20 November 2004

Egyptian language and script

This entry is a review of the different forms of the Egyptian spoken language and its related written scripts.

The Egyptian language was spoken up until around the 1400s CE. After that, Arabic became the official language. The word Egyptian comes from the Greek word ‘Αιγύπτιος (Aiguptios) which was a phonetic approximation of the Egyptian name of the city of Memphis ħw.t-kʔ-ptħ. The word Coptic comes from the Arabic word for Egyptian Qubti.

Egyptian Language

The Egyptian language is divided into the following periods:

  • Old Egyptian
  • Middle Egyptian
  • Late Egyptian
  • Demotic
  • Coptic

Egyptian language and script

Egyptian Script

Following are the different Egyptian scripts:

  • Hieroglyphic - A pictographic script using the following techniques:
    • Logograms/ideograms [Wikipedia], where a picture represents the object (e.g. an image of the sun for 'sun')
    • A picture represents a related object (e.g. an image of the sun for 'day')
    • Phonograms, where a picture or pictures represent a sound
  • Hieratic - A cursive script derived from hieroglyphs used in religious documents
  • Demotic - A cursive script derived from hieroglyphs used in secular documents
  • Coptic - The Greek script with additional characters borrowed from Demotic

Egyptian language and script

The World's Writing Systems, edited in part by Peter T. Daniels [Wikipedia], is the definitive book on written language of any form including secondary systems such as music, shorthand, or choreography. Seldom is a subject covered so thoroughly in one place; this book achieves that. Daniels is also active on language and classical music newsgroups.

[ posted by sstrader on 20 November 2004 at 4:14:46 PM in Culture & Society ]