Tag Archive: orthography

NEW on academia.edu. High Correlation Linear A-Linear B vocabulary, grammar and orthography in Linear A, by Richard Vallance Janke and Alexandre Solcà:


High Correlation Linear A Linear B on academia.edu

Over the past 118 years since the discovery of the first Linear A tablets at Knossos, innumerable attempts have been made to decipher Linear A, all of them falling short of expectations in academia, or being outright abject failures. We propose a multi-pronged approach to the decipherment of the Mycenaean-derived superstrate in Linear A, otherwise known as New Minoan (NM), with the implicit understanding that we, like all other researchers past and present, are not in a position to decipher the Minoan substrate language, a.k.a. Old Minoan (OM), onto which Mycenaean-derived New Minoan (NM) vocabulary is grafted. The primary thrust of this monograph is to demonstrate the high correlation which obtains only between Mycenaean-derived Linear A and Linear B vocabulary, a.k.a. New Minoan (NM) in Linear A, between the grammar and orthography in Linear A and Linear B and between their syllabaries. To this end we have adopted a multi-pronged approach, which consists of the following methodologies: (a) the establishment of high correlation between Mycenaean-derived Linear A and Linear B vocabulary, wherever applicable (b) the confirmation of high correlation between the Linear A and Linear B syllabaries (c) demonstration of high correlation between the orthography of Mycenaean-derived Linear A terms and their Linear B counterparts and (d) corroborating evidence of the possible derivation of much of Mycenaean, archaic and Homeric Greek grammar from foundational archaic Minoan declensions. 

Keywords: syllabary, Linear A, substrate, Linear B, superstrate, correlation, high correlation, derivation, derivative analysis, vocabulary, orthography, syllabaries, grammar, archaic Greek, Homeric Greek

This monograph, High Correlation Linear A-Linear B vocabulary, grammar and orthography in Linear A, by Richard Vallance Janke and Alexandre Solcà, is the largest study into the genesis of a Mycenaean-derived superstrate in Linear A ever undertaken by these authors. This is merely the draft paper, and as such it has yet to be approved for final publication by the editorial board of Les Éditions KONOSO Press. Since this is a draft paper only, we urgently request that any and all visitors to View Comments apprise us of any and all errors, whether orthographic, grammatical or syntactical. We have already proof-read this monograph at least 150 times, but before it can be approved or is approved for final publication by Les Éditions KONOSO Press, it must be absolutely free of errors of any kind. So if you spot any errors whatsoever, please let us know at once. We of course welcome any and all comments, observations and criticisms on this major new and entirely revolutionary study into the possible/probable existence of a Mycenaean-derived superstrate in Linear A. We realize that a great many critics will object to our hypothesis, some of them vociferously. But all we ask is that you keep an open mind, whoever you may be, with our thanks in advance.

Also, please be sure to go straight to this astonishing new study on academia.edu, by clicking on the graphical link at the outset of this post. Please do bookmark it, and if you are a member of academia.edu, please recommend it to other researchers. And if you already know Linear B, read all of it, because you will be astounded to discover how great is the overlap between Mycenaean-derived Greek in Linear A and Mycenaean Greek in Linear B. Trust me.

Thank you

Richard Vallance Janke and Alexandre Solcà

Converting Linear B to ancient Greek, Level 1b:

converting Linear A to ancient Greek level1b

Table 2 above illustrates further refinements in the conversion of Linear B spelling to (archaic) ancient Greek orthography. We note in particular Linear B pedira, which becomes pe/dila in ancient Greek. This is because there exists no L series of syllabograms, i.e. LA LE LI LO LU, in Linear B. On the other hand, a great many (archaic) ancient Greek words contain the letter l (lambda) = l Latinized. One such word is pe/dila. So it is to be expected that the l (lambda) = l Latinized in words such as pe/dila must be represented by R in Linear B. There is just no way around it. Next, we have the word onata in Linear B, which of course turns out to be o/nata in (archaic) ancient Greek, just as we would naturally expect. But this word has an alternative spelling o/naton, which is not feminine at all, but rather neuter. Now it just so happens that almost all neuter words in ancient Greek must terminate in n, Latinized as n. But since Linear B is a syllabary, it is impossible for any Linear B word to end in a consonant. However, since almost all neuter ancient Greek words end in n, this consonant must be added to the ancient Greek equivalent of the Linear B word to which it corresponds.

How to convert Linear B vocabulary into (archaic) ancient Greek: PART A: feminine

PART A: Level 1a

converting Linear A to ancient Greek level1a

We note in the Table 1 above that in many instances the correlation between the Linear B and (archaic) ancient Greek orthography is (practically) one on one, i.e. the spelling is identical or almost identical in Linear B and in (archaic) ancient Greek. The attribute (archaic) is optional, since sometimes the Greek word parallel to the Linear B is simply ancient Greek, whereas at other times, the word parallel to the Linear B is archaic ancient Greek. But it really does not make any difference in the end, because the Greek spelling to the right of the Linear B word is the preferred orthography, as simple as that. Thus, in Table 1, the Greek for aiza, eneka, kama, meta and Samara is identical to the Linear B. Since Samara is capitalized, Greek S or sigma is also upper case, S rather than lower case, s. In the case of Linear B arura, the ancient Greek has an additional vowel, ou as in arou/ra. There is nothing at all unusual in such a small discrepancy in spelling between Linear B and ancient Greek, since Linear B u may be expressed as simply u or as ou in ancient Greek, because the pronunciation of u and ou is identical in ancient Greek.

In the case of Linear B Manassa (also capitalized, because it is a theonym), Linear B single s becomes double ss in ancient Greek. This is because it is impossible for two adjacent consonants to follow one another in Linear B, which is a syllabary, in which absolutely all syllabograms must end in a vowel, whereas ancient Greek, which is an alphabet, far more frequently doubles consonants, i.e. allows for adjacent consonants. While this seems counter-intuitive at first sight, once we have covered all Linear B words in the feminine, masculine and neuter genders, this will become transparent.

Finally, we note the / above one of the syllables in each of the Greek words in this table. This is called the acute accent (/), indicating on which syllable the stress must fall in that word. So ai/za (Latinized) is pronounced AIza in ancient Greek, e/neka Eneka, ka/ma KAma, Ma/nassa MAnassa, meta/ meTA and Sama/ra SaMAra.

This phenomenon is identical to the stress on the primary syllable in English, except that English never uses accents, not even / acute. So in English we have HOUsing, deCIpherant, deCIsion, Elephant, instiTUtion and SEparation etc. etc. To English-speaking people, this is intuitive, but to people learning English as a second language (ESL) the position of the accented syllable is far from intuitive, because English simply has no accents of any kind. In this sense, English is very odd, because almost all other modern languages have accents (for whatever reason, stress or not). On the other hand, the stressed syllable in ancient Greek is glaringly obvious, because it always bears the acute accent / above it.    

How circular language in the movie, Arrival, determines the aspacial/atemporal nature of logograms throughout the ages:

In the movie, Arrival (2016), which chronicles the arrival on earth of 12 mysterious ships, apparently from outer space, the following statements leap out at us:

parsing the language of the heptapods in the movie, Arrival

1. Unlike all written languages, the writing is semiseriographic. It conveys meaning. It doesn't represent sound. Perhaps they view our form of writing as a wasted opportunity.  
2. How heptapods write: ... because unlike speech,  a logogram is free of time. Like their ship, their written language has forward or backward direction. Linguists call this non-linear orthography, which raises the question, is this how they think? Imagine you wanted to write a sentence using 2 hands, starting from either side. You would have to know each word you wanted to use as well as much space it would occupy. A heptapod can write a complex sentence in 2 seconds effortlessly.

The key to all of this is the phrase a logogram is free of time. Allow me to illustrate. Logograms are also often called ideograms, and that is what I prefer to call them. Another word to describe them is icon. When we examine ancient Linear A and B ideograms and compare them with modern ones, the results are astonishing, to wit:




All of the aforementioned examples make it quite clear that ideograms, whether they be as ancient as those in Linear A and Linear B (i.e. about 3,400 years old) or modern ... or for that matter, neolithic or even earlier, all bear a striking resemblance to one another. Take for instance the Linear A ideogram for “scales” and compare it with just one modern one (among so many others), and we see immediately that they are extremely similar. Now take the Linear B ideograms for man” and “woman” and compare these with the washroom symbols for the same and once again the similarity is almost too good to be true. Then there is the Linear B ideogram for a four-spoke wheel compared with a modern one for an eight-spoke wheel. The number of spokes is not relevant to this discussion, only the fact that the ancient Linear B ideogram for “wheel” is practically identical to the modern one.

The implications for the decipherment of ideograms in any language, ancient or modern (let alone Linear A and Linear B) versus those in any modern language are staggering. We can be sure that the ancient ideograms varied little from one language to another, let alone between Minoan and Mycenaean. In fact, the syllabogram TE, which sometimes represents wheat, in Linear A and Linear B is almost identical to the same ideograms in cuneiform!

It is patently obvious that since the distinction between the ancient ideograms and their modern equivalents enumerated above is so thin, all of these ideograms (or logograms or icons) are not only time independent (atemporal) and spatially independent (aspatial), they are also language independent. This is a stunning phenomenon.

The implications for the further decipherment of Linear A are simply overwhelming.

And this is why in the movie, Arrival, the heptapods assert, “There is no time.”

Partial decipherment of Linear A tablet ZA 15 (Zakros) and the phenomenon of orthographic adjustment of superstratum words in the substratum language:

Linear A tablet Zakros ZA 15

This decipherment of Linear A tablet ZA 15 seems to add up overall. I have divined that the word qesizue, of which there are 57, means “goblets”. The plural in e is common in Linear A, and appears to be the plural of feminine diminutives, which in the case would imply that the singular is qesizuai = “goblet”. The decipherment certainly fits the context. The translation of itinisa as “in wicker/baskets” is less certain. Samidae can be construed as Old Minoan genitive singular for “from Samos”. Recall that when words derive from the superstratum, which means Mycenaean derived words in the case of Linear A, the orthography of the derived words must be altered from their Mycenaean spelling to Old Minoan Linear A spelling conventions. So in this case, Mycenaean Samoio (genitive sing.) could conceivably become Samidae in Minoan. 

We should not be at all surprised at this metamorphosis of orthography from the superstratum (Mycenaean derived vocabulary) to the substratum (Minoan vocabulary derived from the Mycenaean superstratum). After all, when superstratum French words are imported into English, their orthography undergoes the same metamorphosis. For instance, we have:

French to English:

albâtre = alabaster
bénin = benign
cloître = cloister
dédain = disdain
épître = epistle
forêt = forest
fanatique = fanatic
gigantesque = gigantic
gobelet = goblet
loutre = otter
maître = master
plâtre = plaster
similitude = similarity
traître = treacherous

and on and on. This phenomenon applies to every last substratum language upon which a superstratum from another language is imposed. So in the case of Old Minoan, it is inevitable that the orthography of any single superstratum Mycenaean derived word has to be adjusted to meet the exigencies of Minoan orthography.

The most striking example of this metamorphosis is the masculine singular. Mycenaean derived words in Minoan must have their singular ultimate adjusted to u from the Mycenaean o. There are plenty of examples:

Akano to Akanu (Archanes)
akaro to akaru (field)
kako to kaku (copper)
kuruko to kuruku (crocus/saffron)
mare (mari) to maru (wool)
Rado to Radu (Latos)
simito to simitu (mouse)
suniko to suniku (community)
Winado to Winadu (toponym)
woino to winu (wine)
iyero to wireu  (priest)

Rational partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 117 (Haghia Triada)  & the first real glimpse of Minoan grammar actualized:

LinearA tablet HT 117 Haghia Triada 620

This albeit partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 117 (Haghia Triada) incorporates an approximately equal admixture of Old Minoan, i.e. the original Minoan language, also known as the Minoan substratum (of which I am unable to decipher most of the words) and of New Minoan, i.e. the superstratum of words of probable Mycenaean provenance, most of which I have been able to decipher with relative ease. While some of the New Minoan translations obviously appear to break the grammatical rules of Mycenaean Greek, such as mitu for “mint”, which is after all mita (and feminine) in Mycenaean Greek or daminu for “in 1 village”, which is damo in the nominative in Linear B, these adjustments can be readily accounted for by the fact that Old Minoan grammar is not at all the same beast as Mycenaean grammar. Although we are not yet familiar with much of Old Minoan grammar, which is after all the grammar of Minoan, just the same as modernized Anglo-Saxon grammar is the grammar of English, in spite of the enormous superstratum of French, Latin and Greek words in the latter language, this tablet alone perhaps affords us a first glimpse into the mechanics of Minoan grammar. Thus, it would appear that mitu may be the Minoan accusative of mita, and daminu may be the locative of damo in Minoan. Although there is no scientific way for me to substantiate this claim, I believe I am onto something, and that I may be making the first cracks in the obdurate wall of the grammar of the Minoan language substratum.  If this is so, then I may be actually pointing the way to unravelling at least a subset of Old Minoan grammar.  To illustrate my point, let us take a look at these phrases in English, as adapted from their Norman  French superstrata.  In French, the phrases would read as follows: avec la menthe”& “ dans le village”, whereas in English they read as “with mint” & “in the village”. Take special note of the fact that, while the Norman French superstrata words in English, “mint” and “village” are (almost) identical to their Norman French counterparts, the grammar of the phrases is entirely at odds, because after the grammar of French, which is a Romance language, and of English, which is a Germanic, cannot possibly coincide.  But here again, I must emphatically stress that English grammar is an entirely different matter than English vocabulary, of which the latter is only 26 % Germanic, but 29 % French, 29 % Latin and 4 % Greek, the latter 3 languages, namely, the superstrata, accounting for fully 64 % of all English vocabulary! We must always make this clear distinction between English grammar, which is essentially Anglo-Saxon modernized, and English vocabulary, which is only minimally Germanic.

If we carry this hypothesis to its logical outcome, we can readily surmise that the same phenomenon applies to the Linear A syllabary. Where grammar is concerned, the Linear A syllabary is Old Minoan, i.e. the original Minoan language or substrate. Where vocabulary is concerned, Linear A represents an admixture of Old Minoan vocabulary, such as uminase, kuramu, kupa3nu (kupainu), tejare and nadare (all of which I cannot decipher) and of New Minoan Mycenaean derived vocabulary, such as makarite, mitu, sata, kosaiti and daminu on this tablet alone. The orthography of the latter words is not actually consistent with Mycenaean grammar, because constitutionally it cannot be. Once again, the grammar is always Minoan, whereas the vocabulary often falls into the New Minoan (Mycenaean derived) superstratum.

In the case of makarite, it would appear that, if the word is dative in Minoan, the Minoan dative is similar to the Mycenaean, ending as it seems to in i. The ultimate te in makarite appears to be the Mycenaean or ancient Greek enclitic te (and). In the case of mitu, which is mita and feminine in Mycenaean Greek, it would appear that the Minoan word is either masculine or that in this case at least, it is instrumental, meaning “with mint”, in which case the Minoan feminine instrumental appears to terminate with u. The word kosaiti appears to follow the same lines. The first two syllables, kosai, apparently are Mycenaean, but the ultimate ti is Minoan, and once again, instrumental (plural). Again, daminu appears to repeat the same pattern. The word damo is masculine (or neuter) in Mycenaean. But the ultimate is inu here, which appears to be the Minoan locative, inu. To summarize, we must make a clear-cut distinction between any New Minoan vocabulary on any Linear A tablet, and its orthography, which must of necessity follow the orthographic conventions of the Minoan language, and not of the Mycenaean, from which any such words are derived. I intend to make this abundantly clear in subsequent posts.  

Tentative confirmation of 10 possible proto-Greek words out of 18 under the first vowel, A, in Prof. John G. Younger’s Reverse Linear A Lexicon:


When I subjected the first alphabetical entries under A in Prof. John G. Younger’s Reverse Linear A Lexicon to rigorous analysis in order to determine whether or not any of the entries under A just might have been proto-Greek, or more likely than not, proto-Mycenaean. I was able to extrapolate tentative archaic Greek “definitions”, if you like, for no fewer than 10 of the 18 entries under A. That is quite a staggering return! However, in spite of these encouraging findings, we must exercise extreme caution in assigning proto-Greek significance to any number of Minoan words.

Of course, the discovery right fro the outset of 10 words which might possibly be proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean, is highly tempting. One could, if one were so inclined, that as a consequence of this discovery, the Minoan language must have been proto-Greek. But I would warn us away from such a rash assumption, for several cogent reasons, all of which will become clear as we run alphabetically through the Reverse Linear A Lexicon. One of the most obvious roadblocks to accepting, even on a tentative basis, a proto-Greek reading of words such as the 10 I have isolated under A above is the extreme paucity of consecutive, running text and, what is even worse, the even rarer instances of extant Linear A words providing sufficient context on the tablets for us to be able to extract any real meaning at all from the tablets. This is the brick wall we run up against again and again in any endeavour at deciphering any Minoan word, taken as a single entity.

There is one tenet at least which bears out confirmation or abnegation, and it is this: if we continue to discover a considerable number of potential proto-Greek under subsequent initial syllabograms alphabetically from DA on through to ZU, then there might very well be a case for concluding that either (a) the Minoan language was entirely proto-Greek or (b) the Minoan language was pre-Greek and very probably non Indo-European, but which contained a great many proto-Greek words, for reasons which will become apparent as we proceed through our extrapolative analysis of Minoan words from DA to ZU.

This is bound to be one exciting journey of discovery!

Mycenaean Linear B Progressive Grammar: Derived (D) Verbs/Infinitives in P Part B =  407

In this post we find derived (D) infinitives in P (Part B). Here is the table of derived (D) thematic and athematic infinitives starting with the Greek letter P (Part B) in Mycenaean Greek:


Since the first chart was so full of errors, I have had to extensively revise it.
* Since it is impossible for two consonants to follow one another in Linear B, the Greek prefix pro must be rendered as poro in Linear B.
** The verb prodokei is an impersonal perfect verb in the third person singular only. All impersonal verbs in Mycenaean Greek are in the third person singular. Some are in the passive.   

It was highly likely that official documents, poetry (if any) and religious texts were written in natural Mycenaean Greek on papyrus. However, the moist climate of Crete and the Greek mainland meant that papyrus, unlike in the arid climate of Egypt, was doomed to rot away. So we shall never really know whether or not there were documents in natural Mycenaean Greek. But my educated hunch is that there were.

The total number of natural Mycenaean Greek derived (D) infinitives we have posted so far = 407.

Mycenaean Linear B Progressive Grammar: Derived (D) Verbs/Infinitives in K = 85!/Total = 199

In this post we find 85 derived (D) infinitives in K in natural Mycenaean Greek, of which there are far more than with any other letter in the Mycenaean dialect and all other later ancient Greek dialects alike, with the possible exception of verbs beginning with P (or PI in ancient Greek). This is because many more words in both ancient and modern Greek, for that matter, begin with the letter K. Why so? The prepositional prefix KATA is prepended to more verbs in Greek, ancient and modern alike, than any other prepositional prefixes, with the possible exception of PERI and PRO, which we will encounter soon.

Here is the table of attested thematic and athematic infinitives starting with the Greek letter K in Mycenaean Greek. As you can see, the number of verbs I have selected from a far larger vocabulary of verbs beginning with KATA stands at 85:


It is absolutely essential that you read the notes on the Mycenaean Linear B orthography of ancient Greek verbs; otherwise, you are bound to misinterpret the spelling of Mycenaean verbs in Linear B. The two most important characteristics of verbs in Mycenaean Linear B, regardless of the letter with which the first syllable or syllabogram starts (let alone K), are as follows:

1. It is impossible for two consonants to follow one another in any Mycenaean verb in Linear B, because Linear B is a syllabary, and all syllabograms must end in a vowel. See the table for K above for concrete examples.
2. It is impossible for Mycenaean present infinitives in Linear B to end in ein, because once again, this is a syllabary, and no syllable can ever end in a consonant. For this reason, ancient Greek thematic present infinitives which always end in EIN must end in E in Mycenaean Greek. See the table for K above for concrete examples.
3. For the other two so-called rules for Mycenaean Greek spelling of thematic present infinitives, see the table for K above for concrete examples. 
The 4 sentences following Greek verbs in K make it perfectly clear that we are dealing with natural Mycenaean Greek as it was actually spoken. Note that the natural plural in OI is to found in spoken Mycenaean, rather than the singular in O we find almost (but not always) exclusively on the extant Linear B tablets. See infinitives in D for a further explanation for this phenomenon.

It is also highly likely that official documents, poetry (if any) and religious texts were written in natural Mycenaean Greek on papyrus. However, the moist climate of Crete and the Greek mainland meant that papyrus, unlike in the arid climate of Egypt, was doomed to rot away. So we shall never really know whether or not there were documents in natural Mycenaean Greek. But my educated hunch is that there were.

The total number of natural Mycenaean Greek derived (D) infinitives we have posted so far = 199, of which 85 or 42.7% fall under the Greek letter K alone! I shall indicate the running total as we proceed through the alphabet.

Did you know you speak Mycenaean Greek? You do!

Mycenaean Greek in Modern English: akero to kono: Click to ENLARGE

akero to kono


[1] The Mycenaean word “anemon” is genitive plural (“of the winds”) for “anemo” = “wind”, and like so many other Mycenaean words, it serves as the first part of English words dealing with various aspects of wind (generation), such as “anemometer”. All other entries with the tag [1] are of this type.
[2] The first syllabogram i.e. the first syllable of the Mycenaean word for “labyrinth” begins with “da”, since it is impossible for any Mycenaean word to begin with “la”, as they had no “l”. Normally, the “r” + vowel series of syllabograms replaces a Greek lambda, but in this case, the Mycenaeans opted for “da”  instead of “ra” (which would have been “rapuritoyo”). This is not unusual. 
[3] “at the teacher’s” = French chez le professeur, with is an archaic version of either the dative or the instrumental singular. 
[4] “duwo” is Mycenaean for ancient Greek “duo”. It must be expressed by the special syllabogram for “talent, scale or two”, which in fact does look like a scale.   
[5] A great many modern English words begin with the ancient Greek preposition “epi”. I have provided two examples here. 
[6] The original Mycenaean & Homeric meaning of the English word for “elephant” meant “ivory”, but the meaning gradually changed to the former by the time of Classical Athens. In the Attic dialect, the word meant “elephant”. Remember, Mycenaean Greek had no “l” series of syllabograms, using the “r” series instead. There is confusion in many languages over the liquids “l” & “r”, modern Japanese being a prime example of this phenomenon.
[7] Many English words begin with the Mycenaean and ancient Greek prefix “eu”, which always means “well” (healthy) or “positive” or similar notions. Hence the English word you see here.
[8] Mycenaean “kadamiya” is a pre-Greek, proto-Indoeuropean word. 
[9] The Mycenaean word “kono” omits the initial “s” in the ancient Greek word “schoinos”. This is very common in Mycenaean Greek. Since the ancient Greek work means “rush” (plant), the modern English scientific word is also a plant, although a different one.



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. 


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.   


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). 


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


Brief Glossary of Linguistic Terms Used in Chapter 13, Mycenaean Greek, of A Companion to the Ancient Greek Language, by E.J. Bakker (2014) Click to ENLARGE Snapshot of the Beginning and End of this Chapter:

Bakker 2014 Chapter13 Mycenaean Greek 

Ablaut = The Indo-European ablaut is a system of apophony (regular vowel variations) in the Proto-Indo-European language that has significantly influenced both ancient and modern Indo-European languages. In English the strong verb sing, sang, sung and its related noun song illustrate this shift in vowels.

Consonant cluster = a consonant cluster or consonant blend is a group of consonants which have no intervening vowel. In English, the groups /spl/ and /ts/ are consonant clusters in the word splits & /psy/ in psychology, psychiatry etc.

Diaeresis = two adjacent vowels, in adjacent syllables, not separated by a consonant or pause and not merged into a diphthong & pronounced as a unit (one sound) as in “aisle” “aesthetic” or “oil”, i.e. pronounced separately, as in “coincidental” or “intuitive”.

Enclitic = a word pronounced with so little emphasis that it is shortened and forms part of the preceding word, e.g., n't in can't + Proclitic = a word pronounced with so little emphasis that it is shortened and forms part of the following word, for example, you in y'all (American slang only).

Eponym = a name or noun formed after a person's name. For example, the Odyssey is from the name Odysseus, and the Ames Test, which tests for carcinogens, from its inventor, Bruce Ames. It is back-formed from "eponymous", from the Greek "eponymos" meaning "giving name".  

Grassmann's law = a dissimilatory phonological process in Ancient Greek and Sanskrit which states that if an aspirated consonant is followed by another aspirated consonant in the next syllable, the first one loses the aspiration.

Intervocalic = an intervocalic consonant is a consonant between two vowels in the middle of a word. Intervocalic consonants are associated with lenition, a phonetic process that causes consonants to weaken and eventually disappear entirely.

Haplography = (from Greek: haplo- 'single' + -graphy 'writing') is the act of writing once what should be written twice. For example, the English word idolatry, the worship of idols, comes from the Greek eidololatreia, but one syllable (lo) has been lost through haplography, and endontics loses one vowel from endodontics (do). Note that these vowels, which are later lost in almost all ancient Greek dialects, are almost always present in Mycenaean Greek.

Isogloss = also called a heterogloss is the geographic boundary of a certain linguistic feature, such as the pronunciation of a vowel, the meaning of a word, or use of some syntactic feature. Major dialects are typically demarcated by groups of isoglosses. For instance, isoglosses in West Greek dialects, such as Doric Greek, are considerably different than those in East Greek dialects, such as Mycenaean, Arcado-Cypriot, Aeolic, Ionic & Attic Greek.

Lexical diffusion =  is both a phenomenon and a theory. The phenomenon is that whereby a phoneme is modified in a subset of the lexicon, and spreads gradually to other lexical items. For example, in English, /u?/ has changed to /?/ in good and hood but not in food. The related theory, proposed by William Wang in 1969, is that all sound changes originate in a single word or a small group of words and then spread to other words with a similar phonological make-up, but may not spread to all words in which they potentially could apply.

Morph =a word segment that represents one morpheme in sound or writing. For example, the word infamous is made up of three morphs – in-, fam(e), -eous--each of which represents one morpheme.

Morpheme = an abstract unit of meaning, whereas a morph is a formal unit with a physical shape.

Phoneme = any of the perceptually distinct units of sound in a specified language that distinguish one word from another, for example p, b, d, and t in the English words pad, pat, bad, and bat or o in cot, con, core.

Prevocalic = occurring immediately before a vowel.

Psilosis = Psilosis is the sound change in which Greek lost the consonant sound /h/ during antiquity. The term comes from the Greek psilosis ("smoothing, thinning out") & is related to the name of the smooth breathing (psilei), the sign for the absence of initial /h/ in a word. Dialects that have lost /h/ are called psilotic.

Syncretism = the discrete identity of distinct morphological forms of a word, such as verb conjugations, and declensions of nouns, adjectives, pronouns etc. (mostly) in inflectional languages like Greek & Latin. In Attic Greek, nom. logos (word) changes to logou in the genitive & in Latin, nom. rex (king)changes to regis in the genitive.

Toponym = a place name, e.g. Knossos, Mycenae, Pylos, Lasynthos, Zakros etc.

Richard Vallance Janke, Oct. 6 2014

The Homophone HA, used less often than AI, but equally significant: Click to ENLARGE:

HA homophone series Linear B 

This makes for entertaining reading, though possibly somewhat perplexing to some.
Let no-one be under any illusion that the Linear B homophone HA is any less significant than AI, regardless of the fact that it appears less often in Linear B texts on extant tablets. The homophone HA is not a diphthong! This homophone (HA) takes an enormous leap forward, specifically and exclusively in the Linear B syllabary, by explicitly expressing initial or even internal aspirated A’s. This incredible achievement eclipsed even the ancient Greek alphabet, which, need I remind you, was always written in CAPS (uppercase) alone, and hence, was utterly incapable of expressing any aspirated, let alone, unaspîrated vowels.

"What” I hear you indignantly explain, "Of course, they had aspirated and unaspirated vowels.” Yes, they did. But they never expressed them. Search any ancient alphabetical text in any dialect whatsoever for aspirated or unaspirated vowels, and you search in vain. Search Linear B, and voilà, staring us squarely in the face, is the aspirated A. Astonishing? Perhaps... perhaps not. But what this tells us unequivocally is that the ancient Greeks, even after the appearance of the alphabet, must have pronounced aspirated and unaspirated vowels, because in Mycenaean Greek, the aspirated A is squarely in the syllabary.
"But”, I hear you exclaim again, "If those Mycenaeans were so smart, why didn’t they also have a homophone for the aspirated E, which pops up all over the place in Medieval manuscripts in Classical Greek?”  The answer is that Mycenaean Greek almost certainly had no use for the aspirated E, since all classical Greek words beginning with an aspirated E invariably begin with an aspirated A in Mycenaean Greek, as for instance, Mycenaean "hateros” versus classical Greek "heteros” (well, in most dialects, if not all). In other words, Mycenaean Greek grammar has no homophone for aspirated E, simply because they never used it, nor were they even aware of its existence. 

Still, the fact remains that, at least where the aspirated A is concerned, Linear B was one step ahead of ancient alphabetical Greek. Both aspirated and unaspirated initial consonants were a feature introduced into written classical Greek alphabet only in the Middle Ages, when monks & other scribes began making extensive use of lower case letters. And, sure enough, along with the aspiration and non-aspiration of initial vowels (most often A, E & U), they also introduced all those other crazy accents we all must now memorize: the acute, grave, circumflex and susbscripted iota, just to make reading ancient Greek wretchedly more complicated. Don’t you wish they had left well enough alone? I often do. But this was not to be, since from the Middle Ages, and especially from the Renaissance on, almost all Occidental languages (Greek & French being two of the worst offenders) used accents liberally. Apparently only the Romans never bothered with accents ... but even here we cannot be sure, as they too wrote only in CAPS (uppercase).  Even English, which is the Western language most adverse to accents, always uses them in borrowed words from French, Italian, Spanish etc.  So you just can’t win.
Once again, amongst the ancient languages, at least as far as I know, Linear B alone was able to explicitly express the initial aspirated A, just as Linear B had the common sense to separate every word on the tablets from the next with a vertical line (|). After that, "something got lost in translation” (so to speak), and for at least 2 millennia, when all of a sudden everyone in the whole world went bonkers for accents.

Such are the vagaries of linguistics.


Review of Homophones in Linear B: the Diphthong AI (the Most Common in Linear B): Click to ENLARGE:

AI series homophones in Linear B

This post, as the next few following it dealing with homophones in Linear B, is intended for students of Linear B who have already mastered the Basic Syllabograms, and for researchers and others who would just like to review their homophones. I would like to point out that I have no intention of covering all of the homophones, since some of them are so rarely used as to be practically inconsequential, but that I shall focus on these ones alone: AI, HA, PTE, DIPTE, RAI, RIYA, RIYO, SIYA and TIYA, with passing references to SWA & SWI.  Our final review of homophones will be concluded well before the end of June 2012.

In the next post, we will be featuring the next most commonly used homophone in Linear B, HA, which was used to express an initial aspirated A.



Table 3B: Syllables ending with Consonants in (early) Alphabetical Greek, which Linear B Syllabograms Cannot Account for: Click to ENLARGE:

Table3B syllables ending with consonants in Greek unaccounted for in Linear B

NOTE! This is the most important post I have ever posted on our Blog to date. So if you are really serious about learning Mycenaean Grammar, you cannot afford not to read it and digest it thoroughly. 

With this table (Table 3B), we have finally come to the end of our (occasionally exasperating) adventure in cross-correlating orthographic or spelling “conventions” in Linear B with those of (early) alphabetical Greek, by which I mean preferentially the spelling conventions in The Catalogue of Ships of Book II of the Iliad; failing that, the orthography of Book II of the Iliad; failing that, the orthographic conventions of the Iliad; failing that, of the Odyssey; failing that, of the Arcado-Cypriot dialect, the most ancient Greek dialect (ca. 1100-400 BCE) second only to the Mycenaean (ca. 1500-1200 BCE); and finally, failing that, of early Ionic Greek. The cross-correlation of Linear B spelling conventions with those of early Greek should and indeed, to my mind, must strictly follow the order of precedence I have set out here, for various reasons, not the least of which are:

1. The orthographic conventions of (The Catalogue of Ships in) Book II of the Iliad mirror those of Mycenaean Linear B so closely that at times the correlation is almost uncanny, as for instance, in the ancient Greek genitive singular, which is “oyo” in Linear B and “oio” in Book II of the Iliad – in other words, identical. Other examples of such intimate orthographic correspondences include, but are not limited to, the ancient masculine nouns, whose nominative ending is “eu” in Linear B and “eus” in Book II of the Iliad, leading us to more than reasonably speculate that the Mycenaean Linear B declension of all such nouns must have been all but identical in Mycenaean and early alphabetical Greek (See the entries in Table 3B tagged [7]. Or yet again, we notice that entries [6], namely, the masculine singular nominal and adjectival ending “os”, already prevalent in early alphabetical Greek is represented in Linear B, but with this important distinction: the final S in the alphabetical Greek is missing in the Linear B equivalents, for the obvious reason that Linear B syllabograms cannot end with consonants. And what is true of the masculine is also true of the neuter. The Linear B  ending “o” must correspond to the Greek ending “on”. Getting messy, eh?

2.1 IN PRINCIPLE: Restated in general terms and in principle, the nominative singular any and all (early) alphabetical adjectives & nouns, regardless of gender, (almost) always ends with a consonant, whereas naturally in Linear B, this consonant is always missing: See Table 3B [4-7 inclusive]. It is crucial that you master this principle, if you are to truly grasp the several (mostly apparent) distinctions that obtain between nominal and adjectival declensions in Mycenaean Linear B versus early alphabetical Greek.

2.2 IN PRINCIPLE: As we shall soon discover, this principle is universal, and applies to all adjectival and nominal declensions in both the singular and plural in both Mycenaean Linear B and early alphabetical Greek. Failure to fully grasp this principle in its essence will lead to all sorts of misunderstandings and (often egregious) misinterpretations in all nominal and adjectival declensions, regardless of gender and number, in so far as these can be logically and practically reconstructed, either in whole or in part – and, as it unfortunately turns out, almost always in part.

3 NOTE that this scenario, whereby we shall endeavour to the best of our ability, and under severe constraints, to regressively-progressively reconstruct nominal and adjectival declensions for nouns in at least most their cases (rarely all of them) is very much at odds with the conjugations of verbs, both thematic and athematic, with which I have encountered striking success in the reconstruction of the active voice of all of these tenses: present, future, imperfect, aorist and perfect.

STEP 1: The Reconstruction of Mycenaean grammar in Linear B: Conjugations of Verbs:

As a prelude to our gainful attempts to reconstruction adjectival and nominal declensions, I shall first post the complete table of our successful reconstruction of both thematic and athematic verbs in the active voice of all of these tenses: present, future, imperfect, aorist and perfect. The conjugations of participles in Mycenaean Linear B are relatively straight-forward, because we have many examples of these (for good reasons, as we shall eventualy see). We will, however, run into some difficulties with middle and passive verbs,

Step 2: The Reconstruction of Mycenaean grammar in Linear B: Nominal-Adjectival Declensions:

before we move onto the second step in the reconstruction of Mycenaean grammar, nominal-adjectival declensions. I shall thoroughly explain why I have (a) deliberately omitted the other active tenses & (b) why the reconstruction of verbs has proven to be a much greater success than I can ever reasonably expect from my future attempts at reconstructing nominal-adjectival declensions.

And that is still only scratching the surface!

Step 3: The Reconstruction of Mycenaean grammar in Linear B: Prepositions and the Cases they “Govern”:

Wait until we have to deal with prepositions (originally always adverbs) and the cases they “govern”, a misnomer if I ever heard one.




Table 3A: Examples of Linear B Spelling Conventions Cross-Correlated with (early) Ancient Alphabetical Greek – Click to ENLARGE:

Table 3 Examples of spelling conventions in Linear B versus Greek

While most Linear B grammatical, didactic, instructional & research sites propound generally complex “rules” or regulatory tables for the transference of Linear B orthography (through no fault of their own), which is based almost exclusively on syllabograms, each consisting of a consonant + a vowel (with the sole exception of the vowels, which actually do correspond with their Greek alphabetical counterparts, but again with the exception of Linear B E & O, which cannot express short versus long E & O in alphabetical Greek, i.e. epsilon vs. aytay and omicron vs. omega), to my mind, it is simply not necessary to memorize all sorts of often perplexing arcane guidelines, when all we really need to do is illustrate how the single syllabograms in Linear B cross-correlate with their (frequently) multiple variants in early alphabetical Greek (by which I mean, first and foremost, the Homeric Greek in The Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad; failing that, the Homeric Greek in Book II of the Iliad; failing that the Homeric Greek of the Iliad in toto; and failing that Arcado-Cypriot Greek.  Just learn each of the relatively straight-forward procedures for the transference of Linear B spelling to early Greek alphabetical orthography in Tables 1, 2, 3A & 3B, and you will have it all down pat.  Once you have mastered these guidelines, which I have tried to simplify as far as I possibly can (although as we all know by now, nothing in Mycenaean Linear B grammar is simple!), you will be ready to move on to the mastery of the corpus Progressive Mycenaean Linear B grammar which I will be reconstructing for all parts of speech throughout 2014 & 2015, until we have under our belts the first truly comprehensive Mycenaean grammar ever devised since the decipherment of Linear B by Michael Ventris in 1952. This is the entire raison d’être of this Blog. 

What is more, these very same principles of Linear B versus early ancient Greek orthography are equally applicable, and with a level of precision never before attained in any Mycenaean Linear B – early ancient Greek – English Glossary or Vocabulary, when we apply the theory of progressive Linear B Orthography to our English – Linear B – early ancient Greek Lexicon, another massive project which may very well take until 2018 to bring to fruition. As I have repeatedly pointed out before in this blog, our Lexicon, which will be conceived along the lines of Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon, is intended to increase the current Linear B Vocabulary of some 2,500 words, phrases and expressions to at least triple that amount, i.e. some 7,500 entries, many of which are attested on the extant tablets, and a large number of which will be derived from entries on the tablets, as well as from The Catalogue of Ships of Book II of the Iliad.

The scope of these undertakings,
(1) the progressive reconstruction of as much of Mycenaean Linear B grammar as is feasible (and that is a lot more than you can imagine);
(2) the progressive reconstruction of as much of Mycenaean Linear B vocabulary as is feasible (and that too is a lot more than you can imagine)



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