Tag Archive: modern English



Proto-Greek or Mycenaean kiritai = barley on Minoan Linear A tablet HT 114 (Haghia Triada):

Like many other Linear A tablets, HT 114 (Haghia Triada) does not appear to be inscribed only in the Minoan language. The proto-Greek or, more accurately, the Mycenaean word, kirita2 (kiritai), which means barley and which is almost exactly equivalent to Linear B, kirita, meaning the very same thing, appears on the very first line of this tablet. The only difference is that the Linear A word, kiritai, is plural, whereas the Linear B, kirita, is singular, as we can see here:

Minoan Linear A tablet HT 114 Haghia Triade

While the rest of HT 114 is inscribed in Minoan, the appearance of this one Mycenaean word gives pause. Was Linear A the syllabary of proto-Greek or of Mycenaean Greek just before the advent of the new official syllabary, Linear B? The fact is that it was not. However, this does not mean that there was not proto-Greek or Mycenaean vocabulary on Linear A tablets. How can this be, when the language itself is not proto-Greek?

The phenomenon of the superimposition of a superstratum of vocabulary from a source language (Mycenaean in the case of Linear A) onto a target language (Minoan), is historically not unique to the Minoan language. A strikingly similar event occurred in English with the conquest of England by William the Conqueror in 1066 AD. Before that date, the only English was Anglo-Saxon. This is what is called Old English. But after conquest of England in 1066 AD, over 10,000 Norman French words streamed into the language between 1100 and 1450 AD, altering the landscape of English vocabulary almost beyond recognition. In fact, believe it or not, only 26 % of English vocabulary is Germanic versus 29 % is French, 29 % Latin and 6 % Greek. So the latter 3 languages, amounting to 64 % of the entire English lexicon, have completely overshadowed the Old English (Anglo-Saxon) Germanic vocabulary, as illustrated in this Figure:

origins of English vocabulary

This phenomenon is unique to English alone among all of the Germanic languages. While the grammar and syntax of English is Germanic, the great majority of its vocabulary is not. A strikingly similar event appears to have occurred when the Mycenaeans conquered Knossos, is dependencies and Crete ca. 1500 – 1450 BCE. Just as the Norman French superstratum has imposed itself on Old English, giving rise to Middle and Modern English, Mycenaean Greek operated in much the same fashion when it superimposed itself on Old Minoan, leading to New Minoan vocabulary, which is proto-Greek or Mycenaean. I have already isolated no fewer than 150 proto-Greek or Mycenaean words out of 510 intact words (by my own arbitrary count) in the Linear A lexicon. Again, while the Minoan language itself is not proto-Greek in its grammar and syntax, but is of another, to date still unknown, origin, a large portion of its vocabulary is not Old Minoan, but instead proto-Greek or Mycenaean, as I shall demonstrate in no uncertain terms in my decipherments of numerous Linear A tablets to follow this one. One striking feature of New Minoan is this: the percentage of proto-Greek or Mycenaean vocabulary in Linear B comes to 29 %, precisely the same level as Norman French in English. Although this is sheer co-incidence, it is quite intriguing.


Why anachronistic translations of Homer's Iliad scare people off, Versus my modern translation of the Iliad, Book II, “The Catalogue of Ships”, lines 581-604

Here is my translation: Click to ENLARGE:

Iliad 2 The Catalogue of Ships  Lines 581-604
& here is the 1924 translation, which is even worse than the one of the previous post (lines 546-580). I have underlined the grossest anachronisms. Click to ENLARGE:

Iliad 2 581-604 Translation 1924

Richard


Some Really Fine Twenty-First Century Translations of Homer's Iliad

Be as it may, it is up to us in the early twenty-first century to rectify this pitiable state of affairs.

Here is at least one downloadable modern translation of the Iliad which really flies:

Homer Book I intro
You can download this translation in .PDF, Mobi, Epub, WORD or HTML here:

Homer - The Iliad - A new downloadable translation
Fortunately, there have been many truly fine translators of the Here are a few telling reviews of some of the best contemporary translations: click to READ

New Yorker

Library Thing
Take your choice.

Richard




My translation of  Homer. Iliad, Book II, “The Catalogue of Ships”, Lines 546-580 in Modern English: Click to ENLARGE

Iliad 2 546-580
Compare my translation in twenty-first century English with that of A.T. Murray 90 years ago (1924): Click to ENLARGE:

Iliad Catalogue of Ships 546 + 1924 
and you can instantly see the glaring discrepancies in the English of these two completely alien translations. Murray's translation from 1924 sounds uncannily like something Alexander Pope might have dryly penned in the eighteenth century! There really was no excuse for this, even in 1924, when people spoke an English very little removed from that we speak today. We can be pretty sure that the poor school children who were obliged to read the Iliad and Odyssey in that translation would probably not want to have anything more to do with either masterpiece for the rest of their lives. And who could have blamed them? But the Georgian mores of that era, still grudgingly hanging on in spite of the roaring twenties, prevailed, and to this day, far too many readers, young and old alike, end up in the ghastly grips of translations such as that one. God forbid! The most galling thing about it all is that The Perseus Digital Library

Perseus

should know better. They have such a wealth of choice from modern translations, which they could easily have availed themselves of.

In the next post, we will be recommending some quality twenty-first century translations of the Iliad.

Richard

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