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Carian language

Direct evidence for the Carian language (see caria) is limited to approximately 30 inscriptions from Caria proper and well above 200 inscriptions (some still unedited) written by Carian speakers in Egypt (from the 7th cent. bce). There are also miscellaneous short texts from other sites and two short texts from Greece (6th and 5th cent. bce). The alphabet, which in Caria shows a great deal of variation, is clearly derived from the Greek alphabet with some additions but a number of letters have different values from those of the equivalent Greek letters. The brilliant decipherment started by the English Egyptologist John Ray in the 1980s and then completed by the Spanish scholar Ignacio Adiego and the German scholar Diether Schürr from the 1990s has shown that all earlier readings (partly based on the assumption that the script was half syllabic, half alphabetic) were misguided. The recent discovery of a short Greek–Carian bilingual from Kaunos (late 4th cent. bce) has confirmed the new values. We still know little about the language, since the texts are short and fragmentary and largely consist of names, but it is now clear that it belongs to the Anatolian group of Indo-European and it is close to Luwian and Lycian (nominative sing. with no ending; accusative sing in –n; genitive sing. in –ś; accusative plur. in –s, cf. Cun. Luw. –nz(a); ted ‘father’, cf. Cun. Luw. tātiš vs. Hitt. attaš). The puzzle of why some of the letters which are recognizably Greek in appearance have such different values remains unsolved though various suggestions have been made. All the evidence is admirably collected in Adiego's book quoted below.


M. E. Giannotta and others (eds.), La decifrazione del cario (1994).Find this resource:

    I. J. Adiego, The Carian Language (2007).Find this resource:

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