Learning Egyptian Hieroglyphs - Lesson 3 (Part I)by Caroline Seawright
January 2, 2001
Learning to Read Hieroglyphs
I'm going to go through the book, "Egyptian Grammar" by A.H. Gardiner, and try to learn Middle Egyptian hieroglyphs. In this column, I will attempt to share what I learn as I go along!
Combinations of two consonants (biliteral signs) are of great importance in Egyptian writing.
Here are some signs with a as the second consonant:
, (old) sa
The biliteral signs (and triliteral signs) are almost always accompanied by alphabetic signs that express part or the whole of their sound value.
This means that is read as sha, not shaa. (shaa would be written as !)
These alphabetic signs, used in that way, are called Phonetic Complements.
The way of combining these signs varies, but from our list above, these signs follow the pattern used by :
, , , , and .
The others, apart from , have a pattern where the two consonants surround the biliteral (the first consonant before the biliteral, the second after), as in ba (not bbaa).
uses this pattern: (though is also used).
These patterns come through intuitive practise of Egyptian writing.
Although uncommon, there are some words with an absence of the phonetic complements, seen in such words as kha 'a thousand', sa 'son', bak 'servant' and kat 'work, construction'.
Personal Pronouns appear in several different forms:
- Suffix pronouns
- Dependant pronouns
- Independent pronouns
These will be explained further on and in another lesson.
Suffixes must follow a preceding word. Here are the ones we will be learning in this lesson:
|Singular 1||y||1, me, my|
|kings sometimes use||, ,|
|Singular 2, masculine||k||Thou, thee, thy|
|Singular 2, feminine||tsh||Thou, thee, thy|
|later on, also||t|
|Singular 3, masculine||f||He, him, his, it, its|
|Singular 3, feminine||s||She, her, hers, its|
|later on, also||s|
|Plural 1||n||We, us, our|
|Plural 2||,||tshn||You, your|
|Plural 3||, ; ,||sn||They, them, their|
|Plural 3||w||They, them, their|
|Dual 1||1||ny||We two, us two, our|
|Dual 2||1||tshny||You two, your|
|Dual 3||1||sny||They two, their|
1 These became obsolete.
Chief Uses of Suffix Pronouns
- As genitive after nouns, with the sense of our possessive adjectives.
Eg. prf 'his house' ('house of him'/'a house of his'); nywtsn 'their town' ('town of them')
- After prepositions.
Eg. ny 'to me'; hn`s 'together with her'
- As nominative with the simple tenses of the verb.
Eg. djdk 'thou sayest'; sdjmmtsh 'thou (fem) hast heard'
'Myself', 'Thyself', Etc
In Egyptian there are no special reflexive pronouns. This means that djdf nf could mean 'he says to himself'.
For emphatic 'myself', 'thyself', etc, we can use djs, later on written as with the appended suffix.
This is found:
- After nouns, as in R` djsf 'Ra (in person) himself'
- To strengthen a suffix when used as a genitive, eg. rny djsy 'my own name'
- Adverbially, with the meaning 'by ones own effort', eg. sn nk qrwt djssn 'the bolts open to thee by themselves'
In later times, 'myself', 'thyself', etc, are regularly paraphrased by h`wy or h`wk (literally 'my (thy) members').
© Caroline 'Kunoichi' Seawright 2001 - present
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