Thursday, April 24, 2008

Revisiting exchanges with Clyde Winters on the Meroitic script—The Conclusion

In the last posting, the Meroitic Graffito from Musawwarat was briefly looked at, and this is what it looks like:

And this is what it is supposed to read, according to Mr. Rilly:

In Meroitic
Wle qo phn 3 tlt Netror-se-l-o

In English
« this dog was bought (???) three talents, it is Netarura's ».

The above statement was reconstructed according to the familiar Meroitic alphabets, as represented by the inscription—apparently there to talk about the subject of the accompanying images of the 'Graffito'. The meaning of the words were largely identified with the aid of the accompanying cotext, and then re-verified in other Meroitic texts where the said words reappear—this is especially true for the target words in the inscription of the 'Graffito', which in this case, are "this dog". The question marks in brackets obviously indicate that a term in between 'bought' and 'three' were not identified by Mr. Rilly, but in any case, the target words of interest here and which are deemed to be unequivocally identified, are again "this dog"—as highlighted by Mr. Rilly himself in his publication. In other words, "this dog"supposedly read in Meroitic as "wle qo"are supposed to be the words whose meanings had been "assured".

Clyde Winters presumes Mr. Rilly's interpretation of the 'Graffito' inscription was wrong—no doubt another willful oversight of what was actually being said—on the account that he wrongly read the signs in question. According to him,...

Firstly, the grafitto has a dog chasing a rabbit. Although the rabbit being chased by the dog is obvious to anyone looking at the grafitto this pictorial fact is not mentioned by Rilly. — Clyde Winters

Apparently, it hasn't occurred to Mr. Winters that Mr. Rilly isn't casually going by the images he sees in the 'Graffito', but rather, is going by what he deems to be the actual content of the accompanying text, via the methodology just described above. Additionally, as the present author had pointed out to him,...

You'll have us believe that the specific piece of text cited, should read "dog chasing rabbit". It only shows me that the man is actually methodologically using the multicontextual method to determine the meanings of new words, and not just blindly making them up, simply because of what is in the picture, which is what you're clearly doing. — Mystery Solver

As proof of the fact that he didn't bother to read and/or is willfully misinterpreting Mr. Rilly's findings, Clyde adds...

In addition after correctly deciphering the Meroitic w and l signs, he failed to record the ‘e’, that follows the wl (please refer to the Meroitic chart above). Thus this should have read w-l-e, not wl. — Clyde Winters

In fact, Mr. Rilly mentions "wle" in his reconstruction of the "Graffito" inscription, not "wl" [missing the terminating 'e'], as Mr. Winters wildly imagines it to be.

Mr. Winters proceeds, with a visual aid of course...

Now let's look at his alleged decipherment and reading of the Meroitic signs.

For example, he interprets the three lines : ||| as the numeral three, this was wrong in Meroitic ||| is the ‘y’(check out the Meroitic writing chart above). — Clyde Winters

...and thus lays out his own interpretation, presumably with the aid of the linguistically and alphabetically distinct Kharosthi script, by reiterating that...

Now when we use my decipherment to read the text and the accompanying drawing

we have the following : [Dog] exist indeed to grant a noble boon [of rabbits with] the intention to bring elevation to you, meritorious Netror”. The vocabulary items are as follows:

W, to be, exist, to drive, to conduct

L, indeed, or termination element

E, grant a boon, vouchsafe, favor

Qo, to live, to renew, to restore; noble, royal, honorable; to make , to form

Ph, intention

N, good, only

Y, bring

-t, you (personal pronoun)

tl, to elevate

Netror, name of person

Slo, meritorious

You can find a short Meroitic vocabulary at the following site:

It should be noted that in Mr. Winters' translation of the same 'Graffito', he doesn't have the inscriptional Meroitic word for 'dog', which is why he places the term 'dog' in brackets, as he did with the terms "of rabbit with"; he apparently presumes that neither 'dog' or 'of rabbit with' were actually written out in Meroitic letters, but rather, were communicated by the images or animations themselves. Naturally, this would indirectly imply that the Meroites had no actual words for either "dog" and "of rabbit with", and hence, had to resort to animation to communicate those terms. Clyde himself verifies this point so:

I placed the dog and rabbit in brackets because these are pictures. — Clyde Winters

Needless to reiterate, Mr. Rilly's translation sharply contrasts Clyde's, whereby he actually identifies the term "wle" as the equivalent of 'dog'.

To ascertain how Mr. Rilly likely read the 'Graffito' inscription , the present author had decided to independently demonstrate to Mr. Winters, as to how the present author himself reads the inscriptions of the "Grafitto", with the help of the well known Meroitic letters, as presented in the visual aid above. This is how it went:

In the order that the present author can read the terms, undoubtedly using the following visual aid of the 'Grafitto',…

...on the left hand corner, below the dog and rabbit image, the present author sees:

#1. o l(a) se/s(a) r(a) o r(a) t(a) ny(a)/ne

Above the letters just mentioned, right next to the dog’s tail and hind limbs, the present author sees three parallel lines, which according to the table is:

#2. y(a)

Then to the lower right hand corner, the present author comes across:

#3. t(a) l(a) t(a)

Right above ‘t l t’, as far as the present author can tell, are the signs for what appears to closely resemble the sign for p(a), then some *unfamiliar* sign, and then what most closely resembles the n(a) sign, so that the present author comes up with the following,...

#4. p(a) *^[see below for details] n(a)

Right above the dog’s tail, the signs appear to read:

#5. o o q(a)

And at either the tip or the end of the dog’s tail on the right hand side, above the cluster on the lower right hand side, the signs appear to read:

#6. e l(a) w(a)

Note: "*" means the sign is unfamiliar to me.

Re-arranging the above, as far as the present author can tell, going back to...

#1. "o l(a) se/s(a) r(a) o r(a) t(a) ny(a)/ne" is likely what Rilly wrote out as 'Netror-se-l-o'.

#2. "y"; don't know what Rilly has interpreted this sign to be; it is either what he was interpreting as "bought" with question marks next to it—perhaps as an indication of uncertainty on his part, or the number "3". the present author is inclined to take it that Rilly was interpreting "y" as the number "three".

#3. "t(a) l(a) t(a)" is what I suspect Rilly wrote down as "tlt".

#4. "p(a) * n(a)" is what I presume Rilly to have written down as "phn".

#5. "o o q(a)" is probably what Rilly simply noted as "qo".

#6. "e l(a) w(a)" is most likely what was written down as "wle".

The letters above seem to read from right to left, in this instance.

Reading from top to bottom, and from right to left, the assembled letters read:

Topmost line, from right to left: Wle qo; 2nd line top, from right to left: phn y ["y", that Rilly either reads as "brought (???)" or "3"?; again, the present author is inclined to read his interpretation of the sign corresponding to "y" as the synonym for the number "3", and "phn" as "bought" ]; lower lines, from right to left: tlt Netror-se-l-o

If Mr. Rilly's reading of "y" happened to be that of equating it with the number "three", then Clyde Winters would be correct in noting that it appears to be inconsistent with the "y" sign noted in the visual aid table of Meroitic letters presented above. However, again, Rilly makes it clear that his targeted emphasis in the translated text of the "Graffito" inscription was vis-à-vis the terms "wle qo" ~ "this dog", and hence, that these were the terms he *specifically* sought to inform his audience as being the words whose meanings were "assured" through the translation methodology he applied. "Wle qo" ~ "this dog" are the target words that Mr. Rilly sought to use in his multi-contextual method in classifying Meroitic language; the rest of the text was nonetheless translated for the heck of it—that is, were not targeted to be used in the said multi-contextual method. So, whether or not the sign constituting the three parallel lines [denoted by "y" according to the tables provided] were misinterpreted by Mr. Rilly in his translations, it has no bearing on the multi-contextual approach used to aid in the classification of Meroitic, and not the wholesale decipher of Meroitic—as Mr. Winters wrongly insists. Plus, Meroitic was classified using actual Meroitic texts, with some aid of Kemetic texts dating back to the eras of heightened bilateral Kemetian interactions with the Kushites, for better or worse—NOT, as Clyde wrongly insists, using Proto-Meroitic, Nubian, Proto-NES, Proto-Nilo-Saharan, much less Kharosthi script, to decipher Meroitic. Hence, unlike Clyde, Mr. Rilly had no need to look thousands of miles away from the African continent, to identify the source of either the script or the language elements of Meroitic, because quite frankly, these were to be found in the Nile Valley itself, should one sought to available oneself of basic research!

— Previous personal exchanges with Mr. Winters.

1 comment:

Barklays said...

Another closely argued, solid analysis. I claim no technical expertise in languages but could compare the contending points against the general cultural and historical context of the Meriotic region as presented in the US site here:

Based on the long strand of clearly established cultural, material and genetic links between the Nile Valley peoples, and the data and arguments you have presented, I find it much more credible that the ancient Meriotic script should derive primarily from indigenous Nile Valley roots as opposed to other venues like Mesopotamia or southern Europe. Keep up the good work.