Linear B roadsigns

By: | Post date: 2017-09-28 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Ancient Greek, Linguistics

Now that I’m paying more attention to Facebook, I’m seeing clickbait that I on occasion will take issue with here. (And probably more so in the Other Place.)

Here’s an example:

Στη… Γραμμική Β οι ταμπέλες του νέου ΒΟΑΚ

As the Cretan edition of Εφημερίδα των Συντακτών (The Editors’ Newspaper) reports, the vice president of the Independent Greeks (Tsipras’ junior, populist right wing Eurosceptic coalition partners) recently suggested that road signs on the Crete highway be put in Linear B.

The newspaper thought it was ridiculous:

Perhaps one of the most amusing proposals made in the conference [for Developing Crete], in which no small number of clangers were to be heard.

But the vice president was serious. He even offered a justification: to promote the millennia-old culture of Crete, and to teach not just tourists but the locals the history of the island. (Or something along those lines.)

And to drive the point home, the paper got a grapho to mock up what road signs in Linear B might look like (complete with random gunshots, reflecting the local propensity for target practice). With greeked Linear B of course: the signs used are just the first row of the syllabary, which is why Rethymno and Iraklio are spelled the same:

The newspaper thought it ridiculous, and so did several good friends in Greek scholarship, who posted the link on Facebook. So did a whole lot of people on Twitter. No surprise there, and I didn’t think the tweets were that funny.

… well, ok, maybe these two:

“Am I in Rethymno, buddy?”
“No, you’re in Alexandroupoli. Did you get lost?”
“The road signs were in Linear B.”

I don’t know about Linear B, but with that many bullet holes, the road signs are already in Braille.

I don’t get it. Maybe it’s the Klingonist in me, but I don’t see the proposal as obscurantist, or tub-thumping nationalist, or misguided, or silly. And I’m not predisposed to reject it angrily, just because it was proposed by the leader of the Party for Chemtrails (the “ψεκασμένοι”—as populist right wingers, they like their conspiracy theories.)

I see it as fun.

Surely that’s justification enough.

And after going through all the unrealistically costly proposals made in the conference (“it’s almost like the mayors and regional councillors were sending letters to Santa”), even the jaded editors conclude:

Don’t be surprised if you do end up seeing Sgouridis’ proposal get up. It makes a splash, and it costs a lot less than the other proposals. The vice president is onto something.

I’ll note that there’s something quite similar to Sgouridis’ proposal already up and running in my home town of Sitia. A Minoan eclipse calculator has been discovered down the road. (Actually, it was discovered in 1898; they just worked out it was an eclipse calculator in 2013.) And there’s a permanent exhibit about it on the road out of town. Complete with faux Linear B (slightly different for each of the four languages used):

Oh, one more tweet.

Twitter, now that you’re wanting to increase your income by permitting 280 characters, don’t you get any ideas about expecting us to write in Linear B now too.

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