|Era||About 1800–1450 BC|
|Cretan hieroglyphs, Linear A|
The Minoan language is the language (or languages) of the ancient Minoan civilization of Crete written in the Cretan hieroglyphs and later in the Linear A syllabary. As the Cretan hieroglyphs are undeciphered and Linear A only partly deciphered, the Minoan language is unknown and unclassified: indeed, with the existing evidence, it is impossible to be certain that the two scripts record the same language.
The Eteocretan language, attested in a few alphabetic inscriptions from Crete 1,000 years later, is possibly a descendant of Minoan, but is also unclassified.
Minoan is mainly known from the inscriptions in Linear A, which are fairly legible by comparison with Linear B. The Cretan hieroglyphs are dated from the first half of the 2nd millennium BC. The Linear A texts, mostly written in clay tablets, are spread all over Crete with more than 40 localities on the island.
From the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt there are four texts containing names and sayings in the Keftiu language (de). They are, as usual in non-Egyptian texts, written in Egyptian hieroglyphs, which have allowed the pronunciation of those names and sayings to be reconstructed.
On the basis of these texts, the phonetic system of the Minoan language can be reconstructed to have the following consonants:
|Stop||p b||t d||ts||k||q|
See also: Linear A § Theories regarding language
Minoan is an unclassified language, or perhaps multiple indeterminate languages written in the same script. It has been compared inconclusively to the Indo-European, Semitic and Tyrsenian language families, and has been proposed to be a member of a pre-Indo-European language family.
Brent Davis, a linguist and archaeologist at the University of Melbourne, has proposed that the basic word order of the language written in Linear A may be verb-subject-object (VSO), based on the properties of a common formulaic sequence found in Linear A.