Pre-Late Egyptian Reconstruction/The Stative

From Wikiversity
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Egyptian Stative (and Coptic Qualitative) are probably the most understood, the most studied and the most researched out of all the Egyptian verbal forms. But before we can learn the forms, we must first see the special suffix pronouns which were used:

Stative Pronouns[1][edit]

Pronoun Notes Person
1st - I -ku 1st Pl - we #1 -uw^n ~ -nyu ~ -nū[2]
#2 -awnu (after a vowel)
~ -awin (secondary reduced form)[3]
-nw is indicated as being used once in OEg Pyramid texts
and is considered an innovaion which failed to be
integrated in the paradigm of the OEg Stative[4]
2nd masc. - you
2nd fem. - You
Both forms reduced to -at(a) 2nd Pl - you all -tunu There may have been vocalic metathesis:
Possible gender distinction especially in the old language:
-tanu / -tūnu (masc)
-tīnu (fem)
3rd masc - He
3rd fem - she
0 (null) / -a
Reduced to 0/null (masc)
Reduced to -at (fem)
3rd Pl (masc) - they
3rd Pl (fem)

The [-u] may have merged into [-w]
in proximity of vowels creating instabilities
thus culminating into a sort of (ir)regular pluralized form
  • An interesting feature with the Stative Pronouns, which can not yet be fully explained, is within the [k and t] pronouns, if a high vowel [-i sometimes -u] was used, which was thought to palatalize the [-t or -k], why not did the [-t and -k] pronouns show this progression?!?!
There are some sources, for example [6], which indicate instances of t being used instead in the 2FSG and 2PL forms. These observation may indicate that all of the [-t] pronouns eventually instead used the vowel [-a], with a possibility of [-u] in the 1st person pronoun all being dropped from pronunciation at an early period. This seems to be best explained analyzing the Old Egyptian stative pronouns because palatalization seemed to be at its prime during the Old Kingdom.

The Stative[edit]

Is based upon the Afro-Asiatic suffix conjugation which is specific to adjectival roots. The suffix conjugation appears as the conjugation of predicative nouns, in particular adjectives, as attested by Akkadian, Kabyle and Bedauye in particular [7].

The Coptic Qualitative originated from the Perfective form in Old Egyptian. In most verbs it has no special ending, being derived from the 3 masc sing of the Old Perfective that ended originally in the weak semi-consonant w, which was lost at an early period (in hieroglyphic texts it is more often omitted than written)[8]. Occasionally, however, the ending t is attached to the stem; ⲤⲘOⲚⲦ [established], ect. This ending, which is more often found in Bohairic, originated from the 3 fem sing of the Old Perfective -tj. In Coptic, not all verbs have a Qualitative form and It would appear that many verbs which have no Qual had also lost the power to form Construct and Pronominal forms.

According to Coptic, we are dealt with these vocalizations of an original Egyptian Stative Conjugation:

Verb Class Formula Example Notes
II Lit.[9] #1 masc CūC[10]
#2 fem. CǔCtV
#3 masc[11]
ⲂⲎⲖ - loosened / ⲔⲈϨ - accustomed
ⲈⲈⲦS.A.A2, ⲎⲎⲦSFF - conceived child
ⲦO / ⲦⲰ also ⲦⲈ(ⲒⲈ), ⲦⲈⲒⲦ / ⲦⲀⲒⲦ, ⲦOⲈⲒⲈ, ⲦOⲒ, participle: ⲦⲀⲒ- gave
eta-Ⲏ appears to be an Egyptian innovation used in 2-rad roots[12]
III Lit. #1 masc CǎCCV
#2 fem. CaCǐCtV or CaCǎCtV
#3 CǐCC or CǔCC
ⲠOⲢϢ - spread
ϨⲔⲀⲈⲒⲦ/ϨⲔOⲈⲒⲦS. - be hungry or ⲤⲘOⲚⲦ - established
ⲤⲀϨⲦ/ⲤⲎϬⲒB. - weaved / ⲢⲀϨⲈ - washed
III Inf. ϢOⲔⲈ - dug; dig
IV Lit. #1 masc CaCCāCV
#2 masc CaCCūCV[13]
#3 fem. CaCCǎCtv
ⲤⲖⲤⲰⲖ - comforted
ϪⲈⲖϨⲎⲤ - exhausted
IV Inf. #1 fem. CaCǎCtV[14] ⲤⲢOϤⲦ - to be at leisure
V Lit. #1 masc CVCaCCāCV
#2 fem. CaCVCCǎCtV
ⲤⲔⲈⲢⲔⲰⲢ - rolled
ⲦⲚⲦOⲚⲦ or ⲦⲚⲦⲰⲚⲦ - to become like
Irregulars CaCāCV[15][16]
ϢOⲨⲰOⲨS.A.A2B., ϢOⲨⲰOⲨⲈS. [17][18] - dried; be dried
ⲦOⲨⲎⲦ[19][20] - gathered; collected; united

According to research by Helmut Satzinger [and others], there appears to be a different vocalization pattern between the 1st and 2nd persons versus the 3rd person, which is also shown in Akkadian and to a lesser degree in Arabic and other Afro-Asiaitc languages[21]. This notation is also noted here:

Results of recent research show that there are two paradigms of the Egyptian stative, of which one has obviously a vowel between the stem and the ending, whereas the other has not[22]; the first is seemingly a true stative, with most transitive verbs having passive present perfect character, while the second is active with transitive verbs [23]:

  • satV´pku - I chose, have chosen
  • satpāku - I have / having been chosen[24]

And what of the 3rd person templatic patterns? Scholars are rather a bit divided on this part:

  • Some believe that we are dealing with an identical pattern to that of other Afro-Asiatic languages where, the Afro-Asiatic Suffix Conjugation is based upon suffixing pronominal affixes to the vocalization of the adjective: CaCuC, CaCiC or CaCaC, and the base of the verb proper (which would be the 3rd person) is the uniform verbal adjective CaCiC[25]
  • Others believe that we are dealing with a simple CaCaC form (taken from the infinitive) with deletions of the /a/ vowel when deemed necessary.[26]


  • So, the general vocalic reconstruction of the 1st and 2nd persons, termed the Stative-Base[27] would be:


With accented [-a] inserted between the pronoun and the stem but this accented [-a] apparently loses its original Afro-Asiatic grammatical marker (as was the case with many other Egyptian verb forms) and may have been omitted in certain verb types and/or specific phonological environments while the language progressed:

2nd Person Singular- CV C'VC tVj and CV Cā tVj (the evidence is inconclusive as to the situation of the third feminine plural[28]).

  • The general vocalic reconstruction of the 3rd person would be the uniformed adjectival (or infinitive) vocalizations: CaCiC, CaCuC and CaCaC - the 3rd person forms are without an accented [-a] between the stem and the pronoun.
  • II lit verbs in Coptic generally contain an eta-(Ⲏ). I have not been able to find very much information on why 2-lit verbs were spelled with an eta-(Ⲏ) or if this was also the case in Middle Egyptian- in my opinion, this form sticks out like a sore thumb.

All these Afro-Asiatic suffix conjugations have in common that they are stative, and are mostly used of verbs of quality[29][30]. In affect, because of the stative defining element of the verb type, it can be assumed this explains the limited vocalizations of the Coptic Qualitative versus the other forms.

The original Stative pronouns in Egyptian eventually grew unproductive and redundant by the time of Coptic and were dropped from the lexiconalized renovated forms.

Notes: Semitic Forms[edit]

The vocalic construction of the Stative is based upon Semitic root formations... I have included some notes below on the matter:

Verbal nouns[31] Two verbal adjectives may be reconstructed for Proto-Semitic:

  • an active participle of the form R1a:R3iR3 as in na:θ’ir- “guarding, who guards” (probably only for verbal roots ex-pressing actions)
  • and a perfective adjective of the form R1aR2VR3, the meaning of which depended on the lexical meaning of the root: passive for transitive verbs (naθ’ur), resultative for intransitive active verbs (waθib), and descriptive for stative verbs (ћadaθ);
naθ’ur - “guarded” (n-θ’-r “to guard”)
waθib - “having sat, seated” (w-θ-b “to sit, dwell”)
ћadaθ - “new” (ћ-d-θ “to be(come) new”)

The uninflected base of the verbal adjective could becombined with an enclitic nominative form of the person pronouns to create a verbless (and thus tenseless) predication;

naθ’ur-ta(:) “you (masc. sg.) are/were guarded”
waθib-nu(:) “we are/were seated”
ћadaθ-at “it (fem.) is/was new

This construction is also attested in the oldest dialects of ancient Egyptian. In West Semitic the construction evolved in nonstative roots into an active, perfective verb, which began to replace the inherited form yaR1R2VR3; the development entailed a change of vocalism between the second and third radicals, to /a/; naθ’arta(:) “you (have) guarded,”, waθabnu(:) “we (have) sat.

It is likely that more than one pattern was used for the infinitive,including R1aR2a:R3 and R1iR2R3 as in naθ’a:r - and niθ’r - “to guard, the guarding.

.... ..... .....

  2. pg 41
  3. ... pg 32
  4. Egyptian-Coptic Linguistics in Typological Perspective b Sebastian Richter pg 401
  5. Das Ägyptische Pseudopartizip Ein Subjektsprädikativ by Thomas Werner Schipper pg 7
  6. ....... pg 41
  8. Interestingly, in Arabic, the masculine ending was |-a| ~ fa‛al-a, and in Akkadian the ending was dropped ~ paris but sometimes utilized an \-a\; in Akkadian the formula seems to be identical to the Egyptian and Arabic adjectival vocalic construction and in Hebrew [qātal] and Aramaic [kətab] the masculine ending is also dropped but the vocalization is similar throughout all the conjugations.
  9. Which are mostly 3-lit. verbs originally carrying a consonant which was later dropped in common pronunciation in Coptic - there are a few exceptions.
  10. Including many that were originally 3 rad.
  11. For irregular verb dj - to give
  12. Used to distinguish between other forms which all had original /a/ vowels, there is a strong possibility that an |a| was used with accompanying pronoun instead, i.e.,kǎ/āma - blackened, and then when the pronouns were no longer attached, a new spelling came into its place... there is some evidence of this antiquated original /a/ vowel in some roots in the stative in Coptic (ⲦO, ⲘOOⲨⲦ)
  13. Only one Coptic Stative is known in this form.
  14. Again as a result of the syncopation of two final syllables: CvCv'Cvjtv > CvCv'Ctv; here the final weak vowel disappeared but no lengthening of the accented vowel was necessary as it came to stand in a closed syllable.
  15. According to this article: pg 27, this form is regarded as 4-inf.
  16. Syncopation of two final syllables led to disappearance of final weak radical and lengthening of the vowel of the open accented syllable: CaCv'Cvjv > CaCv'Cvj > CaCv'Cv.
  17. Note the infinitive forms which technically follow the structure of IV inf verbs: ϢOOⲨⲈS., ϢⲀ(O)ⲨⲈSF, ϢⲈ(O)ⲨⲈSFA
  18. In Middle Egyptian we have a spelling of [Sw - be dry] and a Late Egyptian noun version spelling [Swyt - dry place] which is technically a feminine word but is regarded as a masculine noun in Coptic.
  19. Is regarded as a 4-inf. verb with syncopation pg 28.
  20. In Middle Egyptian we have [twt - gather; be gathered] and a Demotic [twtw - collect, gather; be gathered] - one would think the later Demotic and eventual Coptic adaptation of reduplicating the stem would have been to differentiate between Middle Egyptian [twt - image; statue] but it appears that Middle Egyptian [twt - image; statue] also had an eventual reduplicating stem in Demotic [twtw - statue] ~ ⲦOⲨⲰⲦ - idol.
  21. pg 24.
  22. To be noted, in Semitic languages this |-a| is only inserted between the 1st and 2nd persons.
  23. SEMITIC SUFFIX CONJUGATION AND EGYPTIAN STATIVE A hypothetic morpho-syntactic scenario of its origin Helmut SATZINGER 5.
  24. This reconstruction appears to follow the Suffix Conjugation Shift III stress pattern.
  25. pg 24.
  26. file:///media/removable/ESD-USB/Laptop%20Files/Egyptian/Das_Agyptische_Pseudopartizip_Ein_Subjek.pdf
  27. ... The Origin and Development of Nonconcatenative Morphology by Andrew Kingsbury Simpson pg 41.
  28. pg 27.
  29. SEMITIC SUFFIX CONJUGATION AND EGYPTIAN STATIVE A hypothetic morpho-syntactic scenario of its origin Helmut SATZINGER 11.
  30. we do not find in the Cushitic and Berber forms an insertion of -a- before the personal endings of the 1st and 2nd persons, as in the Akkadian stative, and seemingly also in that variant of the Egyptian stative that is used for a similar type of verbs... Pg 11 of same article.
  31. ... pg 152