Thursday, June 16, 2016

What If Linear B was the basis for the Roman Alphabet?

Guest post by Daniel Bensen.

The Roman Syllabary, still often called the Traditional European Syllabary, is ultimately derived from Cretan glyphs, spread by the civilization ofacross the northern. Thesimplified the syllabary for their own use, which the people ofimported more or less wholesale. Theempire spread the syllabary across, where it is still used today for sacred or traditional texts, from to, to as well of course indocuments around the world.

Everybody else mostly writes in Hebrew nowadays, though. It’s much easier that way.

[Author's Note: Thanks to Brandon Koller for creating the font.]

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Daniel M. Bensen is an English teacher and writer in Sofia, Bulgaria. He is currently preparing for publication his time-travel adventure/romance Groom of the Tyrannosaur Queen.


  1. The problem with Linear B is that it was an abortion of a writing system even by Bronze Age standards, which is saying something.

    It's utterly unsuited to writing any inflected Indo-European language. Which in those days meant any Indo-European language, which in turn means that whatever Linear A was developed for, it very probably wasn't IE.

    Eg., the closest you can get in Linear B to writing "anthropos", the Greek word for "man", is something that comes out roughly as at-to-ro-po-se. In Greek (and Latin and other IE languages of the period) word order is flexible but -inflections- (the changes at the end of the word) are absolutely crucial.

    Furthermore, many Linear B glyphs not only had alternative meanings depending on context, they had DOZENS of alternative meanings.

    This meant that anything beyond a very simple sentence would be an "educated guess", not actual reading.

    Learning to read or write it would be a stone bitch and it's not a surprise it wasn't used for anything but repetitive accounting lists.

    Most Bronze Age syllabaries were really, really awful Rube Goldberg messes. And Linear B was about the worst of the lot.

  2. So is Japanese, all things considered. A modular language based on ideograms ill-suited for a vocalic, grammatically simple language, which has given birth to the most complex written system I know of... and it's been in use for thousands of years. True, there were no other systems at hand, but the Coreans did invent their own phonetic script... I don't see why the Greeks would not adopt the syllabic nature of LB to their needs. French and English are written with a ton of phonetic fossiles (ought, enough, dough, etc, or roux, croix, août...) and people seem to do just fine.

    So, have a syllabic language that doesn't reflect the phonology entirely, seems natural to me. Simplify it, adapt it, add in signs to mark mute vowels, maybe then the syllabary will condense into a narrower group of vowels. AT-TO-RO-PO-SE can become AN-T(h)-RO-PO-S(-)

    I mean, if Hanzi are still in use (and Kanji, for God's sake)...