Tag Archive: Ancient Greek



Special post for Linear B students: how to convert from Linear B to the ancient Greek alphabet and vice versa:

The following tables illustrate how to convert from Linear B to the ancient Greek alphabet and vice versa.

A: Linear B to ancient Greek:

linear b syllabary with ancient Greek alphabet correspondences

B: ancient Greek to Linear B:

ancient greek alphabet with Liniear B correspondences

 


Just uploaded to academia.edu = Exhaustive Linear A lexicon of 1030 New Minoan and Old Minoan words, with extensive sectional commentaries.pdf 


exhaustive linear a lexicon of 1030 Minoan words with extensive sectional commentaries


What with its 1030 entries of New Minoan (NM1), Pre-Greek substratum and Old Minoan terms, this is the most exhaustive Linear A Lexicon ever published in history, exceeding Prof. John G. Younger’s (at 774 intact words) by 226, with the emphasis squarely on intact exograms (words). Every possible origin of Linear A words is investigated, with extensive sectional commentaries. This lexicon, 65 pp. long, includes 4 appendices and a bibliography of 108 items. 

You will not want to miss out on reading this paper, representing one of the most significant historical breakthroughs in the decipherment of the Linear syllabary. If you are a member of academia.edu, please download it, and read it at your leisure. If you are not already a member of academia.edu, you can sign up for free, and then download it.

My recent research into (Minoan) Linear A has meant that I have been catapulted from the top 5 % to the top 0.1 % of users on academia.edu in the past three weeks, here:

Richard Vallance profile academia.edu




Supersyllabograms on the large Linear A tablet in the A.Y. Nikolaos Museum, Crete:

AY Nikolaos Museum tablet with supersyllabograms

There are a total of 6 supersyllabograms on the large Linear A tablet in the A.Y. Nikolaos Museum, Crete, far more than on any other Linear A tablet. In fact, there is no text at all on this tablet, which makes it unique in the Linear A repertoire. All in all, there are 27 supersyllabograms in Linear A, versus 36 in Linear B. The Minoans and not the Mycenaeans invented supersyllabograms. Since many visitors to our site are unfamiliar with supersyllabograms, even though they have been defined here on several occasions, a supersyllabogram is the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of a particular word of major import in any of the major sectors of the Minoan economy. On this tablet, we find 7, of which one is not actually a syllabogram but a symbol. They are as follows:

1 SU (a) OM (Old Minoan) supa2 (supai) + supa2ra (supa2ra) = a small cup with handles

2 A2/AI OM? unknown, currently indecipherable

3 U NM1 (New Minoan) udiriki = with water (instr. Sing.) = hudriki (archaic Greek Latinized

4 PO NM1 potokuro = reaching a full drink, i.e. a draught (agglutinative) = poton + kurwn (archaic Greek latinized)

5 a hook which symbolizes a handle

6 A NM1 aresana = an embossed cup (archaic acc.) = aleissana (archaic Greek Latinized)

SU (b) OM sup1/supu/supu2 = the largest size pithos

NOTE that all of the supersyllabograms on this tablet deal with vessels and pottery.

Linear A contains 27 supersyllabograms, some of which are Mycenaean-derived New Minoan (NM1) and others Old Minoan, i.e. in the original Minoan substratum, as illustrated in this table:

620 Table 5 Table of 27 supersyllabograms in Minoan Linear A

The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear A will be the feature article in Vol. 13 (2017) of Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448 , to be published early in 2019. This article is to be the follow-up to The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B, Vol. 11 (2015), currently online on academia.edu here:

decipherment supesyllabograms archaeologyand science Belgrade

 

 


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Proto-Greek Decipherment of Minoan Linear A silver pin from Mavro Spelio (Middle Minoan III = MM III) in the Heraklion Museum, Greece:

epingle-argent-kn-zf-31 620

This decipherment of Minoan Linear A silver pin from Mavro Spelio (Middle Minoan III = MM III) in the Heraklion Museum, Greece relies rather heavily on the debatable notion that Minoan Linear A is by and large proto-Greek, a theory espoused by Urii Mosenkis, one of the world’s most highly qualified linguists specializing in diachronic historical linguistics, including, but not limited to Minoan Linear A. Accordingly, I have deliberately interpreted ample chunks of the Minoan Linear a vocabulary on this silver pin as being proto-Greek, even though such a decipherment is surely contentious, at least in (large) part.

While the first line of my decipherment makes sense by and large, the second is more dubious. It is apparent that the Minoan Linear A word dadu on the first line is almost certainly not proto-Greek, but the last two syllables of dadumine, ie. mine appear to be the dative singular for the (archaic) Greek word for month, i.e. meinei (Latinized), such that the decipherment of this word at least would appear to read  in the month of dadu. There is nothing really all that strange or peculiar about this interpretation, since we know the names of the months neither in Minoan Linear A nor in Mycenaean Linear B. However, a definite note of caution must be sounded with respect to the decipherment of this word, as well as of all of the other so-called proto-Greek words on this silver pin, since none of them can be verified with sufficient circumstantial evidence or on the contrary. Hence, all translations of putative proto-Greek words in Minoan Linear A must be taken with a grain of salt.

While the second line on this pin, if taken as proto-Greek, makes some sense, it is much less convincing than the first, especially in light of the trailing word at the end, tatheis (Greek Latinized, apparently for the aorist participle passive of the verb teino (Latinized) = to stretch/strain, which actually does not make a lot of sense in the context.

Nevertheless, it would appear that at least some of the Minoan Linear A words which I have interpreted  as being proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean may in fact be that. I leave it up to you to decide which one(s) are and which are not, if any in fact are. Additionally, even if a few or some of them are proto-Greek, they may fall within the pre-Greek substratum. The most dubious of the so-called proto-Greek words on this pin probably are qami -, tasaza & tatei, since none of these are likely to have fallen within the pre-Greek substratum. 

But if the Minoan language itself is not proto-Greek, then what is it? I shall have ample occasion to address this apparently thorny question in upcoming posts and especially in my second article on the decipherment of Minoan Linear A, which I shall be submitting to Archaeology and Science by no later than April 17, 2017. 


Minoan Linear provides significant evidence of the presence of proto-Greek or even (proto) – Mycenaean in its vocabulary:

Minoan Linear provides significant evidence of the presence of proto-Greek or even (proto) – Mycenaean in its vocabulary, as attested by this Table (Table 2a & Table 2B), which I have had to divide into two parts because it is so long. So we have

Table 2a Minoan words of apparent proto-Greek origin… or are they in the pre-Greek substratum? A-M:

 

Minoan Linear A apparent proto-Greek Table 2 a 620

and Table 2b: N-W:

Table 2b minoan apparent proto-greek 620

It is readily apparent from this Table in two parts that all of the words listed in it may be interpreted as proto-Greek or possibly even (proto-) Mycenaean. But the operative word is may, not certainly. This is because (a) Minoan Linear A, like Mycenaean Linear B, makes no distinction between Greek short and long vowels and (b) like Mycenaean Linear B, the Linear A syllabary is deficient in representing a number of Greek consonants, which otherwise might have been the initial consonants of the successive syllabic series, e.g. da de di do du, ka ke ki ko ku, ta te ti to tu etc. The following Greek consonants, first illustrated in this table of the ancient Greek alphabet including the archaic digamma, which was in widespread use in Mycenaean Linear B, are tagged with an asterisk * :

 

ancient Greek alphabet with digamma

and here Latinized for accessibility to our visitors who cannot read Greek, i.e. b, g, eita (long i) , ksi, fi (pi), chi (as in Scottish loch), psi and omega. Because of these lacuna and the notable ambiguities which arise from it, it is not possible to verify that the so-called proto-Greek or (proto-) Mycenaean words listed in Tables 2a & 2b are in fact that. However, chances are good that they are proto-Greek. Additionally, it is not possible to verify whether or not a few, some or even all of the words in Tables 2a and 2b, which appear to be proto-Greek actually fall within the pre-Greek substratum. If the latter scenario is true, then it is more likely than not that a few, some or even all of these words are in fact Minoan. There is no way to verify this for certain. Nevertheless, numerous international researchers into Minoan Linear A, most notably, Urii Mosenkis, one of the world’s most highly qualified linguists specializing in diachronic historical linguistics, including, but not limited to Minoan Linear A, who stands in the top 0.1 % of 40 million users on academia.edu:

 

Urii Mosenkis academia.edu

have provided significant convincing circumstantial evidence that there are even hundreds of proto-Greek words in Minoan Linear A, which begs the question, is Minoan Linear A proto-Greek? But the answer to the question is not nearly so obvious as one might think, as I shall be demonstrating in my second article, Current prospects for the decipherment of Minoan Linear A”, which I will be submitting to the prestigious international annual journal, Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) by no later than April 17 2017, the deadline for submissions.

There is no positive, indisputable proof that there are any number of proto-Greek or proto-Greek words in Minoan Linear A, any more than there is any positive proof whatsoever that, as Gretchen Leonhardt would have us believe, that there are any number of proto-Altaic or proto-Japanese words, if any at all, in the Minoan language. As for her hypothesis, for which there not even any substantive circumstantial evidence whatsoever, it is my firm belief and contention that she is, to use the common expression, wasting her time and energy barking up the wrong tree.


KEY POST! The truly formidable obstacles facing us in even a partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A:

Any attempt, however concerted, at even a partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A is bound to meet with tremendous obstacles, as illustrated all too dramatically by this table:

minoan-linear-a-prefixes-roots-stems-suffixes

These obstacles include, but are not prescribed by:

1. The fact that there are far fewer extant Minoan Linear A tablets and fragments, of which the vast majority are mere fragments (no more than 500), most of them un intelligible, than there are extant tablets and fragments in Mycenaean Linear B (well in excess of 4,500), of which the latter are mostly legible, even the fragments.

2. The fact that Mycenaean Linear B has been completely deciphered, first by Michael Ventris in 1952 and secondly, by myself in closing the last gap in the decipherment of Mycenaean Linear B, namely, the decipherment of supersyllabograms in my article, The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B, in the illustrious international archaeological annual, Archaeology and Science, ISSN 1452-7448, Vol. 11 (2015), pp. 73-108, here:

cover-as-2015


This final stage in the decipherment of Mycenaean Linear B has effectively brought closure to its decipherment.

As illustrated all too conspicuously by this table of apparent roots/stems and/or prefixes of Minoan Linear A lexemes and their lemmas, we are still a long way off from being able to convincingly decipher Minoan Linear A.

At the categorical sub-levels of the syntax and semiotics of Minoan Linear A, we cannot even begin to determine which categories to isolate, let alone what these categories are. Allow me to illustrate in discriminative terms:

3. As the table of Minoan Linear A so-called roots & stems + prefixes above all too amply highlights, we cannot even tell which first syllable or which of the first 2 syllables of any of the Minoan Linear A words in this list is/are either (a) roots or stems of the Minoan Linear A lexemes or lemmas which it/they initiate or (b) prefixes of them, even if I have tentatively identified some as the former and some as the latter (See the table).

4. In the case of roots or stems, which ones are roots and which are stems? What is the difference between the two in Minoan Linear A? Let us take a couple of entries as examples to illustrate my point:

4.1 The 3 words beginning with the apparent root or stem asi, (I cannot tell which is which), the first 2 syllables of asidatoi, asijaka & asikira may not even be roots or stems of these words at all, but prefixes of 3 probably unrelated words instead. Who is to know?
4.2 If asidatoi, asijaka & asikira are either nouns or adjectives, what is the gender and number of each one? To say the very least, it is rash to assume that asidatoi is plural, just because it looks like an ancient Greek masculine plural (as for example in Mycenaean Linear B teoi (gods) or masculine plurals in any other ancient Greek dialect for that matter, since that assumption is based on the most likely untenable hypothesis that Minoan Linear A is some form of proto-Greek, in spite of the fact that several current linguistic researchers into Minoan Linear A believe precisely that. The operative word is “believe”, since absolutely no convincing circumstantial evidence has ever come to the fore that Minoan Linear A is some form of proto-Greek.
4.3 The conclusion which I have drawn here, that Minoan Linear A may not be proto-Greek, arises from the fact that almost all of the Minoan words in this table bear little or no resemblance at all even to Mycenaean Greek.
4.5 But there clearly exceptions to the previous hypothesis, these being words such as depa and depu, of which the former is a perfect match with the Homeric, depa, meaning  “a cup”.

On the other hand, depu is less certain. However, in my preliminary tentative decipherment of 107 Minoan Linear A words (which are to appear in my article to be published in Vol. 12 of Archaeology and Science, 2017-2018), I have come to the tentative conclusion that the ultimate u in almost all Minoan Linear A words is quite likely to be a macro designator. If this were so, depu would be larger than depa. So a translation along the lines of [2] “a large cup” or “a libation cup” might be in order. Still, I could be dead wrong in this assumption.
4.6 However, the lexeme depa does appear to reveal one probable characteristic of Minoan Linear A grammar, that the ultimate for the feminine singular may very well be a, as in so many other languages, ancient or modern (let alone Greek). If that is the case, then words such as asijaka, asikira, keta, kipa, saja, sina and tamia may possibly all be feminine singular... that is to say, if any, some or even all of them are either nouns or adjectives, clearly a point of contention in and of itself. Who are we to say that one or more of these words may instead be adverbs or some person, singular or plural, of some conjugation in some tense or mood of some Minoan Linear A verb? On the other hand, at least one or more or even most of these words and the other words in this table ending in a may be nouns or adjectives in the feminine singular. But one again, who can say at all for sure?
4.7 If the ultimate u is supposed to be a macro designator, how then are we to account for the fact that [3] maruku, which very much looks like a (declensional) variant of maru, means “made of wool”, which itself has nothing whatsoever to do with a macro designator, if at the same time the apparent lexeme maru actually does mean “wool”? After all, one might conclude, maru looks a lot like Mycenaean Linear B mari or mare, which as everyone knows, does mean “wool”. But it is just as likely as not that the assumption that maru means “wool”, and its variants maruku “made of wool” ? (a guess at best) and maruri = “with wool” have nothing whatsoever to do with wool in Minoan Linear A.
4.8 In fact, the hypothesis that maruri = “with wool” is based on yet another assumption, namely, that the termination ri is dative singular, similar to the commonplace dative singular oi, ai or i in Mycenaean Linear B. But if that is the case, this implies that Minoan Linear A is probably proto-Greek, for which there is no substantive evidence whatsoever. So we wind up mired in a flat out contradiction in terms, in other words, an inescapable paradox.  
4.9a Next, taking all of the words beginning with the root or stem? - or prefix? sina [4], what on earth are we to make of so many variants? Perhaps this is a conjugation of some verb in some tense or mood. If that is the case, we should expect 6 variations, first, second and third persons singular and plural. Or should we? What about the possible existence of the dual in Minoan Linear A? But here again we find ourselves smack up against the assumption we have just made in 4.5, 4.6, 4.7 & 4.8, that the putative Minoan verb beginning with the so-called root or stem sina is itself proto-Greek.

But I have to ask out loud, are you aware of any verb in ancient Greek which begins with the root or stem sina? Well, according to  Liddell & Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon, there are in fact 2, which I have Latinized here for ease of access to those of you who cannot read Greek, and these are, (1) sinamoreo (infinitive sinamorein), which means “to damage wantonly” and (2) sinomai, “to plunder, spoil or pillage”. The problem is that neither of these ancient Greek verbs bears any resemblance to or corresponds in any conceivable way with the 7 Minoan Linear A variants post-fixed to sina. So I repeat, for the sake of emphasis, are these 7 all variants on some Minoan Linear A verb or are they not?

4.9b What if on the other hand, all 7 of these variants post-fixed to sina are instead a declension of some Minoan noun or adjective in Linear A? It is certainly conceivable that there are 7 cases in the Minoan language, in view of the fact that plenty of ancient and modern languages have 7 cases or more. Latin has six: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, ablative and vocative. But ancient Greek has only 5, nominative, genitive, dative and accusative and vocative, the ablative absolute (which occurs in Latin) subsumed under the genitive absolute. From this perspective, it would appear quite unlikely that the 7 Minoan Linear A variants on sina are proto-Greek declensions, especially in light of the fact that, once again, none of them bears any resemblance to the ancient Greek, sinapi = “mustard”, sinion = “sieve” or sinos = “hurt, harm, mischief, damage” (nominative).

5. Moving on to taniria and tanirizui [5], we could of course once again draw the (most likely untenable) conclusion if taniria is a feminine singular noun, then tanirizui must be/is dative singular, following the template for the dative singular in Mycenaean Linear B (i, ai or oi). But once again, there is no word in ancient Greek bearing any resemblance to these critters. And once again, even if Minoan Linear A had a dative singular, why on earth would it have to end in i?

6. However, when we come to the 4 words reza, adureza, kireza and tireza, we are confronted with another phenomenon. 3 of these 4 words (adureza, kireza and tireza) each in turn apparently are prefixed by adu, ki and ti. Makes sense at first sight. However, once again, appearances can be terribly deceiving. 

Nevertheless, in my preliminary decipherment of Minoan Linear A, I have drawn the tentative conclusion that all four of these words are intimately interconnected. And in the actual context of the few extant Minoan Linear A tablets and fragments in which these 4 terms appear, it very much looks as if they are all terms of measurement. But you will have to await the publication of my article on the tentative decipherment of 107 Minoan Linear A words in Vol. 12 (2017-2018) of Archaeology and Science to discover how I came to this conclusion.

7. Notwithstanding the fact that almost all of the words in this highly selective table of Minoan Linear A lexemes and lemmas (whichever ones are which), with the exception of depa and depu, as well as winu, which may be the Minoan Linear A equivalent of Mycenaean Linear B woino = “wine”, appear not to be proto-Greek, that does not imply that at least a few or even some are in fact proto-Greek, based on this hypothesis: a number of words in Mycenaean Linear B, all of which appear to be proto-Greek, disappeared completely from later ancient Greek dialects. Among these we count a number of Mycenaean Greek words designating some kind of cloth, namely, pawea, pukatariya, tetukowoa and wehano [pg. 94, The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B, in Archaeology and Science, Vol. 11 (2016)], plus several other Mycenaean Linear B words listed in the same article, which I do not repeat here due to space limitations. However, I must toss a wrench even into the assumption that the words designating some kinds of cloth (but which kinds we shall never know) are Mycenaean Linear B Greek or even proto-Greek, when they may not be at all! What if a few, some or all of them are in the pre-Greek substratum? If that is the case, are they Minoan, even if none of them appear on any extant Minoan Linear A tablet or fragment? Who is to say they are not?

For instance, there is another so called Mycenaean or proto-Greek word, kidapa, which may very well mean “(ash) wood” or “a type of wood”, found only on Linear B tablet KN 894 N v 01. This word has a suspiciously Minoan ring to it. Just because it does not appear on any extant Minoan Linear A tablet or fragment does not necessarily imply that it is not Minoan or that it at least falls within the pre-Greek substratum.

CONCLUSIONS:
It must be glaringly obvious from all of the observations I have made on the Minoan Linear A terms in the table above that the more we try to make any sense of the syntactic and semiotic structure of the Minoan language in Linear A, the more and more mired we get in irresolvable contradictions in terms and paradoxes. Moreover, who is to say that the so-called proto-Greek words which surface in Minoan Linear A are proto-Greek at all, since they may instead be pre-Greek substratum words disguised as proto-Greek. We can take this hypothesis even further. Who is to say that the several so-called proto-Greek words we find in Mycenaean Greek, all of which disappeared completely from the ancient Greek lexicon in all Greek dialects after the fall of Mycenae ca. 1200 BCE, are also not proto-Greek but are instead in the pre-Greek substratum or even, if they fall into that substratum, that they are instead Minoan words or words of some other non Indo-European origin? We have landed in a real quagmire.

So I find myself obliged to posit the hypothesis that, for the time being at least, any attempt at the putative decipherment of Minoan Linear A is inexorably bound to lead straight to a dead end. I challenge any philologists or linguist specializing in ancient languages to actually prove otherwise even with circumstantial evidence to the contrary.



6 more Minoan Linear A putative proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean words: DA-DI. But are they proto-Greek at all?

minoan-linear-a-pre-greek-substrate-da-di

As we forge our way through Prof. John G. Younger’s Reverse Linear A Lexicon, in which he Latinizes the orthography of Minoan Linear A words,  we now arrive at Linear A words beginning with the syllabograms DA through to DI.  It is absolutely de rigueur to read the Notes in the table above; otherwise, my tentative decipherments of 6 more Minoan words in Linear A as being possibly proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean will not make any sense at all.  The table also draws attention to those words which are of moderate frequency (MF) on Minoan Linear A tablets and fragments, with the far greater proportion of them appearing on mere fragments. I cannot emphasize this point enough. In view of the fact that the vast majority of Minoan Linear A extant remnants are just that, remnants or fragments and nothing more, it is of course next to impossible to verify whether or not the 6 words I have extrapolated (or for that matter any other so-called proto-Greek words)  as possibly being  proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean are that at all. 

Add to this caveat that researchers and linguists specializing in ancient Greek often hypothesize that, and I quote verbatim:

It is possible that Greek took over some thousand words and proper names from such a language (or languages), because some of its vocabulary cannot be satisfactorily explained as deriving from the Proto-Greek language (italics mine). Among these pre-Greek substratum words we find Anatolian loanwords such as:
dépas ‘cup; pot, vessel’, Mycenaean di-pa, from the Luwian = tipa = sky, bowl or cup, one of the pre-Greek substratum words right in the table above! 
+ eléphas ‘ivory’, from Hittite lahpa;
+ kýmbachos ‘helmet’, from Hittite kupahi ‘headgear’; 
+ kýmbalon ‘cymbal’, from Hittite huhupal ‘wooden percussion instrument’; 
+ mólybdos ‘lead’, Mycenaean mo-ri-wo-do, from Lydian mariwda(s)k ‘the dark ones’ etc.

But there is more, significantly more. Wikipedia, Greek language:

wikipedia-greek-language

has this to say about Greek vocabulary.

Vocabulary:

Greek is a language distinguished by an extensive vocabulary. Most of the vocabulary of Ancient Greek was inherited, but it includes a number of borrowings from the languages of the populations that inhabited Greece before the arrival of Proto-Greeks. (italics mine) [25] Words of non-Indo-European origin can be traced into Greek from as early as Mycenaean times; they include a large number of Greek toponyms. 

Further discussion of a pre-Greek substratum continues here:

wikipedia-pre-greek-substrate

Where, in addition to the pre-Greek substratum words I have already cited above, we find, and again I quote verbatim:

The Pre-Greek substrate consists of the unknown language or languages spoken in prehistoric Greece before the settlement of Proto-Greek speakers in the area (italics mine). It is thought possible that Greek took over some thousand words and proper names from such a language (or languages), because some of its vocabulary cannot be satisfactorily explained as deriving from the Proto-Greek language  

Possible Pre-Greek loanwords
Personal names: Odysseus; 
Theonyms: Hermes; 
Maritime vocabulary: thálassa = sea; 
Words relating to Mediterranean agriculture: elai(w)a = olive & ampelos = vine 
Building technology: pyrgos = tower; 
Placenames, especially those terminating in -nth- : Korinthos, Zakynthos
& in -ss- : Parnassos & in and -tt- : Hymettus

And, to ram my point home, one of the pre-Greek substrata identified is the Minoan language itself. It is on this basis and upon this foundation, among others, that I posit the following hypothesis:

Pre-Greek substratum words are both proto-Greek and not, simultaneously!

The assumption that certain Minoan words in Linear A appear to be proto-Greek or even proto-Mycenaean (if we wish to stretch the notion one small step further, which I believe is entirely justified) does not in and of itself necessarily imply that some or even quite possibly most of them are de facto actually of proto-Indo-European proto-Greek origin, when quite plainly (so) many of them are not of such origin. In other words, we find ourselves face to face with an apparent contradiction in terms, a dye-in-the-wool linguistic paradox: some, many or even most of the so-called pre- + proto-Greek words we encounter in Minoan Linear A are likely to be proto-Greek, but only insofar as they crop up again and again in later ancient Greek dialects, right on down from the earliest East Greek dialect, Mycenaean, through Arcado-Cypriot on down to Ionic and Attic Greek and beyond, while simultaneously being of non-Indo-european origin, if you can wrap your head around that notion... which I most definitely can.  

So if anyone dares claim that all of those words in Minoan (of which there seem to be quite a substantial number) are de facto proto-Greek, that person should think again. Think before you leap. It is much too easy for us to jump to spurious conclusions with respect to the supposed proto-Greek origin(s) of many words in Minoan Linear A.

To compound the matter further, let us consider the situation from the opposite end of the spectrum. It is widely known, by both intellectual non-linguists, i.e. intelligent native speakers of any given language, and by professional linguists alike, that pretty much every modern language borrows not just thousands, but tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of words from prior languages. The one modern language which exemplifies this phenomenon par excellence is non other than English, in which we find hundreds of thousands of loanwords from ancient Greek, Latin and Norman French.

Now it goes without saying that all languages, ancient and modern, follow the same pattern of accumulating some and even as many as thousands of loanwords. Ancient Latin did so with ancient Greek. And here lies the rub. So must have Mycenaean Greek with the Minoan language. In Chris Tslentis Linear B  Lexicon, we find many words which cannot possibly be accounted for as being proto-Greek, but which must be of some other origin. And one of the most likely origins for a relatively large subset of these words is probably the Minoan language itself. Allow me to cite just a few of the more glaring examples:

adete = binder 
Akireu = Achilles
Aminiso = Amnisos harbour (Cf. Linear A, Uminaso)
Damate = Demeter (Cf. Linear A, Idamate)
dipa = cup (Cf. Linear A, depa)
erepa = ivory
kama = a unit of land
kanako = safflower, saffron (Cf. Linear A, kanaka)
kidapa = (ash) wood?
mare/mari = wool (Cf. Linear A, maru)
opa = workshop?
serino = celery (Cf. Linear A, sedina)
tarasa = sea

Now if even most of the so-called Mycenaean Greek terms listed here are actually Minoan, then it is stands to reason that Mycenaean Greek inherited them from the Minoan language itself, and ergo, that they are not necessarily proto-Greek words at all.  It is as if we were in a flip-flop. Either way, whether or not any of the words which we have flagged (and shall continue to tag) as possibly being proto-Greek in the Minoan language or the other way around, whether or not certain words in Mycenaean Greek are not proto-Greek at all, and not even of proto-Indo-European origin, we find ourselves floundering in a Saragossa Sea of linguistic incertitude from which we really cannot extricate ourselves.

So to all those researchers, past and present, into the Minoan language who make the claim, categorical or not, that much of the vocabulary of the Minoan language is proto-Greek, I say Beware! lest you fall into a trap from which you cannot reasonably hope to extricate yourselves.


Is the Minoan Linear A labrys inscribed with I-DA-MA-TE in Minoan or in proto-Greek? PART B: OR is it in proto-Greek?What?” I hear you asking, “... is that even even remotely possible?” The keyword here is remotely. Remotely, yes, but only remotely. Recall that in the last post, in which I postulated that the four consecutive supersyllabograms ID + DA + MA + TE might conceivably stand for the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of 4 consecutive Minoan Linear A words, though which ones among God knows how many possibilities it is exceedingly difficult to determine.

On the other hand, the four consecutive supersyllabograms ID + DA + MA + TE might conceivably stand for the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of 4 consecutive proto-greek Greek words, most likely proto-Mycenaean. If that is the case — and, mark  my words, it is far more likely than not that it is not the case — we are once again confronted with a myriad of combinations and permutations of proto-Greek words which have the potential, however thin, of standing in for the 4 consecutive supersyllabograms I + DA + MA +TE. So be forewarned. The putative decipherment of these 4 supersyllabograms into the one possible decipherment I have arbitrarily posited among hundreds is just  that, putative and tentative, and nothing more.

The tentative decipherment I have come up with runs as follows when the Mycenaean Greek of which it is the apparent forerunner is Latinized:

The supersyllabograms in turn might conceivably mean (but only as a long shot):

I = iyereya (feminine nominative singular), meaning “priestess”
DA =  Damateroyo (feminine genitive singular), meaning “of Damater”
MA =  Matereteiyai (feminine dative singular, meaning “to Mater Thea (the Divine Mother” 
TE = temenoi (masculine dative or locative singular), meaning “(in) the temple”

yielding this Latinized decipherment (which is but one possibility out of 100s): 

iyereya Damateroyo ... matereteiyai (eni) temenoi

... which roughly translates as:

The priestess of Damater... (is making offerings -or- sacrificing to) Mater  Thea (i.e. the Divine Mother) (in) the temple.

In this partial sentence, the phrase  (is making offerings -or- sacrificing to) and the preposition eni = “in” do not appear in the original supposed proto-Greek text, which I have extrapolated forward to Mycenaean Greek to make it fully accessible. Although these words are in fact absent from the original putative proto-Greek, they be supplied  with relative ease to fill in the gaps.

This proto-Greek translation is neatly encapsulated in this chart:

idamate-part-b

On closer examination, it turns out that, although this decipherment is only one among 100s of possible candidates, it is nevertheless one of the most plausible decipherments, for the following reasons:

1. If as I have pointed out in the previous post, Idamate is an actual Minoan word, as well as being in addition a series of 4 supersyllabograms. Thus, in the Minoan language it may very well mean something along the lines of Damate in Mycenaean Linear B: in other words, Idamate in the Minoan language may be the approximate equivalent of Damate in Mycenaean Linear B and of Demeter in ancient Greek. And if that is the case, the second supersyllabogram (DA) in my parallel proto-Greek translation, which I have deciphered as Damate, almost perfectly matches the Minoan word. This co-incidence, if co-incidence it is, is far too great to be ignored, and it lends a great deal of credence to my proto-Greek translation extrapolated forward to Mycenaean Greek of the second supersyllabogram DA in idamate.
2. But there is more, much more. As it so turns out, there is a sacred cave dedicated to Zeus on Mount Ida, which is very close to the Minoan site of Phaistos. Another co-incidence? The name of the cave dedicated to Zeus on Mount Ida is the “Dictaean Cave”, as illustrated here:

dictaean-cave-zeus-mount-ida

3. It is nothing short of a remarkable co-incidence that Idamate, as inscribed on the labrys, may very well signify “Mount Ida”, as I have clearly indicated  in the previous post. But what does that imply?  I have to wonder whether or not there was a Minoan peak sanctuary on the summit of Mount Ida. This is what a Minoan peak sanctuary probably looked liked:

minoan-peak-sanctuary

And if there was, it was of course a temple. Referencing our proto-Greek translation of Idamate, we find that the last supersyllabogram, TE, may readily and realistically rendered as temeno, which in Mycenaean Greek means “a temple”. How fascinating!

Does this imply that the priestess to Damater might have been sacrificing to Mater Thea in a temple or peak sanctuary which may possibly have existed on the summit of Mount Ida? The correlation is truly tempting. However, I must sound a strong note of caution. Such an interpretation of  the last supersyllabogram of Idamate = TE, as the putative Mycenaean word, temeno = “a temple” as being a peak sanctuary is nothing less than a real stretch of the imagination. So it must be taken with a huge grain of salt. Nevertheless, it is possible, however remotely, that the temple in which the priestess of Damater is worshipping just might have been a peak sanctuary. But  I wouldn’t bet my bottom dollars on it.  It is thus remotely possible that Idamate signifies both “Mount Ida” in Minoan and “Mater Thea” in proto-Greek extrapolates forward to later Mycenaean Greek. Further credence is possibly lent to this decipherment by the fact that Mount Ida is clearly visible in the near distance behind the ancient site of Phaistos, as illustrated here and on map below:

mount-ida-psiloritis

 mount-ida-psiloritis-map

But we must be extremely skeptical of such an interpretation. Why so? Just as Pavel Serafimov and Anton Perdith erroneously read proto-Slavic into Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada), thereby grossly misinterpreting it, my own attempt to superimpose proto-Greek on the 4 supersyllabograms I + DA + MA +TE may amount to the same genre of fundamental (and gross) inaccuracy in the putative decipherment into proto-Greek of a Minoan Linear A text, in this case, of the word idamate inscribed on the labrys. So we must exercise extreme caution in hypothesizing that the 4 supersyllabograms  I + DA + MA +TE are the first syllabograms, i.e. the first syllables of the 4 consecutive proto-Greek words I have arbitrarily assigned to them. So the fact remains that these 4 supersyllabograms are far more likely to be the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of 4 consecutive Minoan words than of proto-Greek words. I cannot stress this enough. 


Réponse par Richard Vallance Janke à la recherche très récente sur la tablette AN PY 55 = AN 724, menée par Tina et Enriqueta Martinotti, dont leur étude : 

Tina MARTINOTTI, Enriqueta MARTINOTTI. Poétique Mycénienne dans la Tablette PY 724 An ( PY 55) de Pylos, classfiée comme " liste de rameurs ". Épigraphie mycénienne: traduction de la tablette en linéaire b Py 55=An 724 de Pylos classifiée c.. 2015. 

martinotti-fleuve-et-dieu-tablette-de-pylos-en-lineaire-b-mycenien

<hal-01147208>
HAL Id: hal-01147208
https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01147208
Submitted on 29 Apr 2015

Depuis Chadwick, la tablette en linéaire b, classifiée Py 55=An 724 a été interprétée à partir de la lecture des séries de signes ro-o-wa comme le nom du port de Pylos et e-re-ta comme « rameur/s » ; plusieurs auteurs pensent que ce texte est une liste de rameurs. Mais la présence de la série ki-ti-ta, interprétée d’abord comme « agriculteur », a produit des controverses : Que faisait le mot « agriculteur » dans une liste de rameurs ? Finalement ki-ti-ta a été interprétée, de manière un peu téméraire comme «unité fiscale»3. Cette dernière hypothèse imagine le cas de l’infortune des agriculteurs qui, ne pouvant payer leurs taxes foncières, s’engageaient dans la marine.

Néanmoins, la tablette n’a aucune similitude avec une liste, elle présente des lignes complètes. Toutes ces approximations théoriques, en étant arbitraires, suggèrent une défaillance dans l’interprétation. Ainsi, cette tablette est l’objet de l’analyse que nous exposons ici, en prenant la méthode épigraphique des systèmes syllabaires dont un signe est homophonique, polysémique et logographique. La traduction, ici proposée, suit la méthodeinterprétative4 des phonèmes, et recherche l’énoncé produit pour l’homophonie. Notre analyse démontre que la tablette PY 55 ne traite pas d’une liste de rameurs, mais qu’il s’agit d’un admirable texte littéraire où le mythe, le culte et la tradition se trouvent étroitement liés aux données philologiques, archéologiques, iconographiques et géographiques. Cette tablette est une oeuvre littéraire mycénienne et une des premières chansons épiques ; un texte narratif qui renvoie aux rituels et offrandes dans la grotte dite aujourd’hui « Grotte de Nestor », ainsi que le sacrifice du taureau « auprès de la mer salée », tel que nous l’a transmis la tradition homérique. On verra que ce texte décrit l’épique d’une figure héroïque divine ; les exploits d’un dieu qui étaient dignes de mémoire pour les pyliens. Ce texte décrit un héros divin mythique, guérisseur, guerrier, fécondant, en étroit rapport avec la déesse Terre, et représentant, à ses yeux, l’idéal de la valeur et des vertus bienfaisantes...

à laquelle ma réponse à mon compte sur academia.edu, ici :

reponse-de-richard-vallance-janke-a-martinotti

Bonjour, Tina !

Je tiens à vous répondre cette fois de la manière la plus respectueuse, vu que je viens de lire très attentivement deux de vos articles. J’en lirai les autres dès que j’aurai le temps libre de les assimiler avec le plus grand soin.
 
Je dois vous avouer franchement que je suis très impressioné de votre recherche concernant le déchiffrement du syllabaire Linéaire B. Mais en dépit de mon admiration considérable de vos efforts énergiques à cet égard, je suis toujours constraint de garder plusieurs réservations relatives à votre hypothèse essentielle, là où il s’agit de la nature polysémiotique des syllabogrammes et des mots mycéniens, surtout à la lumière du syllabaire Linéaire C du dialecte arcado-chyprien, qui n’obéit en aucune manière à votre hypothèse essentiel, ce qui me rend plutôt soupçonneux, voire méfiant de quelques-unes des conclusions auxquelles vous souscrivez. De l’autre part, je suis ravi que mes propres hypothèses vous incitent finalement à promulguer les votres, car il est carrément évident que le monde international de la recherche historique et diachronique des syllabaires ne tire pas avantage de votre perspicacité pénétrante depuis je ne sais combien d’années. Néanmoins, il est vraiment à regretter que vous conduisez vos recherches, paraît-il, uniquement en français, étant donné que la plus grande proportion de loin des recherches dans tous les domaines scientifiques et techniques est menée, comme vous le savez très bien, uniquement en anglais.  Cela signifie en un mot que la très grande majorité des rechercheurs en linguistique historique et diachonique sont par forfait dépourvus des implications à grande portée, à fort impact et certes à long terme de vos recherches si importantes. Et cela, presqu’inutile de dire, c’est vraiment grand dommage ! Et c’est dans cette optique que presque toute la communauté mondiale de la recherche en linguistique restera  malheureusement dépourvue de l’impact considérable, voire, révolutionnaire, de vos recherches sur les syllabaires du monde antique. 

En plus de tout cela, il me reste à assumer la responsabilité de répondre nettement et de façon strictement logique à plusieurs de vos conclusions, non pas en français, mais en anglais, pour que les rechercheurs allophones en anglais puissent suivre la trame de notre discussion continue en ce qui regarde le déchiffrement des syllabaires Linéaire A et B, nonobstant le Linéaire C, dont je ferai au fur et à mesure plusieurs observations et commentaires d’extrême importance et pertinence à ce même égard.

Reste à constater qu’à partir d’aujourd’hui, je me sentirai obligé de discuter en anglais tout aspect des trois syllabaires dont il s’agit (les Linéaires A, B, et C)  de telle sorte que nos collègues allophones puissent suivre et comprendre notre dialogue soutenu.

idalion-tablet

Merci bien, ma collègue très estimée

Richard Vallance Janke

The ubiquitous present participle passive in Mycenaean Linear B & in all subsequent ancient Greek dialects:

Here is a chart of attested (A) present participles passive in Mycenaean Greek found on Linear B tablets, and derived (D) present participles passive nowhere to be found extant in Mycenaean Greek:

present-participle-passive-in-mycenaean-linear-b-620

As anyone familiar with ancient Greek can attest to, the present participle passive was ubiquitous in Mycenaean Linear B and in all subsequent ancient Greek dialects. Since (a) students and researchers with ancient Greek understand the full functionality of the present participle passive and (b) since all others not familiar with any ancient Greek dialect do not understand how the present participle passive functions, I am not bothering to provide examples of its usage in any ancient Greek dialect... although perhaps I should.


Rita Roberts’ translation of Knossos Linear B tablet KN 946 G a 303 (mid-term, second year university):

knossos-tablet-kn-946-g-a-303-620

Trust me, this is not an easy tablet to translate.

... with a translation into archaic ancient Greek added by Richard Vallance Janke.


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

british-museum-twitter

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:

ko-no-so-twitter

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):

rita-roberts-twiter

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:

henry-george-liddel-twitter

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:

phaistos-project-twitter

Greek History Podcast:

greekhistorypodcast-twitter

@antiquitas @eterna:

antiquitas-aeterna-twitter

Dr Kalliopi Nikita:

dr-kalliopi-nikita-twitter

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:

nicholson-museum-twitter

Eonomastica:

onomastikos-twitter
Bacher Archäology (Institute, Vienna):

bacher-archaologie-vienna-twitter

Canadian Archaeology:

canadian-archaeology-twitter

University of Alberta = UofAHistory&Classics (Alberta, Canada):
 
hc-university-of-alberta-twitter

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

minoan-linear-a-linear-b-knossos-mycenaae-site-home

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. 


KEY! The all-pervasive present participle active in Mycenaean Linear B & in all subsequent ancient Greek dialects:

Table of attributed (A) and derived (D) present participles actives in Mycenaean Linear B & in Attic Greek:


the-present-participle-active-in-mycenaean-linear-b

NOTE: It is crucial that you read all of the notes in this table in their entirety; otherwise, a sound grasp of the conjugation of the present participle, especially of the feminine singular, in Mycenaean Linear B will not make any sense whatsoever.

The present participle active was all-pervasive and extremely common in both Mycenaean Linear B & in all subsequent ancient Greek dialects. It was heavily used to express continuous action in the present tense as well as accompaniment, i.e. to indicate that someone or something was with someone or something else. Thus, in Mycenaean Linear B, the phrase eo qasireu could mean either “being an overlord” or “with an overlord”, just as in Attic Greek eon basileus could mean either “being king” or “with the king”. As I have pointed out in the table above, the word qasireu never meant “king” in Mycenaean Linear B, since king was always wanaka. The qasireu was a lower ranking supernumerary, something equivalent to an overlord or baron.

Another point which we simply must keep uppermost in mind is the fact that digamma (pronounced something like “wau” or “vau”, was extremely common in both Mycenaean Linear B and its kissing cousin dialect, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, only falling permanently out of use in ancient Greek after the decline of these two dialects (Linear B, ca. 1600-1200 BCE & Linear C, ca. 1100-400 BCE). As is clearly attested by the table above, the feminine singular form of the present participle active, which was characterized by the all-pervasive presence of digamma in Mycenaean Linear B & in Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, had completely shed digamma even as early as the artificial amalgam, Homeric Epic Greek, even though digamma was still pronounced in the Iliad. 


CRITICAL Links to KEY PERSEUS/Tufts ancient Greek pages for persons knowledgeable in ancient Greek:

1. Homer, Iliad, Book II, The Catalogue of Ships:

homer-book-ii-catalogue-of-ships-introduction

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:

rydberg-page

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.


CRITICAL POST! The 4 major tenses of the derived (D) optative mood of thematic verbs in Mycenaean Linear B:

Here is the paradigm of the 4 major tenses of the optative mood in Mycenaean Linear B, based on the derived (D) template verb, naie (ancient Greek, naiein) = to dwell in, inhabit:

paradigm-of-the-optative-mood-in-linear-b

Note that we have provided two examples of derivative (D) sentences in this table of the paradigms for the 4 tenses of the optative mood in Mycenaean Linear B and ancient Greek in order to facilitate a better understanding of its functionality.

As can be seen from the table above, there are only 4 primary tenses for the optative mood of thematic (and indeed for athematic) verbs in Mycenaean Linear B, as well as in ancient Greek. These are:

the optative present
the optative future
the optative aorist (or simple past)
the optative perfect

There is no optative imperfect. It is a contradiction in terms. How is it possible that something was in fact happening, kept on happening or used to happen, when it is readily apparent that the optative mood always runs contrary to reality. The optative mood only and always refers to potentialities or possibilities, never to actual situations, which of course strictly call for the indicative mood. 

The optative mood has no equivalent whatsoever in any modern Centum or Occidental language, including modern Greek. It lapsed out of use before the advent of modern Greek. The optative mood sometimes plays a similar role to the subjunctive mood in ancient Greek, but by no means always. As a matter of course, we shall not be deriving a table of the tenses of the subjunctive mood in Mycenaean Linear B, for two conclusive reasons:
1. The subjunctive mood occurs nowhere on any Linear B tablets, i.e. it is not attested, or so it would seem so... because...
2. The subjunctive mood is virtually indistinguishable from the active in Mycenaean Linear B, whether or not we are dealing with thematic or athematic verbs, for the simple reason that Mycenaean Linear B cannot distinguish between short and long vowels. In other words, while ancient Greek allows for the subjunctive mood, which calls for the lengthening of the vowel in any person of the present tense, this is impossible in Mycenaean Linear B.

So there would simply be no point in attempting to reconstruct a mood which could not even be observed on Mycenaean Linear B tablets, even it were present. But it never is to be found on any extant tablet, i.e. it is nowhere attested (A), because Mycenaean Linear B tablets almost exclusively deal with inventories, which are by nature factual, thereby automatically calling for the indicative, and precluding the subjunctive.

It may seem counter-intuitive to find the optative on at least one Linear B tablet, but there is a tenable explanation for this phenomenon. Since the tablet in question deals with religious matters, it makes sense for the optative to be present. For instance, it is possible to say in Mycenaean Linear B,

May we all worship the Goddess of the Winds.
-or-
If only they believed in the gods!

These sentences make perfect sense in Mycenaean Greek.

But this still leaves us with the burning question, what on earth is the optative mood?

This is no easy question to answer. But I shall do my level best. To begin with, it is highly expedient to consult the Wikipedia article on the optative mood in ancient Greek:

wikipedia-optative-ancient-greek

since doing so will expedite your understanding of the functions of the optative. Essentially, these are as follows:

1. to express a wish on behalf of the welfare of someone, e.g.:

May you be happy.
May you live long and be prosperous.

2. to express the wish or hope,... if only (which is contrary to reality, as it never happened anyway, no matter how much or how dearly one might have wished it had happened), e.g.:

If only the Mycenaeans had not conquered Knossos.
If only Donald Trump had not won the U.S. Election! (Fat chance of that!)

3. The potential optative expresses something that would or could happen in a hypothetical situation in the future, e.g.

I wouldnt be surprised if the fortress of Mycenae were to fall in the next few years.
I wouldnt be surprised if Donald Trump were impeached. (Good luck for that one!)

4. Potential in the aorist or the past tense, e.g.     

The king of Knossos fled the city for fear that he might be caught and imprisoned.

5. For purpose clauses in past time, the optative can follow the conjunction so that:

The king has brought us all together so that we might discuss the situation regarding the possibility of an outbreak of war.

6. After verbs expressing fear: 

I was afraid that he had gone out of his mind.

7. for formal benedictions or prayers (primarily in the New Testament), e.g.:

May the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
May the Lord grant you mercy.

There are even more uses of the optative, but I do not wish to belabour the point. Suffice it to say, this mood is extremely flexible in ancient Greek. It always references actions or situations contrary to reality. It is often quite difficult for us in this present day and age to really get a grip on the various functionalities of the optative tense in ancient Greek, but get a grip we must if we are ever to really, clearly grasp what ancient Greek sentences relying on the optative actually mean, once we have embarked on that most challenging of journeys, to learn ancient Greek, to easy matter, let me tell you from personal experience.

CRITICAL POST: The active middle voice template, akeomai = I repair or I make amends for...  in the five major tenses in Mycenaean Linear B & ancient Greek:

In all of the ancient East Greek dialects, right on down from Mycenaean Linear B to Arcado-Cypriot, its closest cousin (ca. 1100-400 BCE), through to Homeric Greek (ca. 800 BCE, a hodgepodge amalgam of various early ancient Greek dialects), to Ionic and Attic Greek (ca. 500-400 BCE), right on through to Hellenistic Greek (ca. 300-100 BCE) to New Testament Koine Greek (ca. 100 AD) and even to modern Greek, the active middle voice was extremely common, playing an indispensable role in the expression of verbal actions. In fact, it was probably even more common than the standard active voice, which we have already covered under the verb kauo = to burn.

In Mycenaean Linear B and in all subsequent ancient Greek dialects, the template for active middle voice is here represented by the verb, akeomai = I repair -or- I make amends (for myself). The 5 major indicative active tenses represented are, once again:

the present active middle voice
the future active middle voice
the imperfect active middle voice
the aorist (or simple past) active middle voice
the perfect active middle voice

all conjugated in full in this table:

mycenaean-linear-b-active-middle-verbs-akeomai-620

What is the function of the active middle voice in Mycenaean Linear B & ancient (as well as modern) Greek?

It is a very good thing to ask — in fact, it is crucial to the proper understanding of the critical difference between the standard active voice and the middle voice of verbs in Greek. The two voices are simply not the same. The standard active voice, as in the verb, kauo (present), kauso (future), ekauon (imperfect), ekausa (aorist or simple past) & kekausa (perfect) simply indicates something that someone does, will do, was doing, did or has done, with no further qualifications.

The active middle voice is quite another kettle of fish. It is much more active (quite literally!) and much more dynamic. The active middle voice denotes any of the following activities:

1. Any action undertaken by the subject, in which the subject takes a powerful personal interest in whatever action he or she is undertaking;
2. Any action undertaken by the subject, in which the subject acts strictly on his or her own behalf, without any direct influence of or consideration of whatever anyone else may think or adjudge about said action;
3. Any action undertaken by the subject, in which the subject acts independently, of his or her own volition, regardless;
4. Any action undertaken by the subject, which is of a reflexive nature, ie. by means of which the subject does something for or to oneself.

It goes without saying that an active present voice as so utterly complex as the active middle voice exists in no modern language, except for the fourth (4th.) application. The middle voice was of primal importance to the ancient Greeks because they were highly individualistic and egocentric (as opposed to being egoistic, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the active middle voice, except in rare instances). Reflexive verbs (4) are common in practically all modern languages. Thus, we have:

in English: I wash myself, you wash yourself, we wash ourselves etc.
et en français : je me lave, tu te laves, nous nous lavons – et ainsi de suite,
to cite just two examples.

On the other hand, the strict emphasis on personal responsibility for one’ s actions which is the preeminent characteristic of the active middle voice in Mycenaean Linear B and in ancient and modern Greek is nowhere to be found in modern Centum (Occidental) Indo-European languages such as English, French, Italian, Spanish, German etc. etc. In order to express the emphasis on direct personal responsibility innate to the active middle voice in ancient and modern Greek, modern languages have to resort to (sometimes cumbrous) circumlocutions. For instance, to express the first (1.) function of the active middle voice in ancient Greek, English has to resort to this circumlocution:

I am taking a powerful personal interest in repairing... etc.

And for the second (2.) function, this is what English has to resort to:

I am acting strictly on my own behalf in repairing (regardless of what anyone else thinks of it)

And for the third (3.) function:

I am acting entirely on my own (or independently) to repair etc.

Quite the circumlocutions in comparison with the active middle voice in ancient Greek, which is always so compactly and eloquently expressed by a single word, regardless of tense!

Consequently, it is virtually impossible to grasp the several meanings (at least 4) inherent to the active middle voice in ancient Greek, unless one has a firm grasp on the 4 principal functions I have outlined here. I repeat, the distinction between the simple active voice and the active middle voice in both ancient and modern Greek is fundamental to a proper understanding of the divergent functioning of these two active tenses, the simple active and the active middle.

2 more black haiku in Mycenaean Linear B, ancient Greek, English and French:

who-the-hell

 

 


2 more haiku in Mycenaean Linear B, ancient Greek, English & French, this time about silence in the temple…

 eni-temeno

 


The Stone is Cast

the-stone-is-cast-greek

The Stone is Cast

John 8:7

So since they kept on and on nagging him, he answered them, and said,Let the one among you who is sinless be the first to cast a stone at her.”

As stones are cast against the inner walls,
the lessee of the castle wracks his brains,
while wicked winter rails against its halls
and shakes the filings off his dungeon’s chains
where he’s incarcerated serfs at whim,
because they’d dared defy his iron will:
his fingers drew the rusty bolt on him
as well as them, and held him, freezing, still, 
until he fled that vile, ensanguined room, 
their blasted thane — unconscious of his sin,
though conscious of what cold impending doom
was, as winter is, to do him in.
     Oh when it does, its frozen blast shall blind
     him to the shattered mortar of his mind.

Richard Vallance,

January 3, 2017       
  
crumbled-castle-walls
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