More Ancient Egyptian (was: new Unnamed Conlang)
|From:||Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>|
|Date:||Saturday, September 18, 2004, 6:13|
On Friday, September 17, 2004, at 05:39 , John Cowan wrote:
> Mark J. Reed scripsit:
>> Right. AE didn't get written with the Roman alphabet, so first you have
>> to indicate which transcription system you're using, and even then no
>> one is sure about the actual sounds. Completely at a loss for vowels,
>> in fact, although I understand we have some idea about the consonants.
> We have a firm idea of the consonants:
Fairly firm, I think, is more accurate.
> they are all that is written in
> the phonetic part of the orthography,
That true - so we know exactly how many consonant phonemes there were.
> and there is little or no dispute
> about the pronunciation of any of them.
It is not true to say there is no dispute. There are one or two, e.g.
whether the sound denoted in English transcription by underlined |d| (and
in German by transcriptions by |dj| is a palatallized dental/alveolar or
is a palatal plosive or what). There are a few scholars, I believe, who do
question some of the traditionally accepted restorations.
> There are two sets of vowels for Egyptian: the conventional and the
There are actually also two sets of consonant pronunciations in the
anglophone world (and probably in other traditions also), the one that
tries to restore the various pharyngeal and glottal sounds, the more
common that pronounces most of these as [h] and uses only English phonemes.
> The conventional vowels are created by transcribing
> every alef (glottal stop, CXS [?]) as either zero or "a", most yods as
> "i", most waws as "u", every ayin (voiced pharyngeal fricatives, or [?\]
> in CXS) as "a", and throwing in "e"s as needed for pronounceability.
> Thus the royal name [twt ?\nx ?mn] with conventional vowels comes out
tho more commonly now we see it written 'Tutankhamun' - with last part
respelled under the influence of the Greek spelling of the god as 'Amoun'.
BTW the first consonant of the god's name is not written with the
character for the glottal stop (traditionally transcribed by a symbol that
looks like the numeral 3) but by the consonant that is transcribed in
English texts as |i| with a hook on the top and in German texts by |j|. In
the earliest Egyptian it is generally though the consonant was pronounced
/j/, but later when initial it appears often not to have had this sound,
at least from Greek rendering of names such, for example, Amoun. I believe
the pronunciation of /j/ in these words is still controversial.
> This pronunciation has the advantage of being definite,
> and the disadvantage of being definitely wrong.
Yes, that;s exactly so.
> Reconstruction of the actual vowels is based on comparisons with
> other Afro-Asiatic languages and Egyptian borrowings into surrounding
> languages, whether Afroasiatic or not.
..as in fact was the reconstruction of consonant pronunciation. But in the
latter case we know the number of phonemes. With the vowels we simply do
not know how many different ones the Egyptians distinguished.
Another factor used in the attempted reconstruction of AE vowels is its
descendant Coptic. But vowels have a horrid habit of changing alarmingly,
cf. VL --> Old French --> modern French.
> This tells us that the renegade
> Pharoah whose name is conventionally vocalized as "Akhnaton" was
> probably [?axenjati(n)]. There are of course many different possible
> reconstructions: infinite are the arguments of mages.
There are indeed. One things is certain: we do not know how Tutankhamum,
Nefertiti et_alii were pronounced - and without time-travel possibly never
Obviously a ghost writer :-)
"They are evidently confusing science with technology."
UMBERTO ECO September, 2004