Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


27 January 2012

Linear A du and Cypriot su: a case of diachronic acrophony?

Miguel Valério Kadmos 47 (2009): 57-66.

From the introduction

It has long been known that at least some ideograms of Linear A, and consequently their Linear B counterparts, were designed by acrophonic abbreviation. The most cited example is that of sign AB30, which represents not only the commodity ‘figs’ but also the phonetic value of ni, from the later attested Cretan gloss nikuleon. Among others, an example of a pure syllabogram following this principle may be AB78, qe, i.e *kwe (and *gwe?): whether it represents a wheel, a shield or any other round object, it may be related to PIE kwe-kwl-o- ‘circle’. The latter represents a Wanderwort spread through ancient Eastern Mediterranean and West Asian languages (cf. Sumerian gigir, Semitic *galgal-, Kartvelian *grgar-) even though the PIE reconstructed shape – with labiovelar */kw/ – is the one that more closely relates to the Cretan syllabogram. We also know that in Linear B some innovative syllabograms may have also been derived by acrophony: e.g., qo, resembles a bovine head (Mycenaean qo-o = Classical Greek βoῦς), and dwo, is taken to be a representation of ‘two’ (Greek δύο) wo signs placed side by side.


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