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Trent University
Ancient History and Classics
AHCL 2201
James Cook

JAN 8 2014 EGYPTIAN LANGUAGE The Egyptian Language • Afro-Asiatic Family o Related to the Semitic languages as well as Berber, Cushitic, etc. • Evolved over the course of 3,000+ years o No one knows how it was pronounced o Preserved only as a written language using several different scripts o The point being - comparing it to our Canadian English language, in just 100 years it has changed a great deal, yet, the Egyptian language was very conservative, and largely was preserved Development of the Lang • Nearly at the same moment, once their state was established, their language and writing began • Early Egyptian - Dynasties 0-3 o Royal labels o Isolated symbols, not continuous speech o Probably evolved in a royal environment for identification or inventory • The early language was not long sentences or too complex o Much like elsewhere, the development of language was largely the result of administrative needs Development of the Lang cont • Old Egyptian - Dynasties 4-6 o Continuous texts with full syntax o Especially preserved from tombs o Pyramid texts • Hieroglyph (singular) Hieroglyphs (plural) • Inscriptions • Glyphs, by this time, started to be standardized - similar glyphs were being used • Hieratic Script o A cursive way to write the language o Faster, more efficient for record keeping • A cursive form of writing many glyphs much quicker • Middle Egyptian - Dynasty 11-2nd Intermediate Period o Also known as the Classical Egyptian period o Literary texts, instructional manuals, letters, administrative records o Considered to be a pure form of the language by the Egyptians themselves, who used it for religious purposes for many centuries o Mortuary texts for private individuals: Coffin Texts o 750 Standardized Glyphs!!! • Late Egyptian - 19th-20th Dynasties and 3rd Intermediate Period o Probably developed earlier, but hieroglyphs were conservative and had stuck with the Middle Egyptian language in religious contexts o Some literatures, letters, magical texts, etc. • Demotic - "of the people" (Greek) - Dynasty 26 - Roman Period (452 CE at Philae) o Language and Script o An even more abbreviated development of Hieratic o Lots of literature, some inscriptions also o "Oracle of the Potter" - a text with anti-colonial contexts o The Demotic language died out around the same time that Christianity replaced paganism
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