Tag Archive: semiotic



KEY POST: 2 vastly different decipherments of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada). Does either measure up?

In this post we compare two vastly different decipherments of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada). The key question here can be posed in three different ways:

1. Does one of these two decipherments measure up significantly more than the other?
2. Does either measure up? 
3. Does neither measure up?

Here are the two decipherments, first that of Pavel Serafimov and Anton Perdih:

Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 Slavic

and secondly, my own decipherment:

Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 by RIchard Vallance Janke

According to option 3 above, it is of course possible that neither of these translations forms a faithful semantic and semiotic map of the original Linear A text (whatever it actually means). On the other hand, it is much more likely that option 1. above is applicable, namely that only one of the two decipherments at least approaches a faithful semantic and semiotic map of the original Linear A text , although we can never really know how faithfully until such time as Minoan Linear B is properly and fully deciphered. And that will not happen anytime soon, due to the extreme paucity of extant Linear B tablets and fragments (< 500), of which the vast majority are fragments, and thus ineffectual in providing any impetus to even a partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A. However, all is not lost. Far from it. There quite a few (almost) full intact Minoan Linear A tablets, all of which are very much more susceptible to contributing positively to at least a partial decipherment of Linear A. To date, the Linear A tablets which I have been able to decipher, more or less accurately, are HT 13, HT 14, (HT 17), HT 21, HT 31, HT 38, HT 91, HT 92, HT 94 and HT 132 (all from Haghia Triada)
ZA 1 ZA 8 ZA 10 (Zakros) 
GO Wc 1 (Gournia) 
and the Troy spindle whorls

I have also managed to decipher one or two words on several other tablets from Haghia Triada, Zakros and elsewhere, without however being able to decipher the remainder of the integral text, which utterly escapes me, and is therefore still to be considered undecipherable, at least for the time being. There is no telling whether or not either I myself or someone else will be able to decipher more words from the rest of these tablets or even some of the tablets entire in the near future. Only time will tell, but I believe the prospects are much better now than they were even a few months ago, i.e. prior to May 2016, when I embarked on the exciting journey to decipher as much of Minoan Linear A as I could. It is no small achievement, I believe, for me to have been able to decipher at least the 12 Linear A tablets listed above, if indeed my decipherments approach cohesive accuracy, both internally and by means of cross-correlative regressive extrapolation from almost identical to similar Mycenaean Linear B tablets.

With respect to my own decipherment of HT 13 (Haghia Triada) above, I wish to make the following highly pertinent observations. I leave it up to you to decide for yourself (yourselves) whether or not the assumptions I have meticulously made with specific reference to what appear to be derivational standard units of measurement in Minoan Linear A are in fact that. Immediately pursuant to my highly accurate decipherment of HT 31 (Haghia Triada) on vessels and pottery, for which Mycenaean Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is the quasi Rosetta Stone (as I have re-iterated many times since that decipherment), I turned my attention to three words which appeared over and over on several Minoan Linear A tablets, these being reza, adureza & tereza. Philologists such as Andras Zeke of the Minoan Language Blog had previously and consistently “deciphered” these three terms as being toponyms or place names, but I was immediately suspicious of such an interpretation, given that both adureza and tereza have the prefixes adu and te prepended to what strikingly appears to be their own root, reza. Subsequent research revealed two more terms most likely derived from the root, reza = the standard unit of linear measurement in Minoan Linear A (as far as I can tell... more on this to come). These are dureza and kireza. So the total number of terms relative to measurement of large, not minute, quantities in Minoan Linear A appear to be 5. That is quite a tally.

+ units of measurement in Minoan Linear A: exact values unknown

reza = standard unit of measurement (linear)
adureza = dry unit of measurement (something like a “bushel”)
dureza = unit of measurement (unknown) [1]
kireza = dry measurement for figs (a basket) [2]
tereza = liquid unit of measurement (something like “a gallon” or at the bare minimum “a litre” [3]  

NOTES:
[1] While I have been utterly unable to surmise what standard unit of measurement dureza is supposed to represent, even the standard units for reza, adureza & tereza are mere approximations. For more on this see the concluding paragraph of this post.  
[2] While I am virtually certain that kireza is the standard unit for the measurement of a basket of figs, this still begs the question, what size is the basket? At any rate, it is pretty obvious that the basket size cannot be larger than can reasonably be carried on one shoulder, since that is the way baskets are carried in practically every culture, ancient or modern. So in this case, the approximation for the standard unit of measurement figs, kireza, is considerably more accurate than all of the others.      
[3] Obviously, in light of [1] above, my guesstimates for the standard units of dry and wet measurement (adureza and tereza respectively) are just that, and nothing more.   

rawa tiri wanaka

Now if we compare the variables in the prefixes to the root, reza (adu, du, ki & te) with the similar practice of suffixes appended to word roots in Mycenaean Linear B, which is the direct opposite practice we have just propounded for Minoan Linear A, we nevertheless discover that the same level of consistency and coherence applies equally to both languages, as clearly illustrated by the following table, in which the prefixes listed above for Minoan Linear A appear at the end, preceded by no fewer than three roots (which are invariable) and appear in front of highly variable suffixes in Mycenaean Linear B. The roots are, respectively, raw, which references anything to do with people, tri, which references anything related to the number 3 and wana, which references any connotation of kingship or royalty in Mycenaean Greek.

While the practices for affixing are appositive in Minoan Linear A (which prepends affixes to the root) and in Mycenaean Linear B (which appends suffixes to the root or stem), the procedure the two languages follows is one and the same, flipped on its head either way you view it, i.e. from the perspective of Mycenaean Linear B or vice versa, from that of Minoan Linear A. The underlying principle which defines this procedure is the cognitive frame, as propounded by my colleague and friend, Eugenio R. Luján. So let us simply call the procedure (whether from the perspective of Minoan Linear or its opposite in Mycenaean Linear B) just that, the cognitive frame, which is also the template for the procedure, actually proceeding forward in both languages, each in its own way. Either way, the procedure works like a charm. As Eugenio R. Luján so succinctly summarizes it in his article, Semantic Maps and Word Formation: Agents, Instruments, and Related Semantic Roles, in Linguistic Discovery (Dartmouth College), Vol 8, Issue 1, 2010. pp. 162-175, and I quote:

... The methodology of semantic maps has been applied mainly to the analysis of grammatical morphemes (affixes and adpositions) pg. 162

and again,

Previous work on semantic maps has shown how the polysemy of grammatical morphemes is not random, but structured according to underlying principles....

Although the semantic map methodology has not been applied to the analysis of word formation patterns, there is no reason to suppose that derivational morphemes behave differently from grammatical morphemes. In fact, taking into account the findings of the intensive work done in the field of grammaticalization in the last thirty years or so, we know now that lexical and grammatical morphemes constitute a continuum, and their meanings are organized in the same way—inside a cognitive frame,... pg. 163 

and most significantly,

In contrast to the lexicon, the number of derivational morphemes and word
formation patterns in any given language is limited. pg. 163.

I wish to lay particular stress on this last observation by Eugenio R. Luján, because he is right on the money. In terms of the way I have expounded my own explanation of how the procedure of the cognitive frame works, as I see it, what he is actually saying here is this: the derivational morphemes (i.e. the prefixes in Minoan Linear A and the suffixes in Mycenaean Linear B) is limited, and in fact very limited in comparison with the orthographic and grammatical lexicon in either language, or for that matter, in any language, ancient or modern.

All of this brings us full circle back to my own original assumption, namely, that adureza, dureza, kireza and tereza are all derivational morphemes of reza in Minoan Linear A and that the suffixes appended to the roots raw, tri and wana in Mycenaean Linear B are also derivational morphemes. The gravest problem with the decipherment of HT 13 (Haghia Triada) advanced by Pavel Serafimov and Anton Perdih is that it does not take the cognitive frame or map of derivational morphemes into account at all. So instead, the authors advance entirely different meanings for each of these terms (reza, adureza, dureza, kireza & tereza), entirely oblivious to the the fact that they all share the same root, reza. This factor alone throws profound doubt on their decipherment.

On the other hand, my own decipherment of HT 13 (Haghia Triada) takes the procedure of the cognitive frame or map of derivational morphemes fully into account, with the very same procedure applied to derivational morphemes in Mycenaean Linear B, though in the opposite direction). For the sake of consistency, let us refer to the the cognitive frame or map of derivational morphemes in Minoan Linear A as regressive, given that the variables (the prefixes, adureza, dureza, kireza & tereza) precede the root, reza, and the same frame as progressive in Mycenaean Linear B, in light of the fact that the root or stem is followed by the variable suffixes (derivational morphemes). Be it as it may, prefixes and suffixes are both classed under the umbrella term, affixes, and again, I repeat, the procedure is the same either way. An affix is an affix is an affix, whether or not it comes first (prefix) or last (suffix).

For this reason alone I am convinced that my decipherment of HT 13 is on the right track, even if it is not totally accurate... which it cannot be anyway, in light of the fact that the standard units of measurement for large quantities in Minoan Linear A (reza, adureza, dureza, kireza and tereza) will never be known with any measure of accuracy, given that we can have no idea whatsoever that the “standard” units for anything in either Minoan Linear A or Mycenaean Linear B can ever be really determined. The farther we as philologists or historical linguists go back diachronistically in the historical timeline, the less determinable are units of measurement or, for that matter, different kinds of textiles or pottery, few of which we can know with any measure of certainty either in Minoan Linear A or Mycenaean Linear B.

     

The beginning of my translation of, Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication 2, by Richard Saint-Gelais, Université Laval, Québec, Québec  

Before I get to the beginning of my translation of Richard Saint-Gelais' astonishing article on the practical and theoretical application of Mycenaean Linear B (I kid you not!) to interstellar communication between ourselves and other intelligent extraterrestrial beings, allow me to point out that the notion is not so far-fetched as it might seem at first sight. Certainly, it is not in the same “category” as Ufology or Ufologists chasing kooky dreams in “Area 51”. In fact, NASA itself sponsored this brilliant and insightful investigation which Prof. Sain-Gelais recently undertook under the auspices of NASA.

So this is serious business.. . which is why I am translating it in the first place. But I intend to take the project even further than that. Not only am I translating Prof. Saint-Gelais' in depth study, but I intend to follow my translation and his subsequent original text in French with a lengthy commentary on the feasibility of such interstellar communication, however remote. And remote it is. It is likely that I will need at least another month even to effect the translation, let alone to write the article, which I shall eventually be posting on my academia.edu account. Hopefully, I can then submit it to a scientific journal such as Science

Science

or Astronomy 

astronomy

Only time will tell. But I am quite sure some scientific publication will certainly be interested in this highly original research I have to offer. 

My translation: introduction:

Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication 2

Chapter 5: Semiotic Outlook on SETI

As everyone knows, communication is a sensitive human venture. So there are reasons to doubt that this would be an easy thing to carry off across the universe. In this essay, I shall endeavour to explain a set of theoretical problems which might beset communication between us and extraterrestrial intelligent beings. I shall also attempt to map out the primary difficulties which we may encounter when we come face to face with the phenomenon (or to be more precise the hypothesis) underlying communication, by all appearances, with beings so profoundly unlike ourselves. Such difficulties are often articulated in epistemological terms or of sensorial incompatibility between interstellar beings belonging to such dissimilar species and cultural milieus communicating with one another that that grounds for mutual understanding proper to such communication will very likely be extremely weak. We are not even aware whether or not extraterrestrial beings are likely to perceive and conceive of their own reality in any way similar to the way we do, or if they are subject to the same sorts of cognitive categories as ours, or even if they are able to communicate by sight or sound.

infinite-improbability-drive

Right off the top, I have to say that my position runs along the lines of epistemological skepticism as I have just outlined it. Still, my point of view differs somewhat, without however being incompatible with the epistemological approach. I intend to apply semiotic theories and methodologies to the problem of interstellar communication, all the while placing an emphasis on signs, language, meaning and interpretation. An easy but simplistic approach to the conception of such communication as this can be defined in terms of synchronization of a message received with its prior transmission, with message decoding at target pursuant to its coding at source, in the sense of meaning conveyed through the medium of the message itself considered as vehicle for its own context (Marshall McLuhan, The medium is the message). Still, understanding a message does not necessarily mean extracting something actually present in its own signs. On the contrary, it is implied that such signs can effectively integrated in an interpretational framework allowing the being targeted to confer meaning on them, in the sense that he or she can profit from elaborating on them, rather than extracting them from the source. For instance, let's take the example of a very basic repetitive sign consisting of two equilateral triangles with their bases flush, all the while pointing in opposite directions, one to the left and the other to the right. Occasionally, these two triangles are separated by a vertical line. A experiments re-writing “this” sign on a blackboard conducted with first year students have repeatedly shown me, they are met with looks of astonishment until I can provide them with a hint along the lines of, “Suppose that this is something you have spotted in an elevator”, by furnishing them with a context for interpretation allowing them to recognize the triangles as a conventional symbol opening up portals.

By Richard Saint-Gelais, Université Laval, Québec, Québec 

 
Archéologie, Anthropologie et Communication Interstellaire 2

Introduction:

Chapitre 5: Perspectives sémiotiques sur SETI

SETI@home Multi-Beam

La Communication, comme nous le savons tous, est une entreprise délicate entre les êtres humains. Donc, il y a des raisons de douter que ce serait une chose facile à travers l'univers. Dans cet essai, je vais essayer de décrire un ensemble de problèmes théoriques qui pourraient affecter la communication avec des intelligences extraterrestres. Je vais aussi essayer de cartographier les principales difficultés qui se posent lorsque l'on regarde le phénomène (ou plus exactement l'hypothèse) de communication entre ce qui sera, selon toute vraisemblance, des espèces profondément différentes. Ces difficultés sont souvent exprimées en termes d'épistémique et d'incompatibilité sensorielle entre des interlocuteurs interstellaires qui appartiennent à des espèces et des cultures si différentes que le terrain d'entente nécessaire à la communication pourrait être vraiment très faible. Nous ne savons pas si les extraterrestres vont percevoir et concevoir leur réalité de façon similaire à la nôtre, en utilisant les mêmes catégories cognitives, ou même si ils vont communiquer par les voies visuelles et acoustiques.

NASA

Je dois dire d'emblée que ma position est similaire au scepticisme épistémique que je viens de mentionner. Mais mon point de vue sera légèrement différent de ça, mais pas incompatible avec la perspective épistémique. Je vais appliquer les théories et les méthodes d'analyses sémiotiques au problème de la communication interstellaire, en mettant l'accent sur ??les signes, le langage, le sens et l'interprétation. Une facile mais simpliste conception de la communication se définit comme la production d'une émission suivie d'une phase de réception, un codage puis un décodage d'un sens donné à travers un message qui est considéré comme un véhicule pour ce contenu. Mais la compréhension d'un message n'est pas d'extraire quelque chose de physiquement présent dans les signes. Elle implique, au contraire, l'intégration de ces signes dans un cadre d'interprétation qui permet au destinataire de leur donner des significations, un sens que le bénéficiaire doit élaborer, pas extraire. Prenez, par exemple, un signe très simple et fréquent qui consiste en deux triangles équilatéraux placés la base à la base et pointant dans des directions opposées, l'une à gauche, l'autre à droite; Ces deux triangles sont parfois séparés par une ligne verticale. Comme des expériences répétées avec les étudiants de premier cycle me l'ont montré, une reproduction de ce signe sur le tableau noir ne rencontre que perplexité jusqu'à ce que je leur offre l'indice "suppose que c'est quelque chose que vous voyez dans un ascenseur", fournissant une interprétation du contexte, qui leur permet de reconnaître les triangles comme le symbole conventionnel pour ouvrir les portes.

Par Richard Saint-Gelais, Université Laval, Québec, Québec 

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