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International Journal of Theoretical Linguistics

Ed. by Roelcke, Thorsten / Kelih, Emmerich / Köhler, Reinhard

Editorial Board Member: Altmann, Gabriel / Andreev, Sergey / Embleton, Sheila / Gries, Stefan Th. / Grzybek, Peter / Leiss, Elisabeth / Liu, Haitao / Macutek, Ján / Bruch Nemcová, Emilia / Patrás, Vladimír / Sanada, Haruko / Wilson, Andrew

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The Corpus Problem in the RongoRongo Studies

Tomi S. Melka
  • Parkland College, Spanish Program, Department of Humanities, C-133, 2400 West Bradley Ave., Champaign, IL, 61821, USA
  • :
Published Online: 2014-07-15 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/glot-2009-0010


During years, a number of tentative decipherments have been proposed in regard to the clustering symbols that form the assumed rongorongo script of Easter Island. The legitimacy of the claims, despite their originality, boldness and/or strangeness, remains largely untested due to a major disadvantage: the physical material that comprises the rongorongo script is scarce and restricted. In a similar fashion, the RR corpus problem overlaps a number of non-deciphered scripts’ corpora that have the same disadvantage, such as the pseudo-hieroglyphs of Byblos, the Isthmian script of Mesoamerica, the Olmec hieroglyphs, and the symbols of the Cretan Phaistos disc. Engagement with corpus linguistics literature is deemed vital in focusing on the current situation of RR, and also in how to plausibly surmount the perceived difficulties. Careful considerations based on a theoretical and practical framework show that a new transliteration system agreed by consensus needs to be implemented. Structural and statistical analysis, comparisons and annotations should be made in all the body of non-skewed and skewed texts to validate any working hypothesis, while opting for and confirming the right model for data analysis under unfavorable circumstances.

Keywords: annotation; decipherment; electronic corpora; glyphs; reliable; rongorongo corpus; samples; script; texts

Published Online: 2014-07-15

Published in Print: 2009-07-01

Citation Information: Glottotheory. Volume 2, Issue 1, Pages 111–136, ISSN (Online) 2196-6907, ISSN (Print) 1337-7892, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/glot-2009-0010, July 2014

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