Lecture23 - Writing Systems of the World Lecture 23 (April...

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Writing Systems of the World 1 Lecture 23 (April 13, 2005) Ventris used the clues from apparently related words to construct syllabic “grids” with columns containing Linear B letters that seemed likely to share a vowel and rows containing letters that seemed likely to share a consonant. • To illustrate with two of Kober’s triplets, if the three words all contain the same stem or base, and if Linear B is a quasi-syllabary, it’s likely that the boxed letters below represent syllables that contain the same consonant but a different vowel (recall Spanish Mexico , Mexicano , Mexicana ). .Vv ?,f Me xi co .Vc ] ?, d] Me xi ca no .Vc± ?, Me xi ca na • At the same time, if the two triplets are parallel, and the other assumptions are correct, it’s likely that the boxed letters below represent syllables that contain the same vowel but different consonants (compare Spanish Mexicano / Cubano , Mexicana / Cubana ). .Vv ?,f Me xi co Cu ba .Vc ] ?, d] Me xi ca no Cu ba no .Vc± ?, Me xi ca na Cu ba na • Using all the clues he had, Ventris experimented by arranging letters into a two-dimensional “grid” with a column for each suspected vowel and a row for each suspected consonant. Referring back to the examples given above, the letters v and c seemed likely to share a
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Writing Systems of the World 2 Lecture 23 (April 13, 2005) • The point of constructing a grid is that if you can guess the syllable represented by a particular letter, you can try the same vowel for every letter in the same column and the same consonant for every letter in the same row. One right guess leads to a “chain reaction”. What seems to have been the key was Ventris’s suspicion that Kober’s triplets involved Cretan place names. • Kober had extracted her triplets from the Knossos tablets. When the transcriptions of the Pylos tablets became available for comparison, Ventris noticed that the words in Kober’s triplets never appeared on the Pylos tablets. This led him to suspect that Kober’s triplets involved place names that were unique to Crete. • Place names are often retained even when one group of people replaces another and one language replaces another. For example, Tucson can be traced back to a Pima or Yaqui original, and Casagrande to a Spanish original, but English-speaking inhabitants of Arizona haven’t replaced them with English names. • Consequently, regardless of what language Linear B might record, it was reasonable to
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Lecture23 - Writing Systems of the World Lecture 23 (April...

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