By Silvia Luraghi, Vit Bubenik
The definitive consultant to old linguistics, protecting all of the most vital concerns within the box. >
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Extra resources for Continuum Companion to Historical Linguistics (Continuum Companions)
The number of Egyptian papyri, mainly found in tombs, is enormous and covers the long time span from the third millennium bce to the first millennium ce. Papyri in other languages span from the fourth century bce to the seventh century ce. Greek and Latin non-literary papyri document spoken varieties, while literary ones have o en supplemented texts known from the wri en tradition. Apart from texts on bone or bronze, Old Chinese was wri en on perishable supports, such as bamboo, wood strips or silk.
The le ers representing the high vowels, [i] and [u], derived from symbols for the palatal and velar glide, [y] and [w], but these could be used to represent long vowels, [ī] and [ū], already in Semitic. Phoenician wāw, le er number 6, was borrowed in two values. , ξεɩ̂νος ‘stranger’ goes back to ξένFος, cf. Mycenaean ke-se-nu-wo) and as a le er Y for the high back vowel [u] added at the end of the alphabet a er T. The former le er F [w], called erroneously στίγµα, was actually a double Y [u].
A well-known parallel in English is to point toward one’s ‘eye’ when expressing the indexical notion ‘I’). The rebus principle expanded this code to parts of words and became thus an important means for writing names. For instance, in Babylonian the name of the sea-monster Tiamat was spelled by two logograms TI and AMAT (TI was now taken as a syllabogram and AMAT was still recognizably the pictogram of the word amtu ‘female slave’ in the construct state). ) Babylonians and Assyrians adopted the Sumerian cuneiform system of writing keeping the old Sumerian logograms but also used them as syllabograms (VC, CV and CVC) with the phonetic values of their own Semitic language: (1) Sumerian logogram UM(U) ‘mother’ AN ‘god’ 20 Akkadian syllabogram um an Historical Linguistics AGA ‘make’ KA ‘mouth’ NAG ‘drink’ ak, ag, aq ka nak, nag, naq At this point we can mention the syllab(ograph)ic writing system used for Mycenaean Greek, so-called Linear B script, used on clay tablets in Crete (Knossos, Chania) and mainland Greece (Pylos, Mycenae, Tiryns, Thebes) between the fourteenth and twel h century.