Decipherment


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Decipherment

 

of a writing system, the restoration of comprehension of an unknown writing system or language (or both). Thus, when texts from ancient Cyprus were being deciphered, the writing system was unknown. In the case of Hittite, Elamite, and Etruscan texts, the language was unknown. For Egyptian and Luwian hieroglyphics, Akkadian and Ugaritic cuneiform writing, and the “seals” of the Indus valley, neither the writing system nor the language was known. The degree to which the writing or language is known can, however, vary greatly—from complete knowledge to the recognition that the given writing system belongs to a known group of writing systems (or the given language belongs to a known family of languages).

In the deciphering process, the nature of the writing system (whether phonetic, consonantal, syllabic, or word-syllabic; whether or not there are explanatory marks that do not have phonetic values) is ascertained. A calculation of the number of different signs in the writing system in question is sufficient for this purpose. In identifying the individual written signs by simple methods, the decipherer is able to separate in an as yet unread phonetic text the vowels from the consonants and in a syllabic text, the signs for vowels from signs of the type “consonant + vowel.”

The grammar and semantics of a text can be studied independent of the analysis of the writing system. By comparing the repeating segments of a text, it is possible to separate roots from affixes and endings and nouns from verbs and to distinguish individual case and verb forms, prepositions, proper names, and so forth. Such an analysis “from within” is based on the knowledge of the regularities inherent in all languages (or writing systems) or in related groups. However, as a result of the limitation of texts, such an analysis rarely results in the identification of specific forms. To obtain a complete decipherment, use is made of different, strictly “external,” data, primarily bilingual texts—that is, parallel texts in a known and unknown language. If kinship between the language (writing system) in question and known languages (writing systems) is established, then the latter are used for determining or explaining the meaning of the words (written signs) of the text being deciphered. Such analysis is called etymological. Confirmation by new findings can serve as a criterion for the correctness of the decipherment.

V. V. SHEVOROSHKIN

References in periodicals archive ?
Opacity surrounds both elements in the interpretation of the signs, whether the initial recognition and acknowledgment of the 'meaning-bearing' quality of the phenomenon, or the subsequent decipherment of its message.
Quentin Meillassoux, The Number and the Siren: A Decipherment of MaHermes "Coup de des" (Urbanomic/Sequence Press, 2012).
11) More recently, a certain Quintin Oropilla produced a complete Pangasinan language decipherment of the CPI using a combination of palaeography and a wide stretch of the imagination.
by assimilation, or perhaps by simulation, all of social life becomes the mere decipherment of messages by the eyes, the mere reading of texts.
That assumption is similar to the intuition people use -- the original decipherment work on Ugaritic didn't assume the language was related to Chinese.
The latest scholarship in decipherment as well as the competition for success receives a vivid blend of scholarly analysis and history.
John Chadwick is well known for his contribution to the decipherment and understanding of Linear B, the Minoan script of early Greek antiquity.
The Decipherment of Bactrian, (London: SOAS, University of London, 1997) 4-5.
Her decipherment of the marginalia that Coleridge wrote in a copy of Thomas Browne's Works alluding to his and Sara's mutual passion, for example, is superbly responsive to the imagined scene of shared reading that the poet evokes in his lover's mind from a distance of several hundred miles while living in Malta.
For the detective story differs from the simple mystery tale in that the mystery tale is based on its mystery and the detective tale on the decipherment of the mystery.
TheMayan calendar glyphs, for example, are depicted, translated, and promptly utilized to interpret the life history of Yuknoom Ch'een without any reference to some of the lengthy history of their decipherment by Foerstemann and others.
Verticale du secret draws the unresolved dialectical strength of its "poethics," to take up Jean-Claude Pinson's term, from the "ascensional" determination of an imagination that persists in its internal and external struggle, which resists all rational seizure while inciting us to give ourselves over to its problematic and frustrating decipherment.