Minoan Linear A, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae now ranked on first page of Google search on “minoan linear a mycenaean linear b” Even though the official name of our research site was not even changed from Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae to Minoan Linear A, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae until June 2016, and in spite of the fact that we had never conducted any really serious research into Minoan Linear A and any potential for its partial decipherment prior to May 2106, our premier research site into the three major ancient Linear scripts, Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear, all of which I am on deeply familiar terms with, has risen from virtually no presence in cross-disciplinary studies of Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B in tandem prior to May 2016, to the eighth position the first page of this Google search on Sept. 1 2016. But if you eliminate the hits which deal with either Linear A or Linear B exclusively (i.e. alone) = Boolean or exclusive, our rank jumps from 8 to 3. Enough said.
The so-called (invalid) relationship between the markings on the Neolithic Dispilio tablet and some of the syllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B
The so-called (invalid) relationship between the markings on the Neolithic Dispilio tablet and some of the syllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B: The Dispilio tablet is a wooden tablet bearing inscribed markings, unearthed during George Hourmouziadis's excavations of Dispilio in Greece and carbon 14-dated to 7300 ± 40 BP or 5260 ± 40 BC.  It was discovered in 1993 in a Neolithic lakeshore settlement that occupied an artificial island  near the modern village of Dispilio on Lake Kastoria in Kastoria, Greece. Source: Wikipedia: Dispilio Tablet Almost all the markings (Are they even writing?) on the Neolithic Dispilio Tablet (at least 5,200 years old) cannot conceivably be correlated with either the Minoan Linear A syllabary (some 3,200 years later) and the Mycenaean Linear B syllabary (some 3,500 years later). Even the markings on the Dispilio tablet which look remarkably like syllabograms in either Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B are almost certainly an accidental quirk. I simply cannot take seriously the so-called “correlations” the author of this bizarre tablets leaps upon. His imagination is clearly overactive, while his faculty of reasoning is sadly under-developed. Unfortunately, such so-called “correlations” between tablets in remotely ancient so-called “languages” and much later syllabaries which are the writing scripts of actual languages such as Minoan and Mycenaean Greek recurs much too often with all to many “researchers” who indulge in such clearly illogical leaps of the imagination. I have marked with an X in BOLD all such clearly invalid correlations. I might just as well have marked every last one of the markings on the Dispilio tablet with an X in BOLD, for that matter. All such correlations are merely accidental. No professional researcher would ever be caught making such outrageous assumptions. I shall demonstrate this sort of “cracked” reasoning made by certain “researchers” with other remotely ancient “languages” over and over. Of course, there are exceptions to such poor correlations. Some markings on some tablets in much more ancient “languages” (imagined or real) than Minoan Linear A or Mycenaean Linear B may conceivably be cross-correlated, at least to some extent, though never fully.
The principle of cross-correlative cohesion between Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B & logical fallacies
The principle of cross-correlative cohesion between Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B & logical fallacies: The principle of cross-correlative cohesion operates on the assumption that terms in Minoan Linear A vocabulary should reflect as closely and as faithfully as possible parallel terms in Mycenaean Greek vocabulary. In other words, the English translations of Minoan words in a Minoan Linear A Glossary such as this one should look as if they are English translations of Mycenaean Greek terms in a Linear B glossary. I have endeavoured to do my best to achieve this goal, but even the most rational and logical of approaches, such as I take, does not and cannot guarantee reciprocity between Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B terms. It is precisely for this reason that I have had to devise a scale of relative accuracy for terms in this Linear A Glossary, as outlined in KEY at the top of it. The KEY reads as follows: KEY: Minoan Linear A words deciphered with a very high level of certainty (75-100%) are in BOLD. Minoan Linear A words deciphered with a reasonable degree of certainty (60-75%) are in italics. Minoan Linear A words for which the decipherment is uncertain (< 50%) are in plain text. Now, according to the principle of cross-correlative cohesion between terms in Minoan Linear A and their (approximate) counterparts in Mycenaean Linear B, not only should the Minoan Linear A vocabulary exhibit an internal cohesion which appears to be parallel with the Mycenaean Linear B vocabulary with which it conceivably corresponds, but also this parallelism should make the cross-correlative or external cohesion between the Minoan Linear A and the Mycenaean Linear B appear even more closely knit. Examining the chart above, The principle of cross-correlative cohesion between Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B vocabulary, it appears, at first glance, that the parallelism is intact. But appearances can be and usually are, deceptive. Unless any particular Minoan Linear A word which I have deciphered has a scalar value > 75%, meaning that it has been deciphered with a high level of certainty, the apparent parallelism between the Minoan Linear A word and its suppositious Mycenaean Linear B counterpart is just that, apparent. In the chart, while I have had to flag some of the less reliable Minoan Linear A decipherments with dotted lines -------> (a3, a4 & a7), other Minoan words have been successfully deciphered with a high degree of certainty (a1, a2, a8 & a10). But can one assume that the latter, those terms deciphered accurately, will de facto necessarily be exactly parallel with their Linear B counterparts? Not really. That all depends on whether or not their Linear B counterparts (b1 to b11 abc) have themselves been accurately deciphered. What can I possibly imply by that? I can hear you say, “I thought Mycenaean Linear B was deciphered by Michael Ventris et al. from1952 onward.” Yes, they did get it... almost all of it, but not all of it. While at least 90% of Mycenaean Greek words have been deciphered with a high degree of accuracy (> 75%), a considerable number have never been adequately deciphered. To cite just a few (Latinized)from Chris Tselentis’ Linear B Lexicon, we have: aeitito – not used? akitito – untitled? duma – official title? Maka – Mother Earth? opa – workshop? outemi – without edges? porodumate – family groups? samara – monument, burial grounds? In cases like this, it becomes virtually impossible to decipher any single Minoan word which might conceivably be parallel to any of the aforementioned Mycenaean Linear B doubtfuls, since the scalar degree of reliability in the latter (Linear B words) is clearly < 50%. Moreover, while the Minoan Linear A words in the left column appear to be as rock-solid as their Linear B counterparts (a1, a2, a8 & a10) in the right column of the chart above, all falling within the ambit of a high degree of certainty (> 75%), I must still sound a note of caution. Who is to say for certain that I have teamed up the correct Minoan word in the left column with the clearly correct Mycenaean term in the right column? In all of these instances, it definitely looks like they all line up perfectly. But we can never really be sure. To summarize, I contend that cross-correlative parallelism between Linear A terms and their Linear B counterparts, however logical it may appear, may in fact be deceptive. Why so? Perhaps I am leaping to conclusions in one, some or even all of these apparently sound decipherments of Minoan words which seem to line up so neatly with their Mycenaean equivalents. The operative word is “seem”. The inescapable pitfalls of logical fallacies: In short, no matter how air-tight our inductive or deductive logic is, it is not necessarily always a done deal. We humans have a regrettable tendency to follow “lines of logic” which are not straight lines at all, and often not even circuitous ones. In fact, all too often they are broken lines or worse yet severed lines. This is why I have resorted to dotted lines (-------->) in all cases where the either the Minoan Linear A or the Mycenaean Linear B term is in some doubt, or far worse yet, both of them are. Fortunately, the Minoan Linear A words daropa, kanaka, pazeqe, puko and sedina are all almost certain (75%-100%), almost perfectly mirroring their Mycenaean Linear B equivalents kararewe, kanako, dipa anowe/dipa anowoto, tiripode and serino, all of which also fall in the 75%-100% range. But this almost air-tight parallelism is rare indeed in any attempt at cross-correlative cohesion between Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B. Ergo the extreme delicacy of the task of deciphering any Minoan term, fraught as it is with vulnerabilities and loopholes.
What is a Top-Notch Translation? Is there any such thing? Pylos Tablet 641-1952 (Ventris)
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
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