The Meanings of the Linear Script Signs

· Philology, Phonetics

Updated on November 25, 2015

Writing systems such as LinA, LinB, and LinC use the acrophonic principle to assign phonetic values to the signs that are used to write words. An understanding of the meanings behind linear-script signs could provide much insight about the underlying cultures. The following glossary terms will be helpful when reading this post:

  1. acrophony
  2. glide
  3. kanji
  4. kanji radical
  5. kun’yomi
  6. mora
  7. on’yomi
  8. syllabary
  9. Uchina’a
  10. Yamato

Each heading may be followed by its numeric designation on the LinA or LinB sign grids. The preceding A or AB or B indicates whether the sign is respectively found on the LinA grid, on both the LinA and the LinB grids, or on the LinB grid. A reliable LinC grid has yet to be supplied. The subsequent Japanese and Greek words and meanings are intended as suggestions, which are supported in the arguments.

Unlike strict syllabaries, the linear scripts mirror Japanese in that they may include both multiple readings for each sign (homophony) and multiple signs (polyphony) for each reading. These repetitions will become evident as this list grows.

It may be noted that Chinese on readings mirror many of the phonetic values of the linear-script signs. These readings may seem contradictory to the theory that the underlying language of LinA is Japanese. On the contrary, their inclusion is intended to challenge long-held assumptions about the extent of Chinese influence on Japanese literacy. The implication is that Japan used the Chinese logographic system to supplement its own well-developed phonetic system.

Common Reference:

  1. Henshall, Kenneth G.  1988.  A Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters. Tokyo: Charles Tuttle Company Inc.  Note that references include entry rather than page numbers.

Special Term:

  1. CO is used to denote “Chinese only” characters.

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