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Re: [ANE-2] Reading revolutions

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  • Brian Colless
    ... Barry Powell, WRITING , 2008, Ch 13, What kind of writing was West Semitic? He is talking about the Phoenician writing system (not an alphabet, and it is
    Message 1 of 42 , Oct 1, 2010
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      >> It's certainly true that there's nothing intuitive about the
      >> alphabet --

      Barry Powell, WRITING , 2008, Ch 13, What kind of writing was West
      Semitic?
      He is talking about the Phoenician writing system (not an alphabet,
      and it is here that he rejects the abjad and abugida of "one scholar",
      as "nomenclature based solely on external features"; WS and Ethiopic
      and Brahmi are "old-fashioned syllabaries answering to the human
      faculty to break down speech into syllabic units. Such was the inner
      structure of these writings". He is clinging to Gelb (1952) on
      syllabaries as the right term, whether they supply the vowels or not.
      Speech is a continuous stream of sound with no particles. "The phoneme
      as a projection of Greek alphabetic writing".
      Yes, I have always been suspicious of phonemes, but never mind.

      >> or it
      >> would have been invented lots of times around the world.
      Yes, and I have recently seen a study of patents: things are being
      reinvented all the time. But the Maya script is an acrophonic logo-
      syllabary, and I think it must have been based on the West Semitic
      model, brought by Canaanites to Meso-America.

      We have too little of the preceding Olmec script to analyse it yet (a
      text of 62 signs), but it has 28 separate characters (an abgad or
      "consonantal alphabet"; or even a "vocalic alphabet"?!)

      Those are the terms I use alongside consonantary (consonantal
      alphabet) and (Greek) alphabet (vocalic alphabet), so I can justify my
      word 'proto-alphabet'

      Incidentally, I think the word should be written *'bgd*
      More below.
      >> Instead, what gets
      >> invented when people know nothing about writing except that it
      >> exists is
      >> syllabaries. --
      >> Peter T. Daniels

      > ... syllabaries?
      > An all-too simplistic kind of view. Gelb re-activated?
      >
      > Maybe syllabaries.
      > maybe logograms.
      > maybe semaphorics,
      > or maybe something else.
      > Nobody will know for sure how the mind of mankind would have gone.
      >
      > Dr. Reinhard G. Lehmann


      In the ANE the pattern seems to me to be:

      logogram > rebus > logosyllabary or logoconsonantary (including the
      proto-alphabet)

      The acrophonic principle( as I have stated in this forum and published
      elsewhere) is an extension of the rebus principle:

      REBUS > REbus (Canaanite logo-syllabary, at Gubla/Byblos and elsewhere)

      R-B-S > R-b-s (Canaanite logoconsonantary, which still retains the
      functions of rebogram and logogram for each sign)

      It is all part of a push for simplification, and the Ebla
      logosyllabary was in this (restricted use of the available Sumero-
      Akkadian syllabograms, open syllables preferred; but continued use of
      Sumerograms, unfortunately for us who want to know which [West?]
      Semitic word was being used).

      While we are on the subject, I am just finishing an article to show
      that the inscriptions from the Arabah can confirm my hypothesis that
      the proto-alphabet used not only acrophonograms but also logograms and
      rebograms, and it has suddenly hit me (after reading a statement by
      Anson Rainey that the Phoenician alphabet came out of an area with a
      reduced repertory of sounds but in the south they had the full
      inventory in speech, but not in writing).

      On the rare occasions when someone cites me, they go back to my first
      Abr-Nahrain article in 1988, where I started with the hypothesis that
      the the proto-alphabet had 22 letters, the same as the Phoenician
      'alphabet' (abgad). But by the end of the article I had conceded the
      existence of Kh (ooo<) alongside Hh (Het), and I had also offered
      examples of logograms (ideograms is the word I used) M (water) B
      (house, temple). Of course, I have now tracked down the 26 sounds and
      their signs, with some allographs (Samek as fish or spine; K as hand
      or palm branch).

      What I see now is that the Canaanite syllabary did have the same set
      of sounds as the Phoenician consonantary, which became the standard
      script of Syria-Palestine in the Iron Age, and there is a connection.

      In the syllabary the sun signs (a circle, or sun-disc with a serpent)
      said shi, and Sh in the pictophonic consonantary (the proto-
      alphabet); the breast sign (thad/shad) said sha (including tha), but
      Th in the consonantary, and this is the one that survived as Shin/Sin
      (its position preceding T shows that).

      The standard cuneiform partly-vocalic consonantary had a full
      repertoire, but outside Ugarit there was a shorter version in existence.

      Brian Colless
      Massey University, NZ

      On 2/10/2010, at 1:39 AM, R. Lehmann wrote:

      > ... syllabaries?
      > An all-too simplistic kind of view. Gelb re-activated?
      >
      > Maybe syllabaries.
      > maybe logograms.
      > maybe semaphorics,
      > or maybe something else.
      > Nobody will know for sure how the mind of mankind would have gone.
      >
      >
      > ¨
      > ¨
      > ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨
      > Dr. Reinhard G. Lehmann
      > Research Unit on Ancient Hebrew & Epigraphy
      > Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz
      > Germany
      > lehmann@...
      > http://www.hebraistik.uni-mainz.de
      > http://www.ev.theologie.uni-mainz.de/297.php
      > Subsidia et Instrumenta Linguarum Orientis (SILO):
      > http://www.hebraistik.uni-mainz.de/182.php
      > 10th Mainz International Colloquium on Ancient Hebrew (MICAH):
      > http://www.micah.hebraistik.uni-mainz.de/204.php
      >
      >
      >
      >> What is "it"?
      >>
      >> It's certainly true that there's nothing intuitive about the
      >> alphabet -- or it
      >> would have been invented lots of times around the world. Instead,
      >> what gets
      >> invented when people know nothing about writing except that it
      >> exists is
      >> syllabaries. --
      >> Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...
      >> Jersey City
      >>
      >>>
      >>> From: Graham Hagens <rgrahamh@...>
      >>> To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
      >>> Sent: Thu, September 30, 2010 3:23:19 PM
      >>> Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Reading revolutions
      >>>
      >>>
      >>> But it was a 'functional' communication medium which was able to
      >>> effectively
      >>> compete with the alphabet for several centuries.
      >>>
      >>> As Brian points out in another post, its roots can probably be
      >>> traced to a
      >>> pre-alphabetic pictograms.
      >>>
      >>> My musing (no more than that) is that had the semitic alphabet not
      >>> existed, we
      >>> could now be communicating via some modern version of the Cypriot
      >>> syllabary,
      >>> and be involved in arguments about how amazing our 'syllabet' is,
      >>> and
      >>> consequently how it must have been the only one ever invented.
      >>>
      >>> I believe they say the same thing about Einstein, that- some of
      >>> his relativistic
      >>> competitors were just footsteps behind
      >>>
      >>> Graham Hagens
      >>> Hamilton, Ontario
      >>>
      >>> --- On Sun, 8/29/10, Peter T. Daniels <grammatim@...> wrote:
      >>>
      >>> From: Peter T. Daniels <grammatim@...>
      >>> Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Reading revolutions
      >>> To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
      >>> Date: Sunday, August 29, 2010, 1:55 PM
      >>>
      >>>
      >>>
      >>> ?
      >>>
      >>> The Cypriote syllabary is a syllabary. Why should it have been
      >>> inspired by
      >>> alphabets?
      >>>
      >>> In fact, it has some sort of connection with Linear B; Ventris
      >>> used some
      >>> Cypriote values in interpreting Linear B.
      >>>
      >>> The Iberian script has CV signs for each of the stops (+ a i u),
      >>> three V signs,
      >>
      >>> and C signs for the other consonants, and it is an open question
      >>> whether the
      >>> Phoenician or the Greek influence is paramount.--
      >>> Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...
      >>> Jersey City
      >>>
      >>>>
      >>>> From: Graham Hagens <rgrahamh@...>
      >>>> To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
      >>>> Sent: Sun, August 29, 2010 12:46:57 PM
      >>>> Subject: [ANE-2] Reading revolutions
      >>>>
      >>>>
      >>>>
      >>>>
      >>>> --- On Sat, 8/28/10, Peter T. Daniels <grammatim@...>
      >>>> wrote:
      >>>>
      >>>>> segmental writing (abjads and alphabets) is so_unnatural_ that
      >>>>> the >fact that
      >>>
      >>>>> it was invented only once is not at all disturbing, and so
      >>>>> >_useful_ that nor is
      >>>>>
      >>>>> the fact that it spread throughout the Old World >whenever
      >>>>> anyone found out
      >>>>> about it.
      >>>>
      >>>> This 'only once' hypothesis would imply that the Cypriote
      >>>> syllabary (which had
      >>
      >>>> sufficient functionality to compete with alphabets for several
      >>>> centuries), had
      >>
      >>>> originally been inspired by such alphabets.
      >>>>
      >>>>
      >>>> Has this been established?
      >>>>
      >>>> Graham Hagens
      >>>> Hamilton, ON
      >>>
      >>>
    • Graham Hagens
      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
      Message 42 of 42 , Oct 27, 2010
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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 Japanese
        >newspaper article even though he knows no Japanese. In neither direction are
        >they _reading_ in the other language.

        Precisely my point: they are not reading the other language, they are absorbing the information in their own.
        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
         
        Graham Hagens
        Hamilton, ON 
         




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