Minoan is an IE language?/Sound Equivalence

X99Lynx at aol.com X99Lynx at aol.com
Thu Mar 22 05:42:20 UTC 2001

In a message dated 3/21/2001 9:10:19 PM, JoatSimeon at aol.com writes:
<< -- it's not the complexity of the English language that's the problem, it's
the horrors of English orthography.  >>

When you are learning to read, of course, orthography becomes an integral
part of the language.  Dyslexia would at first impression not be a problem,
or even apparent, if English were only a spoken language and not a written
one.  There is a great deal of linguistic work being done on dyslexia, based
on the idea that the sound-symbol correspondence is at least in part a
linguistic subject.

Aside from all that, there was a startling statement in that article I
quoted.  It says that there are in English "more than 1,100 ways that letters
in the written language are used to symbolize the 40 sounds in the spoken
language."  While, in Italian, "the 33 sounds in Italian are spelled with
only 25 letters or letter combinations." [?] If these numbers are correct,
that's a giant variance.   And whatever problems English might create for
dyslexics would seem also to apply to some future decipherer faced with
matching up symbols and sounds.

Relating this back to Linear A, all we really have there at this point is
orthography.  If a comparable "horror" existed for the base language or
languages of Linear A, we should expect unpredictability in sound-symbol
correspondence.  And some serious difficulties for anyone who would hope to
crack such a code.

If the situation in English can be attributed in any way to imported words,
we do have evidence that Crete was "multi-national" in Homer's time,
suggesting perhaps not only a variety of symbols for the same sound, but also
a large number of sounds.

Steve Long

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