Pre-Late Egyptian Reconstruction/What happened to the vowel (u) in early Egyptian?

From Wikiversity
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Monophthongization[edit | edit source]

Monophthongization is is a sound change by which a diphthong becomes a monophthong (a pure vowel sound, one whose articulation at both beginning and end is relatively fixed, and which does not glide up or down towards a new position of articulation). Monophthongization is a type of vowel shift that occurred in Ancient Egyptian at an intermediate stage of her history (probably between 2000 - 700BC according to Egyptian script and orthography).

It it important to note that in Coptic script, prior Egyptian hieroglyphic monophthongization was written by utilizing the vowel < Ⲏ > and to a lesser degree < Ⲉ > which are both indisputably related in Greek and Coptic. < Ⲏ >, and to a lesser degree the < Ⲉ > variation, in this sense, can easily be associated with the bivalent use of < Ꜣ >.

  • This vowel shift majorly appeared to affect the following hieroglyphic letter combinations in a syllable:
CV + Ꜣ ... Ꜣ + VC
CV + ꜥ ... ꜥ + VC
Some examples include:
ⲦⲎ, ⲦⲎⲒ (dɜt, dwɜtDem) - underworld
ⲠⲎⲢⲈ (pɜrtME, pꜥrt) - quail, appears to be some kind of loan word
ⲘⲎ, ⲘⲎⲈ, ⲘⲎⲒ, ⲘⲈ, ⲘⲈⲈ (mɜꜥ.t) - fem. truth; justice
ⲢⲎSBO, ⲢⲈFO, Ⲣ(Ⲉ)ⲒA, ⲢⲈ (rꜥ) - sun
  • The following types of syllables sometimes monophthongized:
CV + w
CV + r
CV + t
Some examples include:
ⲈⲦⲎϢⲒ, ⲈⲦⲈϢⲒ (dšr.t) - crane; mildew
ⲘⲎⲎⲢⲈ, ⲘⲈⲈⲢⲈ, ⲘⲈⲢⲈ (mtr) - midday

The full a-Vowel syllable vocalization, dropping the weak consonants /Ꜣ/ and /ꜥ/, was also spelled out almost in its entirety in other words:

ⲢO (rɜ) - goose; mouth (mouth also has a ⲢⲀS variation and ⲢⲈ-, ⲢⲰ= )
ⲘOⲢⲦ / ⲘⲀⲢⲦ - beard [1]

I would argue that the choice to use monophthongization was always optional in earlier stages of the language depending on the position of the word in a sentence or compound word, but the word was ultimately fossilized due to prevalence by the time of Coptic spelling and orthography.

Double Monophthongization[edit | edit source]

I would also add that some Coptic words are spelled with two syllabic monophthongized reductions. For example, ⲘⲎⲒ ~ ⲘⲎ + Ⲓ = = măɜ + ꜥat.

The Sound of the UrVocal[edit | edit source]

Some Egyptian specialists opine that < Ⲏ > reverts back to an original < u > sound based upon Cuneiform renditions and relationships to other Semitic languages. Though as I will show below, 2 of these Cuneiform words follow the same monophthongized pattern shown above, and as for the other examples cited below, there are other reasons why Cuneiform spelled it with "u":

  • mu-(w)a - mɜꜥ.t - truth (ⲘⲎ, ⲘⲎⲈ, ⲘⲎⲒ, ⲘⲈ, ⲘⲈⲈ, Greek: Μα-)
  • ḫu-ú / ḫe-e - ḥɜ.t - front, beginning (ϩⲏ, Greek: -η-)
  • muțu - the number 10 (ⲘⲎⲦ)

The following Cuneiform words spelled with "u" are actually "o (~ u)". The reason being is Cuneiform did not have a letter to represent "o":

  • bu-u - bɜ.t - tree (ⲂⲰ, ⲂOⲨ)
  • bu-(uk) - bɜk -servant (ⲂⲰⲔ Greek: Βωκ, Βοκ-)
  • ku-’-iḫ-ku - kɜ-ḥr-kɜ
  • pi-ir-'-u - pr-ꜥɜ - pharaoh (ⲡ-ⲣ̄ⲣⲟ ?) (Φαραώ < ΦⲀⲢⲀϨⲰ < ΦⲀⲢⲀⲰ)
  • nikū - n-kɜ.w - bulls (ⲔO ?, Greek: Κο-, Χο-, -κω-, -χω-)

I would argue that in the examples of the first two Cuneiform words above, the /u/ vowel was a monopthongized vowel:

a centralized vowel /ɜ ~ ə ~ ɘ/
or some kind of intermediate vowel /ɛ ~ e̞/

This sound coincides with the old pronunciation of Coptic < Ⲏ > and it's relationship to the old pronunciation of Koine Greek. It is documented that Kione Greek < Ⲏ > was possibly enunciated in the 4th century BC as / η, ῃ, (οι) ~ eː / and as / e̝ / in mid 2nd century BC Egyptian-Greek due to Egyptian pronunciation influence. The Greek letter < η > was the closest sound to the Egyptian monophthongized vowel that is rendered in Cuneiform as /u/ in some words. I would thus opine, that in Middle-Late Egyptian, the monophthongized vowel was similar to an urvocal (a vowel sound into which our English vowels tend to lapse, as in the words, about, assert, bird, oven, but, double) and in Coptic the urvocal vowel was further fronted to /eː/ ultimately turning into an /iː/ in many words.

Bivalency of Coptic < Ⲏ >[edit | edit source]

There is another apparent use of Coptic < Ⲏ >, which I would assume, takes the place of a prior unstressed syllable which then became a stressed syllable in Coptic orthography. This can clearly be seen in Greek renditions of Egyptian words:

  • nb(.t) - lord is mostly rendered as -νεβ-, -νοβ- in Greek within an Egyptian compound word but when it is followed by the suffix pronoun, it can be rendered as -νηφ- ...[2]

As well as some Cuneiform examples:

  • muțu - the number 10 (ⲘⲎⲦ)

And the above example can indirectly explain the mysterious < Ⲏ > vowel in 2-lit Qualitative Coptic verbs:

ⲔⲎⲘQualitative - ⲔⲘOⲘInfinitive

This is because in Late Egyptian/Demotic, qualitative verbs possibly used a stressed final or penultimate syllable:

... Some of the qualitative forms in Demotic retained these endings, but by the Ptolemaic period they no longer necessarily agreed with the subject. With most verbs showing endings, the qualitative form consistently used one ending, without reference to the subject. Thus, the ending was simply marking the form as a qualitative. The three common endings on the qualitative are .k (< .kwj), .w and .t ...[3]

In this sense, we were probably dealing with an original urvocal vowel, kəmăk(ə) / kəmkə, which then became a stressed vowel in Coptic rendered by < Ⲏ > while omitting the original Stative pronoun: ⲔⲎⲘ(έⲔ) / ⲔⲎⲘ(άⲔ). In the case of 3-lit qualitatives, there were no reduced vowels in the stressed syllable so the original vowel most likely was left in tact even without the Stative Pronoun: ⲠÓⲢϢ(ⲈⲔ) - spread. These spellings show just how Coptic words were fossilized from earlier forms.

The Old Bahairic "a" sound of Coptic < Ⲏ >[edit | edit source]

Another interesting topic to take into consideration and further discuss is the trivalent pronunciation of Coptic < Ⲏ >. The "a" sound of < Ⲏ > can best be detailed if one takes into consideration the monophthongized urvocal vowel. This is because this vowel was unstable, originally falling under a fronted and/or centralized vowel by the time of the Late Kingdom and then finally merging into /e:/. At this point two theories may have caused a lowering of the monopthongized urvocal vowel in (Late-)Coptic:

  1. The first and primary reason for a lowering of < Ⲏ > may have to do with the a-Vowel Theory, where during the time of writing hieroglyphics it may have been believed that a single syllable had an accompanying "a" vowel. This belief system was obviously passed indirectly through into the oral tradition of Coptic Egyptians.
  2. Second reason may have to do with a mixture and comparison between the coarticulation and mid-lowering of the "a" vowel where labials and velars following an < Ⲏ > were pronounced /æ/ and ultimately /i/ due to influences of Greek and eventual Arabic, along with the a-Vowel Theory, which seemed to be so strongly embedded into the history of the language that the "a" sound, in particular with < Ⲏ >, continued to be pronounced as such. Although, it is worth noting, that this ultimately occurred with the Coptic vowels: Ⲱ, O, and Ⲉ as well ... but mostly DID NOT occur with Ⲓ and OⲨ, specifically when these two vowels were also used as consonants and were distinct:
  • ⲔⲎⲘⲈ ~ ⲔⲀⲘⲈ - Egypt
  • ϢⲘⲎⲚ ~ ϢⲘⲈⲚ ~ ϢⲘⲀⲚ - eight (8)
  • TⲈⲂⲒ ~ TⲀⲂⲒ - fifty (50)
  • ⲒOⲨⲤTOⲤ ~ ⲒOⲨⲤTⲀⲤ - a man's name

Note: When < Ⲓ > is used as a "pure" vowel in Coptic words, for example ⲢⲒⲚ - name or ϨⲒ - prep. on, it is in a fossilized reduced form and is also shown with alternative < Ⲉ > especially in dialects: ⲢⲈⲚ - name. This not only further eludes to a reduced/abridged form, but also may indicate the full effect of an older urvocal vowel which has been completely fronted into /i/ by the time of Coptic, under specific phonetic environments, i.e.:

  • /ɛ ~ e̞ / ə ~ e ~ ɪ = i/ next to labials, liquids, pharyngeal, glottolic and sometimes velars:
ⲢⲒⲚ - name
ϨⲒⲚ - vessel
ⲢⲒⲢ - pig

And What About The "u" Vowel in Egyptian?[edit | edit source]

Egyptian did have the vowel "u", a majority of the time we can also see it indicated in the hieroglyphics:

ḥr.w - ϨOOⲨ - day
Mw.t - μουτ- the deity Mut
Mw.t - Death - Greek: -μου- Coptic: ⲙⲟⲩ -

Cases where it was not indicated in the hieroglyphics had to do with the backing and fronting of the "a" vowel: a ~ o ~ u due to phonetic environments:

nfr - ⲚOYϤⲢ - to be good

There were, however, even more numerous instances where hieroglyphic "w" indicated a consonant rather than a vowel:

twt - ⲦOⲨⲰⲦ - idol
mw(w)t - MⲰOYT - killing

Dialects can further complicate the original vocalization of Egyptian roots consisting "w":

mw.t - mother = ⲘⲀⲀⲨS, ⲘⲀⲨS.B., ⲘOⲨSa, ⲘⲈⲈⲨF, ⲘⲈOⲨF.O ... the Coptic variants falsely "appear" to suggest some sort of additional vocalic element that is not shown in the hieroglyphics; scholars are mostly in unison when pointing to a glottal stop being used in the root: m'w.t = mǎ'-wat... there are some issues that arise, in my opinion:
* for one, some dialects do not show the affects of a glottal stop whatsoever in the word: ⲘⲀⲨ, ⲘOⲨ, ⲘO and ⲘⲰ, these forms fit within the scope of the hieroglyphic spelling.
* other dialects spell the word as if there was a glottal stop, better termed monophthongization from an unknown hieroglyphic phoneme, in the root BUT the spelling does not match the normal pattern for double monopthongization, i.e., Mȝʿ.t = ⲘⲎ(Ⲓ). So. I would suggest that these dialects, instead, utilized a reduced/abridged version of the original word originally used in an unstressed position: ⲘⲈOⲨ, ⲘⲈⲈⲨ and ⲘⲎOⲨ.
mwt - die = ⲘOⲨ
mw - water = ⲘOOⲨS, ⲘⲰOⲨB, ⲘⲀOⲨA.F

In other instances, we are dealing with both "w" and "u" variations, which I can undoubtedly say come from accent shifts:

  • As noted by Sonja Dahlgren, who is not sure that the distinction between vocalic and consonantic is anything but a phonetic 'accident'. Depuydt himself believes this to be a simple result of speech rhythm, < ou > being pronounced as /w/ in rapid speech and as /u/ in slower articulation. Furthermore, Depuydt shows examples of this ‘sonantic/consonantic’ variation between two forms of the same verb, ⲤⲀϨOⲨ (sahou) 'curse' in absolute state (sonantic), and ⲤϨOⲨⲰⲢ (shouōr) ('curse' in status pronominalis). There are other examples, but in all of them the same pattern actualises, it seems to follow the same rules in Coptic as in nonstandard renderings of Greek, be it Greek texts or Greek loanwords in Coptic.
  • I'd like to add, what can complicate things, as could be seen with mw.t - mother, is that some words were fossilized either with a vocalic "u" or consonantal "w" and meanings can change depending on which fossilized form was used in Coptic- this may not have been the case in the older language where distinction may have been contingent on context clues.

There are cases of /i/, albeit not as abundant as /u/:

  • uși (i-și-ia-e is also attested) - wdɜ - to be whole (ⲞⲨϪⲀⲒ, ⲞⲨϪⲎⲒ, ⲞⲨϪⲒⲈⲒ)
  • si-įa - sɜ - son (ⲤⲒ-)
  • biš-ti - bɜst.t - the deity Bastet (OⲨⲂⲀⲤⲦⲈ)... ꜣbst is also attested in Late Egyptian

And even less cases of /a/:

  • sa - tɜ(y) - to take (ϪⲒ(ⲈⲒ))
  • sa-a-a - zꜢw - (probably to be interpreted [sajɘ] or similarly (ⲤⲀ(Ⲓ)) - a town (Sais)

Interestingly, pɜ - demonstrative article, renders in cuneiform: pi, pu, pa, with pu being used more often than pi or pa. This could have a lot to do with coarticulation within the word, this could also be visible in Hebrew words utilizing < pɜ > as well.
Also interchange with "u" is also seen in cuneiform renditions of Egyptian words: pu-țu-paiti (pu-țu-pa-i-ti, pu-du-pi-ia-ti) - pɜ-dy ___ - the gift of ____

And there are instances of a random /u/ in other words which can be explained by other possibilities:

  • su-si-in-qu - (Egyptian ššnq, Tamazight : ⵛⵉⵛⵓⵏⵇ cicunq) - the king Shishank (appears to have coarticulation in the first syllable; this sort of pronunciation is popular with stressed syllables beginning with /š/ adjacent to palatals or weak radicals in the hieroglyphics, take for example: šu-ta - štḫ - Set or ϢⲒⲢⲈ - small - šr(j) vs ϢⲰⲦⲈ - šdt - pit, but the coarticulation wasn't exclusive as the original vowel should be /ɑ/ even in these words, for example: ϢOOⲨⲈ ~ ϢⲀⲨⲈⲒⲈ - šw - become dry) ...
Texts written in various ancient languages seem to indicate that the first vowel was both long and round, and the final vowel was short. For example, the name is written in the Hebrew Bible as שישק [ʃiːʃaq]. The variant readings in Hebrew, which are due to confusion between the letters < י > Yod and < ו > Vav that are particularly common in the Masoretic Text, indicate that the first vowel was long in pronunciation. The Septuagint uses Σουσακιμ [susakim], derived from the marginal reading שושק [ʃuːʃaq] of Hebrew. This indicates during the 2nd century BC Hebrew-speakers or Alexandrian Greek-speakers pronounced the name with an initial long close back rounded vowel [u].[4]
  • mu-țu - mdw - ten (follows a 2-rad stative construction) (ⲘⲎⲦ(Ⲉ)) - this word, from my knowledge, has not been found phonetically in the hieroglyphics but Gábor Takács[5] mentions the root md adopted from an Afroasiatic stem mg with the meanings: many, full, heavy, strong (?). According to the Coptic ⲘⲎⲦ (ten) it adopts a stative construction possibly by analogy or grammatical leveling.
  • ḫu-ru - ḫr - Syrian, comes from ḫɜl(y)[6] - Syrian (slave), ḫl - is then used for the word 'slave' in Demotic (ϨⲀⲖ, ϨⲈⲖ) ... the Egyptian name appears to be a corruption of one of these terms: the 8th century BC Luwian term Sura/i - Syria (which several sources indicate the word Syria comes from this word), and the derivative ancient Greek name: Σύριοι, Sýrioi, or Σύροι, Sýroi, both of which originally derived from Aššūrāyu (Assyria) in northern Mesopotamia. Interestingly, Assyria is shown as jss(w)r in the hieroglyphics with a "w", the Late Egyptian and Coptic adaptations not only appear highly corrupted and phonologically macerated but it could be an abbreviated form.
  • ḫu-ru - is also used for the Late Kingdom version of ḥr.w - Horus ... here it is believed that cuneiform /u/ = Coptic /o/ ... the same can be indirectly said of some of the first examples given (bɜk -servant, pr-ꜥɜ - pharaoh, n-kɜ.w - bulls) ... either way /u/ = /o/ are back vowels showing the progression into Coptic from an original /ɑ/ sound.
  • ḫu-ru / ḫur-(r)i - ḫpr(w) - transformation - (as a Coptic verb: ϢⲰⲠⲈ - to befall; to become) - is perceived as the singular version, whereas aḫ-bir- ḫpr(w).w (ϢⲠⲎⲢⲈ) - "transformations" is the plural.
According to the hieroglyphs 𓅱 and 𓏲 are generally written before the determinative, and 𓏥 is written after the determinative. It is my opinion, that in the case of ḫpr(w) we're probably dealing with an eventual reduction into ḫə(ʔ ~ b)-rʌʌ instead of the general ḫap-raw that was possibly deemed the standard, coincidentally this is most likely what is indirectly shown in the spelling of the word in the hieroglyphics with the bilateral graphical sign + 𓂋𓅱. And the plural shows the form in pluralic metathesis: ḫa-pewr (according to Osing and Antonio Loprieno). The verb form was reduced to: ḫa-pe which must have sounded similar to the nominal plural, this paradigm appears to have been similar for nfr - ⲚOⲨϤⲢ (verb) - ⲚOⲨϤⲢⲈ (nominal fem) / ⲚOⲨϤⲈ (nominal masc).
  • mu-(w)a - mɜꜥ.t - truth ((Ⲁ)ⲘⲎ(Ⲓ), ⲀⲘⲒⲈ, ⲘⲈ(Ⲉ), ⲘⲈⲈⲒ, ⲘⲈⲒ, ⲘⲎ(Ⲓ), ⲘⲎⲈ) - is an interesting vocalization to analyze for a few reasons,
In unstressed position in Greek renditions of Egyptian names, mɜꜥ.t is rendered as < -μα >, i.e., Ούσιμαρής (wsr-mɜꜥ.t-rꜥ), Λαμαρής (nj-mɜꜥ.t-rꜥ) but in cuneiform unstressed mɜꜥ.t is rendered as: -mu-(w)a, i.e., Ni-ib-mu-wa-ri-ia (nb-mɜꜥ.t-rꜥ).
In Hebrew, the name מַעֲכָה (Maakah), is hypothesized to be taken from the Egyptian name: mꜢꜤ.t-kꜢ-rꜤ, which was a popular name for females in the New Kingdom.
The Egyptian word mr - bull[7] and m3'w - fair wind[8], are hypothesized to have identical vocalizations with mꜢꜤ.t within the Ptolemaic Era. I would also add that, mr(r)j - to love and m3(3) - to see, should also be expected to fall under this vocalization. Interestingly, mꜢj - lion (ⲘOⲨⲒ) and mꜢw - new (ⲘOⲨⲒ) did not monophthongize.
With this being said, scholars are divided by how mꜢꜤ.t should have been vocalized with some rendering: mǎꜢ-Ꜥat, and others mǔꜢ-Ꜥat. I would also argue that we are dealing with the word mꜢꜤ.t being used in an unstressed position in Cuneiform and Greek, whereas in the hypothesized Hebraic name מַעֲכָה (Maakah) we could be dealing more with a stressed initial syllable since Biblical names of foreign origin typically did not include the name of pagan deities in a name, in this case being the Egyptian deity Ra which would have had ultimate stress in the Egyptian name.

Some words follow their Coptic equivalents in cuneiform and are usually regarded as having original /u/ (here we see the final vowel shift used in Coptic reflected in cuneiform):

  • ḫi-e - ḥɜ.t - front (ϨⲎ)
  • ēšu - jws.t / ɜs.t / js.t - Isis (ⲎⲤⲈ)

In conclusion, in reference to the cuneiform renditions, it appears that we are dealing with how Akkadians heard Egyptian words and wasn't at all regular. The Akkadians also, most likely, naturally followed vocalic patterns that they were accustomed to hearing in their own language and adjusted the way Egyptian words may have been pronounced. For example, "u" was generously used versus in Egyptian: purkullu - stone cutter, kasulatḫu - a device of copper, uriḫullu conventional penalty, ect... And in Egyptian group writing "u" was most always shown in writing, if it was how Egyptians heard the word left unchanged, in contrast whereas Egyptian words did not appear to favor the "u" sound.

What about other languages?[edit | edit source]

Some other Languages have Egyptian loan words which can give us a clue on the vowels.

Hebrew[edit | edit source]

Here's some Hebrew loanwords which exposes Egyptian's vocalic nature (once again with very little in reference to the vowel /u/ unless it is in lieu of hieroglyphic /w/), there's also an importance with syllable structure as Hebrew (unlike cuneiform) paints a better picture in terms of how the words may have appeared[9]:

  • סוּף (sup) - twf - reed, plant (fresh water reed, sea-weed)
  • buṣ - Phoen. b(w)ṣ - byssus, linen. The origin of the word has excited a considerable amount of commentary; one faction would consider it Indo-European, the other Egyptian. These two renditions of the word are proposed in Egyptian pꜢ-wꜢd, wꜢd.t- a green material for clothing (green linen), the /u/ sound in the Hebrew loan word is equated to an Egyptian: p-wōș (pꜢ-wꜢd). The root bdꜢ - "stiff (linen) rolls" is also proposed coincidentally this is a very rare Egyptian root.[10]
  • נֹא (noʔ) (cuneiform: ni-u, ni-i; nu ... MnoteMeroitic - jmn-njwtj - Amon of the city Thebes) - njw.t, nw.t - city ... generally theoretically vocalized as naawa(a).t presuming a connection with Hebr. naa'aa, naawaa[11]- a name of a city in the bible, as well as having possible effinities with the etymological Hebraic word נוית / נוות (na-yot or Navot), which is thus in connection with the Hebaric root: נוה (na-wah) which has to do with abodes and "being in one"[12]
There's another attested form in later Egyptian which uses metathesis: (cuneiform: a-na) - j(w)n.w - Heliopolis (city) (ⲰⲚ) ... and yet another attested form: n'.t - ⲚⲎ[13]
It is noted in this article[14], that in Coptic njw.t gave the spelling of ⲚⲈ as well as the possesive article nɜj(.w), it is also noteworthy that in some late Demotic papyri njw.t is often written as njɜ/nɜj, a word that usually means "time", Coptic ⲚⲈⲒ
  • ṣiy - dꜢy - boat
  • ףק (ko̞p) - g'fOEg (g'f.t), gwfMEg, gꜢfDynasty 19, gjf, gf - a small monkey ... Sahidic Coptic: ϬⲀⲠⲒ - ape ~ Greco-Egyptian: Πέκοιφις / Κοῖφις / Κοίφιος are (erroneously) cited as: Ns-pȝ-kf (?), though, the author, so far, suggests an overall unknown meaning for this name[15] due to an "i" appearing within the word- though I would add, that this Greco-Egypto spelling appears to follow the Middle Egyptian spelling precisely.
  • dʒä-bi-yaʔ - qbḥw - cup, candle holder
  • hanikim or hanika(y)w (ḫa-na-ku-u-ka in cuneiform) - ḥnk.w - armed retainers
  • rə-yo̞ (there is also a graphic error transcribed as də-yo̞) - ry.t - ink
  • hiyn - hnw - hin-measure
  • biym - Ꜣbw - ivory (in the Hebrew plural word: pl. shenhabbim, probably corrupt for shen (we)habnim - tusks of elephants, but it is be noted that the word for "elephant" is not contained in shenhabbim, it occurs nowhere in the Hebrew Bible) ... there are numerous sources that say the word ivory comes from Coptic ebu but I am unable to find a copy of the original source of the Coptic word... The Hebrew word has also been noted to coming from hbny - ebony
Χνομώ [N]εβιήβ / Χνουβώ Nεβιήβ - ḫnmw ʕꜣ nb ꜣbw - Hnum the great lord of Elephantine ... Sahidic Coptic: (Ⲉ)ⲒⲎⲂ - Elephantine
  • ba-hat̪ - bht, jbhty - Nubian stone
  • ho-be-niym or hob-nim - hbn, hbny - African blackwood (ebony)
  • ze-ret - dr.t - hand-span
  • ha-rə-tom or ḥar-tom (the original Hebrew word is only found in the plural: ḥarțummim) - ḥr(y)-tp - magician; a learned magician of the Egyptian court ... there are scholars who have doubted the Egyptian root etymology instead proposing a Semitic origin: ḥrț - the nasalizing ones (Arabic ḫațm, ḫurtŭm)... ḫarṭibi (n.) “(Egyptian) diviner”[16]
  • hi-roy - ḥr.t - cake
  • te-neʔ - dnj.t - produce basket
  • me-shiy - msy - fine garment
  • ye-ʔ-ro - jrw, jtrw - Nile river
  • da-ba-ʔat - db'.t - seal, ring
  • na-ha - nḫt - strength, power
  • ne-ter - ntrj, ntrj - natron
  • ke-set - gstj - scribal palette, a scribe's vessel, ink vessel
  • ka-lla-hat - qrh.t - cooking pot, kettle
  • ʔax-la-mah - ḫnm.t - red jasper (the name of a precious stone)
  • ʔa-bə-ne-te - bndw - sash, wrap
  • le-shem - nšm.t - feldspar, amazonite
  • shi-ttah - šnd.t, šnd.t, šnt.t, šnd.t - acacia wood
  • ʔa-rah - 'r - reed plant
  • ʔax - 'ḫ - brazier (for heating a room)
  • ʔa-xû - 'Ꜣḫw, 'Ꜣḫj - reed plant; grass, reed, as food for cattle
  • pe-ʔer - pry, pyr - headwrap
  • pah - pḫꜢ - trap
  • bad - bdꜢ - pole
  • bad - bdꜢ - linen
  • dʒo-me̞ʔ - gmꜢ, gmy - reed, plant
  • shes - šs - Egyptian alabaster
  • shesh - šs - Egyptian linen
  • kav - qb, qby - qab-measure
  • pi-ta-dah - pꜢ-dd - peridot
  • pa-rəʔ-oh - pr-Ꜣ' - pharaoh
  • ki-ya-ka-yôn - kꜢkꜢ, kyky - castor oil
  • she-kiyt - skty - ship
  • ke-liy - qr, qwr / kr, kwr, krr - ship
  • tu-kiy - tꜢ-ky.t - African ape
  • ʔə-pah - jp.t - ephah -measure
  • ʔe-byon - Ꜣbyn - poor, wretched, needy (a few Coptic words also follow this syllabic structure: ⲈⲂⲒⲀⲒⲔ / ⲂⲰⲔ - bꜢk - servant, ⲈⲦⲎϢⲒ / ⲈⲦⲈϢⲒ - dšr.t - crane, (Ⲥ)ϩⲒOⲘⲈ - ḥjm.wt - women, ϨⲒⲈⲒⲦ - ḥꜢdNK, hytDem - pit, ⲈⲚⲦⲎⲢ - ntr.w - gods, ect ...)

A few words from Hebrew and other sources posit an original Egyptian /u/ vowel:

  • נֹפֶךְ (mo̞-fe̞k) - mfkꜢ.tOEg (mfꜢk.t is also attested eventually turning into: fkꜢ.tPT, fꜢk.tMEg) - turquoise... initial m- presumably appears to be a prefix as m + f are incompatible in Egyptian[17]. I also it find interesting that the < Ꜣ > appears to disappear in many renditions or it is re-situated within the word which may have hinted at the stress vowel, but in Hebrew it appears that the first syllable is stressed. There are also two different vocalic structures proposed one with /u/ and one with /a/. This is the progression from Old Egyptian to New Egyptian:
əmfakɜetOEg - əmfaɜketMEg - əmfāk(ə)/əmfakNK - (the stressed syllable is /fak/ with some scholars positing /fuk/, the initial syllable can also seen as: me-fak(-a-)ɜat) ... I would also add that there must have been some sort of coarticulation here in this word where Egyptians may have pronounced the word similar to: (ə)m-fik-ɜət following the typical pattern of 4 radical roots: CaC-CaC + a prefix = Ca-CaC-CaC, which was probably entirely reduced in an irregular manner.
  • ʔe-tûn - 'dj/jdmj - fine linen (red linen) ... in this word 'ədāme is what is generally suggested which then turns into 'ədōme and then 'ədūme

Meroitic[edit | edit source]

Isis (jwst, jst or ꜣst; ⲎⲤⲈCopt, ἸσιςGreek, ešuCuneiform) - wos(i) (wus(i)), wes(i) or wis
Osiris (wsjr, or ꜣsjr, jsjrj; OⲨⲤⲒⲢⲒCopt, ὌσιριςGreek with one indication of Υσιρις in Greek) - osori (usuri), asori (asuri), (a)soreyi ((a)sureyi)

Other Languages[edit | edit source]

Wine (jrp, ⲎⲢⲠCopt) - 'jrpUgaritic, orp(a)Nubian

Some Interesting Notes[edit | edit source]

  • During the times of some word borrowings in Hebrew, /Ꜣ/ and /'/ were most likely still used in many words, but there are instances of /Ꜣ/ omitted at the end of some roots (this also occurs in Coptic). Could this be a rendering of showing vocalic metathesis for the /a/ vowel or a /-j/ ending word?!
  • We can begin to see the phenomenon of vocalic metathesis in some words which ended in /-j/ and /-w/ especially in 2-radical roots, this was also the case in Coptic.
  • There appeared to be an epenthetic vowel inserted into 4-radical roots, i.e.: Ca-Ci-CaC or CaC-i-CaC, it is probable that this only existed under the word's specific placement in relationship to adjacent syllables and/or words. It could also be indirectly a Hebraic innovation for Egyptian loanwords consisting of larger roots.
  • The vowels in Cuneiform were very much coarticulated in a subjective way, and cuneiform also reorganizes Egyptian syllables ... Hebrew appears to reproduce Egyptian word structure in a more authentic manner but this could also be because both languages are so similar.


  1. is generally believed to be re-borrowed into Egyptian through Berber influence and is sometimes considered a separate root from the Egyptian root mrt - chin which was also believed to be loaned into Berber where it was then re-borrowed into Egyptian
  2. REPRESENTING FOREIGN SOUNDS Greek Transcriptions of Egyptian Anthroponyms from 800 BC to 800 AD Ana Isabel BLASCO TORRES ... pg 685
  3. Thus wrote 'Onchsheshonqy An Introductiony Grammar of Demotic by Janet H. Johnson 3rd Edition ... pg 36
  5. Layers of the oldest Egyptian lexicon VI: Numerals Gábor Takács pg 15
  6. Here /L/ is in lieu for hieroglyphic /rw/.. the word is entirely spelled ḫɜrw(y)
  7. Etymological Dictionary of Egyptian: M- , Gábor Takács
  8. ... pg 8
  9. I used words from this list from this source:
  10. file:///home/chronos/u-8ba1890381385217bd1d86d526612d5ffc9fbeac/Downloads/Egyptian%20Loan%20Words%20in%20the%20Old%20Testament%20-%20Lambdin.pdf
  13. Taken from Peust's book.
  14. .. pg 127
  15. REPRESENTING FOREIGN SOUNDS Greek Transcriptions of Egyptian Anthroponyms from 800 BC to 800 AD Ana Isabel BLASCO TORRES