Tag Archive: koine



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.

The virtual invariability of the most archaic athematic MI verbs in ancient Greek from 1200 BCE (Linear B) – New Testament Koine Greek (ca. 100 AD):

The following table clearly illustrates that the most archaic of ancient Greek verbs, namely, athematic verbs in MI, underwent only barely perceptible changes over a span of 1,700 years.

didomi-linear-b-archaic-new-testament

This is because these verb forms were already fully developed even as early as in the Mycenaean Greek dialect, written in Linear B (ca. 1600-1200 BCE). This phenomenon falls under the purview of diachronic historical linguistics, whereby the term diachronic means “linguistic change or lack of it over an extended period of time”. The importance of the minimal changeability of archaic athematic MI verbs cannot be over stressed. Regardless of the period and of any particular dialect of ancient East Greek (early: Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot, middle: Homeric Epic, an amalgam of various dialects, Classical: Ionic & Attic) & late (Hellenistic & Koine Greek), very little change occurred.  In fact, only the second & third person singular underwent any change at all. In Mycenaean Greek alone, the second person singular was didosi & the third person singular was didoti. In all subsequent dialects, the form of the 2nd. person singular became that for the third, while the second person singular itself morphed into didos in all ancient East Greek dialects pursuant to Mycenaean. This was the one and only change the conjugation of the present tense of archaic athematic verbs such as didomi underwent diachronically from 1,600 BCE to 100 AD. The verb didomi effectively serves as the template for the conjugation of the present active of all athematic verbs in MI throughout this historical period.  This is just one notable aspect of progressive (D) derived Linear B grammar. There are many others, which of course we shall address in the gradual reconstruction of ancient Mycenaean Greek grammar over the next few months. 

Just added to my academia.edu: Did you know you speak Mycenaean Greek? You do! An amusing read too!
Click on the banner to read, bookmark or download the article:

Did you know you speak Mycenaean Greek

To my utter astonishment, in the first two weeks alone I have been present on academia.edu, my little research corner has already been visited 552 times, and I now have 75 followers.

EREPA PORUPODE  
I would be delighted if you were to follow me on academia.edu, and if you yourself are already a member, please be sure to send me a message on site, and I shall follow you back.  

Richard


 


POST 800: An Introductory Glossary of General Linguistics Terminology: Part B: H-P

introductory glossary of general linguistics terminology Part  H-P

NOTE: This glossary is ostensibly not comprehensive in any sense of the term, but it serves as a solid baseline introduction to linguistics terminology. 

This is our 800th. Post in less than 2 years. 

H

habitual aspect: the imperfective aspect that expresses the occurrence of an event or state as characteristic of a period of time prior to the tense aspect of the same verb. Example:

Tense aspect: she lived here for some time (simple past = aorist in Greek) or she was living here for some time (imperfect aspect).

Prior to the previous aspect expressed above:
She used to live here (English). Languages such as ancient Greek & Latin cannot directly express the habitual aspect, which they must subsume under the imperfect.

heteronym: a word having the same spelling as another, but a different pronunciation and meaning. Examples: bow (weapon) & bow (to a King or Queen) + wind (atmospheric) & wind (verb to wind up). See also, homograph & homonym

homograph: a word that has the same spelling as another. Homographs differ from each other in meaning, origin and sometimes pronunciation. Example: bow (of a ship) + bow (to bend down) + bow (in archery, with a different pronunciation from the first two. See also, homonym 

homonym: A word that sounds or is spelled the same as another word but has a different meaning. Examples: down, light, mean, strike and also  bear (concrete, animal) & bear (abstract, suffering) + dive (plunge) & dive (cheap living quarters) + find (verb) & find (noun, discovery)

homophone: 1. A word which is pronounced the same as another word but differs in spelling and meaning, for example: carat, caret, carrot and karat. 

homophonous: having the same pronunciation. "cot" and "caught" are in some American accents, as are "there" and "they're".

hyperthesis aka long-distance metathesis = the metamorphosis of orthography from the source language, being older, and the target language, being more recent. Examples:
Latin miraculum > Spanish milagro  > English miracle
Latin periculum > Spanish peligro  > English, peril
Latin crocodilus > Italian cocodrillo > English crocodile
See also, metathesis 

hyponym: a hyponym is a word or phrase whose semantic range is included within that of another (generic or umbrella) word, and which usually is more specific than the umbrella word. Examples: dog, hound, fox, wolf under their umbrella, canine + scarlet, vermilion, carmine & crimson are all hyponyms of red (their generic hypernym)

hypothetical mood: an epistemic mood that signals that the speaker evaluates a proposition as counterfactual, although possible. The subjunctive is a hypothetical mood in English (rare), French, German, Italian, Latin & Spanish, among many other languages. Greek has two hypothetical moods, the optative and the subjunctive. Examples: I should (would) like to meet her, she would like to meet you, they would like to live in Ottawa + If I were you, I should (would) not do that.   

I

ideogram: a symbol which represents the idea of something without indicating the sequence of sounds used to pronounce it. Examples include numerals, many Chinese characters, traffic signs, or in alphabetic languages or syllabaries, (a) graphic symbols such as & and @ + single alphabetic letter or (b) concrete symbols, either of which symbolize an entire phrase (nominal or verbal). Examples: (a) (alphabetic) H = hospital, P = parking & (b) a red illuminated circle = stop & a green illuminated circle = go (verbal) & a red cross = (international) red cross (nominal). In Mycenaean Greek, the graphic symbol is a syllabogram. Thus, O = onato (a lease field), KI = kitimena (a plot of land), KO = Konoso (Knossos), PA = Paito (Phaistos) & ZE = zeuko, zeukesi (nominative sing. & dative plural) (a pair of, a team of). These syllabograms, when single or used alone, are called supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B. As such, they stand in for or symbolize complete words or phrases in Linear B, as illustrated above.

ideograph = ideogram.

illative case: the case that expresses motion into or direction toward the referent of the noun it marks. Examples: Aminisode, Konosode (to, towards Amnisos, Knossos) in Mycenaean Greek.

indefinite pronoun: a pronoun that belongs to a class whose members indicate indefinite reference. Examples: a, anybody, no-one, someone in English. The indefinite pronoun -a- is inexistant in ancient Greek and Latin.   

inflection: in grammar, inflection or inflexion is the modification or marking of a word (or more precisely lexeme) to reflect grammatical or relational information, such as gender, tense, number or person. The concept of a "word" in an inflected language only (such as German, Greek, Latin & Russian) is designated as being independent of its various inflections, but bound to them, is called a lexeme. The form of a word considered to have no or minimal inflection is called a lemma. An organized set of inflections or inflected forms of a given lexeme is called an inflectional paradigm. Examples: carmen = English, song (lexeme, nominative), carminis (bound inflection, genitive singular) & carminibis (bound inflection, dative plural)in Latin.

intension. See, connotation 

intonation: the variation of pitch when speaking. Intonation and stress are two main elements of linguistic prosody. Many languages use pitch syntactically, for instance to convey surprise and irony or to change a statement to a question. Such languages are called intonation languages. English and French are well-known examples. In rising intonation the pitch of the voice increases (over time) & in modern (not ancient) Greek, rising = acute accent); in falling intonation the pitch decreases with time (Greek = grave accent). In dipping intonation, the pitch falls and then rises & in peaking intonation, the voice rises and then falls (Greek = circumflex). 

K

Koine: the "common" Greek language, directly derived from the dominant Attic dialect of the fourth century BCE, that developed and flourished between 300 BC and AD 300 (the time of the Roman Empire), and from which Modern Greek descended. It was based on the Attic and Ionian dialects of Ancient Greek.

L

language associate: a person who helps you learn a language, provides you with data or information about a language or helps you with linguistic research. For instance, Richard Vallance Janke at this blog, Linear B, Knossos, Mycenae is the language associate of Rita Roberts. Synonym: teacher

lemma: 1. canonical (i.e. uninflected) form of a term, particularly in the context of highly inflected languages. 2. lexeme: all the inflected forms of a term.

lenitive language: a language in which lenis consonants are predominant. English is a lenitive language & the only lenitive language among the major Occidental languages: French, German, Italian, Romanian, Spanish etc. See also, semi-consonant, semi-vowel

lenis consonant: a “weak” consonant produced by the lack of tension in the vocal apparatus. Weak consonants tend to be short, weakly voiced or voiceless, aspirated, low, and the following vowel tends to be lengthened.  Examples: l, m, r (especially l & r) in English. See also, semi-consonant, semi-vowel  

lexeme: The abstract unit of vocabulary, roughly corresponding to the set of words that are different forms of the same lemma. 
lexical: 1. concerning the vocabulary, words or morphemes of a language 2. concerning lexicography or a lexicon or dictionary + lexicology: specialty in linguistics dealing with the study of the lexicon 

lexical word: a morpheme/word which has a dictionary meaning. Examples: cat, green, house, sell, take  

lexicon: 1. A dictionary that includes or focuses on lexemes. 2. A dictionary of Classical Greek, Hebrew, Latin, or Aramaic. 3. The vocabulary used by or known to an individual. (Also called lexical knowledge)

lexis: 1. The total set of words in a language. 2. The vocabulary used by a writer

lingual: 1.(phonetics) a sound articulated with the tongue 2. related to language or linguistics.

literal translation: a translation that follows closely the form of the source language. Also known as: word-for-word translation.

litotes: the use of a negated antonym to make an understatement or to emphatically affirm the positive. Examples: She is not unqualified for: she is somewhat qualified + It was not a great victory : It was a Pyrrhic victory -or- It was a partial victory. 

locative case: the case that expresses location at the referent of the noun it marks.  In ancient Greek, it is indistinguishable from the dative.

M

metathesis: from Greek "putting in a different order" = Latin transpositio is the re-arranging of sounds or syllables in a word, or of words in a sentence. Most commonly it refers to the switching of two or more contiguous sounds, known as (1) adjacent metathesis or (2) local metathesis. Examples = foliage > foilage + cavalry > calvary

mora: term used in traditional metrics to refer to a minimal unit of metrical time equivalent to a short syllable + also used in recent phonological theories of prosodic features. Long vowels are often considered to be bimoraic (double the length of a mora), while short ones are monomoraic. This would explain the difference in behaviour with respect to stress-rules between these two classes of vowels in quantity-(in)sensitive (ancient Greek) versus quality-sensitive (English) languages. 

moraic language: a language exhibiting a syllable weight distinction typically also has a vowel length distinction, and vice versa. The term "mora-timing" does not mean "moraic". In a mora-timing language, each mora takes approximately the same time to pronounce- thus a heavy (2-mora) syllable will take twice as long as a light one (See, mora above). This phenomenon is also called isochrony, and is mainly a phonetic one. Moraic is a phonological phenomenon, in which a language is sensitive to the heavy/light distinction, regardless of timing (especially in stress or accent). So a language could be moraic but not mora-timing. The two ideas are quite different. Examples of moraic Languages: English, German & modern Greek. Examples of mora-timing languages: Sanskrit, ancient Greek & Latin.

morpheme: the traditional approximate definition: the minimal unit carrying meaning. More precise but less informative definition: the minimal unit relevant to morphological and syntactic analysis. Examples: the English word -trees- has two morphemes = tree + s & the Greek word -apudosis- (delivery, attribution) has four.

N

nonce word: a word invented for the occasion. Synonym: neologism.

O

onomasticon: a book, list, or vocabulary of names, especially of people. One could say, "I looked  up the origin of her name" in an onomasticon.

onomastics: the branch of lexicology devoted to the study of names and naming.

onomatology: the study of the origins of names; onomastics.

P

patronymic: name acquired from one's father's first name. Some cultures use a patronymic where other cultures use a surname or family name; other cultures {like Russia} use both a patronymic and a surname.

philology: the humanistic study of historical linguistics. 

phonetics: the study of the characteristics of human sound-making, especially of those sounds used in speech.

phonology: the study of the sound systems of languages, and of the general or universal properties displayed by these systems.

polysemy: the concept that words, signs and symbols may have multiple meanings + association of a lexical item with different but related meanings. Examples: bright = brilliant, intelligent, sunny 

polysynthetic: said of a language, characterized by a prevalence of relatively long words containing a large number of morphemes. Typically, the morphemes are bound (i.e., they cannot stand alone as independent words). Examples of polysynthetic languages: German & Greek.  

pragmatics: the study of the use of language in context. Research into Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C relies heavily on pragmatics on this blog. Any attempt to decipher or translate Mycenaean Linear B (tablets), without taking context into consideration on an obligatory basis, is bound to fail. 

prefix: an affix which precedes the element it is attached to. Examples: -in- in -indiscreet & -un- in -unlikely-

progressive spelling”, as promoted by Roger Woodard et al. This practice inserts consonants where none exists in Linear B to agree with Greek words (e.g. pe-ma to (sperma) “seed”), on the premise that the “borrowed” phonetic system was inadequate to represent the language. Progressive spelling is characteristic of syllabaries such as Linear B & Linear C.


Richard


Mycenaean Linear B Spelling Conventions: Obligatory Prelude to the Progressive Reconstruction of Mycenaean Greek Grammar – Click to ENLARGE:

Mycenaean Linear B Spelling Conventions Table 1
I must emphasize in no uncertain terms that it is practically impossible to master Mycenaean Greek grammar unless you have first mastered all the spelling conventions in Linear B, as these directly correspond, whether directly or elliptically (the latter case obtains far more often than the former) to those of ancient Homeric Greek. Not doing so is bound to entangle you in a hopeless mish-mash or maze of spelling discrepancies between Linear B and alphabetical Greek, most of which will seem utterly incomprehensible to you, and worse yet, make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for you to translate with any degree of fidelity the contents of almost all Linear B tablets, with the possible exception of the very simplest. So if you are as serious about learning Mycenaean Greek grammar in Linear B as I am in progressively reconstructing it from the ground up (as I have already done with the present, future, imperfect, aorist and perfect tenses of active voice of both thematic and athematic verbs), then you really have no choice but to master these conventions, even if you must memorize them as rules. Students who are already familiar with the spelling conventions of alphabetic ancient Greek should have little trouble mastering the subtleties of the Tables of Correspondences in Spelling Conventions in Linear B and Alphabetical Greek, beginning with Table 1 above. Those of you who are learning Mycenaean Greek grammar from scratch will have little choice but to memorize the correspondences, and to at least recognize at first sight the corresponding spelling conventions in ancient alphabetic Greek. And for that you will need to learn the Greek alphabet, as illustrated here – Click to ENLARGE:


ancient Greek alphabet with approximate pronunciation

Please note that the pronunciation of the ancient Greek alphabet (here in its Attic version) is only approximate, since we do not really know how the ancients precisely pronounced Greek, although our estimation of their pronunciation is probably reasonably accurate. It is crucial to understand that the pronunciation of Mycenaean Greek (the earliest East Greek dialect) is beyond our grasp, although we do know that it evolved at a steady pace through the pronunciation of Arcado-Cypriot, which was also written in a syllabary (Linear C) with a nearly identical pronunciation, and onto the pronunciation conceivably used by the Aecheans or Danians, as found primarily in the Catalogue of Ships of Book II of the Iliad. This then evolved into the later Ionic pronunciation, culminating in the Attic dialect, which in turn  was to become the universal standard koine or common Greek for Greek pronunciation in the Hellenic era (ca. 400-200 BCE). To anyone familiar with the melody of Attic Greek, various academic notions of Homeric Greek pronunciation are bound to sound very peculiar indeed. Nevertheless, any of the 3 or 4 interpretive variants on the sound of Homeric are still easily mastered by people familiar with Attic Greek. The difficulty then lies in the question: just how far had the pronunciation of proto-Ionic Greek evolved from its Mycenaean source in around 1500-1200 BCE to the Homeric ca. 800 BCE or thereabouts. No-one really knows, nor will we ever know. But we can certainly take a stab at it. And I for one eventually intend to do just that.

Richard  

 

First and Second Persons Singular of Athematic Verbs Fully Restored in Mycenaean Linear B!

While sitting out on my patio sipping tea this afternoon for the first time this spring, I was astonished to discover that the archaic second person singular of Athematic verbs ended in in “si”, while the third person singular ended in “ti”, in other words, in a syllable, the second person singular ending having precisely the same value as the Linear B syllabogram SI  & the third person singular ending having precisely the same value as the Linear B syllabogram TI, as illustrated here (Click to ENLARGE):

Linear B Athematic Verbs Present Future Imperfect Restored

To my mind, this is a significant step forward in the genesis of a comprehensive Mycenaean Greek grammar, lending further weight to my hypothesis that archaic Greek conjugations seem to be virtually identical to their Mycenaean forerunners. But there is even more to this than first meets the eye. This is no mere happenstance. It confirms almost beyond a shadow of a doubt that certain verb conjugations and adjectival/nominal declensions in archaic (or Homeric) Greek were (almost) exactly the same as their predecessors in Mycenaean Greek some 400-700 years earlier. And the more archaic the alphabetic Greek grammatical form, the more likely it is that it will be (almost) identical to its Mycenaean “ancestor”.

This raises the appurtenant question whether Mycenaean Greek is all that different from archaic Greek, and even whether they are one and the same dialect, the latter being a later avatar of the former.  A striking parallel is found in the proximity of Ionic Greek with Attic, even though the former dates to ca. 800 – 700 BCE, somewhat earlier the latter, ca. 600 BCE – 450 BCE. One could possibly even make a case for a historical (quasi-) linear continuity right on through from the Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot dialects, to the early Ionic Greek we find in Homer, to Attic, Hellenic and, finally the “koine” Greek of the New Testament. In other words, the timeline from Mycenaean Greek to the “koine” Greek of the New Testament may indeed constitute a continuum in the evolution of the Greek language. Given that modern Greek is the “terminus post quem” of “koine” Greek, one might even hypothesize that modern Greek is  the “final” stage in the evolution of East Greek dialects from Mycenaean Greek to the present (ca. 1500 BCE – 2014 AD), i.e. some  3,500 years. Of course, while all this is, at least tentatively, pure speculation on my part, you have to wonder why the conjugation of “didomi” in Mycenaean Greek is so astonishingly similar to the “koine” conjugation of the New Testament, some 1,600 years in the future (Click to ENLARGE):

DIDOMI Linear B Archaic & New Testament
      
If confirmed, my hypothesis would be a real revelation! It would at least appear that Mycenaean Greek grammar changed very little over the 400 years after the fall of Mycenae itself in 1200 BCE to the first appearance of archaic alphabetical Greek around 800 BCE. If this is the case, it follows that we will be able to reconstruct a good deal more Mycenaean Greek grammar in Linear B than I had first imagined possible. However, a word of warning! I must test this hypothesis over and over with practical applications (paradigms) for as many categories of Mycenaean grammar as I can possibly survey and reconstruct, including above all else verb conjugations and nominal and adjectival declensions. If the results turn out to be as I presently project them in my busy-bee mind, the implications and ramifications for a truly comprehensive reconstructed grammar will be enormous, if not revolutionary. If nothing else, we may discover that there is a far greater affinity between grammar behind the Linear B syllabary and and that of archaic alphabetical Greek than we ever imagined to date.

On the other hand, the affinity may be weaker than I imagine, hence, probably invalid.

It will take me at least a year to carry this hypothesis to its “logical” outcome. In the meantime, I shall have to completely revise the complete conjugational tables for Athematic Verbs (present, future, imperfect, first & second aorist and perfect) I previously posted.  These necessary revisions will affect both the Athematic conjugational tables and at least some of the text of that post.

Richard



 

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