Ancient language mystery deepens
2010 08 11

By Victoria Gill | BBC.co.uk



A linguistic mystery has arisen surrounding symbol-inscribed stones in Scotland that predate the formation of the country itself.

The stones are believed to have been carved by members of an ancient people known as the Picts, who thrived in what is now Scotland from the 4th to the 9th Centuries.


Many of the stones are believed to have been carved during the 6th Century.

These symbols, researchers say, are probably "words" rather than images.

But their conclusions have raised criticism from some linguists.

The research team, led by Professor Rob Lee from Exeter University in the UK, examined symbols on more than 200 carved stones.

They used a mathematical method to quantify patterns contained within the symbols, in an effort to find out if they conveyed meaning.

Professor Lee described the basis of this method.

"If I told you the first letter of a word in English was ’Q’ and asked you to predict the next letter, you would probably say ’U’ and you would probably be right," he explained.

"But if I told you the first letter was ’T’ you would probably take many more guesses to get it right - that’s a measure of uncertainty."

Using the symbols, or characters, from the stones, Prof Lee and his colleagues measured this feature of so-called "character to character uncertainty".

They concluded that the Pictish carvings were "symbolic markings that communicated information" - that these were words rather than pictures.

Prof Lee first published these conclusions in April of this year. But a recent article by French linguist Arnaud Fournet opened up the mystery once again.

Mr Fournet said that, by examining Pictish carvings as if they were "linear symbols", and by applying the rules of written language to them, the scientists could have produced biased results.

He told BBC News: "It looks like their method is transforming two-dimensional glyphs into a one-dimensional string of symbols.

"The carvings must have some kind of purpose - some kind of meanings, but... it’s very difficult to determine if their conclusion is contained in the raw data or if it’s an artefact of their method."

Mr Fournet also suggested that the researchers’ methods should be tested and verified for other ancient symbols.

"The line between writing and drawing is not as clear cut as categorised in the paper," Mr Fournet wrote in his article. "On the whole the conclusion remains pending."

But Prof Lee says that his most recent analysis of the symbols, which has yet to be published, has reinforced his original conclusions.

He also stressed he did not claim that the carvings were a full and detailed record of the Pictish language.

"The symbols themselves are a very constrained vocabulary," he said. "But that doesn’t mean that Pictish had such a constrained vocabulary."

He said the carvings might convey the same sort of meaning as a list, perhaps of significant names, which would explain the limited number of words used.

"It’s like finding a menu for a restaurant [written in English], and that being your sole repository of the English language."

Article from: bbc.co.uk



Also tune into:

Michael S. Schneider - Constructing The Universe with 1 through 12, Nature’s Numerical and Geometric Language

Dan Winter - Fractal Geometry & The Golden Mean

Gary Biltcliffe - The Spirit of Portland & The Spine of Albion

Barbara Lamb - Crop Circles Revealed

David Flynn - The Giant’s Geoglyphs of Tiahuanaco

Freddy Silva - Ancient Sacred Sites, Invisible Temples, Giants & Our Ancestors

Klaus Schmidt - Göbekli Tepe: The World’s Oldest Temple?

Hugh Newman - Megalithomania(cs) & Megalithic Mesoamerica

Scott Wolter - The Kensington Rune Stone

Michael Tsarion - Colonization & The "Celts"




Related Articles
Ancient Indian language dies out
Foundations of Stone (Video)
Grave slabs and Pictish Symbols of Scotland
Pictish stones - Wikipedia
The Picts - Wikipedia
The Language of the Future: Evolutionary Math Breaks the Code
Experts trying to decipher ancient language
The Power Of Symbolic Language And UFOs
First Tongue: An Ancient Global Language


Latest News from our Front Page

James Foley Beheading: What They’re Not Telling You
2014 08 27
The latest poster child for military expansion in the middle east poses a host of disturbing questions. --- Experts: James Foley Beheading Video Likely Fake By Paul Joseph Watson| Infowars Forensic analysis confirms Infowars investigation that footage was staged as war propaganda Confirming Infowars’ analysis on Thursday, British forensic experts have concluded that the ISIS beheading video involving James Foley was in all likelihood ...
US forces move into Syria as Barack Obama paves way for airstrikes on ISIS
2014 08 27
US forces move into Syria: Obama paves way for airstrikes on ISIS after sending in spy planes - despite Assad warning that any attack will be seen as ’aggression’ Barack Obama has paved the way for airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria after spy planes started operating in the country on his command, according to U.S officials. While the White ...
Stop creating a climate of fear!
2014 08 27
ok. listen up political correct people! if you’re someone who reflexively calls others “racists” or “neofascists” without first checking into whether or not they actually are, you need to STOP it, because you’re creating a climate of fear in which people are afraid to do their jobs. and now i’m not talking about some academics sitting comfortably in their ivy towers, ...
Gov. Jerry Brown to Mexican Illegals: ’You’re All Welcome in California’
2014 08 27
On Monday evening, California Governor Jerry Brown said all Mexicans, including illegal immigrants, are welcome in California. According to the Los Angeles Times, while introducing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who said America is "the other Mexico," Brown "spoke about the interwoven histories of Mexico and California." He "nodded to the immigrants in the room, saying it didn’t matter if ...
Election Posters in New Sweden
2014 08 27
Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has promised continued mass immigration at the expense of welfare reform and tax cuts. Reinfeldt’s Moderates party consequently does everything in their power to recruit immigrants’ votes. Placards for the forthcoming elections, widely distributed in immigrant-dominated enclaves in Sweden, has Arabic text, the language that now increasingly is dominating major parts of "New Sweden." In the ...
More News »