Talk:Egyptian language

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5AD/2AD and Cyrillic[edit]

What do all these '5AD' and '2AD' mean ? Certainly not yearly dates. --Taw

Finally, Coptic uses a modified version of the [Cyrillic Alphabet]? (Modern Greek, Russian and some Slavic languages still use this alphabet).

It seems like complete misunderstanding of what does term 'Cyrillic' mean. Cyrillic means Slavic alphabets based on Greek alphabets. Probably the sentence should be "Coptic uses a modified version of the Greek Alphabet", but I don't know any Coptic, so I won't change it. --Taw shows the alphabet, it really looks more Greek than Cyrillic to me --JeLuF

"Cyrillic" is totally and utterly wrong. I've changed it. (Note that the date in "Arabic became the oficial Egyptian language after the Arabian invasions circa 2AD." is also totally and utterly wrong. If someone knows a correct date for that, please fix.) --Brion VIBBER

This article confuses "language" with "writing" and should be updated accordingly. --Nefertum17 11:00, 20 Jan 2005 (UTC)

upon further reflection, why is all the detail on the writing system (and only one of them at that) covered here and not in Egyptian hieroglyph and hieratic --Nefertum17 11:19, 20 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Anyone who knows about the Egyptian language in general: please come to Talk:Rosetta Stone and help rewrite the article. -- ran (talk) 01:00, July 15, 2005 (UTC)


Missing? Ksenon 05:25, 12 February 2006 (UTC)

Well, it could look something like this:
Region Ancient Egypt
Extinct developed into Demotic (until 5th century AD), and Coptic
  • Egyptian
hieroglyphic, hieratic and demotic
Language codes
ISO 639-2 egy
ISO 639-3 egy
--Gareth Hughes 13:44, 12 February 2006 (UTC)

Egyptian Wikipedia[edit]

Just wondering why there isn't an Egyptian Wikipedia. We have a Latin and Anglo Saxon one.--Fox Mccloud 23:18, 16 February 2006 (UTC)

It's all about the users. I'd question whether we need these Wikipedias, and especially the Anglo-Saxon Wikipedia (which can't seriously be claimed to be useful), but Anglo-Saxon has 600 articles and Latin over 4000. If you can get enough people who can write Ancient Egyptian together, it could be made. I question whether it will be as successful as Latin or AS, and whether it's really worth the time it would take.--Prosfilaes 04:57, 17 February 2006 (UTC)

I'd imagine the reason why Anglo Saxon and Gothic Language wikipedias exist is because it's fun for the people to make it in those languages, so it would be worth the time to them. Also, in this very article it says people, even now learn Egyptian.--Fox Mccloud 23:42, 17 February 2006 (UTC)

Would it have to be written in hieroglyphs, though?

w i k i p i d i a

Wikipedia (Wikipidia) in Egyptian hieroglyphs. - Ghelaetalkcontribs 18:08, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

It would be written in whatever script those who chose to write Egyptian would prefer.--Prosfilaes 20:20, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

egyptian languages[edit]

This link is self referential; it redirects to this page. Is it meant to link to a page about more general egyptian languages, or is it a mistake?

I just made it into a redirect to the more general Languages of Egypt, which I think is more sensible. Thanks for noting! — mark 08:33, 20 February 2006 (UTC)

Note, however, that some links referring to the Egyptian subfamily of the Afro-asiatic languages also redirect here. I do not know if such a page actually exists.

I've changed it back. Egyptian languages (pl.) (or Copto-Egyptian) refers to both the ancient Egyptian Language and Coptic and is a sub-family of Afro-Asiatic. However Egyptian language (sing.) refers to only the ancient language. —Klompje7 11:45, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

Makes sense. — mark 13:38, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

Spoken language[edit]

Does anyone know how to translate words from English, French ... or any other language into Old or Middle Egyptian? Not in hieroglyphics, but the spoken language, like that at the beginning of the Stephen Sommers mummy films (although I am not entirely sure that the words spoken are correct)

Unfortunately, most mummies do not speak (if only they could!). Egyptologists have a system of transliteration of ancient Egyptian, but we are unsure how closely the letters we write correspond to spoken Egyptian of any period. For example, many of the vowels were not written, so in popular writing we add the letter e wherever we could do with an extra vowel — the Egyptian word neb, meaning 'lord', is written with a sign representing the two consonants n and b, the e just makes it pronouncable. On the other hand, you could look at Coptic, the last variety of Egyptian to become extinct, as we know quite a lot about how that is pronounced. — Gareth Hughes 21:15, 25 February 2006 (UTC)
In practice, we think we have a decent idea of how Egyptian was spoken, by comparative linguistics with other related languages, including Coptic, and by how Egyptian names were recorded in Greek and other languages. I don't know of any good modern sources for this, though.--Prosfilaes 07:04, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
See Ancient Egyptian by Antonio Loprieno (1995) and especially the references cited therein.Nabaati (talk) 16:09, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

Egyptian in Egyptian[edit]

Is it known what the Ancient Egyptians called their language? We know they called their land Kmt (Kemet, Kimit, whatever) but do we know what they called their language? If we do, then why couldn't I find it on this page? Is, on the Coptic language page, met rem en kēme the name of the language or similar? - Ghelaetalkcontribs 18:14, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

The expression r n km.t is more common in earlier Egyptian. Literally, it translates as "language of Egypt". If written from left to right, it would look like this:
N35 km G17 X1
Coptic met rem en kēmə translates literally as "'thing' of the people of Egypt." It can be used as the noun 'Egyptian'. Crum's Coptic Dictionary also attests aspə em met rem en kēmə or "Egyptian language". The Coptic Church uses tenaspī en rem en kēmī based on liturgical Bohairic. — Zerida 23:45, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

It would make sense as


means 'mouth'. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

How can I pronounce r n km.t? --Daniel bg 13:29, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

Non sequitur[edit]

The sentence,

However, we do not know what these vowels would have been, since like other Afro-Asiatic languages, Egyptian does not write vowels; hence "ankh" could represent either "life", "to live" or "living".

is a non sequitur as written. Probably information should be added about how the unwritten vowels marked the inflection or derivation of specific words from a root, but without that the sentence doesn't make sense. --Jim Henry 21:20, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

It's not possible to speak the Egyptian language, unfortunately. Without the vowels, we just have no idea how it was spoken.

That doesn't mean it can't be spoken - just not spoken accurately. The language is virtually complete, the only barrier to its being spoken is not knowing which vowels they used; there's nothing to stop speakers using the arbitrary vowel system that Egyptologists use for convenience.
Nuttyskin (talk) 14:26, 3 April 2009 (UTC)

That's not true. Coptic gives us this information thanks to a common linguistic process called internal reconstruction. There are books written on the topic of the reconstruction of Ancient Egyptian as well. We even know if the reconstructions are correct because of the many Egyptian names and words that were recorded in other languages of the time (like Assyrian for example) written in writing systems like cuneiform that *did* record vowels. Further, we know that Egyptian is closely related to the Semitic language family, so vowel reconstruction is even more secure thanks to comparisons with that language group.

The linguist consensus seems to be that Ancient Egyptian had three vowels, *a, *i and *u, with long counterparts, , and , just like in Proto-Semitic. So when we see Coptic sašf meaning "seven", we know that the earlier Egyptian word was pronounced *sáfḫaw. In the case of ȝnḫ "life", the corresponding Coptic word is ōnḫ which tells us that the first vowel in the Ancient Egyptian word was probably . --Glengordon01 04:40, 10 October 2006 (UTC)

By the way, Jim Henry is absolutely correct. A word like ȝnḫ had different vowels within the "consonant skeleton" depending on what it was used for, whether a noun "life" or a verb "to live", or whether it was conjugated in the present tense or the past, singular or plural. An example off the top of my head concerning vowel alternations in the language is *nāṯaraw "god" versus plural *naṯūraw "gods", which are both reflected in the writing with the skeleton nṯr. At least, this is according to Middle Egyptian by John B. Callender. Reconstructions may vary a little between authors. --Glengordon01 04:52, 10 October 2006 (UTC)


It would be nice if the article said something about vocabulary..size, number of roots, how many roots in common with Arabic, Hebrew etc.

Speaking it[edit]

I know how they found out what each word ment etc, but how did they know how the sounds should've sounded? Numbercattle 15:21, 24 September 2006 (UTC) I'm an Egyptian man and i can help u learning egyptian lang. if u want just edit ur acception here ..:) —Preceding unsigned comment added by EarthForPeace (talkcontribs) 23:02, 22 January 2010 (UTC)


the article's consistency is generally a little bit in disarray.

We should't use ȝ (yogh) for "Aleph". Until there is a special codepoint reserved for the Egyptological symbol, we should just use 3 as is common usage. dab (�) 15:01, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

I suppose if we were looking for the 'two half rings' representation Egyptian 3 symbol.png [1], we could use ˒͗ (U+02D2 U+0357), but that's not satisfactory as an encoding, nor will it likely render properly.

We could use (U+1D7E5, "mathematical sans serif numeral three"), which will at least stand out from the numeral 3 in serif fonts, and will be more unambiguous, since the mathematical symbol is unlikely to occur together with Egyptological transliterations. But it is unlikely that it will render for many people, the only font I have that features the symbol is Code 2001. Another possibility would be (U+FF13, "fullwidth digit three"). dab (�) 15:30, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

duh, I just realized that the 'yogh' transliteration is due to a suggestion by Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale [2]. An unhappy proposition, if you asked me, but at least it is not homegrown on Wikipedia. We are under no obligation to follow this proposal, of course, and it will be short-lived anyway, since surely soon Unicode will deign to encode the character? dab (�) 16:12, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

found this discussion, [3]. I am sure Unicode will eventually provide codepoints for Egyptian alef, ayin and yodh. Not for yodh, maybe, since it is correctly encoded as an i with a combining diacritic, i͗ (ı͗). For alef, there is also ɜ, which is much closer to the real thing than yogh. dab (�) 17:13, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

Ancient Egyptian and Arabic?[edit]

Why all of the comparisons between Arabic and ancient Egyptian? Arabic is a new language and there were other languages nearer to Egypt that was closer to the Egyptian language, like Beja, Berber, and Cushitic. All of these languages were contemporary with Ancient Egypt and were apart of the same family near the Nile Valley and surrounding areas, Arabic was developed else where and evolved from proto-semitic, ancient Egyptian was not a semitic language so I think it's better to compare the language with that of the Beja and Berber people. Who ever is writing this, please learn to use sources, that casts doubt on what you write on these articles when you have no sources.Taharqa 22:03, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

The inclusion of Arabic over any of the languages that you mentioned is simply because nobody (or nearly nobody) speaks those other languages. And the way you word your paragraph implies something incorrect, or at least to me. Just because Arabic is a Semitic language, it doesn't mean that they are unrelated; they're both a part of the Afro-Asiatic language family. It's like saying that because French and Spanish are unrelated, because they evolved in different places, even though they're still both Romance languages and descendant of Latin. Phsyron 00:28, 12 May 2007 (UTC)

The tradition of Spoken Coptic had once extincted or not!?[edit]

The article of The Daily Star of Egypt shows us that the existance of Coptic-speaking people is not the result of Coptic revival movement,but the result of a few people keeped using this language as their first language in the home.

The article shows that the Coptic-speaking woman named Mona Zaki learned this language from her mother.In her speach, she said "My parents passed the language down to me like their parents did before them".How is it possible if Coptic language in its spoken form had completely died in 17c!?

The article even says“Her dialect, however, differs slightly from the standard Coptic that is used for study and church services”,it means that her Coptic is not completely equal to standard,liturgical Coptic that are tried to revival,but a real survived Coptic in its Spoken form.

Please see the evidence! [[4]]YODAFON 12:54, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

It's a newspaper article and it looks dubious. Academic sources all cite Coptic as extinct. What may be happening here is that these few people know of one of the other dialects from that standardly used in church. It is also unclear from the article whether Coptic is the first language of these few, for, if it is not, then the language is most definitely extinct. There have been misunderstandings before over what is meant by an extinct language, and such misunderstandings help no one. Certainly, a newspaper article does not support the wider claims that you are making in this article. You should mention the newspaper article as a possible view, but not give it such weight as to dictate the current status of the article. — Gareth Hughes 13:09, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
I see what you would like to say.But it is a fact that there are a few people who "claim" to learned Spoken Coptic from their parents and I have another source which suggest survival of spoken Coptic.A professor of Oosaka foreingn language University named Hukuhara Nobuyoshi claims that he discovered an old woman speaking Coptic as her mother tongue(in Japanese language “エジプトでは,昨年見つけだすことが出来たコプト語話者の話を録音し,現代コプト語の基礎語彙,語彙・文法形態の基礎研究を行う).[[5]]Although it is uncertain whether Coptic has really survived as a spoken language or once extinct and revived, the existance of the theory of Coptic survival in its spoken form is a fact.
Shouldn't we write about the possibility of survived speakers of Coptic,if this theory is not widely accepted?YODAFON 13:23, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
Is it their first language? The source does not say so. Therefore, the source does not actually give evidence that Coptic is not extinct. Instead there are plenty of sources, and more reliable ones, that tell that Coptic is extinct. I ask you to remove your controversial edits from the article, and then discuss how we should include the information from your flimsy source. You have not taken into account that such a source can be entirely wrong, and thus should not be accorded such weight as you give you it. As for the article's reliability, its understanding of the nature of Coptic and what constitutes language extinction is not strong at all. Remove your edits to both articles, because they overstate their material, and let us discuss how your material should be presented. It would be rather embarassing for Wikipedia to let your edits remain. — Gareth Hughes 13:37, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
Ok,I agree with you.Let's discuss the article.YODAFON 13:40, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
The Japanese source is a little better, but it says that investigation could not ocurr because of health problems. I think that makes the issue on a far less solid footing than your edits to these articles are claiming. — Gareth Hughes 13:42, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
Then,I'd like to ask you too.Do you agree to my claim that we should write about the possibility of Coptic survival?Though this theory is not widely accepted, there should be some description,I think.I agree to your claim that this sources may not be fully believable.YODAFON 13:53, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
It is worth mentioning it. I just came across this thread of a Coptic discussion group. There is a mixture of hope and cynicism there. The thread says that Ethnologue has covered the story, but it hasn't as far as I can see. There is talk about a member going to see Mona Zaki, but that doesn't seem to get anywhere. The most academic this has got is the Japanese source, and that is hesitant. It seems that the source of this information on the Internet is the Daily Star, and other sources are repeating it. — Gareth Hughes 14:20, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

Citation for r n kmt[edit]

in hieroglyphs

As regards what the glyph on the right represents [6], it is transliterated as r and conventionally translated as speech or language in the context of this phrase. It can mean mouth or utterance in a different context. The expression r n kmt is attested in, for example, the Story of Sinuhe; see section 13, lines 31-31 in this transcription. You can find references in the Wörterbuch der ägyptischen Sprache and Gardiner. As to how exactly it was pronounced, like much of Middle Egyptian, that's not entirely clear. It's an ideogram, so the glyph could have represented a syllabic /r/ or [er], or the word for mouth (Coptic ). Because we don't know for sure, the word is transliterated simply as it appears. — Zerida 03:51, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

Example text?[edit]

A short example text, with translation, would be a great addition to this article. I don't have one handy, or I'd add it myself. Anyone got one? Kwertii (talk) 21:04, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

There are so many choices. Any suggestions? — Zerida 23:00, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps a quotation from The book of the dead? I guess that E. A. Wallis Budge's book Egyptian language should be free to employ, since he died 73 years ago. It contains a number of sample hieroglyphic texts, with traditional egyptologist suggested translitterations, and literal translations into English. Of course, the book is old, and egyptology probable has advanced since then; but there might be few texts, which are both modern and copyright free, to choose from. JoergenB (talk) 11:42, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

Egyptological alef and ayin and yod[edit]

These now have Unicode code points. Should we not use them? -- Evertype· 12:16, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

These now have Unicode code points. Should we not use them? -- Evertype· 09:49, 22 December 2008 (UTC)
There were various transcriptions mixed together. I replaced with with Unicode, though I'm not positive I got the yod right. — kwami (talk) 15:04, 30 October 2010 (UTC)


the word "desert" comes from egyptian word dishert mean the same as desert. you could add it to egyptian words in english section. thanks —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:34, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

It's Latin for 'forsaken'. — kwami (talk) 15:06, 30 October 2010 (UTC)
I'm fairly sure I've run across arguments to the effect that the Latin must come from the Egyptian. Thanatosimii (talk) 04:08, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
That doesn't cut it. We need the sources. My sources have it coming from Latin dēserere 'to abandon, to sever', from de- plus ser-ere 'to join together, to arrange', from PIE *ser 'to line up', so unless PIE borrowed the verb ser from Egyptian (why?), it would seem unlikely. — kwami (talk) 05:05, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
Or the connection to PIE *ser is just a false cognate. Of course, we'd need sources either way if we're to add something to the article, but which is more unreasonable? That desert comes from the PIE verb ser, meaning "to line up," or that it comes from the Egyptian dSrt, meaning "desert"? Thanatosimii (talk) 19:23, 10 April 2011 (UTC)
The latter.
  • Lat. dēsertus is morphologically complex, and analysable, and a member of a family of words with similar morphological compositions. For a loan to have chanced on such a form would be a coincidence (folk etymological reshaping notwithstanding).
  • Latin words being inherited from PIE is the entirely normal state of affairs. On the other hand Latin had very little direct contact with Egyptian; the uncontroversial examples of borrowings listed in this article passed through Greek. What do you imagine the chain of transmission of dSr to have been?
  • Semantic change happens; deal with it. It's not honest of you to set the sense of the PIE root against the sense of your contender; we should expect semantic shifts between PIE and Latin, not to mention that there are derivational operations here which are explicitly changing the sense. Indeed the basal sense of Egyptian dSr was "red", but that's not evidence in either direction either.
You'd do well to read something like [7], I think.
If you want sources for the Latin derivation, here's the OED, for one. 4pq1injbok (talk) 16:10, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
It's not my argument, so I'm not going to be called on to defend it. But it exists, and if someone finds a source, belongs in the article. There is no source, so no one's suggesting it be included at present, so I don't see why the students of PIE have gotten themselves in such a tiff over it. Dissenters exist, and you have better things to do than try to set them straight on a talk page. Thanatosimii (talk) 19:37, 15 October 2011 (UTC)


I came to this article to find out about how the vowel system is reconstructed on the basis of Coptic and loanwords/foreign transcriptions. Nothing at all is said about this. Can someone please add such a discussion? Tibetologist (talk) 18:29, 8 April 2011 (UTC)

Prepositions come before nouns[edit]

This isn't that big of a deal, but isn't it rather redundant to say that "In Egyptian, prepositions come before the noun"? If this weren't the case, we could call them postpositions, like in Japanese. Just saying... (talk) 01:53, 27 July 2011 (UTC)Tom in Florida

Images not accessible over https[edit]

The images at wikihiero, e.g. hiero_Z1.png, are not accessible when you browse Wikipedia over https. They give a 403. On a somewhat related note, I wonder why Egyptian hieroglyphs are not rendered as text. Hieroglyphs are in Unicode since version 5.2, and font support problems could be easily overcome with a small webfont (CSS3 @font-face). -- (talk) 14:23, 15 October 2011 (UTC)

Date formats[edit]

In case there is dispute, I for one favour the recent change made by an IP to use BCE/CE formatting. -- Evertype· 01:47, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

Hieroglyph(ic)s and Alphbet[edit]

Did (or do) the Egyptians have an alphabet? If they did (or do), was/is it integrated with the hieroglyphs (hieroglyphics, as I have almost always heard them called)? Allen (talk) 02:46, 11 March 2012 (UTC)

They did: the Egyptian uniliteral signs. But they were not a separate system, and were mostly used for grammatical endings, for sounding out other hieroglyphs, or for writing foreign names which did not have hieroglyphs. That is, they could have dumbed down their writing system and written alphabetically if they'd wanted to, but they didn't. — kwami (talk) 03:39, 11 March 2012 (UTC)
How can modern documents, books, etc. be translated into Egyptian, hieroglyphs or non? Allen (talk) 12:44, 11 March 2012 (UTC)

Old studies of Egyptian language[edit]

Rajmaan (talk) 17:26, 9 August 2014 (UTC)