Ancient language mystery deepens
2010-08-11 0:00

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

Virginia TV Shooter Said, "Jehovah Spoke To Me That I Should Take Action"
2015-08-28 2:36
What causes a guy to go off the plantation enough so that he would murder in cold blood, two of his former colleagues? Guesses are abounding, such as racial tension, mental illness, psychotropic prescription drugs, narcissism, etc. What about the angle of how a destructive religious cult shaped him in his formative years, so that later in life, he would ...
Invasion into Macedonia from Greece - Border Mayhem
2015-08-28 2:06
Description from video page: These are the desperate scenes at Greece’s border with FYR Macedonia as overwhelmed security forces made sporadic attempts to stem the flow of invaders heading northwards. Riot police set off stun grenades and hit invaders with batons but that did little to stop them passing into FYR Macedonia. Skopje had declared a state of emergency on Thursday (August ...
RamZPaul: TV Reporter Murdered Live On Air
2015-08-28 1:48
Youtube description: The gunman responsible for the live on air shooting of reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward said part of his motivation for the attack was Parker making “racist comments.” infowars.com Vid that killer made: (note the actual shooting vid is being censored fast) https://youtu.be/v_AhFxhznPI Jesse Benn advocating "White Wounding: just weeks ago:huffingtonpost.com Source: youtube.com
White House Pushes Race War, Then Blames Guns For Flanagan's "Race War"
2015-08-27 5:04
"You want a race war (expletive)?" Asked shooter The Obama administration is blaming guns for the WBDJ-TV shooting, even though the shooter, Vester Flanagan, was influenced by the White House’s race baiting. The White House has been falsely insinuating that racism is the dominant factor behind numerous events over the past several years, even those that didn’t involve race at all, and ...
How Google Destroyed the Internet
2015-08-27 5:12
The internet was created to resolve a simple problem: in communications networks, any central node through which all messages passed was vulnerable to attack or takeover. To counter this, engineers designed a network where any node would pass messages to other nodes, routing around any damage. Then came commerce and the democratization of the internet. Under this model, frightened sheep flock to ...
More News »