Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

OT: Hieroglyphs was RE: Optimum number of symbols

From:Karapcik, Mike <karapcm@...>
Date:Tuesday, May 21, 2002, 19:04
| -----Original Message-----
| From: Raymond Brown
| Subject: Re: Optimum number of symbols
| At 8:21 pm -0700 20/5/02, Jim Grossmann wrote:
| > a term I found in a delightful little book called
| > "Egyptian Hieroglyphs for Everyone" by Joseph and
| > Lenore Scott. The determinatives convey semantic
| > information that helps differentiate homophones in
| > writing. Also, in Egyptian hieroglyphs, these characters
| > served to indicate the termination of a word, just as
| > spaces separate words in our modern roman writing.
| Co-incidentally, I've been looking more closely at Egyptian
| hieroglyphic system also over the past few weeks  :)

        I studied hieroglyphs a few years ago.
        One thing I remembered about the determinatives is that since they
were not spoken, they would sometimes be used to send messages from one
scribe or group to another. They were a sort of "underground communication"
among the few that were literate.
        For example, the word for "tax/taxation" would usually be followed
by the determinative for commerce or money, as would be obvious.
        However, if the determinative for work or toil was added, it would
imply to the reader that the author found the tax an unfair burden.
Similarly, if the determinative for loss or waste was added, it would imply,
"Let's see how long the pharaoh takes to p|$$ away *this* gold...".

        So, basically, you could have "class or phonetic" determinatives,
which could be dropped if the word is really obvious, and "opinion or mood"
determinatives. (I would imagine the latter would be used with a bit of
care, but the scribes were a close-knit elite group.)

        Conlang reference: In my last DnD campaign, one of the older human
countries was based on Egyptian, with monumental, hieratic, demotic, and
ostracon scripts for the same language. The two forms of determinatives was
*very* nice. It's amazing how much you can change a message by adding an
extra adjective to nouns that only the other scribe sees.