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Language and the Ancient Greeks and On the Decipherment of Linear B (A Pair of Essays) (English Edition) par [McDorman, Richard E.]
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Language and Ancient Greeks

This historical essay reviews the development of the art and science of grammar and philosophical views toward language among the Ancient Greeks. Although the early Greek writers, including Homer and Hesiod, commented on language (for example, in the Iliad Homer referred to the Miletians and other Ionians as "barbarophonoi," literally, “foreign speaking”), it was not until the fifth century B.C. that the explicit study of language emerged in Ancient Greece when rhetoric arose as a profession.

In the classical period, philosophers, sophists, and rhetoricians studied language mainly only insofar as it related to their understanding of reality and knowledge. Among the Greeks, it was not until the Hellenistic era (the period following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. and lasting until the death of Cleopatra VII and the fall of the Ptolemaic kingdom in 30 B.C.) that significant developments took place in the study of grammar and linguistics developed as a discipline in its own right.

In this essay, the author provides a sketch of early and classical Greek philosophies of language, the study of language in Hellenistic and Alexandrian scholarship (including Stoic views on language), and commentary on the relationship between language and Greek identity.

On the Decipherment of Linear B

A thousand years before the beginning of classical Greek civilization and the second period of Greek literacy that was launched with the arrival of the Phoenician alphabet on Greek’s ancient shores sometime during the late ninth century B.C. arose what would eventually become continental Europe’s first literate society. During the Late Bronze Age in southern Greece, the Mycenaean civilization flourished, spreading its culture and its writing system to the nearby island of Crete, where writing had already developed several hundred years earlier among the Minoans. This earliest Greek writing system, which died out with the collapse of the Mycenaean civilization and the start of the Greek Dark Age around 1200 B.C., was thence unknown until the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans unearthed a cache of clay tablets inscribed with a curious script, which he coined “linear script of class B,” during his excavation of Knossos on the island of Crete in the year 1900.

For years, Evans tried in vain to decipher the ancient script whose discovery made him famous. It was instead the keen insight of the American classicist and archaeologist Alice Kober, and the persistence and genius of a young British architect named Michael Ventris, that were required to crack the Linear B code. In 1953, Michael Ventris succeeded in deciphering most of Linear B’s 87 syllabic signs and a significant number of the script’s logographic signs—a stunning achievement considering that no bilingual inscription was available to aid Ventris’ efforts. Unfortunately, Ventris died in an automobile accident just three years after his remarkable achievement, which stands to this day as one of the most extraordinary displays of cryptographic legerdemain ever seen.

This critical-historical essay looks at the missteps and flawed approach of Arthur Evans that opened the door to Ventris’ eventual decipherment while shining a bright light on Kober’s invaluable contributions, which are often understated or even ignored by scholars in the field. Throughout the essay, the author approaches the history of the script’s decipherment with fairness and realism, highlighting Evans’ successes and failures, acknowledging the impact of Kober’s work, and recognizing the enormity and historical significance of Ventris’ profound achievement.

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  • Format : Format Kindle
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  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B003MNGEOI
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Amazon.com: 3.8 étoiles sur 5 6 commentaires
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Fresh Take 19 juin 2013
Par Mark C. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
In this first of these two well-written and flowing historical essays, McDorman covers the spectrum from the Classical Greek philosophies of language (Protagoras) to the great strides made during the Hellenistic Era with Antisthenes and Epicurus’ discovery of “primordial language.” I found his explanation of analogy vs. anomaly to be quite thorough and accessible. Overall, McDorman has high praise for the Greek’s early accomplishments while adopting a realistic view of their limitations.

In the second, longer essay, McDorman effectively examines not only the contributions of Evans (Cretan tablets) and Ventris (what McDorman calls the “Linear B Riddle”), but also highlights the often overlooked contributions of Alice Kober to what McDorman refers to as the “Linear B Situation.” According to the author, her aim was “not to decipher the script but to decipher what the language was and what the phonetic values of the signs were” – a crucial component that set the foundation for Ventris’ subsequent discoveries. Whether one wishes to characterize McDorman’s take on Kober’s contributions as postmodern feminism or simply an unbiased acceptance of historical facts (the point is probably debatable), McDorman’s essay looks at the decipherment of Liner B with fresh eyes and a well-informed and modern historical-linguistic approach.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Snappy overview of Hellenistic Greek and Minoan Linear B 4 octobre 2013
Par Hueg Ess - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Two brief but useful reviews of (1) classical Greek and Hellenistic approaches to understanding how Greek thinkers understood language (notably Stoic and Epicurean epistemology) , and (2) a summary of the 50-year chronology of the principal parties who undertook solving the mystery of the Cretan (Minoan) tablets inscribed with unknown figures in an unknown language (which turned out to be a syllabary for pre-Homeric Greek ca. 1500 B.C. This latter essay is a tasty appetizer to Margalit Fox's "The Riddle of the Labnyrinth."
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Three Stars 9 juin 2016
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Not exactly new stuff but, if you are not familiar with the decipherment, it's worth reading.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Pithy 11 août 2013
Par Tony S - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Short and to the point. More like a pair of college essays than a proper book. But they are well written and clear.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Two interesting essays 15 août 2013
Par C. Cope - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
I found both essays interesting, worthwhile and a good read. As another reviewer commented, these are essays (as it says in the title), not a full-length book. However, the advertising for the essays clearly indicates this and the price is only 99 cents, so for me the length of the work is not an issue. I would say that together, both essays total around 8,000 words. I was able to read them both in under two hours.

These essays are well written and appropriately sourced, and the author makes some interesting points in the second essay ("On the Decipherment of Linear B") regarding Alice Kober's contributions to the decipherment of the Linear B writing system. Like one reviewer has already pointed out, the author has gone out of his way to detail the importance of Kober's work, which many other authors have overlooked or discounted. The steps involved in the writing system's discovery are also carefully laid out.

I would recommend these essays to anyone interested in ancient history, ancient Greece or the history of writing.
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