Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mayan Glyphs are Insane


That is all.

More on the insanity of Mayan glyphs later. Kudos to anyone who can read them; I don't even know where to start learning how on earth to do so.

6 comments:

Lawrence John said...

No, it's really not that bad. Each block is made up of 2-3 elements which each represent usually a syllable in a word or a picture of something related to the word. The bars mean 5, the dots mean 1. They usually discuss the same things, over and over: The king was born, he gloriously triumphed over his enemies in war, he had a son, he died: years given.

Ben said...

Are you able to read the glyphs fairly well, then? That's pretty sweet; it's also good to know they aren't as difficult as they appeared to me at first glance.

Do you know of any good grammars, or the like, for Mayan?

bitte001 said...

Mayan glyphs are among the most amazing written languages EVER. They're not syllabic, but morphemic- part of the symbol is the root of the word, additions on the symbol are morphemes, changing the tense, possession, quantity, and much more. It's SO fascinating!

Hobdos said...

"Read the glyphs fairly well." No. For someone without a Ph.D., I'm about as serious as a fellow can get who wants to be able to "read" all hieroglyphic writing systems. (Picto-Semanto-Phonetic: http://www.omniglot.com/writing/semanto-phonetic.php )
"Reading" for me is "able to recognize glyphs in a given system and puzzle out a translation or transliteration". It's a matter of 1) how often one uses each glyph and 2) how or if one wants to memorize it. From what I've seen, even most specialists don't "read", they "pick through". The only reason a scholar would invest the time to do otherwise if they had to read a boatload of this stuff, all the time. That's why there's so much focus on dictionaries, like the U of Chicago Hittite one.

Hobdos said...

Another thing: There's 2 grammars out there: "Reading the Maya Glyphs" by Michael Coe and "How to Read Maya Hieroglyphs" by John Montgomery. I recommend getting both, but I prefer John's. He goes more in depth and he's a friendlier, more fun author. He also wrote the only affordable dictionary I know of, "Dictionary of Maya Hieroglyphs".

Hobdos said...

Also, like I was saying a year ago, compared to other glyphic texts, Mayan is easy. It really is just a bunch of timelines: Huge date. King Purple Monkey took 20 captives. I enjoy how it's been getting hype, but guys like bitte001 haven't worked thru Egyptian, Luwian, Archaic Sumerian, or Archaic Chinese to know the difference. What I've noticed (and I mostly do the Book of the Dead, Ani Papyrus, in Egy.) is that most suffixes are not written in hieroglyphic writing systems. This makes them really easy to pick through. Egyptian used hiero. writing the longest (3,000 years). Most people drop them after 1,000 if they last that long. But even the Egyptian texts I've seen don't cover all the nuances which Dr. Allen covers in his recent compendium ("Middle Egyptian"). This is all probably because hieroglyphic writing systems are a pain to write, even if they look the best of all. Hieroglyphic: Mayan is timelines, Egyptian is religious stuff, Sumerian is accounting tablets, some building dedications, and Luwian is most palatable of all, with a smooth historic prose, something a few of the longer Chinese bronzes manage, but mostly them and the oracle bones are line one-shot timelines. Indus is probably name-tags and Rongo-Rongo prose myths. The remaining Mesoamerican scripts are probably a few timelines and lists of tribute.