which causes all the Greek text to be printed in Latin characters, such that they appear garbled. But this error will be eliminated in the actual article when it appears this coming winter (2017). Here you see the title page plus three consecutive but non-contiguous excerpts from my article: NOTE that the decipherment of the 36 supersyllabograms is the first and last major breakthrough in the final decipherment of Mycenaean Linear B, which was first deciphered by Michael Ventris in June-July 1952 (with the exception of supersyllabograms, which account for at least 20 % of the text on Linear B tablets). Thanks! Richard
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.
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. 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. 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.
Just uploaded to academia.edu, An Introductory Glossary of General Linguistics Terminology (PDF) Abstract: 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, 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. END of ABSTRACT
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. 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: 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%. Richard
What is a Top-Notch Translation? Is there any such thing? Pylos Tablet 641-1952 (Ventris) Those of you who are regular readers of our blog, and who take the trouble to really delve into the fine points of our posts on the decipherment of scores of Linear B tablets which we have already translated, will have surely noticed by now that I never take any translation for granted, yes, even down to the very last word, phrase, logogram or ideogram, while strictly taking into account whether or not the tablet itself is completely intact, or – as is far more often the case - left- or right-truncated. In every instance of the latter, any decipherment, however carefully devised, is likely to be considerably more inaccurate than any translation of an intact tablet. Not to follow these strict procedures would be tantamount a one-sided, highly subjective and excessively biased exercise in imposing a single, strictly personal, interpretation on any extant Linear B tablet, a practice which is fraught with so many pitfalls as to invite certain error and misinterpretation. I would much rather offer all alternative translations of every single last word, phrase, logogram, ideogram etc. in any and all Linear B tablets, than to rashly commit myself to any single translation. It is only in this way that you, our readers, can decide for yourselves which of my translations appears to be the most feasible or appropriate to you in the precise (or more likely than not, not so precise) context of the tablet in question. No decipherer or translator of Mycenaean Linear B extant tablets or text in his or her right mind has a monopoly on the so-called “right” or “correct” translation of any Mycenaean source, because if that individual imagines he or she does, that person is dreaming in technicolour or – dare I say - even high on psychedelics. The only people who had the very real monopoly, in other words, the actual precise meaning of each and every tablet or source firmly in hand in Mycenaean Linear B were – you guessed it – the Mycenaean scribes themselves. We absolutely must bear this critical consideration in mind at all times whenever we dare approach the translation of any Linear B source, if we are to maintain any sense of the rational golden mean, of our own glaring linguistic inadequacies at a remote of some 3,500 years, and our own decidedly limited cognitive, associative powers of translation, which are in fact extremely circumscribed at the level of the individual translator. It is only through the greatest sustained, systematic international co-operative effort on the part of all translators of Linear B, let alone of Linear C or of any other ancient language, regardless of script, that we as a community of professional linguists, can ever hope to eventually approximate a reasonably accurate translation. The greater the number of times a (Linear B) tablet is translated, the greater the likelihood that our sustained, combined co-operative efforts at translation is bound to bear positive fruit. Those who insist on being loners in the decipherment or translation of any texts in any in any ancient language run the severe risk of exposing themselves to sharp critical responses and, in the worst case scenario, to public ridicule in the research community specializing in ancient linguistics. Caveat interpres ille. That sort of translator should watch his Ps & Qs. An excellent case in point, the translation of the very first tablet ever deciphered by our genius code-breaker, Michael Ventris, in 1952 & 1953, Pylos Tablet PY 641-1952 (Ventris): Click to ENLARGE: We previously discussed the letters between Emmett L. Bennett and Micheal Ventris in June 1952 which effectively broke the code for Mycenaean Linear B, when Bennett first brought to Ventris’ attention his correct translation of the very first word on this famous tablet, tiripode, which unequivocally meant “tripod”. With this master key to Linear B, Ventris was able to decipher the entire tablet in no time flat, making it the first tablet ever to have been translated end-to-end into English. For our commentary on the letters, please click on this banner: Since that time, the tablet has been translated scores and scores of times. Several translators have gone so far as to claim that theirs “is the best translation”. If you will forgive me for saying this, people making such an injudicious claim are all, without exception, wrong. It is only by combining, cross-checking and cross-correlating every last one of the translations attempted to date on this fascinating tablet, Pylos Tablet PY 641-1952, that we can ever hope to come up with at least one or two translations which are bound to meet the criteria for a really top-notch translation. Those criteria are several. I shall address them one by one, finally summarizing all such criteria, throughout the coming year. In the meantime, stay posted for the latest carefully considered, extremely well-researched and eminently consistent translation of this famous tablet, with fresh new insights, by Rita Roberts, soon to be posted right here on this blog. It is not my own translation, but trust me, it is a highly professional one, fully taking into account a number of historical translations, one of the best of which is that by Michael Ventris himself. I freely admit I could not have matched Rita’s translation myself, for reasons which will be made perfectly clear when we come to post her excellent decipherment early in March 2015. To my mind, it is one of the finest translations of Pylos PY 631-1952 ever penned. Subsequently, we shall rigorously examine Gretchen Leonhardt’ s translation of the same tablet, to which she assigns the alternative identifier, Pylos PY Ta 641, rather than its usual attribution. It strikes me as rather strange that she would have resorted to the alternate identifier, almost as if she intended - consciously or not - to distance herself from the original translation by Ventris himself. For her translation, please click on this banner: Ms. Leonhardt’ s decipherment is, if anything, unique and - shall we say - intriguing. We shall see how it stacks up against Michael Ventris’ and Rita Roberts’ translations, meticulously cross-correlating her own translation of every word or ideogram which is at variance with that of the same word or ideogram in either of the other two decipherments. Each translation will then be subjected to a range of rigorous criteria to determine in which respects it is as sound as, or inferior or superior to its other 2 counterparts. Of course, the table of merits and demerits of each of the three translations is strictly my own interpretation, and as such is as subject to sound linguistic, logical, contextual and practical counter-criticism as any other. Anyone who (strongly) disagrees with my assessments of each of these 3 translations should feel free to address his or her critiques of them. I shall be more than happy to post such criticisms word-for-word on our blog, with the proviso that both Rita Roberts and I myself are free to counter them as we see fit under the strict terms enumerated above. Richard