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The Egyptian language was spoken in ancient Egypt and was a branch of the Afro-Asiatic languages. Its earliest known complete written sentence has been dated to about 2690 BCE, which makes it one of the oldest recorded languages known, along with Sumerian.[2]

Egyptian
Region Ancient Egypt
Era evolved into Demotic by 600 BCE and Coptic by 200 CE and was extinct by the 17th century or so, survives as the liturgical language of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria
Afro-Asiatic
  • Egyptian
hieroglyphs, cursive hieroglyphs, hieratic, demotic and Coptic (later, occasionally Arabic script in government translations)
Language codes
ISO 639-2 egy (also cop for Coptic)
ISO 639-3 egy (also cop for Coptic)
Glottolog egyp1246[1]
Linguasphere 11-AAA-a
Papyrus Ebers.png
Ebers Papyrus detailing treatment of asthma

It was spoken until the late 17th century, when it had evolved to Coptic, its last spoken form. The national language of modern Egypt is Egyptian Arabic, which gradually replaced Coptic as the vernacular in the centuries after the Muslim conquest of Egypt.[3]

Coptic is still used as the sacred language of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and has several hundred fluent speakers today.[4]

Contents

ClassificationEdit

The Egyptian language belongs to the Afroasiatic language family.[5] Among the typological features of Egyptian that are typically Afroasiatic are its fusional morphology, nonconcatenative morphology, a series of emphatic consonants, a three-vowel system /a i u/, nominal feminine suffix *-at, nominal m-, adjectival * and characteristic personal verbal affixes.[5] Of the other Afroasiatic branches, Egyptian shows its greatest affinities with Semitic and, to a lesser extent, Cushitic.[6]

In Egyptian, the Proto-Afroasiatic voiced consonants */d z ð/ developed into pharyngeal ⟨ꜥ⟩ /ʕ/: ꜥr.t 'portal', Semitic dalt 'door'.[7] Afroasiatic */l/ merged with Egyptian ⟨n⟩, ⟨r⟩, ⟨ꜣ⟩, and ⟨j⟩ in the dialect on which the written language was based, but it was preserved in other Egyptian varieties.[7] Original */k g ḳ/ palatalise to ⟨ṯ j ḏ⟩ in some environments and are preserved as ⟨k g q⟩ in others.[7]

Egyptian has many biradical and perhaps monoradical roots, in contrast to the Semitic preference for triradical roots.[8] Egyptian is probably more conservative, and Semitic likely underwent later regularizations converting roots into the triradical pattern.[8]

Although Egyptian is the oldest Afroasiatic language documented in written form, its morphological repertoire is very different from that of the rest of the Afroasiatic, in general, and Semitic, in particular.[9] There are multiple possibilities: Egyptian had already undergone radical changes from Proto-Afroasiatic before it was recorded, the Afroasiatic family has so far been studied with an excessively Semito-centric approach, or Afroasiatic is a typological, not a genetic group of languages.[9]

HistoryEdit

Scholars group the Egyptian language into six major chronological divisions:[10]

The earliest hieroglyphs date back to around 3300 BC.[11] The early texts are generally lumped together under the general term "Archaic Egyptian" and record names, titles and labels, but a few of them show morphological and syntactic features familiar from later, more complete, texts.[12]

 
Seal impression from the tomb of Seth-Peribsen, containing the oldest known complete sentence in Egyptian

Old Egyptian is dated from the oldest known complete sentence, found in the tomb of Seth-Peribsen and dated to around 2690 BCE. It reads:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
   
 
 
 
 

dmḏ.n.f t3wj n z3.f nswt-bjt pr-jb.snj

"He has united the Two Lands for his son, Dual King Peribsen."[2]

Extensive texts appear from about 2600 BCE.[12] Middle Egyptian was spoken from about 2000 BCE for a further 700 years, when Late Egyptian made its appearance. Middle Egyptian, however, survived until the first few centuries CE as a written language, similar to the use of Latin during the Middle Ages and that of Classical Arabic today. Demotic first appears about 650 BCE and survived as a written language until the 5th century CE. Coptic appeared in the 1st century CE and survived as a living language until the 16th century, when European scholars traveled to Egypt to learn it from native speakers during the Renaissance. It probably survived in the Egyptian countryside as a spoken language for several centuries after that. Bohairic Coptic is still used by the Coptic Churches.

 
Third-century Coptic inscription

Old, Middle, and Late Egyptian were all written using hieroglyphs and hieratic. Demotic was written using a script derived from hieratic, and its appearance is vaguely similar to modern Arabic script and is also written from right to left, but the two are hardly related. Coptic is written using the Coptic alphabet, a modified form of the Greek alphabet, with a number of symbols borrowed from Demotic for sounds that did not occur in Ancient Greek.

Arabic became the language of Egypt's political administration soon after the early Muslim conquests in the 7th century, and it gradually replaced Coptic as the language spoken by the populace. Today, Coptic survives as the sacred language of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and the Coptic Catholic Church.

The Bible contains some words, terms and names that are thought by scholars to be Egyptian in origin. An example of this is Zaphnath-Paaneah, the Egyptian name given to Joseph.

DialectsEdit

Pre-Coptic Egyptian does not show great dialectal differences in the written language because of the centralised nature of Egyptian society.[13][14] However, they must have existed in speech because of a letter from c. 1200 BCE, complaining that the language of a correspondent is as unintelligible as the speech of a northern Egyptian to a southerner.[13][14]

Recently, some evidence of internal dialects has been found in pairs of similar words in Egyptian that, based on similarities with later dialects of Coptic, may be derived from northern and southern dialects of Egyptian.[15] Written Coptic has five major dialects, which differ mainly in graphic conventions, most notably the southern Saidic dialect, the main classical dialect, and the northern Bohairic dialect, currently used in Coptic Church services.[13][14]

OrthographyEdit

         
zẖȝ n mdw-nṯr
in hieroglyphs
Some uniliteral signs and their transliterations[16]
Symbol Transliteration
Eur. trad. comp.
 
ȝ A
 
j ı͗ i
   
y y ii
 
ʿ ˁ a

Most surviving texts in the Egyptian language are written on stone in hieroglyphs. However, in antiquity, most texts were written on perishable papyrus in hieratic and (later) demotic, which are now lost. There was also a form of cursive hieroglyphs, used for religious documents on papyrus, such as the Book of the Dead of the Twentieth Dynasty; it was simpler to write than the hieroglyphs in stone inscriptions, but it was not as cursive as hieratic and lacked the wide use of ligatures. Additionally, there was a variety of stone-cut hieratic, known as "lapidary hieratic".

In the language's final stage of development, the Coptic alphabet replaced the older writing system.

The native name for Egyptian hieroglyphic writing is zẖȝ n mdw-nṯr ("writing of the gods' words"). Hieroglyphs are employed in two ways in Egyptian texts: as ideograms to represent the idea depicted by the pictures and, more commonly, as phonograms to represent their phonetic value.

As the phonetic realisation of Egyptian cannot be known with certainty, Egyptologists use a system of transliteration to denote each sound that could be represented by a uniliteral hieroglyph.[17] The two systems still in common use are the traditional system and the European system, but a third system is used for computer input.[17]

PhonologyEdit

While the consonantal phonology of the Egyptian language may be reconstructed, the exact phonetics are unknown, and there are varying opinions on how to classify the individual phonemes. In addition, because Egyptian is also recorded over a full 2000 years, the Archaic and Late stages being separated by the amount of time that separates Old Latin from Modern Italian, significant phonetic changes must have occurred over all that time.

Phonologically, Egyptian contrasted labial, alveolar, palatal, velar, uvular, pharyngeal, and glottal consonants in a distribution rather similar to that of Arabic. Egyptian also contrasted voiceless and emphatic consonants, as with other Afroasiatic languages, but exactly how the emphatic consonants were realised is unknown. Early research had assumed that the opposition in stops was one of voicing, but it is now thought to be either one of tenuis and emphatic consonants, as in many Semitic languages, or one of aspirated and ejective consonants, as in many Cushitic languages.[18]

Since vowels are not written until Coptic, reconstructions of the Egyptian vowel system are much more uncertain and rely mainly on the evidence from Coptic and records of Egyptian words, especially proper nouns, in other languages. Also, scribal errors provide evidence of changes in pronunciation over time.

The actual pronunciations reconstructed by such means are used only by a few specialists in the language. For all other purposes, the Egyptological pronunciation is used, but it often bears little resemblance to what is known of how Egyptian was pronounced.

ConsonantsEdit

The following consonants are reconstructed for Archaic (before 2600 BC) and Old Egyptian (2686–2181 BC), with IPA equivalents in square brackets if they differ from the usual transcription scheme:

Early Egyptian consonants[19]
Labial Dental Postalveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
Nasal m n
Stop voiceless p t [c] k q* ʔ
voiced b d* ḏ* [ɟ] ɡ*
Fricative voiceless f s š [ʃ] [ç] [χ] [ħ] h
voiced z* ꜣ (ȝ) [ʁ] ꜥ (ʿ) [ʕ]
Approximant w l j
Trill r

*Possibly unvoiced ejectives.

/l/ has no independent representation in the hieroglyphic orthography, and it is frequently written as if it were /n/ or /r/.[19] That is probably because the standard for written Egyptian is based on a dialect in which /l/ had merged with other sonorants.[7] Also, the rare cases of /ʔ/ occurring are not represented.[19] The phoneme /j/ is written as ⟨j⟩ in initial position (⟨jt⟩ = */ˈjaːtVj/ 'father') and immediately after a stressed vowel (⟨bjn⟩ = */ˈbaːjin/ 'bad') and as ⟨jj⟩ word-medially immediately before a stressed vowel (⟨ḫꜥjjk⟩ = */χaʕˈjak/ 'you will appear') and are unmarked word-finally (⟨jt⟩ = /ˈjaːtvj/ 'father').[19]

In Middle Egyptian (2055–1650 BC), a number of consonantal shifts take place. By the beginning of the Middle Kingdom period, /z/ and /s/ had merged, and the graphemes ⟨s⟩ and ⟨z⟩ are used interchangeably.[20] In addition, /j/ had become /ʔ/ word-initially in an unstressed syllable (⟨jwn/jaˈwin/ > */ʔaˈwin/ "colour") and after a stressed vowel (⟨ḥjpw⟩ */ˈħujpvw/ > /ˈħeʔp(vw)/ '[the god] Apis').[21]

In Late Egyptian (1069–700 BC), the phonemes d ḏ g gradually merge with their counterparts t ṯ k (⟨dbn⟩ */ˈdiːban/ > Akkadian transcription ti-ba-an 'dbn-weight'). Also, ṯ ḏ often become /t d/, but they are retained in many lexemes; becomes /ʔ/; and /t r j w/ become /ʔ/ at the end of a stressed syllable and eventually null word-finally: ⟨pḏ.t⟩ */ˈpiːɟat/ > Akkadian transcription -pi-ta 'bow'.[22]

More changes occur in the 1st millennium BCE and the first centuries CE, leading to Coptic (1st–17th centuries CE). In Sahidic ẖ ḫ ḥ had merged into ϣ š (most often from ) and ϩ /h/ (most often ẖ ḥ).[23] Bohairic and Akhmimic are more conservative and have a velar fricative /x/ (ϧ in Bohairic, in Akhmimic).[23] Pharyngeal *ꜥ had merged into glottal /ʔ/ after it had affected the quality of the surrounding vowels.[24] /ʔ/ is not indicated orthographically unless it follows a stressed vowel; then, it is marked by doubling the vowel letter (except in Bohairic): Akhmimic ⳉⲟⲟⲡ /xoʔp/, Sahidic and Lycopolitan ϣⲟⲟⲡ šoʔp, Bohairic ϣⲟⲡ šoʔp 'to be' < ḫpr.w */ˈχapraw/ 'has become'.[23][nb 1] The phoneme /b/ was probably pronounced as a fricative [β], becoming /p/ after a stressed vowel in syllables that had been closed in earlier Egyptian (compare ⲛⲟⲩⲃ < */ˈnaːbaw/ 'gold' and ⲧⲁⲡ < */dib/ 'horn').[23] The phonemes /d g z/ occur only in Greek loanwords, with rare exceptions triggered by a nearby /n/: ⲁⲛⲍⲏⲃⲉ/ⲁⲛⲥⲏⲃⲉ < ꜥ.t n.t sbꜣ.w 'school'.[23]

Earlier *d ḏ g q are preserved as ejective t' c' k' k' before vowels in Coptic.[25] Although the same graphemes are used for the pulmonic stops (⟨ⲧ ϫ ⲕ⟩), the existence of the former may be inferred because the stops ⟨ⲡ ⲧ ϫ ⲕ/p t c k/ are allophonically aspirated [pʰ tʰ cʰ kʰ] before stressed vowels and sonorant consonants.[25] In Bohairic, the allophones are written with the special graphemes ⟨ⲫ ⲑ ϭ ⲭ⟩, but other dialects did not mark aspiration: Sahidic ⲡⲣⲏ, Bohairic ⲫⲣⲏ 'the sun'.[25][nb 2]

Thus, Bohairic does not mark aspiration for reflexes of older *d ḏ g q: Sahidic and Bohairic ⲧⲁⲡ */dib/ 'horn'.[25] Also, the definite article is unaspirated when the next word begins with a glottal stop: Bohairic ⲡ + ⲱⲡ > ⲡⲱⲡ 'the account'.[26]

The consonant system of Coptic is as follows:

Coptic consonants[27]
Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal
m

n
Stop voiceless ⲡ (ⲫ)
p ()
ⲧ (ⲑ)
t ()
ϫ (ϭ)
c ()
ⲕ (ⲭ)
k ()
*
ʔ
ejective
ϫ

voiced
d

ɡ
Fricative voiceless ϥ
f

s
ϣ
ʃ
(ϧ, ⳉ)
(x)
ϩ
ħ
voiced
β

z
Approximant (ⲟ)ⲩ
w

l
(ⲉ)ⲓ
j
Trill
r

*Various orthographic representations; see above.

VowelsEdit

Here is the vowel system reconstructed for earlier Egyptian:

Earlier Egyptian vowel system[21]
Front Back
Close i iː u uː
Open a aː

Vowels are always short in unstressed syllables (⟨tpj⟩ = */taˈpij/ 'first') and long in open stressed syllables (⟨rmṯ⟩ = */ˈraːmac/ 'man'), they but can be either short or long in closed stressed syllables (⟨jnn⟩ = */jaˈnan/ 'we', ⟨mn⟩ = */maːn/ 'to stay').[28]

In the Late New Kingdom, after Ramses II, around 1200 BCE, */ˈaː/ changes to */ˈoː/ (like the Canaanite shift), ⟨ḥrw⟩ '(the god) Horus' */ħaːra/ > */ħoːrə/ (Akkadian transcription: -ḫuru).[22][29] */uː/, therefore, changes to */eː/: ⟨šnj⟩ 'tree' */ʃuːn(?)j/ > */ʃeːnə/ (Akkadian transcription: -sini).[22]

In the Early New Kingdom, short stressed */ˈi/ changes to */ˈe/: ⟨mnj⟩ "Menes" */maˈnij/ > */maˈneʔ/ (Akkadian transcription: ma-né-e).[22] Later, probably 1000–800 BCE, a short stressed */ˈu/ changes to */ˈe/: ⟨ḏꜥn.t⟩ "Tanis" */ˈɟuʕnat/ was borrowed into Hebrew as *ṣuʕn but would become transcribed as ⟨ṣe-e'-nu/ṣa-a'-nu⟩ during the Neo-Assyrian Empire.[30]

Unstressed vowels, especially after a stress, become */ə/: ⟨nfr⟩ 'good' */ˈnaːfir/ > */ˈnaːfə/ (Akkadian transcription -na-a-pa).[30] */iː/ changes to */eː/ next to /ʕ/ and /j/: ⟨wꜥw⟩ 'soldier' */wiːʕiw/ > */weːʕə/ (earlier Akkadian transcription: ú-i-ú, later: ú-e-eḫ).[30]

Egyptian vowel system c. 1000 BCE[30]
Front Central Back
Close
Mid e eː ə
Open a

In Sahidic and Bohairic Coptic, Late Egyptian stressed */ˈa/ becomes */ˈo/ and */ˈe/ becomes /ˈa/, but are unchanged in the other dialects: ⟨sn⟩ */san/ 'brother' > Sahaidic and Bohairic ⟨son⟩, Akhminic, Lycopolitan and Fayyumic ⟨san⟩; ⟨rn⟩ 'name' */rin/ > */ren/ > Sahaidic and Bohairic ⟨ran⟩, Akhminic, Lycopolitan and Fayyumic ⟨ren⟩.[24] However, Sahaidic and Bohairic preserve */ˈa/, and Fayyumic renders it as ⟨e⟩ in the presence of guttural fricatives: ⟨ḏbꜥ⟩ 'ten thousand' */ˈbaʕ/ > Sahaidic, Akhmimic and Lycopolitan ⟨tba⟩, Bohairic ⟨tʰba⟩, Fayyumic ⟨tbe⟩.[31] In Akhmimic and Lycopolitan, */ˈa/ becomes /ˈo/ before etymological /ʕ, ʔ/: ⟨jtrw⟩ 'river' */ˈjatraw/ > */jaʔr(ə)/ > Sahaidic ⟨eioor(e)⟩, Bohairic ⟨ior⟩, Akhminic ⟨ioore, iôôre⟩, Fayyumic ⟨iaal, iaar⟩.[31] Similarly, the diphthongs */ˈaj/, */ˈaw/, which normally have reflexes /ˈoj/, /ˈow/ in Sahidic and are preserved in other dialects, are in Bohairic ⟨ôi⟩ (in non-final position) and ⟨ôou⟩ respectively: "to me, to them" Sahidic ⟨eroi, eroou⟩, Akhminic and Lycopolitan ⟨arai, arau⟩, Fayyumic ⟨elai, elau⟩, Bohairic ⟨eroi, erôou⟩.[31] Sahidic and Bohairic preserve */ˈe/ before /ʔ/ (etymological or from lenited /t r j/ or tonic-syllable coda /w/),: Sahidic and Bohairic ⟨ne⟩ /neʔ/ 'to you (fem.)' < */ˈnet/ < */ˈnic/.[31] */e/ may also have different reflexes before sonants, near sibilants and in diphthongs.[31]

Old */aː/ surfaces as /uː/ after nasals and occasionally other consonants: ⟨nṯr⟩ 'god' */ˈnaːcar/ > /ˈnuːte/ ⟨noute⟩ [32] /uː/ has acquired phonemic status, as is evidenced by minimal pairs like 'to approach' ⟨hôn⟩ /hoːn/ < */ˈçaːnan/ ẖnn vs. 'inside' ⟨houn⟩ /huːn/ < */ˈçaːnaw/ ẖnw.[33] An etymological */uː/ > */eː/ often surfaces as /iː/ next to /r/ and after etymological pharyngeals: ⟨hir⟩ < */χuːr/ 'street' (Semitic loan).[33]

Most Coptic dialects have two phonemic vowels in unstressed position.[33] Unstressed vowels generally became /ə/, written as ⟨e⟩ or null (⟨i⟩ in Bohairic and Fayyumic word-finally), but pretonic unstressed /a/ occurs as a reflex of earlier unstressed */e/ near an etymological pharyngeal, velar or sonorant ('to become many' ⟨ašai⟩ < ꜥšꜣ */ʕiˈʃiʀ/) or an unstressed */a/.[33] Pretonic [i] is underlyingly /əj/: Sahidic 'ibis' ⟨hibôi⟩ < h(j)bj.w */hijˈbaːj?w/.[33]

Thus, the following is the Sahidic vowel system c. 400 CE:

Sahidic vowel system circa 400 AD[24]
Stressed Unstressed
Front Back Central
Close
Mid e eː o oː ə
Open a

PhonotacticsEdit

Earlier Egyptian has the syllable structure CV(:)(C) in which V is long in open stressed syllables and short elsewhere.[28] In addition, CV:C or CVCC can occur in word-final, stressed position.[28] However, CV:C occurs only in the infinitive of biconsonantal verbal roots, CVCC only in some plurals.[28][30]

In later Egyptian, stressed CV:C, CVCC, and CV become much more common because of the loss of final dentals and glides.[30]

StressEdit

Earlier Egyptian stresses one of the last two syllables.[34] According to some scholars, that is a development from a stage in Proto-Egyptian in which the third-last syllable could be stressed, which was lost as open posttonic syllables lost their vowels: */ˈχupiraw/ > */ˈχupraw/ 'transformation'.[34]

Egyptological pronunciationEdit

As a convention, Egyptologists make use of an "Egyptological pronunciation" in English: the consonants are given fixed values, and vowels are inserted according to essentially arbitrary rules. Two consonants, alef and ayin, are generally pronounced /ɑː/. Yodh is pronounced /iː/, w /uː/. Between other consonants, /ɛ/ is then inserted. Thus, for example, the name of an Egyptian king is most accurately transliterated as Rꜥ-ms-sw and transcribed as "Ramesses"; it means "Ra has Fashioned (literally, "Borne") Him".

In transcription, ⟨a⟩, ⟨i⟩, and ⟨u⟩ all represent consonants; for example, the name Tutankhamun (1341–1323 BCE) was written in Egyptian as twt-ꜥnḫ-ı͗mn.

Experts have assigned generic sounds to these values as a matter of convenience, which is an artificial pronunciation and should not be mistaken for how Egyptian was ever pronounced at any time.

For example, the name twt-ꜥnḫ-ı͗mn is conventionally pronounced /ttən.ˈkɑːmən/ in English, but, in his lifetime, it was likely to be pronounced something like *[taˈwaːt ˈʕaːnxu ʔaˈmaːn].[35][36][37][38][39][40][41][29]

MorphologyEdit

Egyptian is fairly typical for an Afroasiatic language in that at the heart of its vocabulary is most commonly a root of three consonants, but there are sometimes only two consonants in the root: rꜥ(w) [riːʕa] "sun" (the [ʕ] is thought to have been something like a voiced pharyngeal fricative). Larger roots are also common and can have up to five consonants: sḫdḫd "be upside-down".

Vowels and other consonants are added to the root to derive different meanings, as Arabic, Hebrew, and other Afroasiatic languages still do. However, because vowels and sometimes glides are not written in any Egyptian script except Coptic, it can be difficult to reconstruct the actual forms of words. Thus, orthographic ⟨stp⟩ "to choose", for example, can represent the stative (whose endings can be left unexpressed), the imperfective forms or even a verbal noun ("a choosing").

NounsEdit

Egyptian nouns can be masculine or feminine (the latter is indicated, as with other Afroasiatic languages, by adding a -t) and singular or plural (-w / -wt), or dual (-wy / -ty).

Articles, both definite and indefinite, do not occur until Late Egyptian but are used widely thereafter.

PronounsEdit

Egyptian has three different types of personal pronouns: suffix, enclitic (called "dependent" by Egyptologists) and independent pronouns. There are also a number of verbal endings added to the infinitive to form the stative and are regarded by some linguists[42] as a "fourth" set of personal pronouns. They bear close resemblance to their Semitic counterparts. The three main sets of personal pronouns are as follows:

Suffix Dependent Independent
1st sg. -ı͗ wı͗ ı͗nk
2nd sg. m. -k tw ntk
2nd sg. f. -t tn ntt
3rd sg. m. -f sw ntf
3rd sg. f. -s sy nts
1st pl. -n n ı͗nn
2nd pl. -tn tn nttn
3rd pl. -sn sn ntsn

Demonstrative pronouns have separate masculine and feminine singular forms and common plural forms for both genders:

Mas. Fem. Plu. Meaning
pn tn nn this, that, these, those
pf tf nf that, those
pw tw nw this, that, these, those (archaic)
pꜣ tꜣ nꜣ this, that, these, those (colloquial [earlier] & Late Egyptian)

Finally are interrogative pronouns.They bear a close resemblance to their Semitic and Berber counterparts:

Pronoun Meaning Dependency
mı͗ who / what Dependent
ptr who / what Independent
iḫ what Dependent
ı͗šst what Independent
zı͗ which Independent & Dependent

VerbsEdit

Egyptian verbs have finite and non-finite forms.

Finite verbs convey person, tense/aspect, mood and voice. Each is indicated by a set of affixal morphemes attached to the verb: the basic conjugation is sḏm.f "he hears".

Non-finite verbs occur without a subject and are the infinitive, the participles and the negative infinitive, which Egyptian Grammar: Being an Introduction to the Study of Hieroglyphs calls "negatival complement". There are two main tenses/aspects in Egyptian: past and temporally-unmarked imperfective and aorist forms. The latter are determined from their syntactic context.

AdjectivesEdit

Adjectives agree in gender and number with the nouns they modify: s nfr "(the) good man" and st nfrt "(the) good woman".

Attributive adjectives in phrases are after the nouns they modify: "(the) great god" (nṯr ꜥꜣ).

However, when they are used independently as a predicate in an adjectival phrase, as "(the) god (is) great" (ꜥꜣ nṯr) (literally, "great (is the) god"), adjectives precede the nouns they modify.

PrepositionsEdit

Egyptian uses prepositions, which are, like in English, before the noun.

m "in, as, with, from"
n "to, for"
r "to, at"
ı͗n "by"
ḥnꜥ "with"
mı͗ "like"
ḥr "on, upon"
ḥꜣ "behind, around"
ẖr "under"
tp "atop"
ḏr "since"

AdverbsEdit

Adverbs, in Egyptian, are at the end of a sentence: in zı͗.n nṯr ı͗m "the god went there", "there" (ı͗m) is the adverb. Here are some other common Egyptian adverbs:

ꜥꜣ "here"
ṯnı͗ "where"
zy-nw "when" (lit. "what moment")
mı͗-ı͗ḫ "how" (lit. "like-what")
r-mı͗ "why" (lit. "for what")
ḫnt "before"

SyntaxEdit

Old Egyptian, Classical Egyptian and Middle Egyptian have verb-subject-object as the basic word order. However, that had changed in the later stages of the language, including Late Egyptian, Demotic and Coptic.

The equivalent to "the man opens the door" would be a sentence that would correspond, in the language's earlier stages, to "opens the man the door" (wn s ꜥꜣ). The so-called status constructus combines two or more nouns to express the genitive, like in Semitic and Berber languages.

The early stages of Egyptian have no articles, but the later forms use pꜣ, tꜣ and nꜣ. Like in other Afroasiatic languages, Egyptian uses two grammatical genders: masculine and feminine. It also uses three grammatical numbers: singular, dual and plural. However, later Egyptian has a tendency to lose the dual as a productive form.

VocabularyEdit

While Egyptian culture is one of the influences of Western civilization, few words of Egyptian origin are found in English. Even the words that are associated with ancient Egypt were usually transmitted in Greek forms. Some examples of Egyptian words that have survived in English include ebony (Egyptian 𓍁𓈖𓏭𓆱 hbny, via Greek and then Latin); ivory (Egyptian ꜣbw, literally 'ivory, elephant'); pharaoh (Egyptian 𓉐𓉻 pr-ꜥꜣ, literally "great house", transmitted via Greek); sack (Egyptian 𓆷𓈎𓄜 šꜣq, "bag", via Greek) and the proper names Phinehas (Egyptian pꜣ-nḥsy, used as a generic term for Nubian foreigners) and Susan (Egyptian sšn, literally "lily flower"; probably transmitted first from Egyptian into Hebrew Shoshanah).[43]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ There is evidence of Bohairic having a phonemic glottal stop: Loprieno (1995:44).
  2. ^ In other dialects, the graphemes are used only for clusters of a stop followed by /h/ and were not used for aspirates: see Loprieno (1995:248).

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Egyptian (Ancient)". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  2. ^ a b Allen, James Peter (2013). The Ancient Egyptian Language: An Historical Study. Cambridge University Press. p. 2. ISBN 978-1-107-03246-0. 
  3. ^ The language may have survived in isolated pockets in Upper Egypt as late as the 19th century, according to James Edward Quibell, "When did Coptic become extinct?" in Zeitschrift für ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde, 39 (1901), p. 87.
  4. ^ "Coptic language's last survivors". Daily Star Egypt, December 10, 2005 (archived)
  5. ^ a b Loprieno (1995:1)
  6. ^ Loprieno (1995:5)
  7. ^ a b c d Loprieno (1995:31)
  8. ^ a b Loprieno (1995:52)
  9. ^ a b Loprieno (1995:51)
  10. ^ Bard, Kathryn A.; Steven Blake Shubert (1999). Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt. Routledge. p. 325. ISBN 0-415-18589-0. 
  11. ^ Richard Mattessich (2002). "The oldest writings, and inventory tags of Egypt". Accounting Historians Journal. 29 (1): 195–208. JSTOR 40698264. 
  12. ^ a b Allen, James P. (2003). The Ancient Egyptian Language. Cambridge University Press. pp. 2–3. ISBN 978-1-107-66467-8. 
  13. ^ a b c Allen (2000:2)
  14. ^ a b c Loprieno (1995:8)
  15. ^ Satzinger (2008:10)
  16. ^ Allen (2000:14–15)
  17. ^ a b Allen (2000:13)
  18. ^ See Egyptian Phonology, by Carsten Peust, for a review of the history of thinking on the subject; his reconstructions of words are nonstandard.
  19. ^ a b c d Loprieno (1995:33)
  20. ^ Loprieno (1995:34)
  21. ^ a b Loprieno (1995:35)
  22. ^ a b c d Loprieno (1995:38)
  23. ^ a b c d e Loprieno (1995:41)
  24. ^ a b c Loprieno (1995:46)
  25. ^ a b c d Loprieno (1995:42)
  26. ^ Loprieno (1995:43)
  27. ^ Loprieno (1995:40–42)
  28. ^ a b c d Loprieno (1995:36)
  29. ^ a b Allen, J. The Ancient Egyptian Language: An Historical Study, Cambridge (2013)
  30. ^ a b c d e f Loprieno (1995:39)
  31. ^ a b c d e Loprieno (1995:47)
  32. ^ Loprieno (1995:47–48)
  33. ^ a b c d e Loprieno (1995:48)
  34. ^ a b Loprieno (1995:37)
  35. ^ Vycichl, W. Dictionnaire Étymologique de la Langue Copte, Leuven 1983, pp. 10, 224, 250
  36. ^ Vycichl, W. La vocalisation de la langue égyptienne, IFAO, Le Caire (Cairo) (1990), p. 215
  37. ^ Fecht, G. Wortakzent und Silbenstruktur - Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der ägyptischen Sprache, Glückstadt-Hamburg-New York (1960), §§ 112 A. 194, 254 A. 395
  38. ^ Osing, J. Die Nominalbildung des Ägyptischen. Deutsches archäologisches Institut, Abteilung Kairo (1976)
  39. ^ Schenkel, W. "Zur Rekonstruktion deverbalen Nominalbildung des Ägyptischen", Harrasowitz, Wiesbaden. 1983, pp. 212, 214,247
  40. ^ Vergote, Jozef. "Grammaire Copte". Louvain : Peters, 1973-1983
  41. ^ Loprieno, A. Ancient Egyptian - A Linguistic Introduction, Cambridge University Press (1995)
  42. ^ Loprieno 1995, p. 65
  43. ^ EGYPTIAN LOAN-WORDS IN ENGLISH

BibliographyEdit

  • Allen, James P. (2000). Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs. Cambridge University press. ISBN 0-521-65312-6. 
  • Callender, John B. (1975). Middle Egyptian. Undena Publications. ISBN 0-89003-006-5. 
  • Loprieno, Antonio (1995). Ancient Egyptian: A linguistic introduction. Cambridge University press. ISBN 0-521-44384-9. 
  • Satzinger, Helmut (2008). "What happened to the voiced consonants of Egyptian?" (PDF). 2. Acts of the X International Congress of Egyptologists. pp. 1537–1546. 

LiteratureEdit

OverviewsEdit

  • Loprieno, Antonio, Ancient Egyptian: A Linguistic Introduction, Cambridge University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-521-44384-9 (hbk) ISBN 0-521-44849-2 (pbk)
  • Peust, Carsten, Egyptian phonology : an introduction to the phonology of a dead language, Peust & Gutschmidt, 1999. ISBN 3-933043-02-6 PDF
  • Vycichl, Werner, La vocalisation de la langue égyptienne, IFAO, Le Caire (Cairo), 1990. ISBN 9782-7247-0096-1
  • Vergote, Jozef, "Problèmes de la «Nominalbildung» en égyptien", Chronique d'Égypte 51 (1976), 261-285

GrammarsEdit

DictionariesEdit

Online dictionariesEdit

  • The Beinlich Wordlist, an online searchable dictionary of ancient Egyptian words (translations are in German)
  • Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae, an online service available from October 2004 which is associated with various German Egyptological projects, including the monumental Altägyptisches Wörterbuch of the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften (Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, Berlin, Germany).

Important Note: the old grammars and dictionaries of E. A. Wallis Budge have long been considered obsolete by Egyptologists, even though these books are still available for purchase.

More book information is available at Glyphs and Grammars

External linksEdit