Fw: Re: SV: [ANE-2] SV: Reading revolutions
- First, we always work with "the oldest one known" and make deductions from it, until s'thing even older turns up.
Second, I agree with your distinction, which is basically btw. archival and non-archival documents (letters, btw, belong to the latter). But I was under the impression that the view suggested in this thread was that the Ugaritic script was invented by some merchants for commercial purposes, which I objected of course.
As for the Chinese script, does current common opinion accept that it was invented for oracular purposes, or is this just a chance discovery?
--- On Thu, 8/26/10, Robert M Whiting <whiting@...> wrote:
From: Robert M Whiting <whiting@...>
Subject: Re: SV: [ANE-2] SV: Reading revolutions
Date: Thursday, August 26, 2010, 9:16 AM
On Thu, 26 Aug 2010, itamar singer wrote:
> Bob, can you specify on what grounds can you confidently state that "But
> you can be sure that the adaptation [to Ugaritic] wasn't done to write
> literary texts. Basically, merchants/bureaucrats are the only ones who
> have a need for writing." As far as I know, the oldest document in
> Ugaritic is a version of the 14th c. Suppiluliuma I - Niqmaddu treaty
> (despite other unacceptable datings), which I would surely not define as
> an economic or commercial text. Itamar Singer
First, the "oldest" document means the oldest one known, not the first one
ever written. Second, the fact that it is a treaty shows that it fulfills
the bureacratic need for writing. Writing is needed when it is necessary
to have a record that can be verified independently of human memory.
This is a need that is shared by merchants and bureaucrats (which may
include priests) for records of transactions between parties (including
both mercantile and diplomatic) and for records of payment of taxes and
tithes, not by tellers of stories. A treaty is a document that requires
independent verification of its contents; essentially it is a legal
document and may have both economic and commercial implications. Writing
is only later adapted to recording literature.
> --- On Thu, 8/26/10, Niels Peter Lemche <npl@...> wrote:
> From: Niels Peter Lemche <npl@...>
> Subject: SV: [ANE-2] SV: Reading revolutions
> To: "ANEfirstname.lastname@example.org" <ANEemail@example.com>
> Date: Thursday, August 26, 2010, 8:44 AM
> I agree, but that was not my trust: That this alphabet was
> used for a lot more than merchants accounts. And then it was
> also used for letters in Ugaritic. Ritual texts and whatever.
> It might have been construed for business matters -- that is
> basically an assumption based on parallels but in the extant
> material, it had several uses.
> Niels Peter Lemche
> -----Oprindelig meddelelse-----
> Fra: ANEfirstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:ANEemail@example.com] På
> vegne af Robert M Whiting
> Sendt: den 26 augusti 2010 17:40
> Til: ANEfirstname.lastname@example.org
> Emne: Re: [ANE-2] SV: Reading revolutions
> The Ugaritic alphabet is not a new invention, it is merely the
> of the contemporary West Semitic script to cuneiform. But you
> can be sure
> that the adaptation wasn't done to write literary texts.
> merchants/bureaucrats are the only ones who have a need for
> Storytellers memorize their texts.
> Bob Whiting
> On Thu, 26 Aug 2010, Niels Peter Lemche wrote:
> > Sounds like rubbish to me, and that early alphabet's were only
> > for merchants is nonsense, as the alphabetic texts from Ugarit
> > Niels Peter lemche
> > -----Oprindelig meddelelse-----
> > Fra: ANEemail@example.com [mailto:ANEfirstname.lastname@example.org] På
> vegne af James Spinti
> > Sendt: den 26 augusti 2010 15:53
> > Til: ANEemail@example.com
> > Emne: [ANE-2] Reading revolutions
> > >From the Atlantic, 10 Reading Revolutions before E-books:
> > Or tinyurl:
> > http://tinyurl.com/277rvgc
> > Quite overly simplistic, but interesting. Question, though, on
> point 3:
> > The author states, "unlike writing or agriculture, the
> alphabet was only
> > invented once - every single alphabet and abjad can trace
> itself back to
> > the same Semitic roots." Is this true? I thought that had been
> > successfully challenged of late.
> > James
> > ________________________________
> > James Spinti
> > Marketing Director, Book Sales Division
> > Eisenbrauns, Good books for more than 35 years
> > Specializing in Ancient Near Eastern and Biblical Studies
> > jspinti at eisenbrauns dot com
> > Web: http://www.eisenbrauns.com
> > Phone: 574-269-2011 ext 226
> > Fax: 574-269-6788
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- Peter - thanks for your insightful responses to what Brian called by 'enigmatic' note.
It is probably time to stop before I get into more trouble.
But just a couple of remarks:
Peter Daniels wrote:
>And a Chinese person tells us that he can _get a general idea of_ a JapanesePrecisely my point: they are not reading the other language, they are absorbing the information in their own.
>newspaper article even though he knows no Japanese. In neither direction are
>they _reading_ in the other language.
As you know various trades achieve this all the time by means of technical symbolism.
In my profession I am frequently required to understand chemical data embedded within a text written in any one of a number of languages with which I am unfamiliar.
It is surprisingly easy to do.
In the case of mathematics even more so. Marshall McLuhan famously stated that the medium is the message: in technical literature symbolism becomes the medium.
>>This carries the implication that humans would have kept looking for something
>>like the alphabet for a long long time had it not emerged when it did.
>Sorry, I cannot fathom this statement. What is "something like the alphabet"
>that could have been "looked for"? Seems like _you're_ suggesting some sort of
>superiority for an alphabet!
Exactly. And why not?
Don't you think it's a little odd that such an idea might appear so out to lunch that an exclamation mark is required?
What if we could design a system which would allow us all to communicate in our own languages and have others anywhere in the world absorb the information in theirs?
Anyway, as I said. Probably time to stop, we're a long way from the ANE now
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