Transliteration and pronunciation of ancient Egyptian
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Transliteration and pronunciation of ancient EgyptianThe three writing systems, hieroglyphs, hieratic and demotic, while very decorative, are difficult to represent on an internet page and not very useful to the ordinary reader.
One of the difficulties is the complete absence of representation of vowel sounds in the hieroglyphic, hieratic or demotic system. This has resulted in a plethora of ways of how to transcribe Egyptian texts. The god Amen for instance is also represented as Ammon, Amon, Amun, Imen etc. If there are no historical clues "e" is used as default vowel.
Even when transcribers agree on how a word (probably) "sounded" at a certain time in history, its popular transcription will differ in the various European languages. French would spell the "u" sound in Tutankhamen as "ou", while the Dutch prefer "oe". A German will transcribe the Manuel de Codage X as "ch", in English "kh" is used, while a Spaniard might write "j".
On this site you will find "popular" transliterations which include vowels and Manuel de Codage transliterations, often side by side. In the MdC transliteration full stops, hyphens and other marks inside words are of grammatical significance, but can be ignored when reading the words.
The following tables list some frequently used hieroglyphs, their hieratic counterparts, their scientific transliteration and how some people think they may have sounded. Note that some hieroglyphs can be read in a number of ways: as phonemes, logograms and/or determinatives, e.g. the hieroglyph, which can be read as the phoneme pr, as a logogram meaning "house", or as a determinative for buildings. Fortunately for us, most hieroglyphs are not as versatile.
Monoliteral hieroglyphs and their hieratic equivalents
There are hundreds of hieroglyphs , some transliterated by a single, others by two or more Latin letters.
Frequently used bi- and tri-literal hieroglyphs and their hieratic equivalents
DeterminativesA great number of hieroglyphs are not represented at all in transliterations, being used as determinatives—pictorial qualifiers—rather than phonemes.
Hieroglyphic was written in lines from right to left or left to right, or in columns from top to bottom. Hieratic was always written with the signs facing to the right arranged vertically or, since the Middle Kingdom, increasingly horizontally. The individual strokes of the hieratic signs were often written from left to right.
|Index of topics|
|Main index and search page|
| List of hieroglyphs according to Gardiner|
|Offsite links||(Opening in a new window)|
|These are just suggestions for further reading. I do not assume any responsibility for the content of these sites|
|Manuel de Codage|
|List of hieroglyphs according to Gardiner (in German)|
|Egyptian writing systems and grammar|
|Basic Lessons in Hieratic|
|How To Pronounce Egyptian|
|The Pronunciation of Ancient Egyptian|
|Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae: Lemmata, searchable in Egyptian (MdC), Demotic, and German or English|
|Luca Brigatti's Egyptology Page: Hieroglyphics flashcards|
|Beinlich wordlist search form (results in German)|
|Aegyptus: Hieroglyphic unicode font|
|Feedback: please report broken links, mistakes - factual or otherwise, etc. to me. thanks.|