Pre-Late Egyptian Reconstruction/Templatic Class II: CvCvC + vw/vj

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Affixes can be attached to all the previous word formations discussed to form innovative dimension to the word's meaning. Unfortunately the interpretation of these affixes in Egyptological studies are not entirely understood semantically or grammatically, nevertheless there are several credible hypotheses by scholars. This area of Egyptian grammar is probably one of the most complicated (following behind Egyptian verb comprehension) owing to numerous underlining meanings with the usage of one grapheme hieroglyphic marker, as well as in relation to a more unified pattern which currently does not exist due to gradual lexiconalization in Coptic. Ultimately in response to general obscurity of inflections in combination with unintentional neglect (on the part of some scholars), these affixes have not been labeled as anything but /.w/ or /.j/ in Egyptian grammars.



Affix -w[edit]


For the purposes of this in-particular article, marked forms of the /-w/ affix marker should be divided into 3 main categories (with an extra bonus category) based upon their individual morphological and inflectional differences (even though there are even more unmarked forms):

  • The Abstract/Participle Marker
  • The /-u/ Nominal Ending
  • The Plural
  • Intrusive /.w/

But Special attention should also be noticed with:

  • (Under the /.j/ category) singulatives are also used in Egyptian:
ꜥwɜ - look after, care for ? => ꜥwɜy - robber => ꜥwɜj - steal, rob, robbery
  • (Under the category of the abstract /.w/ marker) are also collective nouns:
hnꜥ - to row => hnyt - (collective noun) sailors also hnw - sailor
  • And roots which naturally consisted of a final j, y or w:
zj - man
ḥw - the Egyptian diety
  • Furthermore, j, y and w are also susceptible to morpheme switching within themselves (as well as irregular deletion of the affix), which can additionally complicate a word's intended use; specifically so in the hieroglyphics.
  • The 3rd person masculine singular /.j < .w/ and plural /.w/ of the stative construction can additionally be grouped in this category superficially, but it is discussed in more detail here.

There are at least two other main uses of hieroglyphic /.w/ (and I use the term main uses lightly here, as there are many more theoretical forms founded by scholars..), the OEg negatival compliment and an unnamed verbal form of the (im)perfective/passive/active type?!]. While I hypothesize that the verbal ending /.w/ and (to an extent /.y/ when used in lieu of /.w/) are possibly an abstract ending (whether in normal position or co-articulated, could also be an intrusive grapheme discussed in brief below) shown in the hieroglyphics before a suffix pronoun, the negative compliment could more-or-less be considered:

  • An intrusive grapheme, in this case the intrusive grapheme is /.w/ and it is probably due to a displacement of accent; this verb form is briefly discussed here and has one Coptic reflux, ⲘⲚⲰⲢ < m jrj.w - do not do, in which |-ⲰⲢ| <jrj.w */'ja:rvw/ (though in the Coptic version stress is penultimate, probably due to another later shift which is also popularized in the so-called broken plural and also took over for other suffixoid word forms, for example in the nisbe). Another intrusive /.w/ is hypothesized in forms where the feminine ending /.t/ was not pronounced but a shift in stress to the suffix occurred, i.e., dpt - boat ~ dpwt-f - his boat.[1].

An extra note: I believe, much more study and investigation should be put with the verb root + .w + pronoun forms as they don't necessarily appear to be a separate category on their own as it is insinuated in Eyptian grammars, but instead the form already exists within one of the sub-classes mentioned above but the original form is obstructed by the combination of the suffix pronoun; this is obviously not including those verbs with relocation of stress or the hypothesized verbs of the sadmáf type.

The Abstract/Participle Marker[edit]


The various uses of the -w affix in Egyptian has caused there to be different theories by scholars and enthusiasts:


  • As an abstract ending -w was analyzed as the unit -aw (versus the masculine plural instead being vocalic -u [discussed below]), for example, surviving in stressed position in Coptic ϤⲦOOⲨ - four (ifdǎwMEg) and ⲤOOⲨ - six (jisǎwMEg)[2]
... An interesting addition to Callender's theory should include the word ϨOϤ (hfꜢw) = snake (according to Osing, is also of this class of verb forms) which has a stressed -aw syllable with a missing /w/ in the singular but exposes itself instead in the plural, ϨϤOⲨⲒ - snakes. The same happens with its feminine singular counterpart ϨϤⲰ (except indirect /-w/ in the variant ϨϤOⲨ). ϢⲘⲘO (šmꜢw) - wanderer, also thought to be of this class, does not expose the consonantal -w ending in Coptic but is at times used in the hieroglyphics, the feminine singular form ϢⲘⲘⲰ / ϢⲘⲘOⲨ, the masculine plural is irregular ϢⲘⲘOⲒ / ϢⲘⲘⲰOⲨ.
With this theory, there must have been a strong distinction between /-aw/ (participle) and /-w/ (plural) forms in the old language, as noted by John Bryan Callender[3], with an eventual semi-assimilation in the two opposing suffixoids during the later phases of the language in the spoken varieties. The obvious confusion is shown below:
Plural Participle
ⲢⲰOⲨ - doors ϤⲦOOⲨ - four
ⲔⲀⲀⲤ - bones ϨOϤ - snake
ⲤⲚⲰSa - two
the dual suffered assimilation
into the plural vocalization
ⲀⲔⲰ - magician
The concluding result (combining Callender's theory with the above mentioned comparison examples) has two major outcomes:
1) By the time of the Middle Kingdom, there was obvious confusion between the two forms (maybe slightly on the outskirts of malapropism; malapropism is the use of an incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound), although, in this case, it is the misuse of an affix/suffix. Ultimately in the final stages of the spoken language, knowledge of the -w ending as a separate participle categorization was most possibly limited and instead integrated sporadically in the corpus of Coptic vocabulary... It is interesting to note that in many instances there were still subtle differences in the spellings of these two forms in Coptic.
2) The plural suffix was a secondary feature of the /-(a)w/ marker (or the abstract marker was a secondary feature of the plural, which I find to be less likely/probable). Indirect evidence of the plural and the abstract marker stemming from an identical affix and needing to be distinguished vocally, can be shown in the normal feminine plurals of Coptic nouns (to an extent), where the Coptic pluralic feminine participle has been reduced to the ending /a/ (ϨϤⲰ - snake but MEg ḥfꜢwt and ⲂO(O); ϤOⲒ - canal but LEg bꜢ(y)t[4]) omitting the remaining ending -/wat/ which is rather preferred in the Coptic feminine plural (ⲢⲘⲠOOⲨⲈ - years). This process of elimination also appears in the comparison of masculine plural participles and masculine plural nouns: ⲤⲚⲰ(Ⲱ)Ϥ - blood but MEg snf.w and ϨϤOⲨⲒ - snakes but MEg ḥfꜢ(w).w, where the original participle /-aw/ marker reappears in the stressed accent position of the Coptic words ϨϤOⲨⲒ - snakes, ⲀⲬⲰOⲨⲒ - wizards, both words adding the homonymous Coptic feminine plural suffix.
And something else to take note of is there are two different stress patterns in the masculine, one with stress on the root and one with stress on the suffixed element with or without the addition of /-w/.
  • As a note, I'd like to provide, to further the study of the -w Participle Marker, the root ḥr in its various forms:
Root Preposition Derived Nominal Form Nominal Form Possible Related word Adjective-Verb
ϨⲢ (Ⲉ)ϨⲒ- up, on ϨⲢⲀⲒ - upper part
... ϨⲢⲎ(Ⲉ)Ⲓ
ϨⲰⲢ - Horus
... ϨⲀⲢ-
ϨO / ϨⲀ - face, ϨⲢⲀ=
hypothetical Pl: ϨⲎⲢ[5]
(Ⲉ)ϨOOⲨ - day
... ϨⲢⲈⲨ (Pl)
ϨⲢ- (in ϨⲢⲦⲈ - fear)
ḥr ḥr ḥr.w > ḥr.y ḥr (possibly ḥr.w) ḥr > ḥ.jrj (Pl)[6] hrw > hrw.w (Pl) ḥr
... Root used in a condensed form?! Looks like a participle
merged into a nisba
or vice versa
Adopts the infinitival
form as a noun
Adopts a version of the preposition
used as a noun
Original nominal form
(with possible -u ending)
Though a different meaning
exposes comparisons of the
adjective/verb form with identical letters


  • The Egyptian marker -w of the perfective passive sdm-w=f form is equivalent, for example, with Semitic -u "vowel of pass. in inner flexion", Hbr. -u-, preserved in intens. act. qiṭṭēl vs pass. quṭṭal (cf. the -o- in caus. act. hiqṭīl vs pass. hoqtal), Ar. -u-, e.g. I act. kataba vs kutiba, II act. kattaba vs. pass. kuttiba, III act. kātaba vs. pass. kūtiba ect, NBrb. Qabyle -u- pass. marker between the personal prefix and the stem, WCh. hausa -ú- suffix of pass. and refl. stems.[7]... Though, unfortunately, the author gives no examples in Egyptian (nor in Coptic) to corroborate.


Most of the examples below using the /-w/ affix as an abstract/participle are taken from Osing's research unless otherwise cited.

  • More examples of the -(a)w affix ending
nǎš(w)aw - vessel (2-rad: AǎB[aw])
OⲨOⲚS.B., OⲨⲀⲚA.A.2F. - someone, something (2-gem: AǎB(Baw) - maybe related to wnMEg - to be
ϨOϤ - snake (ḥfꜢwMEg - snake (3-lit. #1 AǎBCa(w), hǎfꜢaw)... fem ϨϤⲰ - snake (3-lit. AaBCāw(at), ḥafꜢāw(at) ḥfꜢt - intestinal worm; crawling posture- snake)... There's an indirect mentioning of the verb ḥfꜢ - to crawl[8]
ḥqꜢwMEg - magic, ḥqꜢw - magician, ϦⲀⲔOS./ ⲀⲔⲰB. - magician, wizard (#2 AaBCǎ(w), ḥakꜢǎw)
ϢⲘⲘOSAA2-ϢⲈⲘⲘOB (šmꜢw) - country stranger, wanderer (šamꜢǎw )
pǎꜢ(jaw) - bird (maybe related to pꜢMEg - dem. pronoun (which is written in hieroglyphics with picture of a bird) ( 3-inf. AǎB(jaw))
wyꜥDem - farmer, ꜥwꜢy - to harvest (4-inf AaBǎC(jaw), (ꜥa)wǎꜢ(jaw) - farmer)
jǎpyat - measure (2-lit. fem AǎB(j/wat))
mas(j)āw(at) - childbearer (3-inf. fem AaBjāw(at))
mǐḥ(w)aw - nest (2-lit. AǐB(w/jaw))
pǐlgaw - torn robes, rags, scraps (3-lit. AǐBCaw)
šǐꜢja(w) - pig (3ae-inf. AǐBjaw)
ϨⲒⲚ / ⲈⲒⲚ - vessel; a cup .... hīnaw - pot; a measure (3ae-gem. AīBaw)
ϤOⲒB, ⲂO,ϤOⲒ ⲂOOS = (bꜢ(y)t - hole; dig) canal, water conduit (2-lit. fem AǐB(y/wat)), bǐꜢ(y)at - hole; dig
ϢϤⲰ/ϢⲂⲰ - sifḫāwat - story, tale (3-lit. fem AiBCāw(at))
niꜥjāwat - land peg (3ae-inf. fem #1 AiBjāw(at))
ḫiwyat - palace, sanctuary (3ae-inf. fem #2 Aǐwyat)
ⲚⲈⲈϤ / ⲚⲎϤ (nfw) - sailor (possibly a participle)
ϢⲰⲘ (šmw) - summer (could be a participle)
ϨⲰⲢ (ḥrw) - Horus (could be a pasrticiple)
ϨOⲘ (ḥmww - craftsman) - shoemaker (could be a participle)
Notice the Semitic root ḫnw loaned into Coptic ϢⲚⲀⲨ - market
Notice the possible loan word ⲘϨⲀOⲨ / ⲘϨⲀⲀⲨ (mhw) - tomb, cavern
Notice ⲘⲦⲀⲨ (mdw) - word(s)


  • Patrick C. Ryan[9] theorizes:
Egyptian did have devices for indicating verbal aspects, for example, imperfective (-w) (used to describe ongoing, habitual, repeated, or similar semantic roles, whether that situation occurs in the past, present or future), perfective (-i); iterative (-t), and habitual ([partial] reduplication) as well as a verbal nominalization (-n), among others. The distinction between imperfective (-w) and perfective (-i) is clearly seen in *i, "come". The form iw implies the process of "coming"; the form ii focusing on the perfective result of "coming", i.e. "arriving". It is also present in the so-called negative complement which occurs when needed in the negative imperative where a distinction could be made between m snD, "do not be frightened" and m snD.w, "do not be afraid".

The /-u/ Nominal Ending[edit]


  • The fossilized OEg ending of masculine nouns -w (attested only occasionally) has, however, evident reflexes only outside Semitic, cf., i.e. Brb w- ~ u- prefix of nouns in status annexus, PCu -u morpheme of the masc. gender, NOm: Kafa masc. noun suffix[10]. James P. Allen, [11], agrees with these findings: It is also possible, however, that it ( /u/ ending) was a gender morpheme original to all masculine nouns, subsequently lost in some, unwritten in others, and reflected as /w/ in the remainder...
Although, Osing's research, contradicts James P. Allen, proposing that there were feminine forms of the noun consisting of -u (as seen in the list below).

Examples of the -u affix ending[12]

(2-lit. #1 jaAāBu(w)) - jatāmu - Atum (Egyptian god)
(2-lit. #2 AāBu(w)) - rādu - plant switches, greenhouse
(2-lit. #3 AǎBu(w)) - wǎn(y)u - light
(2-lit. #4 AaBǔ(w)) - jamǔ - owl
(2ae-gem. AǎBBu(w)) - ḫǎnnu - wave, flood
(3-lit. #1 AǎBCu(w)) - pǎrqu - coat
(3-lit. #2 AaBāCu(w)) - sanādu - the scary
(3ae-inf #1 AǎBj/wu(w)) - sǎtju - lance, arrow
(3ae-inf #2 AaBāju(w)) - sarāju - posh; prince
(4-lit. AaBCāDu(w)) - ??
(4ae-inf. AaBCāju(w)) - qaꜢdāju - Pan , stove , fireplace, Firewood, Fuel
(2-lit. fem AǎB(j/w)ut) - ḥǎnwut - mug, cup
(3-lit. fem AaBǎCwut) jamǎnwut - female version of Atum
(3ae-inf. AǎBCj/wut) wǎgwut - pine

Some interesting notes on the /-u/ nominal ending:

  • Egyptian in its infancy, in comparison to other nearby areal languages, must have stood against nominals ending in vowels, which were rather productive features of nearby languages; take for example:
Hurrian - To the root and RE of the nominal stem there is a final vowel, or a Theme vowel, which is frequently i or e, or more rarely a; actual Hurrian u-stems are not securely proven.[13]
Sumerian - The stock of Sumerian primary nouns was relatively limited, and the language relied instead upon a large number of different types of nominal compounds to render experience. To these chains of nouns vowels were added to the noun and also case (by use of vowels) was also utilized.[14]
Hittite - utilized vocalic case endings, a (and ā)-stems in Substantives, a-stems in adjectives, i-stems in substantives and adjectives, ect.
Old Nubii language - Noun morphology: an absolute state in -a (predicate, address,etc.).[15]
Akkadian - followed typical Semitic case endings, i.e., libbum 'heart', nom., libbam 'heart', acc., libbim 'heart', gen.
It is thus remarkable how Egyptian disfavored nouns ending in any type of differentiating nominal markers and this reduction of final endings must have set them apart from their neighbors. It must thus be even more remarkable to know that Egyptian verbs must have been systematically more affiliated superficially with the Anatolian languages, Hurian, Summerian and the Nilo-Saharan languages which all utilized compound patterns to achieve various verbal categories where the Semitic languages achieved this through a fusion of affixes and internal vowel patterning.

Plurals[edit]

Vocalization theories of the masculine plural variation are also divided among scholars; unlike the feminine plural's vocalization which has been stable and clearly re-constructable without too much doubt.

  • /-aw/ Masculine Pluralic ending usually reconstructed and based upon Coptic plural reflexes (also in parallel to the feminine plural). As will be discussed below, some scholars implicate -aw as a secondary element and not the original plural ending, whereas most others appear to have overlooked the theory altogether not mentioning it in their research whatsoever. Either way, /-aw/ is the go-to Egyptian plural marker.
  • /-wu/ Masculine Pluralic ending hypothecized as such by J. Vergote (and others from within the 20th century)... I assume this would be one of the first acknowledged renditions of /-u + w ~ .ww/ in Egyptological studies, which has more recently been rendered as /-uw/ or /-uwaw/.
  • /-u/ vocalic, not nearly as accepted as /-aw/ by scholars, but as John Bryan Callender[16] states:
"No examples of stressed masculine plurals have survived in Coptic" ... (I should add, that scholars have thus far uncovered; article was written in 1987) ... Callender adds, "two pieces of indirect evidence indicated that the masculine plural must be constructed with the rounded back vowel /-u/" ...
1) First Piece of Evidence, Callender continues by illustrating a process of elimination due to abundant evidence of an abstract ending in /-aw/ but not enough of the endings of /-iw/ or /-uw/. He then concludes (on this first piece of indirect evidence) by saying, "The evidence tends to show that one should not reconstruct such endings," (in relation to Osings reconstructions of -iw and -uw abstract endings which are rather a change of vowels in co-articulation of the surrounding consonant/s), "and that, therefore, there is a careful distinction in Egyptian between an abstract /-aw/ and the plural ending /-uw/, a distinction that disappeared by the Middle kingdom".
2) Second Piece of Evidence, is in relation to Old Kingdom graphemics, when in combination of the final root consonant and the plural ending /w/ are represented by a bilateral, the plural is thus spelled out with the vowel /u/. Suggesting that the bilaterals, 𓇓 - sw, 𓃛 - jw (ɜw), 𓏌 - nw, 𓈗 - mw, ect were vocalic due to their New Kingdom usage in syllabic transcriptions of foreign words. Callender adds that things do get complicated when in the Old Kingdom, when these signs were used, sometimes they also indirectly represented consonantal /w/ (especially with the bilaterals 𓏌 - nw and 𓈗 - mw). Callender concludes his research by saying, "Their use here, however, seems to provide at least circumstantial evidence for the existence of a plural ending /-uw/".
James P. Allen alludes to a similar approach in regards to the usage of the hieroglyphics indicating a difference in vowels in the plural between Coptic and the hieroglyphics but James P. Allen does not give any vocalic comparisons, he states: ... The plural is marked synthetically in Old and Middle Egyptian but probably began to be lexicalized in Late Egyptian. Historical plurals still exist for many nouns in Coptic, but they are used in addition to the regular plural syntax and not as alternants of it: Saidic ⲠϢⲎⲢⲈ - the son, for example, is pluralized both as ⲚϢⲎⲢⲈ - the son and ⲚϢⲢⲎⲨ - the sons, the latter with the reflex of the historical plural form...[17]...
...In addition [to phonograms, logograms, and determinatives], there are typographical signs, for example, three strokes that indicate the plural form of a noun (also used for collective nouns). A typographical function for the three stokes may have a semantic value 'plural' and a phonetic value that is the masculine plural ending -w...[18]
Anotonio Loprieno also assumes that, in certain cases, the three strokes in the hieroglyphic writing might have been the ideographic rather than phonetic indication of the plural, which implies that the apophonic alternation may have been sufficient in these cases to mark the singular vs. plural opposition already in earlier Egyptian. The question that has to be raised, therefore, is how long the inflection of morphological plural was productive. According to the written evidence, Demotic still had a real, systematically used plural ending, which is in a striking contrast with the Coptic data. As it has been observed above, morphological plural is restricted to a closed set of Coptic nouns, thus, on a synchronic level, it can hardly be considered regular, neither the plural forming systematic.[19]
Demotic writing marks the plural ending by a vertical sign that follows feminine ending and any other determinatives, contrary to former hieroglyphic usage (Johnson 2003: §14, Simpson 1996: 49). This may suggest that the sign itself transcribed as –w is a mere determinative that signals the plurality of the noun. It is to be noted, however, that the 3rd person plural pronominal suffix was written with the same sign and it was certainly and necessarily pronounced (cf. its Coptic successor –OⲨ). In addition, Simpson observes (1996: 50) that, as far as the text corpora of the decrees are concerned, the regular omission of the plural marker is much less frequent than that of the feminine ending.[20]
Hypothesis on Plural Ending Limitations
A possible scenario that Egedi Barbara has already proposed in a paper for the ICE conference on Rhodes (Egedi forthcoming) is that when the Greek nouns that can be combined with Egyptian plural marking were eventually borrowed in Pre-Coptic, the suffix must have been still productive. It must have been limited to certain nominal classes only, characterized by the type of their vocalism or syllable structure, but a group of Greek loanwords, having a quasi similar syllabic makeup, was able to pick up the appropriate suffix. Unfortunately, it is impossible to define the exact time of borrowing for the already mentioned effects of diglossia (cf. section 1.2.2), but it certainly happened in a period when Egyptian plural forming was still a productive inflectional strategy... It might happen that an accurate phonological investigation will manage to derive all the apparently irregular plural forms in Coptic and provide a systematic explanation for each and every morphological occurrence. The inflectional process, however, cannot be considered productive any more, if it does not operate on every possible input that corresponds to the formal requirements of the rule. Therefore, plural forming is supposed to exhibit certain regularity and productivity in Pre-Coptic (producing Greek nouns with Egyptian plural ending), but ceased to be productive at an indefinable point in time, since there are numerous Greek loans in Coptic ending in tonic '-η' without the corresponding plural forms (in reference to Greek tonic '-η', the author mentions earlier in the article: ... and, what is more remarkable, he (Rodolphe Kasser, 1991b, 219) points out that the plural suffix can only link with Copto-Greek words ending in tonic '-Ⲏ' such as ΨⲨⲬⲎ - soul, on the analogy of Coptic nouns like ⲦⲂ̄ⲚⲎ ~ ⲦⲂ̄ⲚOOⲨⲈ - cattle')...[21]


  • /w ~ u/ + /w/ = OEg plural marker -w- (preceding the gender suffix masc. -w < -w-w vs. fem.-w-t) ~ Sem. -āt- < -aw-at- (?) 'fem. pl. ending'. PCu. -aw ~ -wa 'morpheme of plural'. CCh. e.g. Lame wó 'pluralisateur'.[22] There are several plurals in Coptic showing this pattern, albeit only a handful of examples still exist in Coptic:
ⲤⲚⲎⲨ - brothers
ϨⲢⲈⲨ - days
ϬⲘⲎOⲨ - gardeners
ⲔⲢⲔⲎⲨ - settlements (Coptic singular word is ϬⲰⲢϬ)
Antonio Loprieno[23], theorizes a similar approach, "The formation of the plural is more complex. A semivocalic morpheme -w or ~aw, possibly derived, like the corresponding Semitic plural in -ū, from a longer form of the singular ending -u, was added to most singular forms, although a few nouns may have possessed a plural or collective form without external suffixes"... The derived -aw vowel, which Loprieno mentions in his book, he believes is an inherited absolute case marker also used by distant Afroasiatic sister languages but not by the native Egyptian abstract -aw marker which Callender[24] instead, eludes to /-aw/ as being more of a native innovation within the Egyptian language. Either way, if the /-a/ was inherited through the Afroasiatic absolute case, cases are unproductive in Egyptian grammar just as the abstract marker /-aw/ grows unproductive in later phases of the Egyptian language. Callender's native Egyptian abstract marker /-aw/ and Loprieno's aboslute case marker /-aw/, at the least, does expose indirect affinities to one another due to the /-aw/ stages of OEg. neutrality, MEg. assimilation, and eventual Coptic unproductive grammatical use despite the origin of /-(a/)w/.
Three important notations should be taken here:
1) In the hieroglyphics, when both /w/ morphemes were used after the root (transcribed as __ww, __w.w, __.ww, ect ) and in this case being /u + w/ they are technically deemed two separate syllables in Egyptological standards but in speech we were probably dealing with one syllable with an onset, nucleus and coda combination which would be best represented in this combination precisely as a syllable consisting of the diphthing -uw, termed a narrow diphthong because the syllable ends with a vowel which on a vowel chart is quite close to the one that begins the diphthong, i.e.:
[ʊu̯]British or [ʉu̯]american in the English word loon
So the OEg word sn (brother) in the plural sn.ww (brothers) would have been pronounced sənʊu̯ (better analyzed as sənū for aesthetic purposes) eventually evolving into ⲤⲚⲎⲨCoptic (senēu).
2) the nominal /-u/ marker appeared to completely vanish amidst the letters of most Egyptian masculine plural noun formations (this also occurred systemically within the hieroglyphics to such an extreme that causes speculation on its regular employment in Old (Pre-)Egyptian nouns).
3) In such case, most Coptic masculine plural nouns, instead, follow the paradigm of the so-called broken plural (discussed in more detail below).

Patterns of the Plural[edit]

Remnant plurals correspond to three different morphological patterns, as it is summarized by Chris Reintges, they are formed:[25]

  • by adding a plural suffix (-ⲀⲨ , -ⲎⲨ , -OOⲨ, -OOⲨⲈ, etc.)
  • by the alteration of the syllabic structure (so called broken plurals, e.g. ⲈⲒⲰⲦ ~ ⲈⲒOⲦⲈ - father/fathers)
  • by the combination of these two strategies (e.g. ϨⲰⲂ ~ ϨⲂⲎⲨⲈ - thing/things)

As it is already pointed out by Vergote (1983: §114), the remnant plural forms are used in parallel with the synchronically more regular singular forms to express plurality:

Ⲡ-ⲤOⲚ - the son .. ⲚⲈ-ⲤⲚⲎⲨ - the sons .. Ⲛ̄-ⲤOⲚ - the sons ..

Affix Abstract VS Plural and the Dual[edit]

To minimize some of the confusion in the spellings between these forms, I have made a table below:

Gender Abstract Sing. Abstract Pl. Noun Sing. Noun Pl.
Coptic Masc. #1 ϤⲦOOⲨ - four
#2 ϨOϤ - snake
#3 ϢⲘⲘO - stranger
..
#1 ...
#2 ϨϤOⲨⲒ
#3 ϢⲘⲘⲰOⲨ
..-(ϢⲘⲘOⲒ/ϢⲘⲘⲀⲒ)
Example Example
Hieroglyph #1 ...
#2 ḥqꜢ.w
#3 šmꜢ.w
#1 ...
#2 ḥqꜢ.ww
#3 šmꜢ.ww
Example Example
Coptic Fem. #1 ϨϤⲰ - snake (f)
#2 ⲘⲢⲰ - canal
#3 ϤⲦO(Ⲉ) - four (f)
#1 ...
#2 ⲘⲢOOⲨⲈ
#3 ...
Example Example
Hieroglyph Example Example Example Example
Example Example Example Example Example

In conclusion, we have an original,

  • -uw / - ww in masculine plural nouns, that was in Coptic (possibly earlier) either reduced, neutralized or turned into a 'broken plural' (there are also many reconstructions utilizing -aw, -iw, -ew, -ēw, ect, it's obvious that these endings were caused by a change of vowel due to co-articulation with an adjacent consonant or by analytical/grammatical leveling - we must also include the eventual spoken disappearance of the /-u/ nominative; thus these irregular forms now become the norm in Coptic for plurals introducing the foundation of the infamous Semitic broken plurals to Egyptian grammar).
  • in the feminine plural of nouns Callender posits the form;
-(a)wat reconstructing it based upon cognates in Hebrew ( -ōt ~ -awt) and Arabic ( -āt ~ -awat) and he continues by stating: "In Egyptian, this first vowel is invariably syncopated in surviving evidence (we/owe); it would have survived only in stressed form before monosyllabic suffixes, but none of these combinations have survived".[26]; though technically he is unknowingly combining two underlining forms of the feminine plural, whereas the second proposed formation is;
-aw-wat (the most popular Egyptological reconstruction for the feminine plural), was most likely an innovative borrowing by the Egyptians taken from the abstract feminine plural form used in lieu of -(a)wat for regular nouns; these two suffixes must have sounded similar to the ear. James P. Allen (does not mention the original abstract -aw-wat instead eludes to it being a regular feminine plural marking, nevertheless he) adds: ... The historical feminine plural -áwwat ~ -ⲰOⲨ, -ⲀⲨⲈ, -OOⲨⲈ is lexicalized for native nouns in Coptic, e.g. wnwwt 'hours' ~ OⲨⲚⲰOⲨⲒ, OⲨⲚⲀⲨⲈ, OⲨⲚOOⲨⲈ - but is sometimes applied productively to loan words: e.g., ΦⲨⲬⲰOⲨⲒ, ΦⲨⲬOOⲨⲈ - spirits (from Greek Фυχή ~ ΦⲨⲬⲎ)...[27]
Antonio Loprieno[28], on the other hand does recognize two opposing feminine plurals, one which is -wat (Callender's /a/ vowel is interestingly not indicated) and the other is -awwat (which Antonio Loprieno describes within the scope of a larger morphological grouping as an A-Stem; there are also i-Stems and u-Stems as well). He also mentions the collective plural taking the -wat suffix and applying it to masculine nouns, i.e., rd ~ rádu - plant => rd.wt ~ ridwat - plants, and sbɜ - star ~ sbɜ.wt.
The Modern South Arabian Languagues (better yet Mehre) almost have identical plural patterns to Egyptian š̩əfáwwət (f.pl.) - elbows, (mk̩aṭár) / mk̩áwṭər - caravans, (náḥrər) / náḥrur - noses; just a few of the many plural patterns.[29]
  • -aw abstract masculine singular ending which was obviously reduced in Coptic.
  • -aw-wat / -aw-u-at is the abstract feminine plural ending... it is unclear if there was originally meant to be a vowel inserted between the two w's, i.e., -aw-(a)-wat.
  • -aw-u (alt. version -aw-aw), would be reconstructed for the plural masculine of the abstract (often times -aw is erroneously cited in lieu of the masculine plural -uw either by the Ancient Egyptians writers themselves or by modern day grammarians). An example of this confusion can be seen in this Coptic pluralic abstract/participle ending ϨϤOⲨⲒ which was probably pronounced həf-(ɜ)ǎw-u/eeLEg => həf-ǎw-eePre-Coptic[30] and can be associated with the feminine plural -aw-wat ending but the masculine version stems from the abstract ending even though both -aw-u and -aw-wat are born from the abstract/participle marker.

The Uses of -aw

Judging by this study, it is quite possible by the time of Coptic, the abstract affix /-aw/ overtook most of the languages previous suffixes of a similar phonological nature, in particular to those belonging to the feminine plural (as well as the masculine plural in MEg, but it had gradually subsided and disappeared altogether in Coptic) and exposing itself almost entirely in the newly formed dual (discussed below). This merger then appears to have caused the original usage of /-aw/ in combination with the preceding root to fall under new morphological regulations (in order for /-aw/ to not fall under ambiguity with the plural- it also appeared that the abstract nature of the -aw affix was already shifting and the Egyptians were already omitting -aw from the suffixoid altogether). This process is clearly seen in Coptic where these suffixoids are morphologically identical to nouns because now they were nouns, and only exposes its true full form in a selected words in what seems to be an unpredictable fashion.

The Dual[edit]

So what of the dual?! The orthographic endings attested [so far] for the dual can be grouped as follows:

  • -w(j)Hieroglyphs
  • -OⲨ / -ⲀⲨ / ⲀOⲨ-Coptic
  • -(w)aCuneiform
  • but in the endings of pronouns we only have -jHieroglyphs as well as with the feminine where the dual ending is suffixed to the feminine ending, -tj.

The dual is collectively recognized to have fallen away as a morphological grammatical form early in the Egyptian language then confined to Egyptian's lexicon as natural pairs in MEg; which does cause some inconsistency in reconstruction (though the same could be said of any root with a -w or -j suffixoid). Nonetheless, it appears that the dual eventually adopted the abstract marking -aw (at such point prematurely following alongside the plural-abstract merger), then the original dual marker -ay seems to be optionally suffixed to -aw (this is what is at the least shown in the hieroglyphics, and to an extent in Cuneiform but curiously enough not acknowledged in Coptic spellings). The /a/ vowel in the dual can be reconstructed (not only from Cuneiform renditions of the Egyptian dual suffix -(w)a but also) based upon indirect evidence in other Afroasiatic languages, where the duals have an /a/ (also termed the oblique case when used with pronouns) and then /y(i)/ is added, for example in Arabic (any noun or adjective regardless of gender -ān, in the genitive or accusative forms, the -ān becomes -ain)[31], Hebrew (-ạyim) and to an extent in Mehri (in The Mehri Language of Oman the dual is the vowel -i[32] and interestingly enough there is no nisbe formation). The Egyptian (hieroglyphic) feminine dual suffix -tj is not of much help in reconstruction as it is usually rendered as -ⲦⲈ / -Ϯ in Coptic.

James P. Allen[33], also briefly mentions the word ⲤⲚOⲨ ~ ⲤⲚⲀOⲨ (ⲤⲚⲀⲨ, ⲤⲚⲀⲀⲨ), ⲤⲚⲈⲨ (ⲤⲚⲈOⲨ / ⲤⲚⲚⲈOⲨ) ~ ⲤⲚO / ⲤⲚⲰ - 'two' as containing an inherited dual dimension originating from the root sn - brother ~ sn.t - sister, snw.wj -two... disregarding the dubious and controversial connection of these two words, why is there two /w/'s?! Interestingly, the feminine forms are the words mainly containing an indirect /w ~u/ using a process of metathesis; ⲤⲚⲦⲈ, ⲤⲚOⲨⲦⲈ, ⲤⲎⲚϮ, ⲤⲎⲚⲦⲒ - two (fem). It is quite possible that an original pluralic /-u/ was fossilized in this word before the plural-abstract merger took place.

We are thus able to conclude that the dual suffix was most likely vocalized as:

  • -(ú)wajOEg masculine form ~ snw.wj (sanúwaj) ~ ⲤⲚⲈⲨ / ⲤⲚⲈOⲨ / ⲤⲚⲚⲈOⲨ - two - speculative tri-suffixoid, nominal + plural + dual?!
  • -útajOEg feminine form ~ snw.t (sanútaj) ~ ⲤⲎⲚⲦⲒ / ⲤⲎⲚϮ - two (f.) - speculative tri-suffixoid, plural + fem. ending + dual?!
-wátaj would technically be the correct combination here which is not directly indicated in the Coptic version of the word (unless one takes ⲤⲚOⲨⲦⲈ - two (f.) into account ~ sanwátaj ~ san(w)ātaj ~ sənāte), it is likely that the plural marker /-u/ as a vowel in metatheis is what instead took precedence over the stressed /a/ in the fossilized forms; sanwátaj / sanáwtaj ~ san(a)ūtaj ~ sanūtaj ~ sənēte. This type of divided paradigm is not uncommon within other Egyptian word forms especially in comparison to the dialects (take for example all the -aw combinations in Coptic and what they produced in both stressed and unstressed position), and can also be witnessed among the Afroasiatic branch of languages as a whole in connection to generalized -aw(wa)- combinations.
  • -áw(aj)OEg-MEg masculine form ~ ⲤⲚⲀOⲨ / ⲤⲚO - two - dual-abstract merger
  • -tajOEg-MEg feminine form (main stress does not appear to be indicated) ~ ⲤⲚⲦⲈ - two - semi-original suffix in tact

Affix -y[edit]

Patrick C. Ryan[34] mentions the /-j/ affix as constituting a perfective state (used to describe an action viewed as a simple whole—a unit without interior composition). Also note -j/y is also used as the 1SG pronoun as well as an (adjectival) nisba. The below examples are taking from Osing's Class II: 5 pattern of sādmij / sadmījat patterns.


Masculine

Root Class Formula Example Meaning Notes
2-lit. AāBi(j) Ꜣāhi(j) painful
2ae-gem. #1 AǎBBi(j)
#2 AaBBǐ(j)
#3 AāBi(j)
gǎnni(j)[35]
kammǐ(j)
wāri(j)
soft
black
big
3-lit. #1 AǎBCi(j)
#2 AaBCǐ(j)
nǎḫti(j)
manḫǐ(j)
Strong; Strong; the protector; giant
excellent
3ae-inf. AaB(j)ǐ(j) gaꜢjǐ(j) ugly


Feminine

Root Class Formula Example Meaning Notes
2-lit.
2ae-gem AaBBī(jat) kammī(jat) black
3-lit. AaBCī(jat) sawgī(wat) foolish
3ae-inf. AaBjī(jat) gaꜢjī(jat) ugly


Notes[edit]

The following can be grouped as follows[36]:

  • Dimension - wārij / warījat - big (also age)
  • Age
  • Value
  • Colour - kǎmmij / kammījat - black
  • Physical Property - gǎnni(j) / gannījat - soft, bǎlli / ballījat - blind, nǎḫti / naḫtiījat - strong, mǎnḫi / manḫījat - excellent, gaꜢjǐ(j) / gaꜢjǐ(j) or gǎꜢji(j) / gǎꜢjījat - ugly, šǎwji / šawjījat - dry, tǎnji / tanjījat - lazy (in the sense of) powerless
  • Human Propensity - sāwgi / sawgījat - foolish
  • Qualification - mǎnḫi / manḫījat - excellent

Conclusion: List of All The Forms[edit]


As shown in Coptic, all of the participle forms from the previous page could utilize an affix. The question arises which form with an affix is used for which verb?! It various according to the type of verb used and since we have yet to classify verb-types it is rather difficult to assume which verb-type exclusively used which affixal form versus another. It is just as probably that any form can utilize an affix. According to Osing's research (and others) we are also confronted with a new internal vocalization [CaCuC][37]. There is no general rule for stress placement to date for the participle[38]. The list of affixal vocalizations derived from Coptic/Greek/Cuneiform known examples are shown below:

Participle
Formula
Imperfective
-a
Imperfective
[pl -aw]
Perfective
-ij
Nominative
-u
CaCaC CaC(a)Ca CaCaCaw CaC(a)Cij CaC(a)Cu
CaCiC CaC(i)Cij
CiCaC CiC(a)Ca
CiCiC CiCiCaw
CuCiC CuCCa CuC(i)Cij CuC(i)Cu
CaCuC
Newly Found
Construction
CaC(u)Caw CaC(u)Cij CaC(u)Cu


Noticeable Observances:

  • The CaCaC, CaCiC & CaCuC forms can look identical if the medial vowel is omitted once an affix is attached. It is possible, in the old language, all the CaCvC forms were the most flexible in form as well as the most variably used compared to all the other forms.
  • It seems the CaCiC & CiCaC Genitive Forms do not appear to have Nominative Forms [according to Coptic known examples].
  • Likewise the CaCuC Nominative Form does not appear to have Genitive forms [according to Coptic known examples]- this seems to also be the case with the CiCaC Genitive Form.


Extra Notes[edit]

Challenging previous accounts, ORÉAL argues that formal differences between Old Egyptian participle forms signal consistent semantic and syntactic differences. Specifically, the author argues that graphemic endings (<ø>, <j> or <w>) and gemination provide evidence for an analysis of Old Egyptian participles as showing nominal morphology. In terms of graphemic endings, she distinguishes between ‘property encoding’ (with <ø>) and ‘class membership encoding’ (marked by <w>) for the active participles. For the passive voice, ORÉAL suggests a distinction between the stativere-sultative (marked by <j>) and the class membership encoding with passive orientation (with <w>). She further proposes an explanation for the syntactic distribution of the two forms (e.g., examining their uses in depictive phrases and secondary predications), which takes into account both morphological and semantic criteria. Regarding the gemination in the participles of verb roots with weak final radical, Oréal argues that it originates in definiteness marking and discusses definiteness in relation to property encoding and TAM readings. In a final section, the author sketches the implications of her iconoclastic proposal in the broader framework of the analysis of Earlier Egyptian morphology[39].

...........

  1. Coptic Noun Phrases by Egedi Barbara pg 117
  2. Plural Formation in Egyptian John Bryan Callender Journal of Near Eastern Studies Vol. 46, No. 1 (Jan., 1987), pp. 27-37
  3. ... By the Old Kingdom period there is no confusion between the masculine plural ending and the abstract ending which also ends in -w ... JOURNAL ARTICLE Plural Formation in Egyptian John Bryan Callender Journal of Near Eastern Studies Vol. 46, No. 1 (Jan., 1987), pp. 27-37
  4. Interchange of y>w
  5. Indirect evidence of the plural is on page 15 ... http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/propylaeumdok/1379/1/Quack_Gebrochene_Plurale_im_Aegyptischen_2007.pdf
  6. Whether this is incorrect or correct, indirect evidence of the plural is on page 15 ... http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/propylaeumdok/1379/1/Quack_Gebrochene_Plurale_im_Aegyptischen_2007.pdf
  7. https://books.google.com/books?id=SMzgBLT87MkC&pg=PA24&lpg=PA24&dq=dual+ending+in+afroasiatic+languages+the+semitic+language+an+international+handbook&source=bl&ots=t5HcX7OFqt&sig=7z3zrpzXoepzolCGoy0UgPqYhjU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjduvHE1OzWAhWHSSYKHfPIAXIQ6AEIRTAG#v=onepage&q=dual%20ending%20in%20afroasiatic%20languages%20the%20semitic%20language%20an%20international%20handbook&f=false ... pg 12
  8. Through Hermopolitan Lenses: Studies on the So-called book of Two Ways in Ancient Egypt by Wael Sherbiny pg 296
  9. http://www.mega.nu:8080/protolanguage/essay-sDm.f.htm
  10. https://books.google.com/books?id=SMzgBLT87MkC&pg=PA24&lpg=PA24&dq=dual+ending+in+afroasiatic+languages+the+semitic+language+an+international+handbook&source=bl&ots=t5HcX7OFqt&sig=7z3zrpzXoepzolCGoy0UgPqYhjU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjduvHE1OzWAhWHSSYKHfPIAXIQ6AEIRTAG#v=onepage&q=dual%20ending%20in%20afroasiatic%20languages%20the%20semitic%20language%20an%20international%20handbook&f=false .. pg 9
  11. Egyptian (Ancient); The Ancient Egyptian Language - An Historical Study pg 61
  12. CaCaCu is usually attested with transitive verbs...http://homepage.univie.ac.at/helmut.satzinger/Texte/Participles.pdf .... pg 471
  13. http://astro.cornell.edu/~mmhedman/translation/Hurrian_122608_2.pdf .. pg 32
  14. http://www.anelanguages.com/SumerianGrammarFoxvog.pdf
  15. http://wiki.verbix.com/uploads/Languages/OldNubian.pdf
  16. JOURNAL ARTICLE Plural Formation in Egyptian John Bryan Callender Journal of Near Eastern Studies Vol. 46, No. 1 (Jan., 1987), pp. 27-37
  17. An Historical Egyptian by James P. Allen pg 62
  18. http://aclweb.org/anthology/W15-4810
  19. Coptic noun phrases by Egedi Barbara pg 38
  20. Coptic noun phrases by Egedi Barbara pg 39
  21. Coptic noun phrases by Egedi Barbara pg 38
  22. The Semitic Languages: An International Handbook edited by Stefan Weninger pg 10.
  23. Ancient Egyptian: A Linguistic Introduction First Edition Edition by Antonio Loprieno pg 58
  24. JOURNAL ARTICLE Plural Formation in Egyptian John Bryan Callender Journal of Near Eastern Studies Vol. 46, No. 1 (Jan., 1987), pp. 27-37
  25. Coptic noun phrases by Egedi Barbara pg 36
  26. JOURNAL ARTICLE Plural Formation in Egyptian John Bryan Callender Journal of Near Eastern Studies Vol. 46, No. 1 (Jan., 1987), pp. 27-37
  27. An Historical Egyptian by James P. Allen pg 211
  28. Linguistic Introduction pg 59
  29. http://llacan.vjf.cnrs.fr/PDF/Publications/Senelle/SAMLanguages.pdf
  30. Antonio Loprieno gives a different set of rules for this word: In the word hf3w ~ 'ḥafRaw and generally in the a-stem, on the other hand, the presence of a semiconsonantal ending is supported not only by the orthographic frequency of <-w>, but also by the fact that the w-glide was eventually palatalized to j in the plural pattern, i.e. in an environment in which /w/ was intervocalic: haf'Ra:waw/ > haf'Ra:jv/, as suggested by the presence of the two spellings <hf3w> (the older form) and <hf3jj> (the recent form) and by the Coptic outcome ϨϤOⲨⲒ /hbuj/... a Linguistic introduction by Antonio Loprieno pg 62 ... To add as a note here, the second attached affix /aw/ in -awaw appears to be of a secondary feature stemming from the abstract marker -aw; and ϨϤOⲨⲒ can alternatively be pronounced 'həbawee'.
  31. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual_(grammatical_number)#Arabic
  32. https://books.google.com/books?id=duzh7t5wL7sC&pg=PA61&lpg=PA61&dq=Mehri+language+duals&source=bl&ots=8ACVZ1CN1U&sig=sM83zsUeB4ezkngS7QRQsNNeOBE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwio9veSko3XAhUGeSYKHXN9DEEQ6AEIRjAD#v=onepage&q=Mehri%20language%20duals&f=false
  33. An Historical Egyptian by James P. Allen pg 60
  34. http://www.mega.nu:8080/protolanguage/essay-sDm.f.htm
  35. There is also an alternate spelling of gannǐ(j).
  36. https://books.google.com/books?id=GQhPDgAAQBAJ&pg=PR7&lpg=PR7&dq=coping+with+obscurity+brown+workshop+early+egyptian+grammar&source=bl&ots=EAYv89Py1k&sig=BD-tyjZ6DzLBy8bqu9IQc9z0rxg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi-_JrLrsnVAhUINiYKHQGVBOoQ6AEIUTAI#v=onepage&q=coping%20with%20obscurity%20brown%20workshop%20early%20egyptian%20grammar&f=false ... pg 18
  37. Some words which follow this pattern: ϬⲢⲎϬⲈ - dowry [grgt - dowry; from the root grg (masc.) - equipment and from ϬⲰⲢϬCopt to prepare, provide]
    Alternative plural for months: ⲈϬⲎⲦ
  38. It is my opinion that a change in stress signaled a different participle class or phonological alterations.
  39. https://www.academia.edu/9278224/Forms_and_Functions_Studies_in_Ancient_Egyptian_Grammar