Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Part 3:Winters' Response to Burlak's Meroitic and Tocharian: The length of Meroitic words

Clyde Winters response to Burlak’s Meroitic & Tocharian Part3 Winters length of Meroitic Words is too short

S.A. Burlak, in Meroitic and Tocharian: From the point of View of a Tocharianists (Sudan & Nubia, Bulletin 12: 99-103) disputes my decipherment of Meroitic: Winters, Clyde Ahmad. (1999). The inscriptions ofTanyidamani. Nubica IV und Nubica V., pp.355-388. Herein, I will discuss Dr. Burlak’s propositions and evidence.

Burlak (2008) argues that a basic problem of my decipherment is the word length. Whereas I have found that the average length of Meroitic words is one-to-three characters in length . Burlak (2008) maintains that the average length of Meroitic words is not one –to- three charaters, but five to eight characters in length based on Meroitic proper names.

Using Meroitic names to determine the length of Meroitic words fails to accurately describe Meroitic lexemes, because names usually are compound words e.g., Kasta/ Kushto ‘the Kushite’ (Abdalla, 1989 p.876; Trigger, 1964 p. 193; Welsby, 1996). For example many Meroitic names include the names of deities: Tamwetamani ; Arqamani; Anlamani ; and Takideamani.

Welsby (1996 p.190) noted that other Meroitic names include the words mak (god), malo (good) and mote (child). Many Meroitic words are only two-three characters e.g., mk (god), Wos (Isis), mn (Aman) and nob (Nubian). A common place name element in Meroitic place-names is –te, e.g., Np-te (Napata), and ph rs-te (Faras). The majority of Meroitic ethnonyms are also two-three characters lk (Lak), šq (Shaqa), and nob (Nubian).

A comparison of Meroitic and Tocharian grammatical features also indicates that in many cases Meroitic words average one- three characters. In recent years researchers were able to develop a grammar of Meroitic, without being able to read Meroitic. The research of Hintze (1979) and Hoffman (1981) made it possible for us to find the cognate language of Meroitic: Tokharian (Winters 1984 ,1989).

Hintze (1979) grammar of Meroitic provided the necessary material to compare Meroitic with other languages to find its cognate language. Hintze (1979) recognized three approaches to the study of Meroitic: 1) philological, 2) comparative, and 3) structural (i.e., the morphological-syntactical).

The philological methods of Hintze (1979) was informed guesses based upon context.In the comparative method the structures of two or more languages are compared to determine the relationship between languages. Hintze's (1979) discussion of the Meroitic affixes provided us with the linguistic material to compare Meroitic successfully with Tocharian.

The comparative method is used by linguist to determine the relatedness of languages, and to reconstruct earlier language states. The comparative linguist looks for patterns of correspondence, i.e., the isolation of words with common or similar meanings that have systematic consonantal agreement with little regard for location and/or type of vowel. Consonantal agreement is the regular appearance of consonants at certain locations in words having analogous meanings.

Hintze (1979) was sure that there were a number of Meroitic affixes including:





B.G. Trigger in his "Commentary" (Hintze 1979) mentioned several other possible Meroitic affixes including:




In addition , A. M. Abdalla in his "Commentary" (Hintze 1979)mentioned three possible verbal suffixes , including:



These alleged Meroitic grammatical elements encouraged me to seek out a language that contained these typological features as the possible cognate language for Meroitic. The Kushana language includes all of these affixes.

Researchers working on Meroitic determined several possible prefixes:



These proposed affixes for Meroitic are one character in length. Given the fact that experts in Meroitic like Abdalla and Hintze recognized that Meroitic had a number of single character lexemes makes it clear that when I found that many Meroitic terms were one-to-three character in length illustrates that I was only following the linguistic findings of other Meroitists who are the foundation of this decipherment of Meroitic.

Winters took these suggested Meroitic lexemes and compared them to Tocharian to discover if similar affixes existed in Kushana. In Tocharian we find these prefixes: p(ä), the imperfect prefix and imperative, y- the Tocharian element are joined to demonstratives , e.g., yopsa ‘in between’.

There are other affixes that relate to the Meroitic suffixes proposed by Abdalla and Hintze (1979) that are explained by Tocharian including –te, the demonstrative ‘this, etc.’; -o, the suffix used to change nouns into adjectives. For example: aiśamñe ‘knowledge’, asimo ‘knowing; klyomñ ’nobility’, klyomo ‘noble’.

Other Tocharian affixes which provide insight into Meroitic affixes include –te and -l. The Tocharian locative suffix is –te. The ending particle in Tocharian is –l. The Meroitic –t, corresponds to the –t ‘you’. In Tocharian the pronouns are placed at the end of words: nas-a-m ‘I am’, träkä-s ‘he says’, träkä-t ‘you say’.

The –t element in Tocharian can also be used to represent the third person singular e.g., kälpa-t ‘he found’.The p-, element used to form the imperative and imperfect in Tocharian . This affix is used in both Tocharian A and B. For example,Tokh.A klyos "to hear, to listen"p(a)klyos "You listen"p(a)klyossu "s/he listens"Tokh. B klyausp(a)klyaus 'you listen"A. ta, tas, "to lay, to put"ptas 'you lay'B. tes, tas 'to put, to lay'ptes 'you put'.

The Tocharian -n-, has many uses . It can be used to form the subjuntive, e.g., yam 'to do', yaman 's/he do(es). It is also used to form the plural se 'son', pl. sewan 'sons; ri 'city', pl. rin 'cities'.The plural in Tocharian is formed by the –ñ. For example,are ‘plough’, pl. areñ ‘ploughs’ ri ‘city’ , pl. riñ ‘cities.

Recognition of analogous structural elements in relation to Kushana/ Tocharian and Meroitic allowed us to divide the Meroitic phonemes into words. Griffith (1911a,1911b,1912) provided us with evidence for selected Meroitic nouns.

These examples of Meroitic names and lexical items make it clear that the average length of characters for Meroitic words is less than 5-8 characters. It also illustrates that Winters based his ideas on the possible length of some Meroitic words on the research of Abdalla and Hintze (1979). This makes Burlak’s (2008) claim that the length of Meroitic terms is generally five-seven characters as he alle

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