Pre-Late Egyptian Reconstruction/Templatic Class I: The i-Type Vocalizations

From Wikiversity
Jump to navigation Jump to search

i-Type Infinitives[edit | edit source]

It is believed the i-Type vocalization originated as an adjective-verbal marker in the earlier phases of the language.
G. Fecht and C. Peust note the three verbs (as shown in the below table) are those originally containing the i-Type with stress on the final syllable and equate to Templatic Class I: Form 4[1].

Original i-Type Form[edit | edit source]

Meaning Notes
sinīd fearing ⲤⲚⲀⲦS
ḫitīm thing shutting; shut;
to be closed; gate
ϢⲦⲞⲘS - (noun) thing shutting; shut; gate
ϢⲦⲀⲘSO - to shut
ϢⲦⲀⲘⲈS - shutting
ϢⲰⲦⲘ - (infinitive) to shut; shutting
ϪⲒⲚϢⲐB - closing [ḫtmPyr - to close]
qinīd become enraged; angry ϬⲚⲀⲦS / ϬⲚⲈⲦ F - to be angry (as a state)
ϬⲰⲚⲦ - (infinitive) to be angry
ϪⲒⲚϮF / ϪⲈⲚϮF - (noun) wrath
qnṱDem - anger [qnytLEg - yellow (color) (vocalic -y-), ḳVnPAA - be white, yellow]
  • Some more examples of possible original i-Type vocalizations:

ⲘⲔⲀϨSAB, ⲘⲔⲈϨF - (infinitive/noun) be painful [ⲘⲞⲨⲔϨSA - (infinitive) offlict, oppress]
ⲘⲢⲞϢS / ⲘⲢⲀϢS - be red/yellow [ⲘⲎⲢϢSBF / ⲘⲈⲢϢSF - (adj.) red/ruddy]

Modified i-Type Forms[edit | edit source]

It appears that this vocalization was also adopted to other infinitival forms which consisted of roots with a with final -j/y, causing either an umlaut, emphasis spreading, or vowel harmony due to the proximity of some kind of semi-vocalic glide represented by the Egyptian hieroglyphic letter j [2].

The infinitival/nominal vocalization may have always been constructed using the a-Type Form 1[3], there is indirect evidence in the pronominal and qualitative forms of ultimae weak verbs which no longer utilized < j > and instead either replaced it with /t/ or simply inherited the /a/ vowel. Those vocalizations consisting of an i-Type vocalization seem to be largely predictable from the third consonant the verb had in Egyptian, though exceptions remain[4]. The following paradigms equate to Templatic Class I: Form 3:

Root Class Formula Example
2-lit AǐB ǐ(j) [ⲈⲒSAA2F, ⲒBFA2, ⲈⲒⲨS] - coming
3ae inf. AīBit[5]
šīnit - to seek/ask [ϢⲒⲚⲈ]
mīrjit - loving [ⲘⲈ(Ⲓ)S, ⲘⲈⲒⲈA, ⲘⲀⲈⲒⲈA2, Ⲙ(Ⲏ)ⲒF]
4ae inf. AīBCit ḥīmsit - sitting [ϨⲈⲘⲤⲒB / ϨⲘⲞⲞⲤSF, ϨⲘⲈⲤⲦ-ϨⲘⲀⲤⲦ-ϨⲘⲈⲤAA2][7]
  • List of Egyptian ultimae-j/y roots in Coptic:

ⲢⲒⲔⲈ / rqj - tending
ⲠⲒⲤⲈ / psj - cooking
ⲞⲨⲈⲒⲤⲈ / wsj - sawing
ϩⲒⲤⲈ / hsj - tormenting
ⲘⲒⲤⲈ / msj/msy - bringing forth, bear [ma/ičPAA - child, small boy, msPyr - child ... ⲘⲀⲤ/ⲘⲈⲤ - (noun) young (mostly of animal), ⲘⲀⲤⲈ / ⲘⲈⲤⲈ - young animal especially calf, ⲘⲈⲤⲒⲰ / ⲘⲈⲤⲈⲒOⲨ- nurse]
ⲢⲒⲘⲈ / rmy - weep [ⲢⲘⲈⲒⲎ, ⲢⲘⲈⲒⲈ- tear ~ rmyt ... ⲢⲘⲈⲒⲞⲞⲨⲈ - tears]

  • But there are a handful of Egyptian ultimae -j verbs in Coptic which show the a-vocalization - it is possible these verbs did not have originally have < j >, the verb simply ended in a vowel from a consonant that was not pronounced at the end of the verb[8]:

ⲔⲰⲦⲈ - turning / qd(y)[9] - go round
ϤⲰⲦⲈ - wiping away / ft(t) - obliterate; fdjPyr/MEg-remove [fVtˌPAA - pull out, take out]
ⲚⲞⲨϪ(Ⲉ) - throwing / ndr
ⲘOⲤⲦⲈ - hating/ msdjMEg - only shows a slightly different vocalization in its nominal forms: ⲘⲈⲤⲦⲈ, ⲘⲈⲤⲦⲎ, ⲘⲈⲤⲦOⲨ, whereas its pronominal and construct forms follow the a-Type.

  • Some time between the Middle Kingdom and the Late Kingdom (in the 2nd Intermediate Period), the sound of ɜ conflated with the sound of j and thus the contamination of the ultimae j/y weak root i-Type vocalization began to be used for ultimae ɜ roots[10] Also notice how these patterns follow 'Form 4':
Root Class Formula Example
2-lit ɜ AāɜMEg
wīj [wyMEg, wɜyLEg, ⲞⲨⲈS, ⲞⲨⲈⲒB ⲞⲨⲈⲒⲈAA2, ⲞⲨⲒⲈA2] - to be distant
3-lit ɜ AaBāɜMEg
ꜥišīj - to become many [ⲀϢⲀⲒSB]
  • Examples of ultimae ɜ roots where the consonant ɜ fell out of pronunciation (or a change from ɜ = j) and shows the possible original a-vocalization - it is possible that these verbs lost their < ɜ > attribute at an early stage (probably before the 2nd Intermediate Period[11], in effect because of the loss of < ɜ > the vowels were not affected:

ḫǎɜ - placing [ⲔⲰSA2F, ⲔⲰⲈA2, ⲔⲞⲨAA2F] [ḫɜmMEg - possess, hold (vocalic |ɜ|]), kamPAA - hold, grasp]
bǎlaɜ - loosing [ⲂⲰⲖ, blɜDem]
darāɜ - become strong, firm, victorious [ϪⲢⲞ, ϪⲰⲰⲢⲈ (infinitive) - strength/be strong ~ drDem]
sǎmaɜ - uniting [ⲤⲰⲘ - subduing; pressing; pounding]
pǎḫaɜ - tearing [ⲠⲰϨ]
tǎkaɜ - lighting [ⲦⲰⲔ]
pǎgaɜ - breaking [ⲠⲰϬⲈ]
dǎgaɜ - planting [ⲦⲰϬⲈ ]

Note: ⲔⲒⲘ - moving ~ qmɜMEg, qmMEg, shows some peculiarities in Coptic as not only has the consonant ɜ fallen away but the letter -t emerges from nowhere once a pronominal suffix is attached:
ⲔⲈⲘⲦ = (Construct form ⲔⲈⲘⲦ - is identical in spelling)
This may not only be a perfect example of ɜ = j => i-vocalization but also how here the verb is treated exactly as if it was ultimae-j. So, we have a qǎmaɜMEg construction and a qǐm(it)LEg renovated construction.

  • Should also be noted that the following group of verbs are frequently used in Egyptian and all follow an irregular set of rules governed by changing the vowel a ~ i as well as ɜ ~ j and shows abridged versions:

dījt[12] (original: radǎjat or dǎjat ~ dājt) - giving [†copt TIcopt †EIs. copt TEIs. copt]
tījt (original: jatǎjat or tǎjat ~ tājt) - taking [†Icopt ϪIs.a.a.f. copt ϪEIcopt ϪIEI/ϪEs. copt ϬIb. copt]
ḫījt (original: ḫǎɜat ~ ḫǎjat ~ ḫājt) - measuring [ϢIcopt, ϢⲈIS]
fījt (original: fǎɜat ~ fǎjat ~fājt) - carrying [ϤIs.a.a.b.f. copt ϤEIs. copt BIa.2 copt ϤAIb. copt]
ḥījt (original: ḥǎwat ~ ḥǎjat ~ ḥājt) - beating/threshing [ϩIcopt]

a>i Vowel Replacement in Coptic Nouns[edit | edit source]

Original short stressed |i| and |u| merged into short |e| in all dialects and then in Bohairic/Sahiric Coptic it merged into |Ⲁ| unless followed by a glottal stop; second millennium BC. Here's some examples which possibly were perfective active participles in the ancient language and assimilated into nouns in Coptic:

[13] [CⲀcopt] - man
ꜥǐḫ [ⲀϢcopt] - originally brazier; later furnace, oven
sǐd [CⲀⲦ, CⲈⲦA.A2.B., CⲎⲦS.SfB. ] - tail
sǐf [CⲀϤS.B., CⲎϤSA, CⲈϤA.F. ] - yesterday
qǐs[14] [KⲀCcopt / KⲈⲈC] - bone
lǐs[15] [16][λΑCcopt] - tongue
rǐn [17][PⲀNcopt] - name
rǐm(at)[18] [PⲀMⲈcopt] - fish (by Coptic was also used for talapia)
qǐm(aɜ) [ϬⲀMS.[19]] - bull
hǐp [ϩⲀΠS.B.O., ϩⲈΠA.A2F. - judgement, inquest] - law, right, justice
rǐd [PⲀⲦS.B., PⲀⲦSaA2A.F.O.] - foot
hǐh [ⳊⲀⳊ b. copt] - neck
ḥǐs [ϩⲀCcopt] - dung (of animals)
tǐp [ⲦⲀΠcopt] - horn
kǐp [ϬⲀΠcopt] - sole of foot; foot
nǐw [NⲀYcopt] - time (by Demotic/Pre-Coptic also meant hour)
šǐw [ϢⲀYcopt - trunk, stump, piece] - piece, remainder
hǐy [ϩⲀIcopt] - husband
bǐɜ [BⲀIcopt] - originally a type of bird which took on the meaning soul; soon came to mean also a night-raven or screech-owl in Demotic and Coptic

bǐḥsat [BAϩCEcopt] - heifer, (fem) form of bḥs - calf

nǐpraj [NⲀΠPEcopt] - grain; seed
dḥat [NⲀϪϩEcopt] - tooth
rǐhdat [PⲀϩⲦEcopt] - cauldron

dat [CⲀⲦEcopt] - fire

  • Dubious vowel formations... It is not quite known if there was an original [i] in the spelling of the below words.. These words may have been loan-words thus utilizing | ⲀCopt] following the typical usage of Coptic A irregular rules in Coptic orthography:

βαριςgreek - boat
BⲀⲖcopt - eye

Peculiarities[edit | edit source]

These groups of verbs follow orthographic rules in Coptic:

nǐw(iꜢ) - seeing [ⲚⲀⲨS.B., ⲚⲈⲨA2F., ⲚOA.A2, ⲚⲰSa ][20]
ϪAKcopt - clapping (no Middle Egyptian equivalent)
rāšaw - rejoicing [PAϢEcopt] - ršwME ršydem
šāfat - swelling [ϢAϤEcopt, ϢEϤE, ϢHϤE, ϢIϤE]
ḫāꜥ(at) - rising (of sun) [ϢAcopt, ϢAIEa. coptic, ϢE(E)If. coptic] - Note: it appears like the entire ending vanished.

Notes[edit | edit source]

There are two types of i-Type verbs:

  • The original adjectival verb which must have originally followed the typical Afro-Asiatic CaCiC adjectival pattern then as the language progressed they eventually began to pattern themselves CiCiC due to relocation of stress. It's unclear (at least to me), why most Afro-Asiatic adjectives from the mother proto-language did not conform to this pattern in Coptic, as this paradigm only seemed to affect some verbal forms as shown in Coptic.
  • A modified version only used with verbs that officially ended in < j > or a vowel.
If a verb ended in a vowel due to a reduction of /a vowel/ + /a (weak) consonant/ it most likely continued to use the a-Type vocalization but there are a small number of verbs which eventually conformed and were treated as if they were an i-Type due to the renovated modification in the latest stages of the language.

In modern day Egyptian Arabic there is a distribution of a-types and i-types. The Western Delta prefers the a-type with certain Arabic roots, whereas the i-type is common in the eastern and central parts: šarab, faham, rakab, sama’, etc., versus širib, fihim, rikib, simi'.[21]


  1. G. Fecht, Die i-Klasse bei den anfangsbetonten koptischen Infinitiven starker dreiradikaliger Verben pg 289
  2. Carsten Peust, Egyptian Phonology: An Introduction to the Phonology of a Dead Language pg 247
  3. Ultimae-j weak roots may have also followed the a-vocalization Form 1 and once the New Kingdom's reorganization of pronunciation began the ultimae-j roots began to pattern themselves identical to ultimae- ɜ, both methods appearing simultaneously. This is merely a hypothesis based upon those roots which contained ɜ and j/y which did not follow i-vocalizations. This sound change between a=i/i=a exists sometimes unpredictably within the colloquial Arabic spoken in modern Egypt.
  4. Carsten Peust, Egyptian Phonology: An Introduction to the Phonology of a Dead Language pg 247
  5. Final -t of the weak root modification was not pronounced unless a pronominal suffix was added or a word beginning with a vowel followed it.
  6. It is not quite clear whether the suspected 'j' was present in the infinitive or not - C. Peust, Egyptian Phonology: An Introduction to the Phonology of a Dead Language pg 247
  7. 4ae inf. infinitival verbs in Coptic are quite irregular in terms of vowel quality in the stressed syllable- a majority of the the time there appears to have been an original 'short-i' in the 1st syllable except for a few verbs which will be discussed in a later section.
  8. .......... pg 25 (top pf page)
  9. Middle Egyptian qd - go round... Prot-Afro-Asiatic: qwad... Egyptian apparently used the root qd(y) in two different ways- ⲔⲰⲦ (qd) - to build, to create [stemming from the original Proto-Afro-Asiatic meaning 'to pot'] and ⲔⲰⲦⲈ (qd(y)) - to go around [stemming from the making of a pot by coiling it and turning it around]....
  10. This change from ɜ to j also affected some syllables ending in r, t and to a lesser extent ; in other roots containing these consonants the entire syllable vanished altogether. Even though this 'i-Type' did not originally affect the actual inflectional pronunciation of ultimae ɜ roots (or r, t and ) it is still useful to recognize the renovation within Coptic. It is important to acknowledge the separation of vocalizations between the Old/Middle Egyptian forms and the Late Egyptian/Demotic/Coptic forms
  11. Peust Carsten pg 247.
  12. Remember that the -t ending is not pronounced unless in the pronominal form or if a vowel follows the -t and the combination Vj may actually be pronounced Vˤ where ʕ merged into the vowel and was colloquially regarded as a semi-vowel compliment to the preceding vowel not a semi-consonant: dīˤ - giving => dīˤti - I am giving; šīˤ - measuring => šīˤtaf - he is measuring... ect...
  13. This is a 1-lit root but still follows the 2-lit. form.
  14. May show an optional |i| vowel due to proximity of an original q = [KⲀC s.b. copt, KⲈⲈCs.a. copt,KHC / KICs. copt].
  15. In Middle Egyptian hieroglyphics spelled ns, eventually spelled ls in Demotic also spelled ls in Semitic languages.
  16. May show an optional |i| vocalization due to instability of Egyptian liquid |l| [ⲖⲀCs.b.o. copt, λⲈCa.f. copt]- in Afroasiatic languages ls - tongue tends to utilize |i|.
  17. Exhibits a possible |i| vocalization due to the proximity of unstable |r| and/or nasal |n| [PⲀNs.b.o. copt, PINs.copt, PⲈNf. copt].
  18. Appears to be a 2-lit fem root by the time of Coptic but is not shown with -t ending in hieroglyphs. May have ultimately added the reduced feminine ending in colloquial speech after the Middle Kingdom.
  19. According to Crumm's dictionary this word is a bit obscure.
  20. Explained in Peust Carsten's book in more detail pg 239.