Page:Discovery and Decipherment of the Trilingual Cuneiform Inscriptions.djvu/341

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312
CUNEIFORM INSCRIPTIONS

only used in conjunction with a vowel ; l3Ut in reality the classification involves serious error. It is now ad- mitted that, with few exceptions, the same sign never convevs the sound of more than one vowel, and in the isolated cases where it occurs it is generally at the end of a word. In the whole SvHabarium of Weisbach there is only one instance where the same sign is given an optional sound of />^^, 7>a/, and in that of Oppert there are only three where a can be exchanged for %} In neither autliority is there a single instance where e and i are interchanireable. It is therefore a fundamental error of the gravest character to represent the same sign as systematically employed to express either of two vowel sounds, even if the two selected were ever interchange- able. It is, moreover, doubtful whether there was any difference allowed between the sounds of o and ii^ except in the attempt to express foreign words. De Saulcy's svstem also excluded the compound svllables when two consonants are divided by a vowel. While Hincks did ixood service in addinix a third determinative to the two acknowledoed b\' Westeraaard, De Saulcy actuallv refused

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to admit the determinative charax^ter of the horizontal wedge, and thereby reduced the number to one. On the other hand, he thought he had detected a sign to indicate the plural, which is in fict nothing but the syllable sin. Perhaps the most useful contribution lie made was the remark that, while a few of the Median signs bore a certain resemblance to those of the same value in Persian, the larger number of them were actuallv ' identical ' with the Assyrian.^' It must be confessed that it was long

^ Weisbach, o;). cit. p. 47. Oppert, Nos. 52, 77, 88.

• Journal Asiafit/ueyXix. iM2: * (^ue ct^rtjiiiis signes de T^^criture m6dique avaient line assez ji^rande ivssemblance avec les sigin-s Persans de meme valeur, mais que la ])lii])art dVntre eiix ctaieiit ideiitiques avec dos signes de I'ecriture Assyrieime.' Hinclis had already pointrd out, in 1845, that then^ were many charactrrs common to both {Trans, li. I, Acad. xxi. 131);