The Treatment of Anthroponyms in the Linear Scripts

Updated on June 9, 2017

Whereas LinB and LinC may be distinguished by their respective treatments of anthroponyms, LinA may be distinguished by the absence of anthroponyms.  These distinctions merit scrutiny.

The absence of anthroponyms in LinA can perhaps be explained in modern terms.  In Japanese society, the individual is typically subordinated for the good of the community.  This practice is likely a reflection of ancient social values that were dominant in the Minoan palace economy.  Nevertheless, many LinA words correspond to Japanese anthroponyms (both personal names and surnames) and toponyms.  Packard [1974:47, FN 24] notes that anthroponyms are often derived from both occupational terms and toponyms.  For example,  a-ma > 天 (ama) “heaven” is both a personal name and a surname.  This correspondence is hardly surprising, given the estimated 36,000 Japanese names in P.G. O’Neill’s Japanese Names.  See the Index of Japanese Names (IJN) for correspondences between LinA words in Lexicon A and modern Japanese names.  Note that the lack of group identification in Mycenaean society permits references to individuals with distinctly Japanese names that have may have survived in modern society; such names will be listed under the IJN as Japanese anthroponyms and will parallel the definitions in Lexicon BMoreover, these names may be distinguished from references that are merely descriptive.

An interesting distinction between LinB and LinC is founded in the evolution of personal names. In LinB, names typically describe occupations (e.g. tu-ka-na > τύγχανε (tunkhane) prob. “a thresher”), physical characteristics (e.g. pi-ja-se-me > πίασμα (piasma) prob. “fat”), and virtues (e.g. e-u-wa-ko-ro > εὔαγρο(ς) (euagros) “lucky in the chase, blessed with success”).  Note that, in LinC, e-u-wa-ko-ro appears on at least three coins (ICS 325) as an adjective to describe a chief or a king.  LinB scribes appear to emphasize the obvious, flattering or unflattering, attributes of individuals. Lists such as KN As 1516 appear to comprise unique, and perhaps temporary, names;  for scribe 101, there is unlikely to be more than one “fat” individual.  See the Index of Personal Names (IPN) for links to names in Lexicon B.  Names in LinB may also include ethnonyms, or identification with ethnic groups.  There will be more discussion about ethnonyms at a later date.

If personal names in LinB may be described as second-person references (i.e. distinguishing attributes bestowed upon other people), then many personal names in LinC may be described as first-person references (i.e. distinguishing attributes bestowed upon one’s self).  One may also characterize this distinction in terms of names that are given versus names that are assumed, or adopted.     The shift from second-person references in LinB to first-person references in LinC marks the emergence of the Greek identification with virtues such as honor (e.g. ti-mo > τῖμος (timos)), love (pi-lo- > φίλος (philos)), and nobility (e.g. a-ri-si-to– > ἄριστος (aristos)).  Personal names in Lin C may also include ethnonyms. 

Nevertheless, this evolution, from given name to assumed name, appears to take many years.  I surmise that second-person references continued to be the norm for some time and that emphasis gradually shifted from the unflattering to the flattering.  It is as though one says, to himself, “Fat doesn’t do me justice; I prefer to be known as the person who is blessed with successMoreover, the evolution of identification with location, occupation, or virtue into surname is equally uncertain.  At which point did names become fixed?  It is quite probable, by these descriptions, that the same person may have been variously called “fat”, “loud”, and “herald”.

Typically found as epitaphs in LinC, first-person references are often marked with e-mi, which may act either as enclitics (e.g. ka-ru-xe*e-mi) or as independent words.  While, in LinB, “fat” may or may not be regarded as a virtue, certainly, in LinC, “fat” is well regarded as a virtue when associated with wealth; cf. o-lo-pi-o*e-mi > “very rich, I am”.  Through reanalysis, such words appear to have survived as infinitives.  Cf. ὀνίνημι (oninemi) “to be profitable”, which, if written as LinC *o-ni-e-mi or *o-ni-ne-mi, may have originally meant “profitable, I am”.  In at least one rare instance, however, e-mi acts as a proclitic, which appears to mean ἡμι (hemi-) “half”.  See the Index of Greek Names (IGN) for links to names in Lexicon C.

There is much more to be discussed about the evolution of Japanese and Greek names, so watch for updates to this post.



Index of Japanese Names (IJN)

The Japanese names under LinA words parallel the definitions in Lexicon A.  Nominal references in lexicon entries may also include numeric references to O’Neill.

LinA words
ai | a.ma | da.ka | e.to.ri | ki.ro | ku.ra | su+mi (*622) |te.tu | u.su |

Japanese names (Kanji)
| | | | 餌取 | 帰路 | | | | | |

Japanese names (Katakana)
すみ |

Japanese names (Romaji)
Ai | Ama | Dake | Etori | Kiro | Kura | Sumi | Taka | Take | Tetsu | Usu |

The Japanese names under LinB words have been drawn from the IPN as anthroponyms that have survived in modern society; consequently,  these names parallel the definitions in Lexicon B.  Nominal references in lexicon entries may also include numeric references to O’Neill.

LinB words
su-mi |

Japanese anthroponyms (Kanji)
| |

Japanese anthroponyms (Katakana)
すみ |

Japanese anthroponyms (Romaji)
sumi |



Index of Personal Names (IPN)

Personal names (anthroponyms) may be distinguished from generic words because they are often followed by the determinative, VIR [man] 1.  See esp. KN As 1516.

This list parallels the index of the same name found in Documents in Mycenaean Greek and is supported by definitions in Lexicon B.

LinB words
do-ro-me-u | du-to | e-sa-ro | e-u-wa-ko-ro | i-na | i-na-o | i-wa-ko | ku-ri.jo | mu-ti-ri | o-pi-si-jo | o-re-i.japi-ja-se-me | pi-ri-no | po-ti-jo | qe-ri-ta | qpa-ti-ja | re-ka | su-mi | tu-ka-na |

Greek words
ἄσᾱρος | ἀσηρός | δρομεύς | δύστος | εὔαγρος | ίαχος | ἰάχω | ινάω | ἰνέωκητία | κύριος | ὀρειάς | ὄψιος | πίασμα | ποτίζω | πρῖνος | ῥάκη | τύγχανε | τυκάνη | χρίστης |

Japanese words (Kanji)
異な | | |

Japanese words (Katakana)
いな | むっちり | すみ |

Japanese words (Romaji)
ina | mucchiri | sumi |



Index of Greek Names (IGN)

First-person references in LinC are often marked with e-mi, which may act as either an enclitic (e.g. ka-ru-xe*e-mi) or an independent word; the former appears to have yielded to the latter, since there is no apparent survival of e-mi as an enclitic. This list includes

  • declarations that may be treated as names,
  • declarations that would later become common Greek names, and
  • words that were intended as names.

Due to the challenge of distinguishing words in syntax, words that include enclitics will be linked to Lexicon C entries that treat the first element; for example, ka-ru-xe-e-mi is linked to the entry, ka-ru-xe*. Consequently, this format is likely to be revised numerous times as the writers’ intentions become more clear.  Moreover, words and names may appear in more than one category.

LinC words
ka-ru-xee-mi | ni-ko-la-o-se | ni-ko-la-wo | o-lo-pi-oe-mi

e-mi as the enclitic ἐμίν (emin) “I (am)”
ka-ru-xee-mi  | o-lo-pi-oe-mi

e-mi as an independent word
ni-ko-la-wo e-mi |

Greek words
κᾶρυξεμί | Νικόλαος | † νικολάω ἐμίν or ἠμί | † ὅλοπῖοἐμί

Greek words as common names
Νικόλαος |


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