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Syllabic vs alphabetic (was: VMs: Entropy, was WAR against EVA)
3/4/03 9:30:20 PM, "Petr Kazil" <kazil@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>I read some books on deciphering and codes but they don't often mention syllable-based
>schemes. Wasn't the problem with hieroglyphics and linear-b that they encoded syllables
>words or single characters?
The problem was that there was little access to the corpus. In the case of
Linear-B the corpus had been hogged by its discoverer (Evans? or am I
confusing with another archaeologist) who wanted to become famous by
deciphering it. What better way than refusing access to others?
With Egyptian, it was a much harder "code". A mixture of alphabetic signs,
biliteral signs (signs representing a two-letter string), logograms
(signs representing a word), and taxograms (signs representing
With Maya, it was the dog-in-the-manger attitude of Sir Eric Thompson,
who kept peddling the dogma (tix!) that is was a purely ideographic
writing system, without any phonetic component. Other researchers
before him had started on a phonetic decipherment, but Thompson
killed all those attempts. That's why, I suppose, he was knighted:
for having kept the decipherment of Maya in a deep, dark night. (The
'k' is probably a misprint).
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