Learning Egyptian Hieroglyphs - Lesson 3 (Part II)by Caroline Seawright
January 5, 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!
The Suffixes as Subject of yw
yw 'is, are' may have, like other verbs, a suffix for its nominative. Remember, though, that the sentence with yw, though classed as non-verbal, is verbal in actual form.
Eg. ywn m prf 'We are in his house'.
If the subject of a sentence with adverbial predicate is a noun, putting yw gives it, basically, the importance of an independent assertion. This rule, though, does not always hold when the subject is a suffix pronoun - the suffixes must be joined to a receding word, and yw is the word commonly used as support.
This means that ywn m prf could have two meanings:
- a main clause as an assertion - 'we are in his house'
- a subordinate clause of some kind - rsh ssh, ywn m prf 'the scribe rejoices (when) we are in his house'.
Sentences with the m of Predication
In Egyptian, 'thou art a scribe' can not be written. It was written as 'though art (as) a scribe':
ywk m ssh m 'though art as a scribe'
The preposition m can mean 'in the position of' and 'as'... and so it is called m of the predication. By its use, the pattern of the sentence with adverbial predicate may express English sentences that require nominal predicate.
For example: yw ndjs pn m ssh 'this commoner is (as) a scribe'.
The sdjmf Form of the Verb
A form or tense of a verb with the subject (sometimes a noun or a suffix) is added directly to the sounds expressing the verbal notion:
sdjmf 'he hears'
sdjm ssh 'the scribe hears'
In describing the various parts of the Egyptian verb, it is usual to take the verb sdjm 'hear' as the model... and since precedence over the first person singular is given to the third person singular, the verb form to which the reference has just been made is known as the sdjmf form.
Later, you'll see that the sdjmf form appears to have originated as a passive participant followed by a genitival suffix-pronoun... the original 'heard of him' came to mean 'he hears' or 'he heard'.
To create the passive form of sdjmf, an element tw (sometimes t) is inserted immediately after the verb stem, as in:
sdjmtw r pn 'this utterance is heard'.
The element tw is an indefinite pronoun like the English 'one', and is sometimes used independently - djdtw 'one says', 'it is said'. From this use, sdjmtwf 'he is heard' was probably derived from the analogy of the active sdjmf
The full form of follows any determinative that the verb stem may have, such as rkhtwf 'he is known'. The shorter writing, , may either precede or follow the determinative... but is more correct than . The passive ending tw is inseparable from the verb stem.
The full paradigm of the sdjmf form is:
|I am heard|
|2nd singular masc.||
|Thou art heard|
|2nd singular fem.||
|Thou art heard|
|3rd singular masc.||
|he (it) hears||
|he (it) is heard|
|3rd singular fem.||
|she (it) hears||
|she (it) is heard|
|we are heard|
|you are heard|
|they are heard|
|hear, hears|| or
|is, are heard|
The duals are not used, since they are usually replaced by plurals.
When the subject of the sdjmf form is a suffix, this is inseparable from the verb-stem. In the passive, it is inseparable from the verb-stem accompanied by tw; tw itself is inseparable from the verb-stem.
When the subject is a noun, though, this may be separated from the verb. Eg:
djds nf 'she says to him'
djd nf ssh 'the scribe says to him'
When the agent has to be expressed after the passive of sdjmf (or any other passive form of the verb), we introduce it using yn 'by'. Eg:
djdtw r pn yn s 'this utterance is (to be) said by a man'.
The preposition khr 'with' or 'near' is sometimes used for the same purpose, though this is rarely used.
© Caroline 'Kunoichi' Seawright 2001 - present
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