Pre-Late Egyptian Reconstruction

Contained in the following articles are some notes of the Ancient Egyptian verbal system as well as research on other pertinent grammatical information and vocalizations that have been gathered together. At times this information may deviate from the original theory proposed by the Egyptian scholar. Furthermore, this is a hypothetical reconstruction of the ancient Egyptian verbal system which is heavily disputed among scholars with difference of opinion in all areas. As such the information is to further assist the reader in studying the Egyptian language and is solely used for educational purposes.

Transliteration edit

The system of transliteration used in these articles to decipher Egyptian spelling will be that of the European system. Below is the list of letters in the order used for dictionaries (direction of reading top to bottom):

ɜ (ꜣ , Ꜣ) r g
j h t
b z
p s
f š
m q (ḳ)
n k

And here are the extra Demotic signs used:
e l

The term 'Egyptian' used in the following articles represents the Ancient Egyptian Language (specifically the Sahidic and Bohairic dialects) in all their phases but most specifically to Old Egyptian through into Middle Egyptian; when referring to a specific phase or dialect of the language a notation or an abbreviation from the list below will be added:

Abbreviations edit

Copt - Coptic

  • when superscripted next to a Coptic word [e.g: ⲢⲰⲘⲈCopt - man] signifies either most dialects have identical spellings or the term is being identified as belonging to the Coptic language.
  • if a Coptic word has no superscripted abbreviation next to it [e.g: ⲢⲰⲘⲈ] then the term is in general use with no need to indicate a source dialect.

O - Old Coptic
S - Sahidic Dialect
SA - Sahidic with Achmimic tendency; mostly Theben.
SF - Sahidic with Fayyumic tendency
B - Bohairic Dialect
F - Fayyumic Dialect
FB - Fayyumic with Bohairic tendency
A - Achmimic Dialect
A2 - Subachmimic Dialect (Asyutic)
L - Lycopolitean Dialect

OEg - Old Egyptian (language)
MEg - Middle Egyptian (language)
LEg - Late Egyptian (language)
Dem - Demotic (language)

OK - Old Kingdom
MK - Middle Kingdom
NK - New Kingdom
LP - Late Period
FIP - 1st Intermediate Period
SIP - 2nd Intermediate Period
TIP - 3rd Intermediate Period
UE - Upper Egypt
LE - Lower Egypt
EA - El Amarna
Pyr - Pyramid texts
CT - Coffin texts
BD - Book of the Dead

PAA - Proto-Afro-Asiatic language

Orthography edit

When giving examples of Pre-Late Egyptian and hieroglyphic words [separate from those of the respected author or scholar]; e.g,

prt sm - the emerging of the sm-priest

The transliteration spelling will be used along with the reconstructed internal vowels:

prt sm => pírit-săm - the emerging of the sm-priest

Below is a table of the orthographically rendered vowels which mirror the Semitic-centric three vowel inventory |a-i-u|:

Legend For Stress and Vowel Length[1]
long vowel
short vowel
secondary stressed
short vowel
ā ă á a
ī ĭ í i
ū ǔ ú u
ō ŏ ó o
ē ĕ é e

For pronunciation rules go here.

Even though I will be taking a majority of the vocalization formulas from J. Osing[4] and W. Schnekel[5] [and others] when citing examples taken from Coptic words I will generally follow vowel length based upon the Coptic spelling and when deviating away from the formulas a notation will be added.

ωcopt ~ ā ... Ocopt ~ ǎ ... Acopt ~ ǎ or ǐ sometimes ŭ ... Icopt ~ ī,ǐ or ū,ǔ sometimes ǎ... Ecopt ~ ī,ā, or ū ... Hcopt ~ ǔ,ǐ or ǎ [6] [7]
  • Sometimes syllabic letters will be used in renditions, especially for prepositions and conjunctions[8]:

n̩ , m̩ , etc.

  • Sometimes the schwa vowel |ə - ə| will be used.

Intro edit

The analysis of the Egyptian verb and all its forms and meanings are constantly evolving - for this reason Egyptologists have not properly categorized the verbal system nor has there been a consistent name for each of the forms. We will encounter terminology used by the Egyptologist - if needed a definition will be added if the term or phrase deviates away from common linguistic knowledge. Arbitrarily there may be more than one term or phrase, definition or idea, depending on difference of opinion. At times this may contradict "The Standard Theory" of Egyptian grammar as believed by the Egyptologist and scholar, but nonetheless the information is just as valuable and may further assist us in the understanding of the Egyptian verb.

A wealth of the information contained in these articles come from books, websites, glossaries, and other sources - when necessary they will be cited out of respect to the author ... and other information is generally accepted knowledge within Egyptian studies I acquired through self-study which have not been cited unless otherwise requested. Coptic words are mostly taken from Crumm's dictionary unless otherwise specified. I recommend anyone else to edit, add new information and opine. Enjoy =)

List of Articles edit

Inputting the Vowels edit

There is difference of opinion as to where and what were the vowels that were placed within Egyptian syllables, especially using a hieroglyphic base versus its Coptic form and merging them into one grammatical system. Below are two of the main theories, currently acknowledged, in regards to vocalizing the Ancient Egyptian language (and I will also include an entire section on my own theory):

1: The a-Vowel Theory: Templates and Paradigms edit

In this theory, vowel placement is based upon bound constructions and there was only one main vowel in stressed position (originally being /a/ which possibly shifted to other co-articulated vowels based upon the consonant in the stressed syllable), the other vowels in that segment were treated as unstressed. The a-Vowel Theory has been neglected by most scholars mainly for its simplicity of use but also because it tends to be in association with Nostratic (which is a hypothetical Proto-Language discredited by linguistics) but the a-Vowel Theory appears to be instead based upon Hebrew. An excerpt from this article[9] best explains this theory using ideals from Proto-Hebrew:

... Proto-Hebrew was unambiguous: the language had a single vowel /a/, which later evolved into other vowels according to syntactical accent. Differentiation of vowels runs exactly along morphological differentiation...

The entire Egyptian language (in all its phases) was based upon a rather strict bound construction concept. No matter the vowel theory which is believed, bound constructions are the main formulas in recreating the Egyptian language; this is best learned with the a-Vowel Theory and coincidentally suits it very well.

  • Bound Constructions - The Direct & Indirect Genitive
  • The So-Called "Suffix Conjugation" is a Egyptological term based upon the bound construction specific to verbs but can also be applied to any word. The Egyptological idea of Suffix Conjugation is constantly being revisited, reformed and re-situated; other scholars rather call it Pronoun Conjugation.
  • Adjectives will typically follow the Direct Genitive pattern in bound construction

2: The |a-i-u| Vowel Semitic-centric Theory: Templates and Paradigms edit

Extensive research has been put together by experts based upon a Root and Pattern System[10] which is found in the Afro-Asiatic language phylum, and particularly within the Semitic branch of the phylum. This theory sometimes also combine bound constructions but does not rely heavily on it in the formations of the vowels since the vocalic patterns express different forms by themselves. This theory has had its share of criticism through the years as it is mostly based upon a generalized Semitic grammar and does not tend to deviate from it. Using this system, Egyptian words have been grouped accordingly into the following sub-classes based upon Semitic:

Infinitive - basic/elementary form of the Egyptian root
Participles - Nouns, in Coptic, are believed to have been derived by older forms of the participle (this is one of the most complicated verbal forms to understand in terms of forms and how many of them there may have been; this is mainly because Egyptian participles, viewed in a Semitic-centric format, can be fairly ambiguous without internal vowels in the hieroglyphics)

References edit

  1. Typical diacritic marks will be used to assist in recreation of Egyptian sounds:
  2. This is a marking of Pre-Coptic unstressed vowels in lieu of the original stressed vowel used in the Coptic Construct and Pronominal forms.
  3. In Egyptian unstressed vowels are always short and there would be no need to indicate diacritics unless secondary stressed. Unstressed vowels even in the older language may have always been reduced in speech to a schwa or an e or i sound. In some cases other vowels may be used with the same accent marks above to indicate stressed long vs short qualities. Vowel length is always debatable but a stress contrast in later forms of the language is clear from the Coptic evidence.
  4. Osing, Jürgen 1976. Die Nominalbildung des Ägyptischen.
  5. Schenkel, Wolfgang 1983. Zur Rekonstruktion der deverbalen Nominalbildung des Ägyptischen.
  6. Loprieno, Antonio. Ancient Egyptian: A Linguistic Introduction pg 46-48
  7. Allen, James P. The Ancient Egyptian Language pg 24-26
  8. IPA format will be used: syllabic consonant.