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Thank you for this, Ray. For a second, I was thinking of referring you to Chomsky! Still, there is an analogy to be made between a child building up knowledge of their maternal tongue and the case of people building knowledge of a foreign language through the materials provided to them.
Although I disagree with the premise of early Sumerian pictograms being ‘primitive’ with limited use and meaning, a simple beginning of writing, I fully recognise the tremendous amount of groundwork done to bring the language in its later forms back to life. I have great respect for all those passionate scholars, past and present, who have spent their time peering through looking-glasses at tiny lumps of clay, and then catalogued in books and finally online. Without them, absolutely no chance! They are the source of my knowledge. The meanings and phonetic values they have succeeded in attributing to these symbols are the base-camp of my work.
French is not my mother tongue but, during my career, I’ve spent a fair amount of time doing French to English translations. It’s something I enjoy tremendously. (Note that I have, more than once, refused to translate from English to French – for fear that my written voice will always sound foreign) Looking for the intention behind words or, in this case, groups of symbols means having a feel for the overall tone. When did anyone ever consider that such texts might have been written in a humoristic manner, that the author was playing a game with the reader? Or that they had knowledge surpassing ours? I hope only to have got close to the truth of it.

“How do you discern the contextual meaning and resulting linguistic structure…?”
With great difficulty. Two years of work for 280 lines. Phone calls to a relative after two weeks or more of mumbling to myself over a group of three symbols “I’ll never find it. That’s the end of that.” And getting the short, sometimes grumpy response “Course you will.”
The general guideline is that all the symbols are words carrying meaning for the phrase – almost none devoted solely to grammatical function – that meaning may even be discerned from their relative positioning. The joy of finding NAM from time to time. This takes the form of a bird and has come down to us through Latin without any change in sound or meaning. NAM meaning ‘for the purpose of’, ‘in order to’, etc. it always gives the clue as to how the phrase will progress and makes translating it considerably easier. Another pointer is the verb, almost always at the end of the phrase.
The contextual meaning opens like a flower in the sun. Once you have grasped the phonetic connection to later languages, the evident references to Greek and other mythologies, you are on your way. If you read my article on Graham’s site in August 2016, The Rustle of Stones, you will see that I discuss the two symbols A and AN, water and sky. Scholars have recorded these symbols and their joint meaning, ‘to be’. What is the connection between water of the sky, rain, and our existence? I pondered on that. I’m sorry if it still sounds enigmatic. It’s really nothing more than beautiful logic.

“How do you know whether or not you've succeeded?”
The thrill, the absolute joy that fills me when the light shines through the cracks. Nothing is impossible.


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Subject Views Written By Posted
Very basic question about translations 1610 drrayeye 11-Aug-17 21:44
Re: Very basic question about translations 371 MDaines 12-Aug-17 09:30
Consider the biological foundations 300 drrayeye 14-Aug-17 00:13
Re: Consider the biological foundations 274 MDaines 14-Aug-17 08:19
Addendum 237 MDaines 21-Aug-17 17:09
Re: Addendum 260 cladking 21-Aug-17 17:43
Re: Addendum to the addendum 608 MDaines 21-Aug-17 18:05
Re: Consider the biological foundations 318 cladking 14-Aug-17 14:07

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