Tag Archive: Finnish



Is it even possible to determine what the word for “fig(s)” is in Minoan Linear A? You may be surprised!

Among several other tablets in both Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B, Linear A tablet HT 88 contains the supersyllabogram NI on the second line:

ht-88-facsimile-620

The question is, what is the actual word for “fig(s)” in Minoan Linear A? Apparently, no-one knows. The odd thing about this supersyllabogram NI is that it was taken over lock-stock-and-barrel by the Mycenaeans. We will never know why, but it is clear that they thought it convenient simply to hang onto it. It may very well be that that the Mycenaeans continued to use the Minoan word for “fig” alongside their early Greek suza. If that is the case, it is all the more relevant for us to attempt to reconstruct the Minoan word for “fig”. Whatever the circumstances, we are still left with the perplexing question, what is the word for “fig” in Minoan Linear A anyway?

In spite of apparently insurmountable obstacles, it may not be so difficult to reconstruct as we might imagine. If we stop to consider even briefly what the word for “fig” is that I have methodically selected in 13 languages, ancient and modern, belonging to 6 different classes, we discover that all but one of them are either monosyllabic or disyllabic. In one instance only is it trisyllabic, pesnika, in Serbian. This does not come as any surprise to me as a linguist, though it may to the so-called  “common person” . Here are the words for “fig” in 16 languages belonging to 6 different languages classes: 
  
KEY to language classes:

AU = Austronesian/ IN = Indo-European/ LI = language isolate/ NC = Niger-Congo/ SE = Semitic/ UR = Uralic. A language isolate is one which does not belong to any international language class whatsoever, but which stands entirely on its own. 

AU: Indonesian ara Malay rajah Maori piki
IN: French figue German Feige Greek (Mycenaean) suza (Attic) suchon Italian fico Latin ficus Norwegian fiken Portuguese figo Serbian pesnika Spanish higo
LI: Basque piku
NC: Swahili mtimi (sub-class = Bantu)
SE: Maltese tin (the only Semitic language in Latin script)
UR: Finnish kuva

Under the circumstances, I am given to wonder whether or not the Minoan Linear A word for “fig” is monosyllabic, disyllabic or possibly even trisyllabic. It is clear that it cannot be monosyllabic, because the supersyllabogram for “fig” in both Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B is NI. And supersyllabograms are always the first syllable only of di- tri- or multi-syllabic words in both of these languages. Given this scenario, is it possible or even feasible to reconstruct the Minoan Linear A for “fig”? Surprisingly enough, the answer is yes. Why so? It just so happens that most Minoan Linear A words which are diminutives are feminine with the ultimate being either pa3 or ra2. Under the circumstances, it only takes one small step to restore the two mostly likely candidates for the Minoan Linear A for “fig”. And these are:

what-is-the-minoan-linear-a-word-for-figs

It is of course possible to argue that the Minoan word for “fig” is trisyllabic, but this is highly unlikely, since the only trisyllabic word for “fig” in all 13 of the languages cited above is the Serbian, pesnika. Hence, I am reasonably convinced that the Minoan Linear A word for “fig(s)” is either nipa3 (nipai) or nira2 (nirai).

Finally, as it is clear that since the word for “fig(s)” does not even remotely correspond to any of the 13 words in 6 language classes, ancient and modern, above, not even Basque, it may very well turn out that, like Basque, the Minoan language is also a language isolate. I should not be the least but surprised if it were.  

This discussion will be part and parcel in my upcoming article in Vol. 12 (2016) of Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448, “Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the Rosetta Stone to Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) vessels and pottery” and a Glossary of 110 words”, the third article in a row I shall have published in this prestigious international annual by the beginning of 2018 at the very latest.


Proto-Slavic interpretation of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada) — another decipherment gone awry (Click on Tablet below to READ the original):

HT 13 our interpretation

Pavel Serafimov, Anton Perdih, in their Translation of the Linear A Tablet HT 13 from Crete (above) have made a valiant attempt to cross-correlate their contextual reading of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada) with Proto-Slavic. At first glance, at least some points of their decipherment seem more or less “accurate”. But the global decipherment swiftly crumbles into a morass of self-contradictions, severe ambiguities and mismatched cross-purposes. Like so many other philologists struggling to decipher Minoan Linear A, Serafimov and Perdih make the practically universal assumption, which I for one categorically reject as superfluous and spurious (at least for the time being), that if we are to succeed in deciphering Minoan Linear A at all, we must be in contact with an actual “known” proto-language upon which, as so many philologists insist, Linear A must be based, believing as they do that there is simply no way to escape this paradoxical box of it-must-be-this-proto-language-or-nothing-at-all approach. The fundamental universal problem inherent to this approach is that each and every one of these would-be decipherers has boxed himself into a proto-language which he assumes, in utter faith and sometimes rash confidence, must be the proto-language upon Minoan Linear A must be based, come hell or high water. Yet it is obvious to any truly professional historical linguist or philologist that it is impossible for all of the so-called proto-languages touted as the base of Minoan Linear A to be the right base for it, given that no two of these so-called proto-languages are alike, even if they are in the same class of ancient languages, for instance, Proto-European.

Minoan Slavic Glossary



A

B

It just does not wash. Either only one of these philologists has got it right or none of them have it at all. I am of the firm conviction that none of them have it. Let us take a closer look at just a few of these unavailing attempts at deciphering Minoan Linear A:
   
First, we have J. MacGillivary’s review of various attempts to decipher Minoan Linear A, a very worthwhile read:

J MacGillivray

Then, on Jan Best’s “Decipherment” of Minoan Linear A, by Gary A. Rendsburg


Jan Best
Next, Breaking the Code: a first translation of the lost language of Linear A, by Sam Connolly

Sam Connolly Beaking the Code Linear A

Linear A Decipherment: Translation of Minoan Inscriptions in Linear A, by Stuart L. Harris  

Sam Harris Linear A decipherment

Finally, there is the truly bizarre cross-correlation of Minoan Linear A with an ancient Niger-Congo dialect, by C.J.K. Campbell-Dunn


Minoan-signs-an-african-decipherment

What is worse is that all of the aforementioned books make the preposterous claim that they have in fact deciphered Minoan Linear A, a claim which no professional philologist or historical linguistic, including myself, would ever dare make. The only case I can rationally make is for a partial decipherment at best of Minoan Linear A, a venture which I have myself undertaken, with mixed results. While some of the 134 terms in my Minoan Linear A Glossary are more than likely to be correct, others may be (though with a lesser degree of accuracy), while yet others are open to serious doubt.   
  
EXCEPTION!

which leaves me with the sole exception of David W. Packard’s Minoan Linear A, which relies solely on computational linguistics to analyze Minoan Linear A, and which is a study I for one shall order personally online (if at all possible, since it was published way back in 1974) and which I shall be keeping a very close eye on with reference to my own cross-correlative retrogressive extrapolations of Minoan Linear A tablets from their latter-day Mycenaean Linear B counterparts, where these exist:

David Packard Minoan Signs

computational

And I quote:

The very first work done on this was done by David W. Packard, the son of Hewlett-Packard (company) co-founder David Packard. He published a book on his work back in 1974 called Minoan Linear A and I highly recommend it. I tried reading it when I first got interested in Linear A and it was way over my head, so I took a few years to familiarize myself with the inscriptions, symbols and patterns and then went back to it. Much better! Ilse Schoep also relied heavily on his data in her dissertation on the Haghia Triada tablets and was able to provide some updates to the data which had occurred since Packard's time, though her dissertation was an overview of the Haghia Triada administration rather than a computational approach.

by Kim Raymoure
 
I have cited just a few of the many fruitless attempts at deciphering Minoan Linear A, but at least this cross-section gives us all a clear overview of this highly specialized field of research.

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