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11 - November 26, 2013.docx

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Danny Harvey

JAL November 25, 2013 Mayan Decipherment and Classification ASSIGNMENT 1: Question 4 – any instances of non-linearity – question 3 is list all diacritics There were three symbols for /n/ because it’s a deep orthography – there could be multiple reasons for three /n/ symbols – could be fossils from borrowed words like Thai where “moon” as spelled like Sanskrit; go through the list of deep orthography things and pick what is most plausible In phonology, everything must have a reason and rule but in writing systems and spelling, there are a lot of things that are not proven by rule and have to look into other aspects of deep orthography ASSIGNMENT 2 already up on Blackboard – due a week this Friday!!! Can hand it in next class or drop it off in the linguistics department drop box like last time DECIPHERMENT Meso-American Cultures Olmec script is oldest writing discovered in Americas Mask from Omek culture – entire back of mask covered in writing Do not know what language it is Very difficult to tell consequently what it means Aztec Script – last indigenous writing system of Mexico Aztecs at peak when Spanish showed up Unlike all other writing systems, no continuous lines of text Appears in clumps all over the page Right on the edge of pictographic and therefore not writing and logographic/phonemic which is considered writing in this course Aztec manuscript – the Spanish wrote in information what is going on there and – Aztec words labelling pictures Lines that connect writing to certain images on the page – symbols on the left and lines indicating who they belong to Aztec logograms – within the glyphs, it is writing as we’re seen before A lot of place names, personal names show indications of what would think of writing Chilapan – place name “chili on the river” – logogram is picture of chili on water – like Chinese Rebus – Phonetic components – logogram of woman’s head and the reading – two different words in language but share logogram Two marks on the cheek is phonogram for /wa/ which reinforces reading of siwa – like Chinese emsnatic phonetic compound Place name built up of these compounds No continuous lines – draw in footprints to lead reader along the story on the page Still have a lot of pneumonics – know the story and the images help with the recalling/retelling of the story Compare to Olmec, which is much much earlier and Aztecs must have known about other Meso- American cultures around it, so how come Aztecs didn’t go all the way to a full writing system? A possible suggestion is that Maya is single ehno-linguistic zone – all people within culture speak Maya, with possible variants, and understand each other; but Aztec empire is brand-new, very multi-lingual, so not everyone had learned Nawak yet, the Aztec language – so thought if write in linguistic writing system ,no one would be able to read it, but if write in pictographic system, others would be able to write it Maya writing - decipherment – Mayan is most definitely writing as defined in this course Maya decipherment was done RECENTLY Classic period – the period of high civilization in Yucatan and Guatemala – time when most of the cities and monuments and such were at their peak – even though the class period faded around 900, writing system still survived Northern Mayan area – still writing when Spanish showed up; unlike Egyptian, which is long last and had to be deciphered – but for Mayan, could have asked someone In Mexican, this is only that can called writing system – Olmec called writing but not yet deciphered Manuscript artifacts almost gone Why did it take so long to decipher Maya? Kersher – Egyptian lecture – obelisk – similar to what Thompson did for Mayan civilization Thought Mayans were peaceful astronmers, drew pretty pictures Knorosov and Thompson – two different streams of people working on Mayans Knorosov – phonemic writing – used Landa’s alphabet In the 1960s, Proskouriakoff access to KNorosov’s paper’s and she figured out that the Knorosov’s proof was correct Mayans were specific about dates and whenever you look at a Mayan document, a large protion of it will be concerned with date Using Knorosov’s explanation, she could read the dates Diego de Landa – talked to someone in the Yucatan who still knew how to write Maya, and asked him to explain the system Landa is assuming that the Mayan alphabet is the same as the Spanish alphabet – WRONG /te/ is syllable – Landa is thinking letter “t” but the symbol is actually a syllable So this is a very incomplete syllabary Chi worked for Landa – “HA” is Mayan for water Chi spells out “che-a” – che is h Knorosov figured out Landa’s alphabet – one person thinking in Spanish alphabet, other thinking in syallabic script the construction of Mayan a lot like Korean Hangeul – have one box, one character space filled up with different components – sometimes you just get one grapheme, one box water symbol – is one syllable
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