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Eteocretan language

photograph of the earliest Eteocretan inscription from Praisos
Eteocretan Inscription from Praisos
Native to Dreros, Praisos
Region Crete
Era late 7th–3rd century BC
Greek alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Linguist list
Glottolog eteo1236

Eteocretan /ˌtɪˈkrtən, ˌɛt-/ (lit. "true Cretan", from Greek ἐτεός, meaning "true" + Cretan) is the non-Greek language of a few alphabetic inscriptions of ancient Crete.

In eastern Crete about half a dozen inscriptions have been found which, though written in Greek alphabets, are clearly not Greek. These inscriptions date from the late 7th or early 6th century down to the 3rd century BC. The language, which is not understood, is probably a survival of a language spoken on Crete before the arrival of Greeks and may or may not be derived from the Minoan language preserved in the Linear A inscriptions of a millennium earlier. Since that language remains untranslated, it is not certain that Eteocretan and Minoan are related.

Ancient testimony suggests that the language is that of the Eteocretans, i.e. "True Cretans."

The term 'Eteocretan' is sometimes applied to the Minoan language(s) written more than a millennium earlier in so-called Cretan 'hieroglyphics' (almost certainly a syllabary) and in the Linear A script. Yves Duhoux, a leading authority on Eteocretan, has stated that "it is essential to rigorously separate the study of Eteocretan from that of the "hieroglyphic" and Linear A inscriptions".

Κρήτη τις γαῖ᾽ ἔστι μέσῳ ἐνὶ οἴνοπι πόντῳ,
καλὴ καὶ πίειρα, περίρρυτος· ἐν δ᾿ ἄνθρωποι
πολλοί, ἀπειρέσιοι, καὶ ἐννήκοντα πόληες.
ἄλλη δ᾿ἄλλων γλῶσσα μεμιγμένη· ἐν μὲν Ἀχαιοί,
ἐν δ᾽ Ἐτεόκρητες μεγαλήτορες, ἐν δὲ Κύδωνες,
Δωριέες τε τριχάϊκες δῖοί τε Πελασγοί.

Not to be confused with Minoan, the language written in Linear A a millennium earlier than Eteocretan.
    • iniai = Dorian Cretan ἔϝαδε (= classical Greek ἄδε, 3rd singular aorist of ἀνδάνω) = "it pleased [the council, the people]", i.e. "it was decided [that]" The word ἔϝαδε occurs in the Greek part of the bilingual text, and all but one of the other Greek texts from the Delphinion in Dreros.
    • tuprmēriēia = καθαρὸν γένοιτο in the Greek part of the inscription, i.e. "may it become pure".

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