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 Post subject: Language Identification
PostPosted: 08 Sep 2005 16:31 
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I have acquired an old manuscript bible. I have assumed it is a bible
because of the cross decoration on the leather binding which surrounds it. It has a leather case for carrying as a missionary would have done in the early days. Its 196 double sided pages were written by at least three different hands. Unfortunately, I have not been able to identify the language. There is the problem. I really do not need a translation, but I would like to know in what language was written.

I have scans of the double page spreads in all three hands, as some are easier to read than others, as well as smaller samples. Can you provide any assistance?

My research and best guess at this point is Glagolitic alphabet although it closly resembles the Vai syllabary.

Thanks in advance to anyone willing to try.

Best regards,

Michael Hare


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PostPosted: 09 Sep 2005 10:16 
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michaelh wrote:
I have scans of the double page spreads in all three hands, as some are easier to read than others, as well as smaller samples. Can you provide any assistance?
why not show them here using a site like www.imageshack.us or www.hiboox.com
-- Olivier

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PostPosted: 09 Sep 2005 15:08 
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Thanks for the suggestion. Here are the links for the smaller images:

Image

Image

Image


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 09 Sep 2005 15:12 
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Ca m'a tout l'air d'être du grec (je reconnais quelques lettres) mais je n'en avais jamais vu écrit comme ça. Peut-être un manuscrit médiéval.


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PostPosted: 09 Sep 2005 15:20 
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in English, please , kokoyaya :)


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PostPosted: 09 Sep 2005 15:21 
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kokoyaya wrote:
Ca m'a tout l'air d'être du grec (je reconnais quelques lettres) mais je n'en avais jamais vu écrit comme ça. Peut-être un manuscrit médiéval.

It looks as if it were Greek (I can recognize a few letters) but I've never seen such a document, perhaps a Middle-Age script?).


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PostPosted: 09 Sep 2005 16:42 
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hmmm... it seems to be a european or mediterranean alphabet, since some letters are coming from the greek. But it isn't greek. So what are the other possibilities :
- gotic : definitely not
- armenian, or georgian ? I don't know enough those letters to give a definitive answer, but it doesn't look like the alphabets we can find, for example, on wikipedia.
- just like you, michaelh, I would have thought about glagolitic ; but there are also some letters I can't identify : if it is this language, it should be a "late" manuscript : after the 14th century (which would explain how you could buy it ;) !)
- the last alphabet deriving from the greek is the coptic one... but I am definitely not the good man to answer that.


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PostPosted: 09 Sep 2005 18:24 
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Isn't it a kind of amharic ?

example here : http://www.krysstal.com/images/writing_amharic.gif


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PostPosted: 09 Sep 2005 18:51 
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Wow ! I think you got it, Eliedeleuze. One or two letters from michaelh's manuscript aren't exactly on the page you suggest (such as the "omega" with a ligature on the left), but on other examples, like this one (http://pedroiy.free.fr/alphabets/amharique.htm), they are.

:clap: :clap: :clap:


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PostPosted: 09 Sep 2005 20:43 
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:) Yes, it is Amharic. This alphabet is still in use in Ethiopia. It is the only alphabet born in Africa in order to write an african language before the XX century (with the copt alphabet, which is however more closely kindred to greek).

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PostPosted: 12 Sep 2005 04:13 
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I'd say it is Geez, (Old Ethiopian), because I think the Ethiopian Christians use Geez as liturgic language, instead of the modern language, Amharic. Both languages use the same writing system.


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PostPosted: 24 Sep 2005 12:30 
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This subject is of immense interest to me, as I grew up in Ethiopia and more recently spent time in Slovenia and was exposed to Glagolitic script on visits to Croatia (e.g. in Istria and in the Cathedral of Zagreb). Ge'ez was the language used in Coptic scriptures, often found in the kind of illustrated tablet book that is shown in this forum. They are usually made on skin and the more precious ones kept in the inner crypt of the Coptic churches. However, Ge'ez is also evident in Ethiopian empires that predate Christianity (which can to Ethiopia in the 4th Century). In particular, a 'roseta' stone was found in the early empire based in Axum (the one whose stelae has just been returned after having been plundered by Musolini after his brutal invasion of Ethiopia in 1936 and was displayed in Rome until last year). This 'roseta' stone was written in 3 languages,I believe, namely Ge'ez, Ancient Greek, and Sabean.

When I first saw Glagolitic script in Croatia, it was so much like Amharic script that I was convinced that there must be a connection. However, since Glagolitic script dates from the 9th Century AD, and Ge'ez (on which Amharic is based) dates from well before BC, one would have to conclude that Glagolitic was derived from Ge'ez (or some parent form of it. Has there ever been any research into this?


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PostPosted: 24 Sep 2005 13:14 
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No, there is no relationship between glagolitic and ge'ez alphabets. The origins of ge'ez alphabet are unclear ; the glaglotic one on the contrary is obviously derived from greek alphabet.

Moreover, ge'ez is an "abugida", or "alphasyllabary", like the devanagari script. Whereas glagolitic is merely a an alphabet [i]stricto sensu [/u], like the ours.

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PostPosted: 24 Sep 2005 13:18 
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I wonder if the material used to write was likely to influence the style of writing. If Ge'ez and glaglolithic was written with the same kind of pens or feather or whatever it was, it could explain that it looks alike. perhaps.


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PostPosted: 24 Sep 2005 14:20 
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I have no definitive answer about this last question, but :

- it seems like the first use of glagolitic was an epigraphic one (on stones, and not on manuscripts) : if one believe the latest research (and I do), the first manuscripts only appear in the 11th century
- within the very first manuscripts written in glagolitic, one was found on the... Sinai. It is the so-called Euchologium Sinaiticum (a photo here : http://www.schaeken.nl/lu/research/onli ... um_jpg.htm ) This, of course, would be a good point for Duncan's suggestion
- I had the same question than you, Duncan, and can promise you that there is absolutely no bibliography about the question ; many scholars were to fascinated by the personal influence of saint Cyril, inventing the slavic alphabet himself (which is a mistake I guess)
- nevertheless, we have to be aware that the similarities between amharitic and glagolitic can also come from common ancestors (the proto-sinaitic, which produced both amharitic and greek and, through the greek, the glagolitic). Remember that the greek, as written in the 9th Century, was very different of the greek alphabet we know today : there were many more letters, inherited from the archaic greek, and some of them are common with amharitic). You can have a look here :
http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lettres_%C ... habet_grec
(a french link, sorry ; but Wikipedia didn't translate it completely yet ; and you can at least see the appearance of the letters).

So I would suggest that glagolitic was born directly from the greek, even if we cannot exclude some later african influences through the Sinai or somewhere else.

What are the other opinions ?


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