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"nfrnfrw"
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2005 2:53 pm 
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I pray you forgive my primitive knowledge of Egyptian, but "nfrnfrw," which i've seen in such names as Neferneferuaten, looks like redundancy. Could someone (*cough* psusennes) please enlighten me on any meaning to this phrase which I may have missed?


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 4:30 am 
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Hello Ankhefenamun. Just to apologise, I haven't been around recently because of exams and things, but I'm back now.

OK. 'Nfr,' I am sure you are aware, is the Hieroglyphic adjective of great (or perhaps absolute) endearment. Whilst Egyptologists are not sure of its exact meaning, it is safe to assume that it carries a meaning relating to goodness, perfection and beauty. I like to see this as an indication that the Egyptians saw beauty in goodness, not just in physical appearance. Of course one could argue the opposite.

In Egyptian adjectives can also serve as nouns, so 'nefer' may not always mean 'beautiful,' it sometimes means 'beauty.' This is a key point to make, and I'll bring it back later.

You may be correct when you say that 'nfr-nfrw' seems like tautology, or redundancy (if we consider each word to mean the same thing, which I don't - I'll explain it later). When put into the context of Egyptian however, this may not really be the case. In one of the earlier chapters of Gardiner's EG, we encounter the dual adjectival endings, '.wy' and '.ty.' These can be used not only (as one would guess) to double up an adjective to agree with a dual subject (eg. the two good sons), but also to *double* the emphasis of an adjective when the subject is singular (eg. 'twice great is this house', i.e 'this house is better than just 'aa,' it's 'aa.wy,' it's doubly great!').

This may clarify how in Egyptian tautology is perfectly acceptable, and it was brings emphasis to an adjective or phrase that is of importance. With 'nfr' and 'aa,' repetition is even more permissable, as these common words to my mind probably had more than one meaning, more than one connotation. In English you might say 'The short man went on a brief holiday," where in a more limited language you would be forced to say "the short man went on a short holiday." Clearly the two words have completely different meaning when put into context, despite the fact that they are both adjectives.

Right, now that's out of the way, let's go into the example you give 'nfr-nfrw.' On its own, this would appear to mean 'beautiful-beautiful,' but if we place it in context then its meaning to me becomes clearer. A phrase in Egyptian should always start with the verb, unless it is a sentence of *adjectival predicate* which this one is (wow! That sounds horribly impressive!). This means that something "is beautiful or perfect," in the case of "Neferneferu - aten," it is the 'itn' that is. So, we end up with:

"The Beauty of the Perfect Aten"

I normally translate 'nfr-nfrw' as "the beauty of the perfect. . ." or "the perfection of the beautiful. . . ." Whichever sounds better in context. Either are acceptable.

I hope that answers your question- I'm glad to be back!


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 10:01 pm 
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I was curious about the redundant nature of nfr-nfrw-itn myself so I once asked the Egyptologist under whom I've been studying hieroglyphs. He would pretty much agree with Psusennes I, though he translates it as "Most beautiful of the beauties of Aten" or "Aten is the most beautiful." I favor the first one myself, but I've seen "perfect" used in many translations, too.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2005 3:16 am 
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Those translations are a bit more euphonious than mine, but I cannot help feeling that this is very much open to contextual interpretation. The phrase has something to do with the repetition of the word beauty/perfect, and I expect your Egyptologist friend has much more of an idea about it than I currently do. I stood clear of the 'most beautiful' translation, because I feel it takes a rather large lberty with the actual text. Of course, "perfect of the beautiful" means more or less the same as "most beautiful of the beauties," as perfection encompasses beauty anyway. So I suppose it too is perfectly acceptable.

This is what I love about the hieroglyphic language. The translation is so open to interpretation that one has to be careful with every sentence, and indeed every set of adjectives!

P.S I have decided that I want going to apply for an Oriental Studies course in Egyptology after I have taken my A-levels. It's given me a bit more direction in choosing my subjects, and it's one of my few interests that has stood strong. Oxford and Cambridge look fantastic, as they both place huge emphasis on the *languages* of Ancient Egypt as well as its culture.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2005 2:09 pm 
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If you go that route you might well have the opportunity to study other ancient languages of the Near East. If I had the luxury and the time (not to mention the youth) I would do just that. I hope it works out for you, Psusennes I. :wink:


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2005 2:45 am 
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You're right- I would. The courses look excellent. They offer lessons in Demotic and Coptic, as well as the inscribed Egyptian text, and also background instruction in Akkadian, Cuneiform and several other near oriental languages. Furthermore, the course is so horribly complicated that it doesn't seem to be as hugely competitive as I'd originally imagined. That's the biggest shock.

http://www.oriental.cam.ac.uk/egypt1.html


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2005 4:00 pm 
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My study of hieroglyphs is coming along quite well, but I doubt I could read hieratic, and I know I couldn't read a word of demotic. I understand not many people are able to read it fluently. Coptic interests me, though, and I've considered looking into it at some point. I've come across some texts that look agreeable for the study of Coptic.

I'm not sure about cuneiform. That's a whole other writing system and one at a time is enough for me, though it's fascinating stuff. :o


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2005 4:01 pm 
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Oh, and thanks for the link to Cambridge. I've never visited their website before, so that was interesting to see.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2005 1:31 am 
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You're welcome.

I'd really like to do hieratic along with hieroglyphs, as it opens up a huge number of texts which aren't just formulae. 'Great God x revered before y etc. etc," but rather which document trials, victories and specific events. I've spoken to a few Egyptologists about it, and they seem to agree that although it looks completely different to the inscribed text, it doesn't take too long to get the hang of once you'e learnt what all the cursive symbols actually stand for.

Demotic on the other hand looks to be much harder. I really can't comment on it because I've no idea how it's even constructed. I think that you really have to try to make yourself as unique as possible (edit: no wait! That's impossible!) to employers if you hope to stand a chance of being employed in Egyptology. Reading Demotic would be an ideal loophole, and a mutually beneficial one.

Cuneiform does not interest me, although I expect it will be very important to gain at lease a detailed overview of the other Near-Eastern civillisations in order to put Egypt into perspective.

Also, if you do not mind my asking, what did you study at University, kmt_sesh?


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2005 12:57 pm 
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Quote:
Also, if you do not mind my asking, what did you study at University, kmt_sesh?


My first degree was in English education (I used to teach), with a minor in anthropology. My second was graphic design, which I now do for a living. Sorry, no degrees in ancient history or Egyptology. :( If I had it to do over again...well, no sense in fantasizing.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2005 2:52 pm 
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Thanks so much! What a response. And kudos the the "huge number of texts which aren't just formulae".


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2005 4:22 am 
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You're welcome. Tell any of your friends who like Egypt to come to KTO for a chat or something.

Kmt_sesh wrote:
My first degree was in English education (I used to teach)


No wonder you're so good at explaining things. Teaching might be one of the few careers that'd be open to me if I take a degree in something as obscure as Egyptology. I hear that the careers are highly competitive, even if the courses aren't. Otherwise there's always the civil service and stuff. How odd that would be! Having a BA in Egyptology and working as. . . a civil servant.

Edit: According to the Cambridge prospectus James Bond supposedly had a degree in Oriental Studies from Cambridge! :)


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2005 8:32 am 
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Teaching might be one of the most practical avenues for your Egyptology career. Most Egyptologists are affiliated with universities and spend a good deal of time in front of students. I think it makes sense because it keeps the scholars in the books, always in touch with the latest theories and discoveries in order to be effective teachers.

Quote:
Edit: According to the Cambridge prospectus James Bond supposedly had a degree in Oriental Studies from Cambridge! Smile


Well, there you go. With a degree in Oriental Studies you could also be a spy in Her Majesty's sercret service. How exciting! :D


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PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 11:44 am 
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Ahlan!!!

I'm new in this forum. I'm from Spain, a country where studying Egyptology becames an adventure itself, because it doesn't exist as a career. We have, at least, egyptological academies and courses where we can study ancient Egyptian, as I do.

I would like to make my personal contribution to this topic. As it is in Gardiner's lesson VIII, one of the possible ways of forming the superlative of adjektives, is to use the genitive, directo or indirect:

- Indirect genitive: wr n wrw, "the greatest of the great ones".
- Direct genitive: wr wrw

This is the case of nfr nfrw, which is not writen with a hyphen between the words, and which would be translated literaly as "beauty of the beauties", and so "the most beautiful".

Kisses,

EVIE


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PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 12:20 pm 
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That's more or less exactly what Sesh and I concluded.

Also, this thread is several months old. :roll:


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