Tag Archive: spelling conventions



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.    


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.  


Did you know you speak Mycenaean Greek? You do!

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

akero to kono

NOTES:

[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.

Richard

 


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

introductory glossary of general linguistics terminology Part  H-P

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

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

H

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I

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

ideograph = ideogram.

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

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

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

intension. See, connotation 

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

K

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

L

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

M

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

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

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

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

N

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

O

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

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

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

P

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

philology: the humanistic study of historical linguistics. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Richard


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.


Richard


 

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.

FOR THE REST OF THIS YEAR AND WELL INTO 2015, IT IS MY INTENTION TO RECONSTRUCT AS MUCH OF THE CORPUS OF MYCENAEAN GRAMMAR IN LINEAR B AS IS FEASIBLE, GIVEN THE THEORETICAL, CIRCUMSTANTIAL AND EVIDENTIARY CONSTRAINTS WHICH I HAVE ALREADY STRICTLY IMPOSED UPON MYSELF ACCORDING TO MY NEW THEORY OF THE REGRESSIVE-PROGRESSIVE RECONSTRUCTION OF MYCENEAN GRAMMAR. The same theory is as equally and as totally applicable to the regressive-progressive reconstruction of Mycenaean Linear B vocabulary, but that is another (big!) kettle of fish to fry.


Richard



 

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)

Richard

 


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

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


ancient Greek alphabet with approximate pronunciation

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

Richard  
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