Linear B and Philological Invariance .
7 Jul 2009
Linear B is a simplified form of Greek using a very simplified Syllabary developed and evolved in a tearing hurry to keep administration of essential services going after the various climatic and social disasters (Thera , et al) and massive depopulation. As such , it evolved to cope with loss of visual and hearing acuity in the surviving number of literates .
It is thus essentially an accountant's language , and was never meant to be anything else . Why it died out .
(This phrase in inverted commas gives no hit on Google ! Amazing!)
See "Some Examples" below .
This is a way to measure information loss and thus information transference by translating Message(1) from the origin language to the target language , then immediately translating it back using the same rules to give Message(2) .
Compare Message(1) with Message(2) and measure the information loss . If there is no information loss , then we can say that there is a Philological Invariance .
Usually there is a loss , but to varying degrees . By comparing these information losses , we can set up a Philological Field and immediately can use some very powerful tools developed in physics , especially quantum physics (more suitable to quanta like words) .
(Eg how Alexandria ended up as Kandahar.)
Of course , we are not limited to a pair of languages , but can chain them to get multiple-dimension philological maps . (This would have been very difficult before computers .)
One thing we can immediately say is that this is what happens after a big disaster and/or conquest , when the existing administration is largely replaced by ill-educated youths . The system immediately simplifies to decrease information loss (ie increase Philological Invariance) .
There is a further factor gumming up the works : old age . Most of the survivors are in the median age group , soon to be old age . Before spectacles and hearing aids , this would put a severe crimp in any administration . Look at the old ideograms and symbols : they are small and ornate , with little curliques drastically modifying meanings . Hard to see .
System adaptation :
The team : an old learned person and many young ones , communicating verbally . The language and written forms would lose higher frequency consonants , (or rather , they would blur , like b , p and ph in Linear B ) .
This is still a favoured accountancy practice . Like cops , they go around in pairs to keep each other honest and for backup in case of a dispute .
The apprentice would read the account aloud to the master . This is where a syllabary is superior to an alphabetic system , since unclear combinations would be soon weeded out . The language itself is simplified .
A neat little trap : these Mycenaen accounts are clearer after 3 000 years than equivalent alphabetical accounts kept in
(say London ) in 1890 AD .
The latter is full of abbreviations and specialist terms . Only 100 years on even specialists are frequently baffled . All in copperplate . But English ?
2. L-R Tonal .
Linear B loses the distinction between R and L . This is a well-known effect in tonal languages (a matter of brain wiring . cf Chinese) . There would then be a strong selection feedback process to lose the tonal effect in the language . To put it another way , a script that does not notate tonal effects will evolve into a language with little tonal effect (like most western languages )
This argues strongly that Ancient Minoan and Egyptian had a pronounced tonal element . (Note that no reliable pronunciation guide to old Egyptian or Minoan yet exists . ) You cannot lose what you did not have .
Some Examples :
Source : "The Decipherment of Linear B" by John Chadwick and Michael Ventris , 1970 Cambridge University Press edition
Source of language rules : p75 , p76
Phonetics , signs and numeral equivalents of phonetic signs : appendix .
I will give only the rule numbers and numeral equivalents of the Linear B signs .
(The unmentionable internet has no free signs available. Look them up yourself .)
I translated some names . The one with the highest Philological invariance is Jessica .
I translated this into Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic , Cuneiform , Linear B and back again . It still yields about no information loss .
My best guess is that the Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic form incorporated "dje" (involving a cobra-hooded head , the sign of "Ra is looking at you " , ie a personal representative of the god (something like the 5 stars on a US general's epaulette) , and "ka" , the spirit . In other words , a priesthood transcending space and time . A powerful cantrip , that all languages radiating from Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic catered for .
The Names :
Message(1) : Jessica
je –si -ka (first s lost : rule 7)
46-31-77 (numeral identifiers of Linear B Signs.)
Message(2) : "jesika" Translation back into English .
Hardly any information loss .
Message(1) : Eben
e-pe-n (b->p : rule 5)
e-pe (n lost : rule 7)
38-72 (numeral identifiers of Linear B Signs.)
Message(2) : "epe" Translation back into English .
Some information loss .
Message(1) : swart
sa-wa-rta (vowels added : rule 9 and 10)
sa-wa-ta (r dropped : rule 7 )
31-54-59 (numeral identifiers of Linear B Signs.)
Message(2) : "sawata" Translation back into English .
Big information loss . Pidgin .
Message(1) : Inge
i-ge (n dropped : rule 7)
i-ke (g->k : rule 5 )
28-44 (numeral identifiers of Linear B Signs.)
Message(2) : "ike" Translation back into English .
Big information loss . I love Ike too , but this is too much .
Message(1) : Andre
a-d-re (n dropped : rule 7)
a-de-re (add e : rule 10 )
08-45-27 (numeral identifiers of Linear B Signs.)
Message(2) : "adere" Translation back into English .
Some information loss .
Message(1) : Willers
wi-le (first l , r, s dropped : rule 7)
wi-re (l->r : rule 5 )
40-27 (numeral identifiers of Linear B Signs.)
Message(2) : "wire" Translation back into English .
Lots of information loss .
As you can see , the information loss mechanism needs some work . But we can see the outlines .
The two oldest names (Jessica from Ancient Egyptian) and Eben (from Ebenhezer old Hebraic) remain the most recognizable .
This is very reminiscent to the algorithms used in computer programs to suggest the correct spelling of a name (the algorithms uses numerical equivalents for the consonants only , and disregards vowels.)
Pidgin Languages .
"Swart" is a good example of pidgin development . It morphs to "Sawata" , tantalizing close . We can sort of taste it (ie muscle memory in the mouth , epiglottis , throat and lungs) , but it is not obvious .
One would expect that any set of consistent rules (like Michael Ventris's rules for Linear B ) will give rise to pidgin languages like these .
The best known one is , of course , the alphabet . It is a pidgin that developed out of the phonetic subset of ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics via mercenaries . Quick easy and flexible . But is it a language ?
Languages can be expressed in it (Linear B itself is an example) . It stimulates , bounds and guides languages .
Is the river the bank or the water ?
It is both , of course .
So the subset of alphabetical symbols plus the translation of perceived reality according to a set of rules form a language .
Notice the translation effect . All languages are thus pidgins . The effect is fractal .
To put it another way , does use of the alphabet with a human set of vocal apparati and muscle-memory have a Basic Language subset ? An intriguing thought . See http://andreswhy.blogspot.com "Rull Mind-controls"
There simply are not enough humans to exhaust all the factorial possibilities . The only communicators similar across all societies are the smile and verbal "Ma" . If you can construct an Ur-language out of that , good luck to you .
But , we are not limited to natural persons .
Michael Ventris showed the way with his set of rules for Linear B.
In conjunction with an open-ended evolutionary system like
"Adam and Eve" at Aberystwyth University , Scotland . (Dr Amanda Clare . Automated hypothesis formulation and testing . Quite ambitious . www.computescotland.com/2260.php)
The logical code structure of "Adam" necessitates regular input . It is an obligate input-vore . If it does not receive input , it will experiment till it does .
For example , we need only input "War and Peace" and compare the last sentence via the original text and the network . The one with the least words is the more efficient language .
This shows up the advantage of this system : the initial steps do not need to be specified . They are inherent in the corpus .
This is a radical departure from usual neural-network and chaos approaches .
Up to now , initial states in chaotic systems could only be disregarded if you knew that it was in an attractor basin . Now you can start at the end (like a grave-digger). The process is fractal , so you need not even monitor any intermediate step .
It should also be quite fast , judging from historical examples where this mechanism was used (Linear B is an example.)
Slang is another term for this process . Creation of pidgins for special purposes . So are codes . I am surprised that more use is not made of computers to generate slang subsets .
To get back to Philological Invariance :
Dictionaries in various languages (extant or extinct) , plus translation rules are available . We can chase them through a computer , calculating the philological invariances . Not even hard , if we concentrate mainly on invariances .
I expect that there would be strong , clearly demarcated streams of invariance in the philological fields . The program can concentrate on these for starters .
The fields will have marked gradient differences and streams , corresponding to real human activity .
An interesting and cheap exercise . And surprising .
Micro - Philological Invariance :
The above is applicable on the macro-scale . Thousands of years .
But , it is equally applicable on the micro-scale .
Is a politician lying ? Analyze all his speeches and writings to see the philological streams and gradients . If there none ,this also
tells you something .
It is intriguing to note that bi-lingual (or multi-lingual) civilizations tend to last longer (eg Roman-Greek , Swiss , Chinese , etc)
And we are not limited to natural human languages . We can construct or evolve languages and translation rules that will tease out any trend .
This also has obvious applications in advertising .
A strong Brand should have a Philological Invariance .
CocaCola and Linear B
Message(1) : Coca Cola
co-ca co-ra (l->r : rule 5)
70-77 70-60 (numeral identifiers of Linear B Signs.)
Message(2) : "coca cora" Translation back into English .
Little information loss , but even a stronger brand name in Egypt , Middle East and Central America .
Coke and Linear B
Message(1) : Coke
70-44 (numeral identifiers of Linear B Signs.)
Message(2) : "coke" Translation back into English .
No information loss . A strong brand . Will sell well in Mycenae , Knossos , Pylos circa 1200 BC .
Pepsi and Linear B
Message(1) : Pepsi
pe -pi- si (add i : rule 10 )
72-39-41 (numeral identifiers of Linear B Signs.)
Message(2) : "pepisi" Translation back into English .
Considerable meaning alteration , with negative connotations of "peepi" , which goes really far back
A much weaker brand name .
These are not idle little ruminations . These are invariants .
Consider Virtual marketing . Can your product sell across all of time and space ?
If you cannot make it in Mycenae , you cannot make it anywhere .