Tag Archive: syllables



summer haiku d’été - common loons = plongeons huards

common loons
phantom howlers
pierce the moon

common loons haiku

plongeons huards
fantômes qui hurlent
percent la lune

Richard Vallance

Commentary on the rhythm and format of Canadian haiku:

In my view, the rhythm and assonance of haiku should be poetic, otherwise the haiku is not poetry.

Moreover, the so-called 5-7-5 syllable convention = 5 syllables in the first line, 7 syllables in the second and 5 syllables in the third line is not valid whatsoever, because it does not exist in Japanese. Haiku should be free form, allowing anywhere from 7 or 8 to 17 syllables. For instance, in the common loons haiku in English above, we have 3-4-3 = 10 syllables. And since the grammar and syntax of different languages is never the same, the same haiku in French runs to 4-4-3 = 11 syllables, which is scarcely surprising. All too many haijin (haiku poets) try to force their haiku into the strict framework of so-called 5-7-5, with the result that many of their haiku sound stilted and unnatural.

This is especially of translations of Japanese haiku, the most famous of which is the “frog in the pond” haiku of Matsuo Basho (1644-1694). Here are 3 translations of his haiku, one bad in 5-7-5 format and 2 good ones in free format:

bad translation:

Pond, there, still and old!
A frog has jumped from the shore.
The splash can be heard. 

Failures in this translation:
first line: insertion of the words “there” and “still” to flush out the line
second line:  “has jumped”, past tense & “from the shore” is not found in the original Japanese haiku at all!
third line: in the passive voice 

Trans. Eli Siegel

good translations:

old pond
frog leaping
splash

Trans. Cid Corman 

the old pond,
a frog jumps in:
plop! 

Trans. Alan Watts

Original haiku in Japanese:

Furu ike ya
kawazu tobikomu
mizu no oto

This looks like 5-7-5 syllables, but as you can see for yourself in the original haiku in the kanji script, there are actually only 3 kanji characters in the first line, with 5 in the second line and 3 in the third for a total of just 11. So the so-called 5-7-5 strict formula is blown out of the water!

old pond haiku in kanji





Is it even possible to determine what the word for “fig(s)” is in Minoan Linear A? You may be surprised!

Among several other tablets in both Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B, Linear A tablet HT 88 contains the supersyllabogram NI on the second line:

ht-88-facsimile-620

The question is, what is the actual word for “fig(s)” in Minoan Linear A? Apparently, no-one knows. The odd thing about this supersyllabogram NI is that it was taken over lock-stock-and-barrel by the Mycenaeans. We will never know why, but it is clear that they thought it convenient simply to hang onto it. It may very well be that that the Mycenaeans continued to use the Minoan word for “fig” alongside their early Greek suza. If that is the case, it is all the more relevant for us to attempt to reconstruct the Minoan word for “fig”. Whatever the circumstances, we are still left with the perplexing question, what is the word for “fig” in Minoan Linear A anyway?

In spite of apparently insurmountable obstacles, it may not be so difficult to reconstruct as we might imagine. If we stop to consider even briefly what the word for “fig” is that I have methodically selected in 13 languages, ancient and modern, belonging to 6 different classes, we discover that all but one of them are either monosyllabic or disyllabic. In one instance only is it trisyllabic, pesnika, in Serbian. This does not come as any surprise to me as a linguist, though it may to the so-called  “common person” . Here are the words for “fig” in 16 languages belonging to 6 different languages classes: 
  
KEY to language classes:

AU = Austronesian/ IN = Indo-European/ LI = language isolate/ NC = Niger-Congo/ SE = Semitic/ UR = Uralic. A language isolate is one which does not belong to any international language class whatsoever, but which stands entirely on its own. 

AU: Indonesian ara Malay rajah Maori piki
IN: French figue German Feige Greek (Mycenaean) suza (Attic) suchon Italian fico Latin ficus Norwegian fiken Portuguese figo Serbian pesnika Spanish higo
LI: Basque piku
NC: Swahili mtimi (sub-class = Bantu)
SE: Maltese tin (the only Semitic language in Latin script)
UR: Finnish kuva

Under the circumstances, I am given to wonder whether or not the Minoan Linear A word for “fig” is monosyllabic, disyllabic or possibly even trisyllabic. It is clear that it cannot be monosyllabic, because the supersyllabogram for “fig” in both Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B is NI. And supersyllabograms are always the first syllable only of di- tri- or multi-syllabic words in both of these languages. Given this scenario, is it possible or even feasible to reconstruct the Minoan Linear A for “fig”? Surprisingly enough, the answer is yes. Why so? It just so happens that most Minoan Linear A words which are diminutives are feminine with the ultimate being either pa3 or ra2. Under the circumstances, it only takes one small step to restore the two mostly likely candidates for the Minoan Linear A for “fig”. And these are:

what-is-the-minoan-linear-a-word-for-figs

It is of course possible to argue that the Minoan word for “fig” is trisyllabic, but this is highly unlikely, since the only trisyllabic word for “fig” in all 13 of the languages cited above is the Serbian, pesnika. Hence, I am reasonably convinced that the Minoan Linear A word for “fig(s)” is either nipa3 (nipai) or nira2 (nirai).

Finally, as it is clear that since the word for “fig(s)” does not even remotely correspond to any of the 13 words in 6 language classes, ancient and modern, above, not even Basque, it may very well turn out that, like Basque, the Minoan language is also a language isolate. I should not be the least but surprised if it were.  

This discussion will be part and parcel in my upcoming article in Vol. 12 (2016) of Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448, “Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the Rosetta Stone to Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) vessels and pottery” and a Glossary of 110 words”, the third article in a row I shall have published in this prestigious international annual by the beginning of 2018 at the very latest.


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

jackdempseywriter

Just another WordPress.com site

Learning to write

Just your average PhD student using the internet to enhance their CV

Minoan Linear A, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae

Minoan Linear A, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae

Reowr

Poetry that purrs. It's reowr because the cat said so.

Egyptian Moon ~My love of Ancient Egypt~

Hieroglyphic,Ancientegypt,archaeology

Eris' Smile

I'm a reconstructionist-ish Hellenic Polytheist/Pagan. My pronouns are they/them, and I am gay as hell. I mostly intend to write about paganism, politics and maybe Shinto sometimes.

CrapPile

A blog about writing, society, and life itself

bal837

A topnotch WordPress.com site

Santorini Tours

Private Tours in Santorini

Just another WordPress site

How to be successful in internet marketing.

A Geordie Lost in London

How to live the London life, on a Northern budget

Penelope Burns

Write | Blog | Create | Earn

Gleaning The Scriptures

The Savior Lives To Teach.

Macedonian Ancestry

"I thank the gods for being Greek" - Alexander the Great

THE GEOPOLITICAL CHESS GAME

Geopolitics - The Road To Global Ruin * Γεωπολιτική - Ο Δρόμος Προς Παγκόσμια Καταστροφή

Care, Bliss and the Universe

Life, the Universe and Yourself

alexankarrbooks

licensed to cunt

William Rubel

The Magic of Fire : Traditional Foodways

Albania -ilire- Pellazgët

GJUHA SHQIPE_ETIMOLOGJI

anne frandi-coory

A Life in Two Halves

Traditional Polytheist

A site devoted to the study and discussion of ethnic and traditional polytheism throughout the world, in regard to its nature, history, and present standing in general.

Rilkes Panther

fictional stories and social commentary

LAZYBUTHEALTHY

Easy healthy recipes for lazy busy people

The Whirling Bee

Reality has no walls, no edges - a journey in altered states of consciousness

SV3DPRINTER

The future of humanity with science and technology research based on 3D, 4D, and 5D Printing. With sv3dprinter.com, small businesses can thrive:)

Diary of a Pagan Art Student

History, folklore, art, paganism

CreyenteAarav

Celebrating Poetry.

O LADO ESCURO DA LUA

Minha maneira de ver, falar, ouvir e pensar o mundo... se quiser, venha comigo...

blog bangla mail

Welcome My Site

GIRLS16@LUND

4th Lund Conference on Games, Interaction, Reasoning, Learning and Semantics

Site Title

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” — Maya Angelou

When Women Inspire

Female empowerment | Inspiring women to success

Dirty Sci-Fi Buddha

Musings and books from a grunty overthinker

Yahuah Is Everything

My blogs on The Bible and the true name of God Yahuah and His Son,Yahusha,

Musings on History

Teacher looking at Ancient History and Gothic Literature in an historical context mainly.

The Deadliest Blogger: Military History Page

The historical writing of Barry C. Jacobsen

THE SHIELD OF ACHILLES

Artistic Reconstruction and Original Translation From Homer's "Iliad" by Kathleen Vail

Akhelas Writing

The Myriad Musings of Austin Conrad

%d bloggers like this: