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Eteocretan Language Pages


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Introduction

Most of the material in these pages are the results of research I was doing into evidence from Greek alphabetic material for pre-Greek languages in Crete during the 1970s in order to submit a thesis to Birmingham University for the M.Litt. degree. The thesis was submitted and accepted in 1982. Two years later it was printed, without change:
R.A. Brown, 1984, Pre-Greek Speech on Crete, Amsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert. ISBN 90 256 0876 0.

Quite independently, Yves Duhoux was at about the same time compiling a book on the Eteocretan texts and language. The book was published in the same year that I presented my thesis. It is:
Y. Duhoux, 1982, L'Étéocrétois: les textes - la langue, Amsterdam: J. C. Gieben. ISBN 90 70265 05 2.

I did not become aware of the book until after I had submitted my thesis (the book published two year's later was simply a re-print of the thesis; I was not able to make any changes or amendments, which I would dearly liked to have done).

Duhoux's book does consider more material and goes into greater depth; anyone who is seriously interested in this field of study is strongly recommended to obtain a copy of the book. In these pages, except in the bibliographies, I refer to Yves Duhoux's book simply as "Duhoux".

"Lemnian" also considered

Nearly all of these pages deal with the Eteocretan language as it is preserved on inscriptions written in the Greek alphabet. The only other language considered is that of a 6th century BC funerary inscription found on the Island of Lemnos. This language appears to show structural similarities with Etruscan and may be a survival of the old Pelasgian language. It is given mainly because it was given as an appendix in my thesis.

A plea

Sadly, the Pelasgians have attracted many myths, both ancient and modern; likewise the Etruscan languuage has attracted all sorts of wild theories.

Please do NOT mail me about visitors from other planets or galaxies, nor about "What really happened to Atlantis." Also please do not tell me that either Etruscan or Eteocretan (or both) is Albanian, Turkic, Greek, Proto-Latin or Slavic.

I have received more than enough such mails already. Indeed, the vicious intolerance of some emails has led to my considering taking the Lemnian pages down. But I have been urged to keep the page online and persuaded that removing them would be giving to fanatics. If I do receive any such emails they will be discarded as junk.

Also included: examples of how not to translate

The two pages, "Translations" of Lemnos stele and "Translations" of the Epioi text, are given as examples of how not to translate. The method adopted is, alas, too commonly encountered; it is, basically:

  1. First decide what language the inscription is written in.
  2. Then "translate" the inscription according to that language.
    (This requires imagination and patience; but with determination, it will be done.)
  3. Et voilà! You have "proved" that the inscription is written that language!

Languages and scripts not considered

No consideration has been given to the undeciphered Linear A script. In my opinion there has been no successful decipherment. It has been convenient to refer to the Linear A language as "Minoan"; but we cannot be sure whether this is a single language or not. Neither can we be sure how this language (or these languages) relates, if at all, to Eteocretan, which shows no sign of being related either to the Semitic group of languages or to the Indo-European group.

You can find the Linear A corpora in "phonetic transcription" at:
http://people.ku.edu/~jyounger/LinearA/
The phonetic transcriptions use Linear B values for Linear A signs assumed to be the same.

Also not considered in these pages is the famous (or infamous) Phaistos Disk. Although one may find "decipherments" of this disk on YouTube and elsewhere on the Internet, there has, in my opinion, been no successful decipherment of the texts impressed in clay on each side of the disk; nor can there be, as the item is unique and there is no way, at present, of testing any proposed decipherment. Indeed, it is not even certain that the disk contains writing! Some, for example, think it is a board game or a calendar and, indeed, there are those who doubt its authenticity as an ancient object.

For a list of decipherments claims see:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phaistos_Disc_decipherment_claims
for an interesting interpretation of it as a board game, see:
www.recoveredscience.com/phaistoscontents.htm
and for an interpretation of it as a calendar, see:
web.gvdnet.dk/GVD002393/demo2.htm
 

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Created March 2006. Last revision:
Copyright © Ray Brown