Skip to main content

Full text of "[untitled] The American Journal of Philology, (1884-01-01), pages 516-518"

See other formats


Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world by JSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 

Read more about Early Journal Content at 
journal-content . 

JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 


The young scholar needs no stronger guarantee of the accuracy of this work 
in representing the present phases of opinion in phonetic matters than the 
simple fact that, while it was going through the press. Professors Sievers, Storm 
and Sweet looked over the proof-sheets of it. 

At the end of the volume the author gives a dozen pages of phonetic 
transcription in English, French and German, according to the various systems 
that have been proposed for these languages. The examples are of interest 
for purposes of comparison. A good trilingual register at the end makes the 
use of the book convenient. A. M. Elliott. 

Ueber ein bisher unbekanntes Griechisches Schriftsystem. By Theodore 
Gompekz. Wien, 1884. 60 pp. with a plate. 

The writer has established the hitherto much-doubted point as to the exis- 
tence of an early Greek Tachygraphy by means of an inscription found in the 
recent excavations on the Acropolis, and dating from the fourth century B. C. 
He also endeavors to determine what the particular tachygraphic signs were to 
which the inscription alludes. 

The inscription, which is imperfect, has been already read and partly 
restored by Ulrich K6hler(Mittheilungen des deutschen Archeol. Institutes zu 
Athen, VIII 359-63). It consists of two columns, only a few letters of the 
second having been preserved. From what remains of the first column, G. 
interprets that by means of seven positions of a straight stroke with regard to 
some other graphic symbol, there might be designated the seven consonants 
(/3, (J, n, v, ir, r, ip) according as the auxiliary stroke is placed above or below, 
high, low, or middle on the right, or high and middle on the left of the funda- 
mental sign. 

The writer then proceeds to assume a correlative system of seven other signs, 
which he takes to be y, J, k, X, f , p, <r, differing only from the preceding in that 
the auxiliary moveable sign is of a different shape, being, perhaps, a curve 
instead of a straight line. By this means we have the pair of arrangements : 


These represent fourteen of the Greek consonants, the three aspirates being 

It will then be found that G. enlarges upon the beautiful correspondences 
which exist between the correlated groups, as, for instance, the labials ir, ft and 
the gutturals k, y, the double letters ip, f, etc. And he implies that such a 
system would be so transparent as to require no memorizing. We have thus 
the rudiments of a fourth century (B. C.) Greek geometric shorthand. From 
this point the writer diverges into the wilderness of the different systems of 
modern stenography, from the monk, John of Tilbury (A. D. 1 1 74), to Benjamin 
Franklin, Mr. Pitman, and the spelling-reformers; concluding (when he 
emerges from the wood again) that the Greek system has the advantage, (1) 
in the simplicity of its signs ; (2) in the use of position to denote vocalic value ; 


(3) in its peculiar mnemonic simplicity. It is to be observed that all of the 
supposed Greek arrangement given above is Gomperz's own, except the posi- 
tion of six letters in the first group. 

The next thing to be noticed is that this system of tachygraphy differs from 
those commonly in use or remarked in history, in that the -vowel sign is the car- 
rier of the consonant sign. We have thus a syllabic script of a precisely opposite 
character to that to which tachygraphy generally tends; and it seems that we 
must assume a vowel to every consonant, after the Hebrew fashion and some 
modern systems of shorthand. 

And so we come to the part of the inscription which refers to the vowels. 
The vowel-sign must be of such a length as to admit three distinct positions 
of the consonant-sign along its right or left sides. And the vowel-sign itself 
must admit of five (or seven) modifications. Two, if not four of these are 
described in the inscription, which has a new vowel order, I being the fourth 
vowel, Y the fifth, and the two long vowels being, perhaps, last, if we may 
depend upon the restored inscription. G. gives the order o, a, e, 1, v, t>, r/, and 
the appropriate signs, the base of which is a vertical line representing the 
letter 0. 

Finally he disposes of two other questions : (a) how to represent the vowel- 
less consonants, which might have been done by carrying two consonants on 
one vowel-stem ; (/3) how to denote the three aspirates, which were rejected in 
the beginning of the enquiry. Since these are modifications of three other 
letters, it is sufficient to assume that their signs were modified in some way to 
indicate aspiration. 

And so we have what one may venture to call the Gomperz tachygraphy of 
the fourth century before Christ, in which six consonants and two vowels are 
taken from an inscription, and the rest is a work of imagination of the most 
brilliant character, in which research has done its uttermost on very scanty 
materials. This will be seen best by printing the deciphered part of the 
description which relates to the vowels, as follows : 

fuyoc «TT« fif 

a-ov oTeAeXOYC kwap- 
aioC I' TO i€ TTewtTTTON 
rp\a M€N TTpos Tr)V 
6p6hv ?V« Kfpa ' to 
oe TTPCOTOi' tS>v paKp&v 
TrpOCAdM^dcet piv ev, 
to d vCTepOi' Si in 3k- 
paiC Kep&UlC 1 dJVKpO"- 
pais THC 'opSHC ATToucr- 
ijs' rHN O^N 4>CON^i' piv 
fiei yp<\cpeiN OY™>s 

1 New Testament scholars will be interested to note the word icepaia for the stroke at the 
top of a letter. 


We may conclude as to the existence of the system of shorthand with the 
vowel for its base, and the consonant for the appendage to the vowel : (cer- 
tainly a most curious system in a language like the Greek, based upon an 
original vowelless alphabet) ; and with some probability we may grant a few of 
the signs represented in the pamphlet. We endeavored to represent, by means 
of this new alphabet, the sentence iraca 66ai( ayafif/ kte, but we stuck in the 
syllable a<c, not knowing how to repeat a consonant twice on the same vowel- 
stem, and so came to the conclusion that it was easier to invent shorthand or 
to re-invent it than to write in it. J. Rendel Harris. 

Prolegomena ad papyrorum Graecorum novam collectionem edendam. By C. 
VVessely. Vindobonae, 1883. 80 pp. 

We have gone through these preparatory notices with great interest; the 
prolegomena are as good in performance as they are rich in promise. It is 
true that in making an initial review of the Greek papyri which have already 
been published, the writer does not completely cover the field of past investi- 
gation, but then it is plain, from a note in the addenda, that he never had it in 
his mind to do so : (" Papyrorum editiones quae minoris sunt momenti, enume- 
randas non curavi "). And it certainly is not to be expected that a scholar 
should feel himself obliged to defer the results of several years' careful study 
until he has recapitulated all the details of previous investigations, which are 
already sufficiently well known and are easily accessible in other quarters. 

The study of papyrus may be recommended to any one who loves sur- 
prises and can bear disappointments, who has a large fund of patience and a 
good imagination : surprises, since when a document comes from the earth the 
effect is practically the same as if it had come down from the skies ; disap- 
pointments, because the gifts which come from below are often anything but good 
gifts and perfect gifts, being sometimes most trivial when they are best preserved, 
and most torn and fragmentary when they are concerned with matters of the 
greatest interest. And as to patience and imagination, let any one try to read 
the first facsimile given by Wessely, without reference to the interpretation in 
the text ! The Fayyum finds are good illustrations of all these points. 

Wessely proceeds in the following order: after a brief historical survey, he 
divides the existing papyri into three time-groups : a. Papyri of the period of 
the Ptolemies : from the second century before Christ. /?. Papyri belonging 
to the period of the Roman Imperial rule. 7. Papyri written during Byzantine 
and Arab rule. 

It will be seen that this classification is based upon periods of Egyptian 
history ; it is convenient enough as far as concerns our present catalogue, but 
would become very awkward with a large increase of undated papyri. It is to 
the third class that the Fayyum MSS chiefly belong. 

We notice in passing, that in the Greek heading to the Papyrus of Boulaq, 
W. makes a pretty correction to the reading jracrap^mc of Egger or Trarapxiac 
of Revillout. He reads irayapxias, which is evidently correct. 

He then proceeds to the preliminary notices of the Fayyum papyri which 
have recently come into the possession of the Imperial Library at Vienna,