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Easter Island script

Subject Linguistics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631214816.1999.x


( also Rongo-rongo script) This script is an indigenous development of the Easter Islands, probably used to write the eastern Polynesian language Rapanui. The script is documented on a few wooden tablets and some other artefacts ( figure 1 ). It is based on some 120 elementary signs of which between 1,500 and 2,000 logograms have been composed. In as far as the script has been deciphered, it would seem that Rongo-rongo inscriptions consist of key words which in reciting the texts were syntactically augmented and perhaps transformed to produce comprehensible discourse. The individual signs are strung together in unbroken sequence without any apparent structure. A noteworthy feature of the Easter Island script concerns its outer form. In addition to the boustrophedon alternation of the direction of the lines, the signs in every other line are upside-down. This suggests that the reader turned the tablet when moving from one line to the next. Reading Barthel 1969. Figure 1 Three lines of Easter Island script from a wooden tablet (Musée de Braine-le-Comte, Belgium) ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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