Tag Archive: phonetics



Linear B - KN Dd1171, article by Peter J. Keyse on academia.edu 

Click on this graphic to view Keyse’s article:

Linear B - KN Dd1171


Peter J. Keyse provides a thorough analysis of Linear B tablet  KN Dd 1171 in this fascinating article, which is well worth reading for anyone who is familiar with the Linear B syllabary, and certainly for anyone who is studying Linear B in depth. His article is not without errors. For instance, he deciphers PoRo as the name of someone in what he calls the PoMe “worker class” = a shepherd,

Linear B - KN Dd1171 PORO

but his interpretation of of PORO is clearly incorrect, as this word  has 3 distinct meanings, one of which is the Linear B word for “a foal”, as demonstrated by Chris Tselentis in his Linear B Lexicon, here:

Tselentis PORO

(The other 2 meanings of POME offered by Tselentis do not fit the context)

while POME is quite obviously Mycenaean Greek for “shepherd”:

Tselentis POME

Keyse also notes that Michael Ventris identified 3 major styles for incisions - those at Knossos, Pylos and Mycenae. In his own words: The vertical lines are quite faint scratches and not easily seen. The cuts in the clay are ‘under-cut’ i.e. pushed in at an angle . This preoccupation with Linear B scribal hands recurs in a great many articles on Linear B. Keyse also covers the what he ascertains to be the phonetic sounds of the numerics on this tablet. He also emphasizes the nature and particulars characteristics of the scribal hand on this tablet.

But it his conclusion which is most fascinating. He says,

In conclusion: 

What would Dd1171 sound like if read aloud? Po-Ro. 20 OVISm, 72 OVISf. Pa-I-To. Pa 8 OVISm. While it reasonable to say that Linear B was no more the spoken language of its day than ‘double-entry bookkeeping’ speak is for accounting clerks today it is also true to say that accountants do on occasions talk in journals and double-entry (and not only when at dinner parties and down the pub) and they certainly call over inventories to each other. It is clear that Linear B had a sound but perhaps it is unlikely that we can fairly reproduce it today. Considering the importance of numbers within the Linear B archive I find it surprising that no phonic system has been devised to represent them or if devised is not clearly documented in the literature. 

COMMENT by Richard Vallance Janke on the sound, i.e. the general pronunciation of Linear B. In actuality, we probably do have some idea of how Mycenaean Greek was pronounced. Its closest cousin was Arcado-Cypriot, represented both by its own syllabary, Linear C, and by its own archaic alphabet. The Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot dialects were much closer phonetically than even Ionic and Attic Greek. Phonological details of the archaic Arcado-Cypriot dialect appear in C.D. Buck, The Greek Dialects, © 1955, 1998. ISBN 1-85399-566-8, on pg. 144. He provides even more information on Arcado-Cypriot on pp. 7-8, and classifies it as an East Greek dialect, pg. 9. This is highly significant, because if Arcado-Cypriot is East Greek, ergo Mycenaean Greek also is. This places both of the archaic East-Greek dialects, Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot, firmly in the camp of all East Greek dialects, including Arcadian, Aeolic, Lesbian, Cyprian, Pamphylian, Thessalian, Boeotian, and the much later Ionic and Attic dialects. So it is probably fair to say that we may have at least an idea, even if somewhat inaccurate, of how Mycenaean Greek was pronounced. And this has huge implications for the further study of Mycenaean Greek phonology.


Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, the Elegant Culmination of Syllabaries from Minoan Linear A through to Mycenaean Linear B

The title of my submission to Vol. 13 (2017) Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448 is to be:

Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, the Elegant Culmination of Syllabaries from Minon Linear through to Mycenaean Linear B.

cover-as-2015

This article will feature an overview of each of the syllabaries in turn and the languages and dialects they represent: Minoan for Linear A, the earliest East Greek dialect Mycenaean for Linear B, and the slightly later dialect Arcado-Cypriot for Linear C. It will be quite some time before I will even be able to make my submission, as Vol. 12 (2016) is still in the pipeline, and authors articles have not been returned to them in their master format for proof-reading. Nor will they be returned to us before the end of 2017. But I like to hedge my bets, and anyway, the aforementioned topic for Vol. 13 (2017) is right down my alley, in view of the fact that I am expert in all three syllabaries (Linear A, B & C) and their respective languages.

the-arcado-cypriot-linear-c-syllabary-annotated

NOTE it is absolutely de rigueur to read the table of the Arcado-Cypriot Linear C syllabary above, if you are to get any real grasp of its enormous significance, not only for the development of literary ancient Greek, which it pioneered, but retrospectively for a proper understanding of Mycenaean Linear B phonetics.

The article will explore in great depth the legacy of Minoan Linear A for Mycenaean Linear B and that of Mycenaean Linear B for Arcado-Cypriot Linear C in turn. Finally, we shall address the even more striking historical legacy of Arcado-Cypriot Linear C itself, as this last syllabary in the series of 3 syllabaries was to have a real impact on the historical Greek era (ca. 1100 BCE – 400 BCE).

What is most striking about the evolution of these three syllabaries is that, as we pass from one to the next, the syllabaries become more streamlined and more simplified. The Minoan Linear A syllabary is the most complex, with a very large number of syllabograms, many of which are undeciphered. While there are ideograms in Minoan Linear A, there are fewer of them in Linear A than in Mycenaean Linear B, which made extensive use of them for the purposes of accurate, minimalized inventory taking. On the other hand, by the time we get to Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, the picture changes drastically. Almost all of the syllabograms in Linear C look completely unlike their Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B forbears. They look different. But appearances can be and are, in the case of Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, very deceiving. While the syllabograms in Arcado-Cypriot Linear C look different from those in Mycenaean Linear B (leaving Minoan Linear A aside, because it is too archaic and too complex), almost all of them bear the same phonetic values as their Linear B counterparts. But what is most remarkable about Arcado-Cypriot Linear C is that it utterly abandoned ideograms, once and for all. There are several cogent reasons for this amazing development, which I shall address when I finally come around to writing this article, probably sometime in 2018.

I have already discussed this topic in recent posts on the Linear A, Linear B & Linear C keyboard templates, and so I would ask you to refer back to them for clarification on any issues which may elude you, and which I do not address in this post, for the simple reason that I have not even yet begun my article for Archaeology and Science. But, of one thing you can be certain, it is bound to be a ground-breaker, like all of my previous articles in this prestigious international archaeological journal.


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


UD: The Real Problems with Gretchen E. Leonhardt’s Commentary on the Rôle of the Syllabogram WE in Linear B as Representative of the final “s” or sigma stem in Mycenaean Greek.

With reference to our previous post, I now fully acknowledge her unique contributions to the use of the syllabogram WE in Mycenaean Greek as follows:

Many Mycenaean Linear B [words] ending with “WE” indicate that “WE” as the last syllable of such Mycenaean words is actually the consonant “S”. Unfortunately, at the time of that post, I entirely neglected to credit Ms. Leonhardt for her professed “discovery” that the syllabogram WE in the ultimate position in Mycenaean Linear B words can and often does exactly correspond with a final sigma or “s” stem. I hereby correct my oversight.

Click this banner to read it in its entirety:

Lexicon post 1

However, on her own Linear A, Linear B & Linear C blog, Ms. Leonhardt makes this telling observation on the rôle of the syllabogram WE in Linear B as being the exact equivalent of final “s” or sigma stem in Mycenaean Greek when it is in the ultimate position in a Mycenaean Greek word stem (relevant parts underlined):

POST  Konosos.net re WE ultimate
Now this I believe to be a significant contribution to our ongoing understanding of the phonetic values of syllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B, in this particular instance of the possible of the final sigma stem to the syllabogram WE in the ultimate.

But I am obliged to set the record straight, reserving full copyright to Ms. Leonhardt on this account, with the strict provisos I underline below.

I am in fact, not at all in accord with with Ms. Leonhardt’s theory in this regard. Quite to the contrary. I understand that if Ms. Leonhardt wishes to take this stance, she is perfectly entitled to do so. But I respectfully disagree. In her observations on the syllabogram WE in the ultimate as acting as the sigma stem, I find myself greatly at odds with her conclusion on several key counts. Moreover, she flatly contradicts herself when she asserts that,These suggest that the inclusion of the final consonant * without a vowel nucleus was either a later development or was a contemporaneous dialectical development.” (where “final consonant * ” refers specifically to the sigma stem).  Apart from that fact that she unnecessarily repeats the word “development” the statement is clearly misleading on several counts:

(a) Why has Ms. Leonhardt omitted a specific reference to the consonant “sigma” in this summary statement? It is always preferable to repeat the actual consonant under consideration than not to, just to be certain readers clearly understand what that consonant is. I fully realize that Ms. Leonhardt will flatly disagree with me on this count, but I would much rather repeat the direct reference to sigma as the consonant stem in question than needlessly repeat the word “development”. In other words, I would have phrased the statement as follows:

These Linear B pairs suggest that the inclusion of the final consonant sigma without a vowel nucleus was either a later or a contemporaneous dialectical development.

... except that even with these changes, the statement is still unclear and quite misleading.  
   
(b) If Ms. Leonhardt means to say that this phenomenon was a later development (in Mycenaean Greek), this presupposes that in early Mycenaean Greek the inclusion of the final consonant sigma without a vowel nucleus did not in fact exist, and that the only phonetic attribution that could have been assigned to the syllabogram WE in early Mycenaean was, quite simply, WE.

(c) I am quite at a loss with reference to her claim that, on the other hand, it (meaning the assignment of ultimate sigma as consonant stem) was – as she calls it - “a contemporaneous dialectical development”. Contemporaneous with what? - with the early Mycenaean Greek value of WE, in which case WE would have simultaneously meant WE (i.e. itself ) and ultimate sigma as consonant stem in early Mycenaean Greek – OR -

that the evolution of the early Mycenaean phonetic value of WE as itself and nothing more than that into WE + ultimate sigma as consonant stem was in fact contemporaneous with the appearance of the latter in later Mycenaean Greek. But this constitutes a flat-out contradiction in terms. Either WE always stood for WE + ultimate sigma as consonant stem from the very beginning of Mycenaean Greek in Linear B, or it never did. You cannot have it both ways. Languages do not fundamentally and arbitrarily change the principle(s) upon which word stems are formed in mid-stream.

Languages simply do not arbitrarily change any of their grammatical underpinnings in mid-stream, without becoming another, entirely new language. This is the case with ancient Greek versus modern Greek. Modern Greek is a different and entirely new linguistic phenomenon, in other words, a new language, simply because it has fundamentally re-written wholesale so many of the grammatical principles underlying it, abandoning lock-stock-and-barrel huge chunks of the linguistic structural foundation(s) of ancient Greek. For instance, there are no infinitives as such in modern Greek. That is one huge departure from ancient Greek.

I am certain that Ms. Leonhardt certainly surely did not mean to imply anything like this, but her statement is so unclear that it begs the issue. This is precisely why I always spell out any observation whatsoever I make on Linear B down to the very last detail – even it entails repetition – because I must be certain that I have clearly and unequivocally made myself clear to my readers, most of whom are not familiar with Linear B at all, let alone with the notion of a syllabary.

(d)... and that is precisely where Ms. Leonhardt’s all too brief and all too terse statement falls flat on its face. She unfailingly assumes that her readers are familiar – even intimately so – with the concept of a syllabary. But if the majority of her readers do not know what a syllabary is (and we can be quite sure they do not), then how on earth she expects them to be familiar with the very arcane Minoan Linear A, the complex syllabary, Mycenaean Linear B, or with the slightly less arcane Arcade-Cypriot Linear C simply stumps me. Such an assumption leaves her wide open to misunderstanding, misinterpretation, if not complete bafflement, on the part of her readers, the majority whom are not even necessarily versed in linguistics. In fact, even among linguistics who are profoundly versed in Minoan Linear & Mycenaean Linear B, there are are almost none who have any understanding of Cypro-Minoan Linear C, by far the easiest of the three syllabaries to master. Apart from the Egyptologist, Samuel Birch, who, with the assistant of other researchers, deciphered Arcado-Cypriot Linear C in the first place in the 1870s, very few linguists these days can even read Linear C, apart from Ms. Leonhardt and myself. Summa in veritate, who says they should? Certainly not I. Yes, even we linguists have plenty to learn from one another. I for one am still struggling to unravel the the subtle niceties of both Mycenaean Linear B and Arcado-Cypriot Linear C. I have a long long road ahead of me just trying to cope with these two syllabaries, let alone any other!

e) She then rounds up her observations on the syllabogram WE by noting (correctly) that “As for /we/ in the initial and medial positions, the tentative conclusion is that /we/ shifts to /e/” (My apologies for being unable to reproduce epsilon in the body of my post). The problem here is that /we/ does not shift at all, because it never did in the first place. WE is WE is WE. A rose is a rose is a rose.     

(f) All of my observations above are absolutely critical to a clear-cut understanding the actual rôle the syllabogram WE plays in the ultimate in Mycenaean Linear B as merely an indicator of the unseen presence of a final “s” or sigma stem. I say, “unseen” or invisible, because – and I repeat - WE in Mycenaean Greek is just that WE, i.e. digamma followed by the vowel epsilon or eita ... and nothing else. Since Linear B, being an open-ended vowel-based syllabary, forbids the presence of a consonant in the ultimate of any syllabogram, and more to the point, since no-one in any language ever pronounces the ultima word stem alone without the addition of a proper inflection (verb conjugation or nominal/adjectival declension), the whole argument implodes on itself.

So while Ms. Leonhardt most assuredly holds the copyright on her own professed theory that the syllabogram WE in the ultimate is the exact equivalent of final “s” or sigma indicating the stem of the word in question, for all of the reasons I have cited above, I simply cannot agree with her hypothesis.

My counter-hypothesis, which I shall presently post in great detail, is firmly and roundly based on my regressive-progressive extrapolation of the declension of all nouns in adjectives in the Athematic Third Declension of Mycenaean Linear B I have just posted on our blog. My extrapolated declension of such adjectives and nouns makes it perfectly clear that, even if the syllabograms WE, as well as – I must also add - WA in the ultimate, might both be indicators of the presence of a final “s” or sigma stem pronounced in spoken Mycenaean Greek, this does not mean that WA & WE actually contain within themselves this putatively pronounced final “s” or sigma, simply because they cannot. In fact, the syllabogram WE in the ultimate position in the dative/locative/instrumental singular presupposes the total absence of any final “s” or sigma stem, clearly marking instead the actual presence of an ultimate “i”, the tell-tale indicator of that (those) case(s). The ultimate “i” in the dative/locative/instrumental was always present in archaic Greek dialects, and subscripted into the iota subscript much later in ancient Greek, as in the Attic dialect.

In other words, my own hypothesis of the actual rôle of ultimate WA & WE in Mycenaean Linear B is at marked variance with that of Ms. Leonhardt on the same issue.

Keep posted.

Richard


An Easy Guide to Learning Arcado-Cypriot Linear C & I mean easy!: Click to ENLARGE

Arcado-Cypriot Linear c Syllaqbograms Levels 1-4
If any of you out there have already mastered either Minoan Linear A or Mycenaean Linear B or both, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C is likely to come as a bit of a shock. Although the phonetic values of the syllabograms in Linear C are identical to their Linear B counterparts, with very few exceptions, the appearance of Linear C syllabograms is almost always completely at odds with their Linear B counterparts, again with very few exceptions. If this sounds confusing, allow me to elucidate.

A: Appearance of Linear B & Linear C Syllabograms. Linear C syllabograms look like this. If you already know Linear B, you are probably saying to yourself, What a mess!, possibly even aloud. I can scarcely blame you. But courage, courage, all is not lost. Far from it. Click to ENLARGE:

Linear C syllabograms 2014 
Only the following syllabograms look (almost) alike in both Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C [see (a) below]:

NA PA TA * SE * LO * PO *

* There is a slight difference between those syllabograms marked with an asterisk *

DA in Linear B is identical to TA in Linear C because Linear C has no D + vowel series, but uses the T + vowel series instead.
SE in Linear B has 3 vertical strokes, whereas in Linear C it has only 2.
RO in Linear B is identical to LO in Linear C. While Linear C has both and R + vowel series, it uses the L + vowel series as the equivalent of the Linear B R series.
PO stands vertically in Linear B, but is slanted about 30 degrees to the right in Linear C.

All other syllabograms in these two syllabaries are completely dissimilar; so you might think you are on your own to learn the rest of them in Linear C. But in fact, you are not. I can help a lot. See below, after the section on the Phonetic Values of Linear B & Linear C Syllabograms.

B: Phonetic Values of Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C Syllabograms:

Here the reverse scenario applies. Once you have mastered all of the Linear C syllabograms by their appearance, you can rest pretty much assured that the phonetic values of almost all syllabograms in both syllabaries are identical, with very few exceptions. Even in those instances where their phonetic values appear not to be identical, they are in fact identical, for all intents and purposes. This is because the ancient Greek dialects were notorious for wide variations in pronunciation, ergo in orthography. Anyone at all familiar with ancient Greek dialects can tell you that the pronunciation and spelling of an identical document, were there ever any such beast, would vary markedly from, say, Arcado-Cypriot to Dorian to Attic alphabetic. I can hear some of you protest, “What do you mean, the Arcado-Cypriot alphabet? I thought the script for Arcado-Cypriot was the syllabary Linear C.” You would be only half right. In fact, the Arcadians and Cypriots wrote their documents either in Linear or in their version of the ancient Greek alphabet, or in both at the same time. This is the case with the famous Idalion decree, composed in the 5th. Century BCE: Click to ENLARGE

Idalion Tablet Facsimile Cyprus
The series of syllabograms beginning with the consonant R + any of the vowels A E I O & U is present in Mycenaean Linear B.  However, the series of syllabograms beginning with the consonant L + any of the vowels A E I O & U is entirely absent from Mycenaean Linear B, while Arcado-Cypriot Linear C has a series of syllabograms for both of the semi-consonants L & R. It rather looks like the Arcadians & Cypriots had already made the clear distinction between the semi-vowels L & R, firmly established and in place with the advent of the earliest form of the ancient Greek alphabet, which sported separate semi-vowels for L & R.

Likewise, the series of syllabograms beginning with the consonant Q + any of the vowels A E I & O is present in Mycenaean Linear B, but entirely absent from Arcado-Cypriot Linear C. Conversely, the series of syllabograms beginning with the consonant X + the vowels A or E (XA & XE) is entirely absent from in Mycenaean Linear B, but present in Arcado-Cypriot Linear C.

For the extremely significant socio-cultural linguistic explanation for this apparent paradox (I say, apparent, because it is in fact unreal), we shall have to defer to the next post.

WARNING! Always be on your guard never to confuse Linear B & Linear C syllabograms which look (almost exactly) alike – the sole exceptions being NA PA TA SE LO & PO, since you can be sure that their phonetic values are completely at odds.

Various strategies you can resort to in order to master Linear C fast!   

(a) The Linear B & Linear C syllabograms NA PA TE SE LO & PO are virtually the same, both in appearance and in pronunciation.
(b) Taking advantage of the real or fortuitous resemblance of several syllabograms to one another &
(c) Geometric Clustering: Click to ENLARGE
Similarities in & Geometric Clustering of Linear C Syllabograms
What is really astonishing is that the similarities between the syllabograms on the second line & their geometric clustering on the third are identical! So no matter which approach you adopt (b) or (c) or both for at least these syllabograms, you are a winner.
     
Failing these approaches, try
(d) Mnemonics: For instance, we could imagine that RO is a ROpe, PE = Don’t PEster me!, SA = SAve $, TO is TOFu etc. or we could even resort to
(e) Imagery! For instance, we could imagine that A E & I are a series of stars, RI NI & KE all look like variations on the letter E, that LE is the symbol for infinity, WE is an iron bar etc. For Mnemonics & Imagery, I am not suggesting that you follow my own arbitrary interpretations, except perhaps for LE, which is transparent. Take your imagination where it leads you.
Finally (f) the really great news is that the Linear C syllabary abandoned homophones, logograms and ideograms, doing away with them lock-stock-and-barrel. This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B syllabaries. The first had so many syllabograms, homophones, logograms and ideograms that it can be a real pain in the butt to learn Linear A. Mycenaean Linear B greatly simplified the entire mess, reducing the number and complexity of syllabograms & homophones, but unfortunately retaining well over a hundred logograms and ideograms, which are equally a pain in the you know what. In other words, the process of greater and greater simplication was evolutionary. This phenomenon is extremely common across the spectrum of world languages. 

What the Linear C scribes agreed upon, the complete elimination of anything but syllabograms, was the last & greatest evolutionary phase in the development of the Minoan-Greek syllabaries before the Greeks finally reduced even Linear C to its own variable alphabet of some 24-27 letters, depending on the dialect. But even the 3 syllabaries, Linear A, B & C, all had the 5 vowels, A E I O & U, which already gave them an enormous advantage over almost all other ancient scripts, none of which had vowels, with the sole exception of Sanskrit, as far as I know. That alone was quite an achievement. If you have not yet mastered the Linear B syllabary, it goes without saying that all of these techniques can be applied to it. The same goes for the Minoan Linear A syllabary, though perhaps to a lesser extent.

The Real Potential for Extrapolation of these Principles to Learning any Script:
Moreover, at the most general level for learning linguistic scripts, ancient or modern, whether they be based on pictographs, ideograms alone (as with some Oriental languages, such as Chinese, Japanese & Korean, at least when they resorted to the Kanji script), or any combination of ideograms, logograms & syllabograms (all three not necessarily being present) or even alphabetic, they will almost certainly stand the test of the practical validity of any or all of these approaches for learning any such script. I have to wonder whether or not most linguists have ever considered the practical implications of the combined application of all of these principles, at least theoretically.

Allow me to conclude with this telling observation. Children especially, even from the age of 2 & a half to 3 years old, would be especially receptive to all of these techniques, which would ensure a rapid assimilation of any script, even something as simple as an alphabet of anywhere from 24 letters (Italian) to Russian Cyrillic (33 letters), as I shall clearly demonstrate with both the modern Greek & Latin alphabet a little later this month.

PS. If any of you are wondering, as I am sure many of you who are familiar with our blog must be, I have an extremely associative, cross-correlative mind, a rather commonplace phenomenon among polyglot linguists, such as myself. In fact, my thinking can run in several directions, by which I mean I frequently process one set of cross-correlative associations, only to consider another and another, each in quite different directions from the previous.  If that sounds like something Michael Ventris did, it is because that is precisely what he did to decipher almost all of Mycenaean Linear B - almost all, but not quite. As for the remaining 10 % or so which has so far defied decipherment, I promise you you are in for a great surprise very soon, perhaps as early as the spring of 2015, when my research colleague, Rita Roberts, and I shall be publishing an in-depth research paper in PDF on the Internet - a study which is to announce a major breakthrough in the further decipherment of Linear B. Those of you who frequent this blog on a regular basis already know what we are up to. As for those of you who are not regular visitors, if you read all the posts under the rubric, Supersyllabograms (at the top of this page), you are going to find out anyway.       

Richard


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

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