Pre-Late Egyptian Reconstruction/The Egyptian Hollow Verb

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The Egyptian Version of The Hollow Verb[edit | edit source]

Egyptian follows a similar pattern to sister Semitic languages in reference to roots with a medial j/y, w (and sometimes ɜ, ꜥ, t, r and w especially when turned into a j or w). The ability to alter the pronunciation appears to have been sporadically unpredictable and possibly optional in speech through the earlier phases of the Egyptian language (as is seen in the hieroglyphics), but it can also be explained as a shifted accented syllable in a majority of verbs whcih borrowed the shifted stressed word as a nominal unit- whereas, in Coptic there tends to be a renovated popular trend in the hollowed forms allowing the more ancient pronunciation only in a few words. This is comparable to English alternative spellings such as: archæology, encyclopædia, flavour, analyze for analyse, ect. and even better examples would be English words such as: ghost, thought, drought, debt, chorus, ect. The pronunciation may have been further contaminated by Greek influence and to an extent Arabic influence, in Coptic causing most, if not all reductions to be a diphthong in the current Coptic pronunciation, so for example: ⲤOⲈⲒⲦ - fame/report is currently pronounced soyt when it would have been most likely pronounced so-yət, same is true with Coptic infinitives: ⲤⲰⲚⲦ - so-nət and not sont). The only diphthongs which possibly did exist are at the end of a word if the final syllable was stressed [CvCai ~ ϨⲢⲀⲒ], which would technically be treated as vowel + a weak consonant combination, or those which are conformed within the typical syllable rules [CaiCv - ϨOⲈⲒⲦⲈ]. Here are some examples of a hollow verb at work:

Medial Weak
Meaning Notes Hollowed
Meaning Notes
rǎjas[1] awakening; watching rsyMEg rjsDem ⲢOⲈⲒⲤ ~ ⲢⲀⲈⲒⲤA2F ~ ⲢⲰⲒⲤB/ⲢⲰⲤB jā(j)
original: jāɜaj/jāꜥaj/jāɜ(aj) / jāꜥ(aj)
glory; praise (noun)
spleen (noun)
ⲤOⲈⲒⲦ - fame, report ~ ⲤⲀⲒⲀⲒⲦA ~ ⲤⲰⲒⲦB
ⲚOⲈⲒϢ - spleen
ϨOⲈⲒⲦⲈ - garment ~ ϨⲒⲦ- (const)
ⲦⲀⲈⲒⲘA. - to help (tym - to protect)
ⲤOⲈⲒϢ - 'par' of animals (syḫ)
OⲨOⲈⲒⲦ - pillar
ḥijǎmwa(t) women (pl fem noun) (Ⲥ)ϩⲒOⲘⲈ (pl)[3][4] (sat)ḥǐ(ja)ma(t)[5][6][7] woman (C)ϩⲒⲘⲈSAA2 ~ ϩⲒⲘS ~ ϩⲎⲘF
sǎwan recognizing; knowing ⲤOOⲨⲚ - to be acquainted with; knowing zā(war) drinking ⲤⲰcopt, ⲤOⲨS.A.A2, ⲤAⲨ (participle version)
original: mǎwat
dying; die ⲘOⲨ, ⲘAⲨT (qualitative)
  • Some more examples of medial-weak consonants:

... original medial-ɜ
wāḥ (original: wāɜaḥ) - ceasing [OYⲰ/OYⲰϩ]
tāš (original: tāɜaš) - fixing [TⲰϢ]
ḫāꜥ (original: ḫāɜaꜥ) - laying [KⲰ]
ḥāp (original: ḥāɜap) - hiding [ϩⲰπ]

... original medial-w:
d (original: rāwad - washing [PⲰTcopt]
jār (original: jāwar) - getting pregnant [ⲰⲰcopt]

  • In instances of a Coptic double vowel [unlike in the above examples] it appears a glottal stop from an original Ꜣ,y/j, ꜥ indirectly reappears in Coptic by usage of a renovated spelling[8]:

sǎjaf (sājf) - offending [SⲰⲰϤ - defiling, sfMEg]
qǎras - burying [KⲰⲰC/KⲰNC] = in this example r changed to j under the reorganization of pronunciation during the Late Kingdom.
šǎꜥad - cutting [ϢⲰⲰT] = here we have a case where the consonant ꜥ changed into a j.
hǎkar - arming [ϩⲰⲰK] - the Coptic version contains metathesis and a change from r = j.

  • These words have a long vowel in the first syllable, possibly omitting infinitival/nominal characteristics... another hypothesis is, during the Pre-Egyptian phase of the language, these verbs once had a true geminated medial consonant (duplicating from an original un-geminated stem) altering the meaning of the newly created verb thus culminating into a separate verb:

sāwan - knowing [CⲰOYNB., CAYNEA.A.] = this verb shows the various distinct vocalizations throughout all the Coptic dialects.
māwat - killing [MⲰOYT]

The root m-w-t has an interesting distribution:

m(w)t - to die mw.t - mother mw - water
mǎ/ā(w)(at) or māt[9] [MOYcoptMAYTs.a. copt]
original: mǎwat
shows 3 possibilities[10]:
* mǎ(j)wa(t) ~ mǎw [MAAYcopt MAYs.b. copt]
* mǐ(j)wi(t) ~ mǐw [MEEYa.f. copt MEOYf.p. copt]
* mā ~ mǎ [MOs. copt MOYa. copt]
Note: MHOYf. copt
mǎw or māw [MOOYs. copt MAYa.a.f. copt MAOYa. copt MωOYb. copt]

  • These group of verbs model after a ~ i with a change medial-ɜ ~ j and a vanishing of the entire ultimae-j/w ending which causes an abridged version of the -aj/-aw ending in the first syllable but the -t reemerges in Coptic pronominal forms:

hājME hījLE (original: hǎɜaw ~ hǎjaw ~ hāj/w) - falling [ϩEcopt hɜw/hɜjME]
wājME wījLE (original: wǎɜaw) - leaving [OYEcopt wɜw/wɜjME]
mājtME mījtLE(original: mǎr(a)jat ~ mājjat) - loving [MEcopt]

  1. Also note how a majority of the medial weak consonant words contain a short vowel rather than a long vowel which may show a gradual reduction to an eventual hollowed version, so for example: rājas ~ răjs.
  2. This form follows a qualitative imitation.. in Peust Carsten's book pg 236, states: ... Only when preceding the stressed vowel, < ꜥ > does not cause lengthening: w'b (w[V]'ab) "to be clean" > OⲨOⲠ /'wap/.
  3. Other instances of a similar peculiar medial [ Ⲓ ] (j/y) syllable appears in these words taken from footnotes in Peust Carsten's book Egyptian Phonology: An Introduction to the Phonology of a Dead Language pg 214 ... The few examples of (Ⲉ)Ⲓ(Ⲉ)Ⲓ in dialects other than Akhmimic do not denote a long vowel. E.g. S.ϨⲒⲈⲒⲦ "pit" < Demotic hyt < Egyptian ḥꜢd (since NK) is probably /'hjit/; S.ϪⲒⲈⲒⲢⲈ "rod" of uncertain etymology must be trisyllabic /ci'ira/ since there is a double vowel even in Bohairic: B.ϪⲒⲒⲢⲒ, variant writing B.ϪⲒⲚⲒⲢⲒ... Another example is: ϨⲒⲈⲒⲂ (hyib) - lamb.
  4. Another example of a medial < j > : ϪⲒOⲨⲈS.A.A2, ϬⲒOⲨⲒB. ~ tꜢw - steal
  5. This word is rather unique in it's construction in several ways. A medial-j is not shown in hieroglyphics other than a biliteral hieroglyphic sign which may represent medial-j/y. And at some point during the Old - Middle Kingdom the feminine word st - woman (from s = man) was attached as a prefix to ḥ(j)m.t once the feminine marker -at was dropped from pronunciation and - man = sǎt [sɛ] - woman had similar pronunciations.
  6. This word appears to have an interesting origin. Patrick C. Ryan gave a great hypothesis in his online studies in relation to the origin of some Egyptian hieroglyphic letters and hypothesized that the Egyptian word ḥ(j)m.t may have origins from the Sumerian/Akkadian word gimu (for *gêmû) - woman (the g sound being palatalized to an in front of the front vowel i immitating an Egyptian proximate sound to Sumerian gi, this type of palatalization is also hypothesized with other Egyptian words with Semitic origins)...
  7. The feminine noun 'row, course' shows two spellings in Coptic, ϢⲒⲘⲈ and ϢOⲈⲒⲘⲈ; comes from the root šym - row, other Egyptian words include šym.t - (masc) row (of corn magazines), or a corridor, passageway (into a sanctuary); šmmt - street, passage; šmt - road ~ all these words are derived form the verb šm - to walk, go ... from Coptic Etymology Dictionary...
  8. It is generally believed CωωCcopt renders CōʔCcopt (which equates to CǎʔCME = CāʔCME reduced in speech/colloquially... pg 396
  9. This form appears to be a perfect example of a Hollow verb.
  10. In most reference sources the word mother seemed to have a similar pronunciation of the infinitive of 'to die'= mǎwat - dying ~ mǎjwat [with a glide; this may show an original mǎwwat form] - mother. It also appears as if the entire feminine ending -at was not pronounced in most dialects ever since the Old Kingdom.