Progressive Linear B: Theory, Methodology & Practice:

In honour of the outstanding achievement of Michael Ventris (1922-1956), who single-handedly deciphered a hitherto “undecipherable” ancient script, Linear B, as being the earliest written form of ancient Greek, which Sir Arthur Evans called “Linear B”, and rightly assumed was a syllabary, but wrongly assumed was not Greek, I intend to build on his all too remarkable achievement by applying what I choose to call the principles of Progressive Linear B, a theory of Linear B grammar, syntax and vocabulary which I am putting to the test for the first time ever. After Michael Ventris’ tragic death in a fatal car crash on 6 September 1956, his loyal collaborator and disciple, Professor John Chadwick (1920-1998) of Cambridge University carried on his work, codifying the Linear B tablets, grammar and vocabulary, confirming once and for all that Mycenaean Linear B was the earliest written form of ancient Greek, predating the earliest Greek alphabet by at least 600 years.

What is Progressive Linear B?

Progressive Linear B constitutes an entirely novel theoretical approach to the syllabary, logograms, phonetics, grammar, syntax and vocabulary of Mycenaean Linear B. By applying the methodology of progressive Linear B, we may be able to reconstruct grammatical forms and vocabulary, which are nowhere attested in the approximately 6,000 extant Linear B tablets from Knossos, Pylos, Thebes, Mycenae, Chania or any other archeological sites where tablets have been discovered to date. The recovery of more tablets in the future may fill in some of the gaps in Linear B grammar and vocabulary, but the likelihood of this seems remote.

Theory, Methodology and Practice:

It is perhaps best to illustrate how I apply the reconstitutive methodology of progressive Linear B to extrapolate unattested grammatical forms from the actual forms which have been found on the tablets. With this in mind, let us turn to the verb, EKEE, to have, for the conjugation of the present tense from forms actually found on the tablets. As far as I know. These are (CLICK to enlarge):

attested forms present tense active in Mycenaean Linear B

From these three extant forms, I believe it is possible to extrapolate and reconstruct most of the remainder of the conjugation of the present tense of the verb, EKEE, “to have”, (the classical Greek and English conjugations following the reconstructed Linear B forms), with attested forms (as found on tablets) tagged with (A), and Derived forms tagged with (D), as follows:

The Verb EKEE as paradigm for the reconstruction of the present tense active (CLICK to enlarge):

Verb EKEE EKO present tense active in Progressive Mycenaean Linear B

As you can readily see from this reconstruction of the present tense of EKEE, I am unable to make an accurate estimation of the probable form of the second person singular with any degree of certainty, which is why I have omitted it. However, with this sole exception, I have been able to reconstitute the rest of the present tense of the verb,” to have”, into the forms they most likely would have taken in Mycenaean Greek, had any tablets been unearthed with these forms. With the conjugation of EKEE (to have) as our paradigm, I believe it is possible to proceed with the reconstruction of the present tense of all verbs ending with O in first person singular of the active (not middle!) voice .

Thus, in the paradigm for the attested (A) and derivative (D) endings of the present infinitive active & present tense active, the first person singular and plural & the second person plural are derived. Hence, the Linear B forms and their Latin transcriptions for the present infinitive active & the conjugation of the present active (with the exception of the missing second person singular) of verbs ending in “ko” are (CLICK to enlarge):

Paradigm Present Tense Active Mycenaean Greek for verbs ending in "ko"

Of course, my reconstructions are always to be considered as tentative and conjectural. If anyone familiar with Linear B is at odds with my interpretative reconstructions of this or any other grammatical form in Linear B, I encourage the same to comment on my conjectures on this Blog. I will of course answer any questions, issues or doubts you may harbour over my reconstitutive grammar, which I will be gradually building on this Blog, starting with several active verbs in the present tense, based on the paradigm for the conjugation of the present tense of the verb, EKEE.

Progressive Linear B: Theory, Methodology and Practice:© Richard Vallance Janke 2013