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How certain are we of the sounds assigned to hieroglyphs?

 
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tnrees
Prince/Princess


Joined: 09 Jul 2005
Posts: 497
Location: Taunton, UK

PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2006 3:35 pm    Post subject: How certain are we of the sounds assigned to hieroglyphs? Reply with quote

Even if the specialists have got it right what about dialects and changes over time.
For example classical Greek Beta now seems to be Veta and I can hardly understand someone speaking broad Geordie despite being born about the width of the Nile delta away.

What made me think of it was reading a site mentioned in an earlier post that said Wa-set (Thebes) might have been Set-wa and given rise to the Greek name & to Sheba.
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Neb-Ma'at-Re
Pharaoh


Joined: 09 Dec 2003
Posts: 690

PostPosted: Sat Aug 19, 2006 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tnrees,

You bring up a very good point. I think anyone of the 'experts' would agree that the pronunciations are at best an educated guess. Egyptian has been a dead language for over two thousand years. Its closest current languages in terms of pronunciation and meaning are Coptic and possibly Arabic. From these two languages scholars have based the possible pronunciations of the Ancient Egyptian language. Remember Champollion broke the code by comparing Coptic and the cartouche of Ramses (II). Since the language does not represent vowels in its heiroglyphic form, one must fill them in. Of course this is in large part where the guess work comes into play.

However, some claim that the language has just evolved and is still spoken today by Fellahins of Upper Egypt.

Also if we think of the span of the AE civilization of over 3000 years and the exposure and integration of other civilizations, friendly or not, there would certainly have been amalgamations and dialectal variations. Thus we would expect a difference in Old Egyptian to Middle Egyptian to Late Egyptian spoken language as we see in the written forms.
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