Hey, Egyptiandiamond1. The basics of the sounds of ancient Egyptian are all there in the monoliterals, sometimes called the Egyptian "alphabet." Any text on the language will have a summary of this right from the start, but here's a refresher:
A glottal stop, which doesn't exist in most Western languages. Similar to how the Cockney Brits kind of "skip" over the two "t's" in the word "bottle" ("bo--le"). In the West it's usually just rendered as an "a".
a sound common in Semitic tongues but absent in Western languages. I once had a teacher of Hebrew repeat it to me several times and still couldn't get it right myself! This sound, too, is usually rendered as an "a" in the West when speaking ancient Egyptian.
A single reed leaf, usually rendered as an "a" or an "i" sound, though it's not truly a vowel (linguists call it a "weak consonant").
A double reed leaf, generally pronounced as a "y" like in "belly
" (a long "e" sound); it is sometimes written in English as an "i."
The quail chick, a weak-consonant "w" and often pronounced like the "u" in "June"; depending on the word it can be pronounced as a regular "w," though.
The 1st "h," pronounced like a regular "h" in English
The 2nd "h," a harsh or aspirated "h" that is noticeably pronounced.
The 3rd "h," a soft gutteral "kh" sound similar to the Scottish "loch"
The 4th "h," a harsher
gutteral "kh" sound as in the German ach
(by the way, most people, including Egyptologists trained in the West, don't often bother to differentiate the sounds between this "h" and the previous "h")
An "sh" sound as in "shoot."
A glyph that serves both as a "z" sound and a regular "s" sound; by the New Kingdom the change to the latter was common, though it could still serve as a "z."
A "dj" sound as in the name "Jed" or "Joan."
Similar to the "s/z" glyph above, this one can be a regular "t" sound or a "ch" sound as in "chair."
A "k" that is pronounced at the back of the throat (as opposed to a regular "k," which is pronounced more toward the front of the mouth); this one takes a bit of practice to get right and can almost
sound like a soft click.
The others have sounds that are basically the same as their equivalents in English:
I grabbed all these little glyph-graphics, by the way, from a fun little site called Hieroglyphs
(practical name for such a site
In your studies you will come across varients for these monoliterals, such as a royal crown for the "n" sound. You might also see a pair of ribs for the "m," and a little curly-cue for the "w" (this curly-cue is nothing more than the hieratic version of the quail chick).
Depending on how far into your studies you are, you will find that these monoliterals are rarely used by themselves in the construction of words (which is why they're not a "true" alphabet). They help the reader flesh out the pronunciations of the much more common biliterals and triliterals and are frequently used as phonetic complements. It takes plain old hard work to learn this stuff.
Bear in mind we're not 100% sure how the Egyptians spoke
their language, especially considering they did not write with vowels (as was true for many ancient Semitic tongues, including Arabic and Hebrew and Aramaic). I think it was the Greeks who were the first to establish letter-forms for the full range of vowels. This is what tends to throw us with ancient Egyptian. It would be an oversimplification, though, to say we have no
idea how to pronounce ancient Egyptian. Linguists have used the Coptic tongue to help us with sounds because Coptic is a true descendant of ancient Egyptian--strip away the layers of Greek and other foreign influences and one gets an idea of original pronunciations.
I hope this is of some help. I love ancient Egyptian myself, and though I am certainly no expert, being able to read hieroglyphic inscriptions opens a whole new world to you when you visit a museum and pour over the artifacts.