hermeneutical championships: the rosetta stone challenge

good morning class. the subject for today is the rosetta stone. the rosetta stone is every bit as important as they say, as it is exciting hard evidence of a linguistic situation in the past. but to the consternation of any fastidious post-modern-and-beyond hermeneut they’ve gone beyond that evidence and look what a pickle they’re in.

we hermeneuts are oh so suave and heavens don’t we snuggle up close to our spirit guides and try earnestly to lift our games for the advancement of learning, oh yes, we do. chompy won’t mind if we drop the formalities.

chompy was a bright boy, and more than that he was a very privileged newt. he would probably have been all right if he’d kept to his proper ponds, but ambition, and not only his own, piled laurels upon him and he was, they say, awfully good at coptic, no really, SERIOUSLY PRODIGIOUSLY GOOD AT IT, back when NO ONE ELSE COULD  SPEAK A WORD OF IT to check whether he was or not, except copts but they were safely not in on the academic process, so weren’t much consulted except by chompy himself who being still at the dewy-eyed stage of growth, nevertheless found himself to be the only world expert, far above the steadying reach of peer review, the other contenders being of course, not only very inferior people, but also considerably less expert.

we know he spoke excellent coptic, flawlessly comprehending rapid speech and ingesting huge slabs of grammar and vocabulary every night before he went to sleep –  because he and his tutors tell us so. from Wikipedia at  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Fran%C3%A7ois_Champollion cometh thith:

he was a bright boy

he was a bright boy

i personally haven’t seen his test results, so i’ll do the hermeneutically punctilious thing and not regard these unsupported assertions as facts. that would be a bit slovenly wouldn’t it? they go back to 1808 when academic standards were naive and we-e-e-ell, fibby in bits, and well let’s face it, daft, or more than half daft anyway. they were worse than modern day students of old stuff, who still haven’t loaded the idea that going beyond the evidence is UN! ACA! DEMIC!!! they were worse than the worst of the romantics in fact they were the fountainhead the romantic lips leeched to. and they could get away with it. they were almost as bad as the king of greece in tirant lo blanc who judged debates by the most whimsical criteria. they were worse than the dear rev. skeet.

chompy

chompy in full battle array

well now, there he is for you, and a handsome lad if you can believe the artist. of course, some artists are paid to flatter, and he might have had patches of rough skin, dandruff, pimples even, while still mastering (???) his first fifteen languages or twenty languages. i mean wow, he was a charismatic boy, but as a hermeneut (interpreter of texts) he wasn’t taking the cake;  and let me tell you why.

he went beyond the evidence

he was competing for the honour of being the first to interpret the rosetta stone with others not making quite the same prodigious claims (clearly VERY INFERIOR SCHOLARS to our chompus) and was given the prize for filling in the most gaps. most of the others weren’t willing to go THAT far BEYOND THE EVIDENCE.

one day when i find my pencil i’m going to devise a test that corresponds precisely to the one that fate set for chompollion. it will feature a text written in a well-known classical language, say, sanskrit, of the exact same length as the rosetta stone texts, to be equivalent to the greek, and a translation of it into a known extinct language such as old english, for the coptic with its transliteration into a hieroglyphic or similar script of my own devising known only to me.  it will be fragmented with the same area of the pictographic text removed. i will make available an amount of writing in my pictographic text known only to me equivalent to the egyptian corpus that chompollion and his colleagues had to work with.

then, if anyone can from my schmossetta stone  decode my pictographics well enough from the 400 or so words to read the entire corpus with anything like accuracy i’ll bake them a cake, with icing on, and ball bearings and jubes, and pale blue piping round the edges, and champion hermeneut emblazoned across the top in your choice of lime green or fair-trade chocolate. and i’ll even pay the postage.

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