On Dialectal Anomalies in Pylian Texts

Gregory Nagy
This text, “Nagy 1968,” was originally published as an article in the Atti e memorie del 1o congresso internazionale di micenologia, v. 2 (= Incunabula Graeca 25[2]; 1968), 663–679. In this online version, the original page-numbers of Nagy 1968 will be indicated within braces (“{“ and “}”). For example, “{667 | 668}” indicates where p. 667 of the original article ends and p. 668 begins. These indications will be useful to readers who need to look up references made in previous scholarship to the original printed version of this article. The footnotes are not in the original, but are intended as a guide to the reader. The text of this 1968 article is reproduced here, with some minor adjustments in style and format.
In the important 1966 article “Les différences dialectales dans le mycénien,” Ernst Risch sets up three types of dialectal divergence found in the Linear Β texts:
  1. dative singular of athematic nominals: A) -ei vs. B) -i; e.g. po-se-da-o-ne (*Poseidāonei) vs. po-se-da-o-ni (*Poseidāoni)
  2. reflex of inherited *ṃ/*ṇ in the vicinity of bilabials: A) -o- vs. B) -a-; e.g. pe-mo (*spermo) vs. pe-ma (*sperma)
  3. A) -i- (< -e-) vs. unchanged B) -e-, in the vicinity of bilabials; e.g. ti-mi-ti-ja (*thimistia) vs. te-mi-ti-ja (*themistia).
Risch carefully checks these divergences against the classification of the scribal hands of Pylos, as published by E. L. Bennett (1958); there is also a concordance, put together by Bennett and Miller (1959). The cumulative results of Risch’s investigation are drawn up in a “tableau synoptique” (1966:155), from which the conclusion emerges that “ce flottement est pour la majeure partie dû à la ‘main’, c.-à-d. au scribe” (ibidem). Thus for example forms A.1/2/3 are found in the repertory of hand 41, as contrasted with B.1/2 in the repertory of hand 24.
This is not to say that the occurrences of A and Β forms are mutually exclusive in the handwriting of individual scribes. If A and B forms were consistently distributed in the Linear B texts at Pylos, such consistency would mean that there had existed at least two rival standard dialects suited for the Linear Β script. But that is not the case. The situation is more complex, since the occurrences of B forms are marked by inconsistency. That is, the B forms are not only rare statistically in relation to A forms but also sporadic in distribution—which leads to my argument that dialect A is standard and dialect B, substandard.
For example, even though the scribe of Eb, belonging to the group designated as hand 41, wrote i-pa-sa-na-ti in Eb 916, he had written the same name first as e-pa-sa-na-ti in Eo 247, and this spelling was then corrected to i-pa-sa-na-ti (I refer to the apparatus in Gallavotti and Sacconi 1961:63).
Now one might have thought that, since in dialect A the opposition between e and i had been neutralized in favor of i before p, it perhaps did not make any difference from the standpoint of a native speaker of A whether [i] was in such an environment represented by or . [1] But the fact is, an actual correction from e-pa-sa-na-ti to i-pa-sa-na-ti is epigraphically verified in this case (again I refer to the apparatus in Gallavotti and Sacconi 1961:63). So it can be assumed either that a native speaker of dialect A had decided to spell for the sake of {663 | 664} phonetic accuracy, or else, that a native speaker of Β felt a constraint to suppress a phonological distinction in his own dialect, in the realization that whatever sounded to him like [ep-] was in the standard dialect pronounced [ip-]. Of these two scenarios, the second one seems more likely, since the very act of correction implies consciousness of an opposition between i and e before bilabials, and such consciousness would expectedly be lacking for the native speaker of a dialect in which this same opposition had become inoperative.
The paradox here is that the speaker of a standard dialect A is less prone than the speaker of a substandard dialect B to view -spelling before bilabials as a mistake.
An inference to be drawn from such an example is that the efforts of a scribe who is a native speaker of a substandard dialect to make his repertory conform with the standard dialect result in merely sporadic attestations of substandard features, since the majority of instances could be deliberately and successfully suppressed.
Still, occasional dialectal residues may inadvertently be left behind in the written repertory of a scribe who is a native speaker of a substandard dialect, mainly through failure to convert in every single instance an idiosyncratic dialectal trait of his into the corresponding standard trait originally alien to him.
For example, the scribe of Ta remembers to write e-ne-wo- for what to him is *ennewa-, but he forgets to apply the same type of conversion-rule to what he pronounces *ekhma-, thus writing e-ka-ma- instead of the expected *e-ko-mo-. That is how I explain why we find the dialectally inconsistent e-ka-ma- side-by-side with e-ne-wo- in the same tablet (Ta 713), written by the same scribe.
Only rarely is there any kind of consistency on the part of any scribe in writing substandard B forms. Here is an example: the scribe of all the Er tablets writes exclusively (at least, in the texts that are extant) pe-ma (*sperma) not pe-mo (*spermo). Such consistency in spelling this form may be an indication that this scribe is less educated than others of his colleagues. Even in the case of this scribe, however, we can see dialectal inconsistencies, as I will argue later when we consider the rare form to-so-jo (Er 312.2,8), variant of the common form to-so.
Despite the difficulties we encounter in tracking down the B forms, it is easy to see the general pattern. As is evident in Risch’s “tableau synoptique” (1966:155), the occurrences of form Β.1 written in a given hand X tend to predicate the concomitant occurrences of forms B.2 and B.3 as written in the same hand X. In other words, when one Β form is found in a given type of handwriting, it can be expected that traces of the other two Β forms will also occur, so long as there is sufficient textual evidence.
I must stress that the framework for such concomitant occurrences is not restricted to the handwriting of one scribe, but rather, is broad enough to be applicable to the more general category of one or another specific type of handwriting—a category {664 | 665} accommodating the handwriting of more than one scribe. A given type is designated by Bennett (1958) as “hand of ---.”
So, special dialectal traits can be assigned not only to single scribes but also to scribal groups, and the classification of such groups is based not on the subject-matter of the tablets, but instead, on types of handwriting.
A case in point is a set of Pylian tablets dealing with personnel, which is the series labeled Aa, Ab, and Ad. This set, despite the fact that it shows a remarkably high degree of uniformity in scribal conventions, shows also a high degree of multiformity in the handwriting of the scribes responsible for these tablets. The types of handwriting in this case are hand 1, hand 4, hand 21, hand 22, hand 23. In terms of Risch’s arguments, what matters most in determining the native dialect of, say, the scribe of tablet Aa 240 is that his handwriting belongs to a distinct type, hand 1. This hand, as we will see, is relatively more resistant to the pervasive patterns of conformity that we see at work in the record-keeping of the scribes who wrote the Aa, Ab, and Ad tablets.
Another set of Pylian tablets showing a high degree of uniformity in scribal conventions is the series dealing with land-tenure, labeled Ea, Eb, Ec, En, Eo, Ep, Eq, Er, Es. In the case of this group of tablets, I have already highlighted the idiosyncrasies of the scribe who wrote all the Er tablets and who consistently spells pe-ma (*sperma) not pe-mo (*spermo). Here is the relevant formulation of Bennett (1956:261):
Les tablettes E- de Pylos ont été écrites par cinq ou six scribes, dont j’ai reconnu les mains. La série Er tout entière est due à l’un de ces scribes, qui n’en a pas écrit d’autres dans la catégorie E-; lui seul emploie pe-ma, à l’exclusion de pe-mo; tous les autres emploient pe-mo à l’exclusion de pe-ma.
It seems, then, that the dialectal idiosyncrasies revealed in the texts written by the scribe of Er can be attributed not so much to his official capacity and responsibilities in the bureaucracy as to his training. In other words, Risch’s success in isolating the dialectal traits of, say, a generic “hand 24” and even of a specific constituent of hand 24, “the scribe of Er,” suggests that different scribes had different training in their styles of handwriting.
Granted, the pressure on the native speaker of a substandard dialect to conform with an official dialect-standard is not to be minimized. Still, suppressed traits of idiom emerge, even if only intermittently. For example, even if scribes who belong to the category of hand 1 generally write forms that are standard in terms of the three criteria formulated by Risch (1966:155), the scribe of En-Ep nonetheless commits the inconsistency of writing e-pa-sa-na-ti (En 74, Ep 212) instead of i-pa-sa-na-ti (seen in Eo 247, Eb 916: hand 41). In terms of my ongoing argument, such inconsistency is not a matter of free variation. Rather, it is a rare lapse in maintaining a self-imposed norm.
So far, we have seen that distinct types of handwriting correspond to distinct types of scribal training, and that these distinctions correspond to {665 | 666} dialectal distinctions.
Such distinctions may be explained as due to 1) distinct scribal schools or 2) distinct social groups. The first of these two explanations may help account for the existing idiosyncrasies in the spelling of consonant clusters (by way of syllable-signs that require the reading of “empty” vowels), as we see in the list of scribal variants collected by Risch (1966:156). The second of these two explanations would apply if we had evidence for class-stratification or for the presence of non-local personnel. There may even be a way of combining these two explanations. In any case, the point remains that dialectal background is correlated with scribal background.
The time has come to ask the basic question: what specific Greek dialect is represented by the traces of substandard forms B.1/2/3 peculiar to certain scribes (designated “mycénien spécial” by Risch 1966:156), in distinction to the standard forms A.1/2/3 (“mycénien normal”)? In terms of the Greek dialects as attested in the alphabetic evidence from the first millennium BCE, Risch formulates the following tentative answer about dialects as attested in the Linear B evidence from the second millennium BCE (1966:156–157):
Or ces particularités du mycénien normal [i.e., A.1/2/3] constituent une des différences les plus caractéristiques entre le mycénien et le grec historique,—si l’on fait abstraction des archaïsmes évidents et de quelques prépositions. Sous ce rapport, le mycénien spécial concorderait non avec le mycénien normal, mais avec les autres dialectes grecs. Par là il se rapproche des anciens dialectes méridionaux ou orientaux, si bien que l’on pourrait—du moins provisoirement—considérer ces dialectes comme continuation du mycénien spécial. Par contre, le mycénien normal, qui est séparé de tous les autres dialectes par les particularités mentionnées plus haut, aurait disparu pour ainsi dire sans laisser de trace.
To say, as Risch does here, that “mycénien normal” would have disappeared without any trace is too extreme. In his discussion following the statement just quoted, Risch himself shows that there are in fact traces of “mycénien normal” in such forms as ἁρμόττω and ἵππος. [2] Besides, one would expect numerous inherited reflexes of “mycénien normal” in the formulaic idioms of media such as epic poetry, legal discourse, and the like.
A major difficulty in deciding on this question is the lack of information about points of convergence, as opposed to points of divergence, between “mycénien normal” and “mycénien spécial.” If the latter had in fact been felt to be substandard, as argued here, then the extent to which dialectal traits might have been suppressed would be practically impossible to determine, and it would be reasonable to expect that only the most salient features of “mycénien special” could ever have survived in, say, the Pylian texts. Besides, the forms B.1/2/3 are characteristic of most if not all of the dialects attested in alphabetic texts from the first millennium BCE. So, if the forms A.1/2/3 as attested in Linear B texts from the second millennium BCE were mostly {666 | 667} extinct by the first millennium BCE, it would also be reasonable to expect that whatever survived from “mycénien normal” will be minimal. Only with further discoveries of even more decisively divergent forms belonging to group Β in distinction to group A can the question of Mycenaean linguistic Weiterleben be more closely studied.
I propose here that further dialectal features may be found in addition to those adduced by Risch. One such feature involves hand 1, which, as noted already, shows a propensity for substandard features, as in the case of the substandard spelling e-pa-sa-na-ti (En 74, Ep 212) instead of the standard i-pa-sa-na-ti (Eo 247, Eb 916) of hand 41; Risch (1966:156) makes a special point of isolating further substandard features of hand 1 in comparison with the relatively more standard features of hand 41. From the substandard repertory of hand 1, then, I draw the first example of what is arguably a fourth dialectal feature of “mycénien spécial” in the Pylian texts, besides B.1/2/3.
A form that is elsewhere spelled ka-pa-si-ja (Vn 851.12) is spelled ka-pa-ti-ja in hand 1 (Ep 539.9: the scribe of En–Ep), and even in hand 41 (Eb 338.1: the scribe of Eb). Conversely, what is tu-si-je-u in hand 1 (An 519.7: the scribe of An 657) is spelled tu-ti-je-u in hand 21 (Cn 4.6: the scribe of Cn 4). Also, the form spelled as ti-nwa-si-ja in hand 21 (Ab 190: the scribe of Ab) is spelled as genitive plural ti-nwa-ti-ja-o in hand 23 (Ad 684: the scribe of Ad), while again ti-nwa-si-ja occurs in hand 1 (Aa 699: the scribe of Aa 240). Instead of an expected *mi-ra-si-ja, we find mi-ra-ti-ja in both hand 1 (Aa 798, 1180: the scribe of Aa 240) and hand 21 (Ab 573: the scribe of Ab), as well as the genitive plural mi-ra-ti-ja-o in hand 23 (Ad 380, 689: the scribe of Ad). Other apparent instances of such variation in spelling between ti and si are cited by Vilborg (1960:52) and Palmer (1963:42); the list assembled here, however, will be sufficient for the discussion to follow.
For the sake of clarity, the distributions are again given here, this time in tabular form:
hand 1 ka-pa-ti-ja tu-si-je-u tu-nwa-si-ja mi-ra-ti-ja
hand 21   tu-ti-je-u ti-nwa-si-ja mi-ra-ti-ja
hand 23     ti-nwa-ti-ja-o mi-ra-ti-ja-o
hand 41 ka-pa-ti-ja      
(hand —) ka-pa-si-ja     *mi-ra-si-ja
Before an examination of the significance of such variations, more needs to be said about the contextual validity of these distributions. First of all, a justification is needed for positing a standard form *mi-ra-si-ja in contrast with the attested mi-ra-ti-ja. The founding form of the derivative form mi-ra-ti-ja can be identified as a place-name {667 | 668} *mi-ra-to, corresponding to the place name that is spelled Μίλητος in alphabetic Greek (though no definite identification of that place-name with the corresponding Linear B place-name *mi-ra-to can be assumed at this point). It should be noted that the interpretation of mi-ra-ti-ja as an ethnic adjective corresponding to what is spelled Μιλήσιαι in alphabetic Greek is contextually secure. In positions corresponding to the position in which mi-ra-ti-ja is found, there occur other qualifying ethnic adjectives such as ki-ni-di-ja (e.g. Aa 792; in hand 1, the scribe of Aa 240) and ku-te-ra3 (e.g. Aa 506; in hand 1, the scribe of Aa 240), corresponding respectively to the forms Κνίδιαι and Κυθήριαι as attested in the alphabetic texts of the first millennium BCE (see Morpurgo[-Davies] 1963 [henceforth abbreviated as MGL], s.vv.; see also Palmer 1963:114).
At this point, even before the phonological questions about mi-ra-ti-ja are considered, it is important to repeat that this form is an ethnic adjective derived from a place-name Milātos (which would be spelled *mi-ra-to). The same can be said about ka-pa-ti-ja / ka-pa-si-ja, to be derived from a place-name that can be reconstructed as Karpathos. The question here is not whether the referents of these forms are identical (on which question there is some doubt: MGL, s.vv.), but whether the forms ka-pa-ti-ja / ka-pa-si-ja are identical on the morphological level (even if different on the phonological level), at least up to the juncture ka-pa-ti- / ka-pa-si-. We may compare the following adjectival forms as attested in the first millennium BCE: Καρπάθιος, Καρπαθίη, Καρπάσιον, Καρπασία, etc. (Pape/Benseler, s.vv.). All these forms are ultimately founded on the toponym Κάρπαθος (Pape/Benseler s.v.; it must be emphasized that the toponym Karpathos in the Pylian texts may refer to a different place). As for tu-ti-je-u / tu-si-je-u and ti-nwa-ti-ja / ti-nwa-si-ja, it is generally accepted that the referents of these forms are identical (MGL, s.vv.), and so in these instances it is beyond doubt that they are morphologically identical. That much said, the time has come to examine the actual phonological implications of the orthographic variation -ti-/-si- in the Pylian texts.
According to one theory, the scribal hesitations in spelling or can be explained in terms of a single dialect. It would be unproductive to produce here an exhaustive bibliography pertaining to such a theory, especially since the inherent notion about the involvement of a phonological phase of transition in this regard is more of a generally-held assumption than an actual solution to the problem. It is sufficient here merely to isolate the central premise inherent in this theory, which is this: whereas the supposedly monolithic idiom of Linear Β betrays a si-dialect, as in di-do-si = *didonsi, etc. (see the detailed list of Vilborg 1960:52) as opposed to a ti-dialect, as in West Greek δίδοντι, etc., there are nevertheless instances in Linear Β texts where what one would expect to be /-si-/ is spelled instead of , which then is held as proof for the pronunciation of /-si-/ as a hypothetical [-tsi-]. In other words, various perhaps archaizing representations of /-si-/ as are assumed, leading to the conclusion that the Linear Β texts still show traces of a mid-point between the assibilation of -ti- to -si-, namely, an affricate phase, which can be transcribed as {668 | 669} *-tsi-.
Even if it is wrong, as I think, to assume that an affricate phase *-tsi- still existed in the era of the attested Linear B tablets, such a phase may well have existed in earlier eras of any si-dialect. In general, the type represented by Attic/Ionic δίδωσι can be derived from an earlier *dídōtsi, as opposed to the unassibilated -ti- of δίδωτι, as attested in attested phases of West Greek dialects.
Still, from an examination of the evidence found in the attested phases of Attic/Ionic, it is evident that assibilation in these phases is already a synchronically inoperative phonological process: the shift from -ti- to -si- is merely an inherited phenomenon, surviving only in specific morphological environments (more on this point in a moment).
In the prehistory of Attic/Ionic, the process of assibilation from -ti- to -si- can be reconstructed diachronically as a once-living phonological mechanism, but the lifespan of this mechanism must be dated back to a prehistoric era that predates even the era of the attested Linear B texts. Such an early dating of the process of assibilation is necessitated by the fact that the reconstruction of this process must be internally consistent with the reconstruction of two other processes in Attic/Ionic:
  • The development of the type μέσος from *méthjos. The same type, as we will see later, is represented by τόσος from *tótjos.
  • The development of the type μέλιττα / μέλισσα from *mélitja.
Explanations that fail to integrate diachronically the development that we know as assibilation with these two other developments are inadequate (Risch 1955:67).
In what follows, I will present an integrated diachronic scheme that accounts for both the assibilation from -ti- to -si- and the two types μέσος and μέλιττα / μέλισσα. A more detailed version of this scheme can be found in the monograph Nagy 1970. [That monograph appeared only after the present article (Nagy 1968) was published. [3] ]
Abbreviations:
  • || = mark for morpheme-boundary
  • # = mark for word-initial / word-final position
  • V/C = vowel/consonant
In the more detailed version as presented in the monograph (Nagy 1970), there is further analysis of such factors as
  • morpheme-boundary (||)
  • palatalization (indicated by the sign “j”) of consonants: Cj [4]
  • gemination of palatalized consonants: Cj > CCj (on which see also Diver 1958 and Stang 1957)
  • the Common Greek distinction –́CiV-/–́CjV-, determined by the presence/absence of a morpheme-boundary after -C- (this distinction is germane to the formulation of two phonological developments, known as “Sievers’ Law” and “Edgerton’s Converse”)
  • earlier patterns of accentuation, which are of Indo-European provenience, for the noun type μέλισσα/μελίσσης (earlier *mélit-ja/*melit-jā́s) and for the verb type πλάσσω (earlier *plath-jṓ).
First, let us consider the -σ- in the type μέσος, as also in the type δίδωσι. Here is a relative chronology of reconstructed earlier phases for the type μέσος:
*méthjos > *métjos > *métsjos > *mésjos > *méssjos.
The details will be explained later. What matters for the moment, however, is simply this: the affricate *-ts-, as reconstructed in this relative chronology, was already simplified to *-s- by the time that the process of gemination (Cj > CCj) became operative (*mésjos > *méssjos).
Second, let us consider the -σσ- / -ττ- in the type μέλιττα / μέλισσα. In the case of this type, unlike the type μέσος, the affricate *-ts- was prevented by the morpheme boundary (||) from becoming simplified to *-s- before the process of gemination (Cj > CCj) became operative (*mélits||ja > *mélittsja).
Here is a summary of the contrast between the types μέλιττα / μέλισσα and μέσος:
*mélit||ja > *mélits||ja > *mélittsja
vs.
*métjos > *métsjos > *méssjos.
After depalatalization (that is, after loss of *-j-), *méssjos becomes *méssos which becomes μέσος while *mélittsja becomes *mélitsa which becomes μέλιττα / μέλισσα.
What I am proposing, then, is that in a si-dialect {669 | 670} like Attic/Ionic, the affricate *-ts- that turns into the -ττ- / -σσ- of the type μέλιττα / μέλισσα results from these two contingencies:
  1. original presence of morpheme-boundary between *-t- and *-j-
  2. gemination
When these contingencies are absent, what results is the type μέσος.
In terms of the reconstruction of δίδωσι from a conjectured form *dídōtsi, it could be argued that the result of *métjos, simultaneous with this *dídōtsi, should be reconstructed as *métsos. But such a reconstruction has to be rejected. As we will see, the original *métjos (resulting in μέσος) is not exempt from the process of gemination.
And if *métjos is not exempt from gemination, then the later form that would be simultaneous with a conjectured *dídōtsi would have to be reconstructed as *méttsos (or, more simply, *métsos). But such a reconstruction also has to be rejected, since it would result in a false Attic form *μέττος.
In sum, while it is possible to posit a transitional phase showing *dídōtsi and *métsjos in the prehistory of a si-dialect, such forms are too early to have existed in the era of the Linear B tablets. They could have existed only in an era so early that it came before the process of gemination became operative (Cj > CCj)—and this process is so early that it has heretofore even been assigned to the era of Common Greek (Diver 1958 and Stang 1957).
What follows is a diachronic scheme that recapitulates the arguments up to now. Consecutive phases in this scheme are implied {670 | 671} by the numerals 1, 2, 3, etc., but not by the letters A, B, C, etc.
  1. *-t(h)j- becomes *-sj- (probable mid-phase: *-tsj-).
    1. *-t(h)j-V-/-t(h)i-C- and *-t(h)||jV-/-t(h)||íV- become *-sj-V-/-si-C- and *-s||jV-/-s||íV- respectively.
    2. *-t(h)||j- becomes *-ttsj- (or, more simply, *-tsj-).
    3. *-sj- (result of phase 1) becomes *-ssj-.
    1. *-j- disappears (in other words, there is depalatalization).
    2. *-j-/-i- (seen in phase 2.A) becomes leveled to -i-; hence ultimately δίδωσι, Καρπασία, etc.
  2. *-ss- (result of phase 2.C and phase 3.A) becomes -s-; hence μέσος, τόσος, etc.
  3. *-ts- (result of phase 2.B and phase 3.A) becomes -tt-/-ss- in Attic/Ionic; hence μέλιττα/μέλισσα, πλάττω/πλάσσω.
EXAMPLES:
  1. (*méthjos >) *métjos > *métsjos > *mésjos; *dídōtj#V- > *dídōtsj#V- > *dídōsj#V-.
  2. This is the phase when intervocalic -Cj- undergoes gemination: -Cj- > -CCj-.
    1. Gemination, however, is prevented when there is an alternation -Cj-/-Ci-. Thus what had been dídōtj#V-/*didōti#C- before phase 1 now becomes *dídōsj#V-/*dídōsi#C-, with gemination obviated. As for the assibilation, *dídōsj#V- is the result of simple phonological change, while *dídōsi#C- replaces original *dídōti#C- as a result of morphological leveling. Then again, what had been singular nominative/dative *Kárpath||jos/*Karpath||íōi before phase 1 now becomes *Kárpas||jos/*Karpas||íōi, with gemination again obviated. In this instance, the alternation *-j-/-i- is motivated not by sandhi-conditioning of a subsequent -V-/-C-, but rather, by the absence/presence of accent on prevocalic *-j-/-i-. The assibilation, here again, involves *Karpas||jos as the result of simple phonological change, while *Karpas||íōi replaces *Karpath||íōi as a result of morphological leveling; in the feminine, genitive plural *Karpas||jā́ōn would likewise be the result of a phonological change, and the nominative singular *Karpas||íā instead of *Karpath||íā can again be ascribed to morphological leveling, within the confines of the declensional system.
    2. *mélit||ja/*melit||jā́s and *plath||jṓ > *mélitsja/*melitsjā́s and *platsjṓ respectively. The expected gemination of *-tj- into *-ttj- has been complicated by the simultaneous onset of assibilation (vs. the earlier developments seen in phase 1), a many-sided process also seen operative in phase 2.A.
    3. *mésjos > *méssjos. {671 | 672}
  3. This is the phase of depalatalization, when -CCj- (or, more accurately, -C´C´j-) > -CC-.
    1. *méssjos > *méssos, *mélitsja > *mélitsa, etc.
    2. *dídōsj#V-/*dídōsi#C- becomes morphologically leveled to dídōsi#V- /C-, upon the phonological loss of *-j-. Because of the same loss, the type *Kárpas||jos/*Karpas||íōi becomes internally further normalized into Karpásios/Karpasíōi. Likewise, *Karpas||íā/*Karpas||jā́ōn becomes Karpasíā/Karpasiā́ōn.
  4. As soon as *-ssj- is depalatalized (> *-ss-; cf. phase 3.A), it can also become degeminated (> -s-), since there exists no phonological exigency at this point for the opposition of double *-ss- vs. simple -s-: thus *méssos > mésos.
  5. *mélitsa > méllitta/mélissa, *plátsō (with accentuation now rearranged, after the morphological process of univerbation—which is not chronologically ranked here) > pláttō/plássō.
So much for the posited phases of evolution within a si-dialect. What follows is a corresponding scheme of relevant developments within a ti-dialect.
  1. (*méthjos >) *métjos remains *métjos.
  2. Gemination: -Cj- > -CCj-.
    1. Gemination is prevented within the framework of an alternation -Cj-/-Ci-, as in *dídōtj#V-/*dídōti#C-, *Kárpat||jos/ *Karpath||íōi, etc.
    2. *métjos > *méttjos, *mélit||ja > *mélittja, etc.
  3. Depalatalization.
    1. *méttjos > *méttj̥os > *méttsos, *mélittja > *mélittj̥a > *mélittsa.
      For a discussion of the typology of such a phonological change, see Allen 1958:115ff; the actual application, however, is not the same here as the one proposed loc. cit.
    2. Upon the phonological loss of *-j-, *dídtōj#V-/*dídōti#C- becomes leveled into dídōti#V-/C-; likewise *Kárpat||jos/*Karpath||íōi, into Karpáthios/Karpathíōi.
  4. *-tts- > -tt- in some ti-dialects, and -ss- in others. A case in point is Central Cretan μεττον (= Attic μέσον), Argolic οσσα (= Attic ὅσα), etc. Further details are provided in the monograph already cited [Nagy 1970].
These criteria, derived from the diachronic investigation just concluded, can now be applied to two relevant facts in Mycenaean Greek: (1) the standard dialect of the Linear Β texts is a si-dialect, and that (2) this dialect is attested at a phase that postdates the phase when intervocalic consonantal gemination (-Cj- > -CCj-) was still operative; {672 | 673} on the second of the two points, see Bartoněk 1961:143ff. If my arguments are valid regarding gemination as a terminus ante quem with respect to affricate forms of the type *dídōtsi / dídontsi, then it must follow that such spellings as di-do-si (Ma 365.2, etc.) cannot be transcribed as *dídontsi: only *dídonsi is admissible. In terms of a si-dialect, the same goes for ka-pa-si-ja, tu-si-je-u, ti-nwa-si-ja: the only justifiable transcription is with *-si-, not *-tsi-.
It remains, then, to explain the variants ka-pa-ti-ja, tu-ti-je-u, ti-nwa-ti-ja-. Before the obvious solution of positing a ti-dialect is finally proposed, one further obstacle has to be confronted. It might be objected that even if ka-pa-ti-ja, tu-ti-je-u, ti-nwa-ti-ja- cannot be phonologically justified in terms of a si-dialect, some morphological factor may still be adduced to account for such by-forms within the framework of a single dialect. Granted, if the process of assibilation is already inoperative as a phonological mechanism in the si-dialect of Pylian Linear B, any new combination of t+i that is not inherited but rather produced by the synchronic morphological system might be expected to remain as -ti-. Such a situation is evident in the attested phase of Attic/Ionic: for example, the living relationship of founding formant -ος to founded formant -ιος can produce a form like στράτιος on the basis of στρατός, whereas an inherited rather than newly-triggered morphological structure, dating back to the era of operative assibilation, would have produced *στράσιος (for a list of the types στράτιος, see Schwyzer 1953:466n11).
Similarly, the form Καρπάθιος, founded on Κάρπαθος, would have ousted an older *Καρπάσιος from the primary adjectival function, relegating *Καρπάσιος to a secondary substantival function, whence the toponyms Καρπάσιον, Καρπασία, etc.
But it would be a mistake to interpret the attested adjectives in -σιος as inoperative on the grounds that the conversion of -ti- to -si- is no longer phonologically operative. To make this point, I turn to the example of Attic noms d’action in -σις (original *-tis, vs. genitive singular *-tjos; > *-tis/*-sjos, leveled to *-sis/*-sjos, then to *-sis/*-sios, restructured ultimately in Attic as -σις/-σεως). Here we see that the conversion of -ti- to -si- is no longer phonologically operative in -σις, but the combination of a verbal base with this suffix -σις is nevertheless morphologically operative. In other words, the inoperative phonological mechanism resides in the formant {-σις}, not in the form {base + -σις}.
The example of adjectival -σιος is more subtle. In this case, we see traces of a formerly productive morphophonemic relationship: an adjective formant *-sio- is founded on noun formants *-to- and *-tā-. Just as verbs can become founding forms of deverbative noun formations with suffix -σις, so also nouns in *-to-/*-tā- can become founding forms of adjectives in *-sio-, which happen to be the remnants of the phonologically no longer operative process of assibilation. But then these adjectives in *-sio- become morphophonemically reactivated by way of their morphological derivation from nouns in *-to-/*-tā-: hence such pairs as ἐνιαυτός (‘year-cycle’) vs. ἐνιαύσιος (‘yearly’), or δημότης (1. ‘commoner’ {673 | 674} 2. ‘fellow citizen’ 3. ‘fellow deme-member’) vs. δημόσιος (1. ‘belonging to the state’ 2. ‘common’).
The two forms δημότης / δημόσιος are especially interesting because the attested usage of the two (LSJ s.vv.) shows semantic incongruity extensive enough to prove the breakdown of a formerly operative morphological relationship between the founding formant -της and the founded formant -σιος. Only the actual forms δημότης and δημόσιος remain as witness to the originally functional relationship of their constituent formants. The adjective δημόσιος in attested Attic/Ionic is reconfigured as a derivative of δῆμος instead of its genuine formal source, δημότης.
In fact, the morphophonemic relationship *-tā-/*-sio- is hardly even attested in Attic and Ionic, outside of the pairs δημότης/δημόσιος, δεσπότης/δεσπόσιος, and perhaps a few others. As for the relationship *-to-/*-sio- as in ἐνιαυτός / ἐνιαύσιος and πλοῦτος / πλούσιος, on the other hand, the link between founding and founded forms in these instances does not seem to be broken in the attested usage, and we may infer that the morphophonemic relationship *-to-/*-sio- might still be operative. Still, such an inference is countered not only by such already-cited pairs as στρατός / στράτιος, but also by the fact that there are attested formations in -σιος for which the founding form in -τος has even become extinct. For example, no simplex founding form *γνητός is attested for γνήσιος ‘legitimate’. Even the specialized usage of γνήσιος, which might have taken a long time to evolve semantically (in view of the assumed meaning, ‘born’, of the founding form) points to the obsolescence of the morphophonemic relationship *-to-/ *-sio-.
Finally, the breakdown in attested Attic/Ionic of this original relationship, as also of *-tā-/*-sio-, is also indicated in the actual overextension (grammatical in most instances but perhaps stylistic in others) of the process—a phenomenon pointing to cessation of an operative mechanism. For example, the form γενέσια, founded on γενέτης, motivates the parallel form νεκύσια; or again, ἱκέσιος, founded on ἱκέτης, becomes replaced by a new formation ἱκετήσιος (while the nominal ἱκετεία ousts ἱκεσία: LSJ s.vv.).
Now the question still remains whether the morphophonemic relationships *-to-/*-sio- (also *-tho-/*-sio-: as in Καρπάσιον, etc., above) and *-tā-/-sio- are still operative in the si-dialect of the extant Linear Β texts. The chances of an operative relationship are better in this case, in view of the chronological gap between the texts of Linear B and the attested texts of Attic/Ionic. What would constitute tangible proof, however, is the occurrence of founding forms with *-t(h)o- or *-tā- and founded forms with *-si-o/ā- in the same context, since only such coexistence could imply a living rather than merely inherited alternation. That is, the free use of *-si-o/ā- as adjectivizing formant of *-t(h)o- and *-tā- would imply a productive mechanism.
And, in fact, the morphophonemic relationship of *-t(h)o- and *-tā- and *-si-o/ā- is attested in the Linear Β texts, and this relationship can be contextually verified: ko-ru-to / e-pi-ko-ru-si-jo / o-pi-ko-ru-si-jo, ko-ri-to / ko-ri-si-jo, e-qe-ta / e-qe-si-jo, ra-wa-ke-ta / ra-wa-ke-si-jo, {674 | 675} pa-qo-ta / pa-qo-si-jo, u-wa-ta / u-wa-si-jo (Vilborg 1960:52; for establishment of the contextual relations and their relative certainty, see MGL s.vv.).
Any conclusion based simply on attestations of …-to / …-ti-jo is limited: such pairs may reveal original *-sto-/-stio-, since assibilation of *-ti- after *-s- had been permanently obviated even in si-dialects, as we see in the case of pa-i-to / pa-i-ti-jo = Phaistos / Phaistios (MGL, s.vv.).
What is significant, however, is when a spelling-alternation is found between and . For example, the adjectival configuration of the place-name ku-ta-to in the Knossos tablets (Da 1114, etc.) occurs as both ku-ta-si-jo (Dw 1237) and ku-ta-ti-jo (Ga 419.1, etc.; see MGL, s.vv.). According to the arguments already presented, the latter form betrays a breakdown in an apparently living morphophonemic mechanism of the standard si-dialect. One might surmise, then, that a scribe responsible for the spelling ku-ta-ti-jo was the speaker of a ti-dialect, and that he has here forgotten to apply a self-imposed conversion-rule of consciously writing as -si- what he pronounces as -ti-. Or else, perhaps the scribe is the speaker of a si-dialect, here making allowances for an actually spoken onomastic entry belonging to a ti-dialect.
Unfortunately, the Pylian texts known to me seem not to yield any instance of a crucial triplet such as the Knossian ku-ta-to / ku-ta-si-jo / ku-ta-ti-jo. Nevertheless, while any attestation of forms like *ka-pa-to, *ti-nwa-to, *mi-ra-to would be valuable, the very alternations ka-pa-si-ja / ka-pa-ti-ja, ti-nwa-si-ja / ti-nwa-ti-ja and tu-si-je-u / tu-ti-je-u may now be considered sufficient for venturing this proposal: the hands responsible for ti-spellings here betray native speakers of a ti-dialect.
Furthermore, such sporadic distributions as already presented in the table above, such as tu-si-je-u vs. ka-pa-ti-ja- in hand 1 and tu-ti-je-u vs. ti-nwa-si-ja in hand 21, suggest that any hand for which a ti-spelling is found can be expected to reveal, however intermittently, other features of a substandard dialect, despite a relatively high degree of success on the part of most scribes in suppressing traces of their own dialect.
Finding even one mistake in a given scribal hand—a mistake, that is, from the standpoint of a si-dialect—arouses suspicion that other substandard features are latent. Thus for example in hand 41, despite the relatively high degree of consistency in rendering standard forms, the occurrence of ka-pa-ti-ja instead of ka-pa-si-ja is enough to cast doubt on the dialectal consistency of even those scribes who wrote in this hand-style.
But this same occurrence also helps put into perspective the fact that after all it was the scribe of Eb, belonging to the group designated hand 41, who had written the substandard e-pa-sa-na-ti, which was then corrected to i-pa-sa-na-ti, as already noted. I have also already noted the possibility that this scribe too was a native speaker of a substandard dialect, so that even the texts in hand 41 cannot be considered rigidly standard in idiom. This possibility is now further advanced by the occurrence of ka-pa-ti-ja in hand 41 (Eb 338.1); even more, the scribe who wrote the entries e-pa-sa-na-ti and ka-pa-ti-ja {675 | 676} is one and the same: he is the scribe of Eb.
So, with the development of a tentative fourth A/B dialectal distinction, si/ti, besides the three A/B distinctions already postulated by Risch, an extension of the conclusions based on the first three distinctions can be applied on the basis of this new distinction. Here is the extended conclusion: that the pervasion of substandard dialect among the Pylian scribes is even more widespread than previously expected. Only, some scribes are more adept at suppressing dialectal traits than others.
If an A/B dialectal distinction of si/ti can be added to the other A/B distinctions, then the next problem is how to classify the four Β features, as attested in the Linear B texts stemming from the second millennium BCE, in terms of the dialects attested in the first millennium BCE. In the latter era, West Greek is the major dialectal group that happens to accommodate all four of the traits B, most importantly in the archaism of retaining unassibilated -ti- (hence δίδωτι), allowances being duly made for the eventual incursion of si-forms, especially in technical and onomastic contexts, from contiguous or superseded dialectal layers of higher cultural prestige (whence the seemingly anomalous state of affairs in attested West Greek dialects of the first millennium BCE, as surveyed by Lejeune 1955:53ff).
There may be other West Greek features latent in the Linear B texts from Pylos. One such feature to consider is the desinence of the third singular middle, primary tense: in standard Mycenaean, this desinence is clearly -toi (see Vilborg 1960:104, for a discussion of the implications, with relevant bibliography), while in the West Greek dialects of the first millennium BCE, it is universally attested as -ται.
Relevant here is the testimony of hand 24, which Risch (1966:155) singles out for its many substandard forms, such as po-se-da-o-ni and A+RE+PA in place of the standard forms po-se-da-o-ne and a-re-po respectively, in Un 718. Now it so happens that the first three lines of this specific tablet read as follows:
sa-ra-pe-da po-se-da-o-ni do-so-mo;
o-wi-de-ta-i do-so-mo; to-so e-ke-ra2-wo
do-se WHEAT 4 WINE 3 BULL 1
The two semicolons have been inserted merely for the sake of interpretation, in order to mark the points where a syntactic break seems to take place. The position of the first of these two semicolons is not controversial, since a break here is generally assumed (Palmer 1963:215). As for the placement of the second, it can be justified on the grounds that the resulting segment to-so e-ke-ra2-wo do-se is then directly parallel to to-so-de ra-wa-ke-ta do-se, as found further on in the same text, in line 9. Another justification is that, without a break marked by the second semicolon, do-so-mo has to be interpreted as the direct object of the verb do-se (MGL s.v. do-so-mo), and such a figura etymologica as do-so-mo do-se, while not unlikely in itself and even seeming like a traditional formula, is nevertheless apparently not attested elsewhere, despite the multiple occurrences of do-so-mo in other texts.
What I tentatively {676 | 677} suggest here, then, is that the do-so-mo in line 2 of Un 718 is the direct object of what may be a verb shaped o-wi-de-ta-i, consisting of the particle o- combined with -wi-de-ta-i. The sequence -wi-de-ta-i, in view of all the dialectal idiosyncrasies of the scribe responsible, may perhaps be interpreted as *widētai, corresponding to Homeric ἴδηται 'let him see/examine' or 'he will see/examine'. Examples of such a form can be found in the following Homeric verses:
ν 215 ἀλλ’ ἄγε δὴ τὰ χρήματ’ ἀριθμήσω καὶ ἴδωμαι
δ 412 αὐτὰρ ἐπὴν πάσας πεμπάσσεται ἠδὲ ἴδηται
In the idiom of Homeric poetry, the second aorist indicative, as distinct from the second aorist subjunctive as we see it in the two examples just given, is generally found with an active desinential system, not middle. Here are two Homeric examples:
A 262 οὐ γάρ πω τοίους ἴδον ἀνέρας οὐδὲ ἴδωμαι
α 3 πολλῶν δ’ ἀνθρώπων ἴδεν ἄστεα καὶ νόον ἔγνω.
Now Homeric ἴδε corresponds to such Homeric forms as the verb o-wi-de in Eq 213.1 and Ta 711.1 (Palmer 1963:52). A parallel correspondence may be ἴδηται and o-wi-de-ta-i.
It is also worth noting that the coexistence in Un 718 of do-se (line 3, ‘he will give’) with -wi-de-ta-i may be paralleled by the coexistence of sigmatic vs. asigmatic subjunctives in the verses ν 215 and δ 412 quoted above. Comparable also may be the coexistence of the two aorists o-wi-de and te-ke (the equivalent of θῆκε) in Ta 711.1.
Accordingly, I offer the following tentative translation of the first three lines of Un 718 (aside from my interpretation of o-wi-de-ta-i, my translation is based mainly on that of Palmer 1963:215):
‘Contribution of the sa-ra-pe-da [feminine genitive singular] to Poseidon; and she will examine the contribution; E-ke-ra2-wo will give so much: WHEAT 4, WINE 3, BULL 1,’ etc.
And here is my translation for line 9, to-so-de ra-wa-ke-ta do-se:
‘and so much will the *lāwāgetās give:’ [followed in line 10 by RAMS 2, etc.].
On my translation of the particle o- as a connective, ‘and’, see Watkins 1963:19ff.
Another idiosyncrasy, attested in hand 24, is evident in the tablet Er 312. In this text, the scribe of Er spells the ubiquitous form to-so as to-so-jo instead, in lines 2 and 8, but reverts to to-so and to-so-de in lines 5 and 6 respectively. It must be remembered that the scribe involved here is the same one who consistently writes pe-ma instead of pe-mo: the former occurs three times in Er 312 alone.
In view of what has been noted so far about the dialectal texture in hand 24, I argue that the scribe of Er is the native speaker of a ti-dialect. If so, then the reflex of Common Greek *totjon would be something like *tοttjon in his native dialect at this particular phase of its development, {677 | 678} if the ordering in my diachronic scheme as presented above (see phase II.B) is valid. As for the standard si-dialect, the corresponding form would be *tossjon (see phase 2.C). Just as in the previous instance where I argued that speakers of dialect Β may paradoxically be more likely than speakers of dialect A to make corrections such as the one from e-pa-sa-na-ti to i-pa-sa-na-ti, so also now I argue that someone who said *tottjon himself but heard *tossjon as the normative form could feel a compunction to choose a complex representation to-so-jo, what with its more extensive phonetic information-content, instead of writing simply to-so.
As for the actual spelling-mechanism seen in to-so-jo, more anaylsis is needed: an attempt has been made in the monograph already cited [Nagy 1970] to integrate the spelling to-so-jo with other similar spellings in the Linear Β texts.
That same monograph offers a detailed analysis of how the graphemic series represents the unvoiced/voiced affricates *-tsj- (phase 2.B in the diachronic scheme I presented above) and *-dzj- in the si-dialect of Linear Β texts. I refer to that analysis here because it is relevant to the distinction between ti-dialect and si-dialect. To those scribes who were native speakers of a ti-dialect, the series would represent *-ttj- (phase II.B in the diachronic scheme above) and not *-tsj-. For a scribe who speaks a ti-dialect, however, there can be no simple conversion-rule from *-ttj- to *-tsj-, as we can see from the reconstructions *mélitsja /*méssjos (phase 2.B / phase 2.C in the diachronic scheme above) as opposed to *mélittja/*méttjos (phase II.B). In terms of these reconstructions, standard *méssjos could be spelled *me-zo by a scribe who pronounces the word as *méttjos. Or a substandard onomastic feature *méttjo- could be spelled *me-zo- by a scribe who pronounces the word as *méssjos. Such reconstructions may help explain the form of the toponym me-za-na (Cn 3.1, Sh 736), which I think corresponds to what in alphabetic Greek is known as Μεσσήνη (MGL s.v. me-za-na).
I have come to the end of my brief attempt here to show that West Greek elements may be involved in the Pylian texts. The very thought of entertaining such a notion came from the observations of Risch (1966:155) about hand 1. It was in hand 1, as we saw, that forms like ka-pa-ti-ja are found, as distinct from ka-pa-si-ja. Further, Risch (p. 156) highlights the sequence e-pi-qe to-me in Ep 617.8 (hand 1) as distinct from e-pi-qe to-e in Eb 842.2 (hand 41). Even further, Risch (p. 156n2) compares the form to-me here in Ep 617.8 (hand 1) with the Gortynian form οτιμι. Such a comparison, if accepted as valid, with a form attested in the alphabetic phases of West Greek—in particular, of West Greek as spoken in the Cretan city of Gortyn—is of great significance as an impetus for investigating the possibility of other such comparisons.
What remains of even greater significance, however, is Risch’s overall contribution of starting a systematic study of possible dialectal variations in Linear B. Granted, much more groundwork seems required. For example, the awaited book of J.-P. Olivier on the scribal hands of Knossos will provide further control for examining instances of the same sort of hesitation between dialectal forms A/B as those isolated by Risch in the Pylian texts. [5] Risch (1966) already indicates points of departure for study of such Knossian A/B divergences.
As for the {678 | 679} present article [Nagy 1968], the main concern is not so much the identity of the ti-dialect in Pylian texts, but rather, more basically, the success or failure of establishing the distinction si/ti as a fourth A/B dialectal criterion to be added on to the three criteria already established by Risch. If this new criterion is accepted, especially along with the corollary that the ti-dialect may be West Greek, then the detection of substandard ti-forms in texts both Pylian and Knossian—in the latter case, as we have seen in the triplet ku-ta-to / ku-ta-si-jo / ku-ta-ti-jo—might be of considerable historical significance. In fact, the attestation of substandard ti-forms could even help settle the controversy about the dating of the Knossos tablets.
[end of article Nagy 1968]

Appendix: Extract from Nagy 2008

(This extract is from Nagy, G. 2008. Greek: An Updating of a Survey of Recent Work. Cambridge, MA and Washington, DC. An updating of Nagy 1972. The whole book, Nagy 2008, is published online at chs.harvard.edu.)
Viewing Mycenaean Greek as a dialect, we encounter an important complication. As Risch (1966) has shown, the Greek of the Linear В script was written by two kinds of scribes, each speaking one of two different dialects. One of these dialects was the standard language—standard, that is, for the scribes—while the other was substandard. Making use of studies identifying individual scribes by way of their handwriting, Risch demonstrated that scribes who spoke the substandard dialect were inconsistent in the spelling of words that they pronounced differently from the scribes who spoke the standard dialect and who spelled such words consistently. [In the article Nagy 1968 as republished above] I produced a detailed study of standard and substandard Mycenaean as reflected in the scribal hands at Pylos. More recently, the study of standard and substandard Mycenaean has been extended from the scribal hands at Pylos to the scribal hands at Knossos (Woodard 1986).
I offer here a test case, with reference to this phonological rule: in standard Mycenaean, vocalic *ṇ becomes o next to a bilabial, while in substandard Mycenaean it becomes a. Here is an example: the common Greek word for ‘seed’, reconstructed as *spermṇ, becomes spermo in standard Mycenaean, spelled pe-mo in Linear B, while it becomes sperma in substandard Mycenaean, which can be spelled pe-ma in Linear B. I say “can be spelled” not “is spelled” because scribes who spoke the substandard dialect could be inconsistent in their spelling, writing either pe-mo or pe-ma, while only the scribes who spoke the standard dialect would consistently write pe-mo. I offer further analysis in my article on standard and substandard Mycenaean (Nagy 1968).
We find residual survivals of standard Mycenaean in the first millennium BCE. Risch [1966:157] cites two examples of such survivals: ἵππος and ἁρμόττω. The meanings of these two words are relevant to their survival, as we are about to see.
I start with the second word, the verb ἁρμόττω (secondarily ἁρμόζω), which means ‘fit, join’ with reference to the work of a joiner, that is, of a master carpenter. We see here a parallel to a form we have already seen, which is standard Mycenaean spermo as opposed to the substandard Mycenaean sperma. The verb ἁρμόττω is derived from the standard Mycenaean form harmo ‘chariot-wheel’, spelled a-mo in the Linear B tablets. Just as the meaning of spermo / σπέρμα as ‘seed’ derives from its etymology as an action-noun *spermṇ, which refers to a ‘sowing’ and which in turn derives from the root of the verb attested as σπείρω ‘sow’ in alphabetic Greek, so also the meaning of harmo / ἅρμα as ‘chariot-wheel’ derives from its etymology as an action-noun *arsmṇ, which refers to a ‘fitting’ and which in turn derives from the root of the verb attested as ἀραρίσκω ‘fit, join’ in alphabetic Greek. Just as the meaning of spermo / σπέρμα shifts from the abstract sense of ‘sowing’ to the concrete sense of ‘seed’, so also the meaning of harmo shifts from the abstract sense of ‘fitting’ to the concrete sense of a ‘fitting’ for a chariot-frame: such a ‘fitting’ for a chariot-frame is the chariot-wheel itself (in Linear B tablets, the perfect participle ararmotmeno- of what becomes the verb ἁρμόττω ‘fit’ in alphabetic Greek refers to the fitting of wheels to a chariot-frame). Whereas the standard Mycenaean form harmo means ‘chariot-wheel’ in the Linear B tablets, the substandard form *harma survives in alphabetic Greek as ἅρμα, meaning ‘chariot’ (just as German Rad, which means ‘wheel’ etymologically, becomes the word for ‘bicycle’). A point of special interest here is the fact that even the Linear B scribes who are speakers of substandard Mycenaean consistently write a-mo and not *a-ma with reference to chariot-wheels. It appears that the speakers of the substandard dialect pay relatively closer attention to the standard spelling of words that have to do with social prestige.
Having dealt with ἁρμόττω, which is the second of the two residual standard Mycenaean words isolated by Risch, I now turn to the first, which is the noun ἵππος, meaning ‘horse’. The corresponding Mycenaean form is hi(k)kṷos ‘horse’, spelled i-qo in the Linear B tablets. From the standpoint of Indo-European linguistics, we would have expected the common Greek form to be *hekkṷos or, without expressive gemination, *hekṷos, since it is cognate with Latin equus ‘horse’. (The reconstructed alternation *hekkṷos / *hekṷos would be parallel to the alternation we see in Latin vacca / vaca ‘cow’, respectively with and without expressive gemination, as reflected in derivative Romance languages.) But the attested Mycenaean form is not *he(k)kṷos but hi(k)kṷos, following a linguistic rule that distinguishes standard Mycenaean from substandard Mycenaean. The rule can be formulated as follows: e is raised to i next to a bilabial. This rule is one of the three rules that Risch [1966:150] has highlighted as criteria for distinguishing standard from substandard Mycenaean in the Linear В tablets. And, of those three rules, only this one is clearly definable as a linguistic innovation.
In my study of standard and substandard Mycenaean (Nagy 1968), I have analyzed examples of standard Mycenaean forms that follow this rule, which says that e is raised to i next to a bilabial. And I have also analyzed corresponding examples of substandard Mycenaean forms written by scribes who are inconsistent in spelling standard forms. In the case of the word hikkṷos ‘horse’, however, the Linear B scribes who are speakers of substandard Mycenaean consistently write i-qo and not *e-qo with reference to horses. As in the case of the word for ‘chariot-wheel’, it appears that the speakers of the substandard dialect pay relatively closer attention to the standard spelling of words that have to do with social prestige.
Risch (1966) noted a surprising fact about the substandard dialectal forms stemming from the substandard dialect spoken by some of the scribes writing the Linear B script. The characteristics of this substandard dialect as it existed in the era of Linear B writing in the second millennium BCE are normally matched by the same characteristics in all the surviving dialects of the first millennium BCE. For example, all the attested dialects in the first millennium show the form σπέρμα, which as we have seen corresponds to the substandard Mycenaean form sperma, and none of them shows the form *σπέρμο, which would correspond to the standard Mycenaean form. It can be inferred, then, that the standard dialect of Mycenaean Greek became extinct with the collapse of Mycenaean civilization toward the end of the second millennium BCE.
Nevertheless, we have seen that some standard Mycenaean words have survived into the first millennium BCE, and the two examples we have considered are ἵππος and ἁρμόττω (Risch 1966:157). It is no accident, I think, that these two surviving examples of standard Mycenaean, ἵππος and ἁρμόττω, have to do with the elite activities of horsemanship and charioteering.
An analogous point can be made about the elite activity of scribal writing. It has to do with the noun διφθέρα / diptherā, meaning ‘leather, parchment’, which is derived from the verb δέψω / depsō in the sense of ‘tan’—as in the tanning of leather or parchment (cf. δέψα in the Suda, s.v.). The noun διφθέρα passes the phonological test of the standard Mycenaean dialect, showing the linguistic innovation of raising e to i next to a bilabial, whereas the corresponding verb δέψω fails the same test, with its original e left unraised.
In translating διφθέρα as ‘parchment’, I mean ‘parchment for writing’, following Herodotus (5.58), who says that the word διφθέρα was used by Ionians in that sense. Relevant here is the existing archaeological evidence for the use of parchment by the Linear A scribes in the administrative center at Zakro in Crete (Weingarten 1983). Evidently, the procedure of these scribes was to use parchment for their permanent archival records, as opposed to their use of clay tablets for making temporary records. I infer that the Linear B scribes of the Mycenaean era followed an analogous procedure: they would write their temporary records on clay tablets, and these records would then be transferred at the end of a given fiscal year from clay to parchment (the notion of a fiscal year is indicated by references in the Linear B tablets to the current year as opposed to the immediately preceding and following years). There is an irony to be noted here: when the administrative centers of the Mycenaean era were destroyed by fires, the temporary records of the Linear B scribes were made permanent for archaeologists because they were baked and thus preserved by the same fires that must have destroyed the permanent records recorded on parchment.
I argue, then, that the noun διφθέρα is a reflex of standard Mycenaean, referring to the elite activity of scribes writing on parchment, while the corresponding verb δέψω is a reflex of substandard Mycenaean, referring to the non-elite activity of tanners tanning hides—whether or not these hides ever become the parchment of scribes. The use of διφθέρα with reference to the parchment of elite scribes survives in the Cypriote word διφθεραλοιφός, which means literally ‘parchment-painter’. This word is preserved in the ancient dictionary attributed to Hesychius, where it is glossed as γραμματοδιδάσκαλος παρὰ Κυπρίοις ‘teacher of literacy, in Cypriote usage’ [literally, ‘teacher of letters, among Cypriotes’]. This word is relevant to my statement [earlier in this 2008 work] about the studiously archaizing culture of the Cypriotes in the first millennium BCE: “the elites of this insular culture still retained the custom of chariot-fighting and the practice of syllabic writing, using a scribal system that is evidently cognate with the Linear A and Linear B systems.”

Works Cited

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Footnotes

[ back ] 1. The angular / square brackets represent graphemic / phonetic transcriptions respectively.
[ back ] 2. Further analysis in the Appendix (see below), which is an extract from Nagy 2008 (see Works Cited, below).
[ back ] 3. Nagy 1970, Greek Dialects and the Transformation of an Indo-European Process, is now listed in Works Cited, below.
[ back ] 4. I use the sign "j" simply because it matches the "j" that is conventionally used in transliterations of Linear B.
[ back ] 5. Olivier 1967, Les scribes de Cnossos: Essai de classement des archives d'un palais mycénien, is now listed in Works Cited, below. The book appeared only after I had already submitted the present article (Nagy 1968).