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Does anyone here really know the Egyptian language?
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2004 7:35 pm    Post subject: Does anyone here really know the Egyptian language? Reply with quote

Is anyone here actually 'fluent' (is that the right word) in the Egyptian language? Not necessarily hieroglyphs, but the spoken language, or hwo the language would look if written with English letters.

Its just that I keep seeing these people on the internet who are not egyptologists (they are like me-obsessed with Egypt but don't study it seriously) and they write words in ancient Egyptian (in English letters) all over the place. Now I get a bit ticked off with that because a) I don't know Egyptian so they make me feel a bit stupid and not a 'true' Egypt fan and b) I'm pretty sure it's not Egyptian words they are using, but made up ***, like the 'Egyptian' they speak in the movies, which I'm pretty sure isn't the real language-yeah, I'm in a cynical mood today. Laughing
Truth is no one can really speak Egyptian because we don't know the vowels.

Also, do any of you use Egyptian words and instead of the Greek/Latin/English words? For example do you say Kemetic instead of Egyptian, do you use the Egyptian names for towns like Heliopolis and Thebes (which I can't remember), do you say Aset instead of Isis, Neter instead of god, and so on?
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2004 4:03 am    Post subject: Re: Does anyone here really know the Egyptian language? Reply with quote

isisinacrisis wrote:
Truth is no one can really speak Egyptian because we don't know the vowels.


That's basically the gist of it. No one living today can speak ancient Egyptian fluently as you would in English, German, Spanish, or Chinese, because ancient Egyptian as a language has not been spoken in about 2000 years. The lack of vowels is just one problem.

A good example is the very common name Amunhotep. That's the way I prefer to spell it. Others prefer the common variations Amenhotep, Amenhetep, and Amunhetep (and then there's the Greek version Amenophis). We're just taking a well-educated guess at how we think it was "spelled" and pronounced.

All we have to go on is how foreign scribes recorded Egyptian names and words in their languages (e.g., the famous Amarna letters, written in Cuneiform), and of course the Coptic language. Now, Coptic is in fact a direct descendant of ancient Egyptian, but it is a very late version of that language. In other words, we can use it to get an idea of how ancient Egyptian vocabulary was pronounced, but it provides only a good idea--it's not sure-fire. Coptic itself is no longer a spoken language, but the liturgical language of the Coptic Christians of Egypt and Ethiopia. So in a way it would be like looking at a text, book, or manuscript in modern English to get an idea of how Geoffrey Chaucer's Cantebury Tales may have been spoken in their original Middle English, almost 700 years ago.

You're right to be wary of texts "written" in ancient Egyptian all over the internet. I think Egyptian Dreams is a great place to bring up a discussion on anything like this you encounter--we've done it before, even in the brief time I've been involved in this forum. We try to puzzle it out together whether something someone has found is legitimately written in ancient Egyptian. I myself am moderately experienced with translating Egyptian, as long as I can see the glyphs for myself, and I know there are people on Egyptian Dreams more experienced than I.
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I just found out that one of those people who uses these Egyptian words got them from a book about hieroglyphs written by an egyptologist who works for/is connected in some way to the British museum. So maybe that's not 'mock Egyptian' as I suspected Laughing

can anyone tell me what these mean?
Hay N'ek
Hay hek-en-mess (mess? Is that really an Egyptian word? lol i doubt it Confused )
Seneb'ti

(i hope these aren't 'mock Egyptian' lol)
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

'n-ek' means 'to you', and 'ha' can mean 'ho!' or 'hey!' and 'n-mes' means 'to a child'. It is often impossible to translate an Egyptian text or phrase without it in transcription or in the original hieroglyphic text, because, for example, Egyptian has four symbols that are transliterated as 'h', and no 'e's. This makes it highly difficult to translate directly from the English phonetics. It would be like me asking you to write a Russian sentence in English letters, or vice versa. Plus I am not fluent in the language. By a long way! Smile

Here are my guesses though:

Hay en ek = Greetings (Hello/Homage etc.) to you!
Hay hek-en-mess = Greetings...child??? (en-m could indicate a question of "who?" or "what?")
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Psusennes
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, and 'Seneb' means health, and 'ti' is an ending of exclamation, indicating force or power. The Egyptian equivalent of an exclamation mark.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

isisinacrisis wrote:
can anyone tell me what these mean?
Hay N'ek
Hay hek-en-mess (mess? Is that really an Egyptian word? lol i doubt it Confused )
Seneb'ti


Isisinacrisis, I think Psusennes did a very good job trying to figure these out. Ultimately, though, he's right: without seeing the glyphs or at least the original transliteration, we're simply guessing. These lines you quote could mean different things depending on how they're written and presented. For instance, is the capitalization (e.g., the N in N'ek) yours, or is it how you saw it?

And are the little apostraphes (') exactly as you saw them in your source? If so, then they mark the Semitic ayin, a gutteral throat sound that Westerners simply replace with an "a" because we don't have that sound in our Western languages. Budge does make mention of an obscure god alternatively spelled N'k or K'n (the "k" with the dot under it, often spelled as a "q"), but I really don't know how far to trust Budge on this matter. I think Psusennes probably has it right. I don't know of any linguist or Egyptologist who would use that mark (') to denote a suffix pronoun; most use the "equals" sign (n=k, "to you") or something similar, but the end result is the same.

As for hek-en-mess, I might suggest alternatively that it is a proper name. In transliteration proper names are not always capitalized (I generally do not do it myself when transliterating). And yes, "mess" (ms, the glyph of three animal pelts tied together at the top) is a very common Egyptian word, and very often appears in names.

It most commonly means "child" but, in names, is often taken in the sense of "bear," "give birth," "create" (from msi). The hek portion could very well be a derivation of heka (the 2nd h, with the dot underneath, and the "k" with a dot underneath), which has numerous meanings, such as "magic" and "ruler." The "n" in the word, as Psusennes pointed out, is probably a prepostion, but aside from "to" it can also mean "for," "toward," or even "of" (Egyptian prepositions were very fluid). So taken together, if a proper name, hknms could mean something like "Child of Magic" or "Born of Magic."

I don't suppose you have a web site that shows your source, do you? That would be helpful.
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hehehe I found it on some silly internet quiz. Laughing Nothing 'Egyptological'. It was just a harmless fun quiz where you can find out what your job would have been in ancient Egypt.
And it's also the first time I've seen apostrophes in translations. I assume they are apostrophes becuase I get the feeling the person writing those texts wouldn't know of those foreign sounds you mentioned. And yes it was capitalised, but i think that was to add emphasis.

So maybe it means 'greetings, magical child (?)' and 'health!'
is 'seneb' used as a greeting or a goodbye in Egyptian? I've heard of 'em hotep' being used as a greeting-it's the equivalent of someone saying 'peace!' to you (sort of like a hippy Wink )
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 2:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Seneb" (snb) means "health" and is generally in this context used in a formulaic acclamation, not really a greeting. In written texts about any particular pharaoh (and this may have been done in formal spoken addresses, too), whenever the king's name is written it is frequently followed by the phrase 'nkh dj3 snb, which means "Life, Prosperity, Health!" or "May he have life, prosperity, health."

This is so common that it becomes cumbersome to write it out every time when one is translating, so many writers just write "lph" to save themselves time. Smile Another common acclamation is 'nkh djd wsr, "Life, Stability, Dominion!" (or "May he have life, stability, dominion").

The Egyptian preposition "m" can be translated in numerous ways, including "in." The intransative verb htp (2nd h) also has numerous meanings, including the one you mentioned: "be peaceful," "be happy," "be satisfied." Taken together, then, mhtp could mean something like "be in peace," so it could indeed be a kind of greeting. It's also a fairly common Egyptian name, including the name of the famed 3rd Dynasty vizier and high priest, Imhotep, builder of the Step Pyramid of Netjerikhet (Djoser). And of course it's the name of the creature from The Mummy and The Mummy Returns. Oh, my, what Hollywood has done to one of the greatest men in Egyptian history! I guess I'm partly guilty in perpetuating it, because I have both of those movies on DVD. Embarassed

There, I admit it, I have those movies here in my home, and I'm not ashamed to admit it! Don't worry, though. I don't get my knowledge of Egypt from those DVDs.

Everything I know comes from the cartoon "Tutenstein."
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yay for Tutenstein! I like him too...and I love those little adventures he gets up to with the gods!

So Imhotep really did build/design the first pyramid! People should consider him famous for that...instead hollywood spoils it! Laughing Is is true that he invented medicine or something along those lines?

Also, what does 'nekhtet' mean?
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Imhotep is such a ridiculous name for an evil mummy, as it means 'he who comes in peace'. lol. The famous architect of the 3rd Dynasty was apparently born a commoner, but later became a priest of Ptah. His skills as a builder led to the myth of him being a son of the god, born of a woman named Khreduankh. He was later deified by the Egyptians, and he is sometimes shown with Ptah on inscriptions and stela. On top of his architectural knowledge, he also had a wide understanding of medicine and science, and the deified Imhotep became linked to these also. In general he was viewed as an excellent scholar, physician, architect and scientist, and there are a number of shrines dedicated to him at Philae, Karnak and Thebes. Later the Greeks assimilated Imhotep as Aslepius, a God of medicine and healing. I am sure that Kmt Sesh will be happy to expand.

Anyway, 'nekhtet'. hmm. Well 'Nkht' means strong or vigorous, (as in Seth-nakhte), and 't' is the femenine ending for adjectives, so it could (as a possible option) mean 'she who is strong'. But it could probably mean hundreds of other things too.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2005 3:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
nekhtet'. hmm. Well 'Nkht' means strong or vigorous, (as in Seth-nakhte), and 't' is the femenine ending for adjectives, so it could (as a possible option) mean 'she who is strong'. But it could probably mean hundreds of other things too.


I'd have to agree with Psusennes. If we're talking nkhtt, it could simply be the feminine version of the very common name Nakht (and variations thereof, such as Nakhti, "Man of Strenght"). However, there is an Egyptian word nkhtt and it means "victory." In the glyphs it is very similar to how the common name is spelled, and I'm sure the two words share the same root.

Psusennes, I don't see how I can add much to your very astute description of Imhotep. I will add that one of the places where he was worshiped late in Egyptian history was at the 18th Dynasty temple the Egyptians originally called Djeser-djeseru ("Sacred of sacreds"), the mortuary temple of the female pharaoh Hatshepsut. This is one of my very favorite Egyptian temples, a true masterpiece. By the time Imhotep was worshiped there, Hatshepsut was already ancient history...but when Hatshepsut lived and reigned, Imhotep himself was ancient history.

Egypt was around for a while, you see.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2005 4:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Imhotep was one of only two commoners to be deified - the other was Amenhotep son of Hapu, who along with Imhotep, had a sanctuary built for him in Hatshepsuts Temple at Deir el Bahri to continue his cult during the Ptolemaic Period.
Like Imhotep, Amenhotep was also a reknown architect (along with military and administration titles), a man of wisdom and healing. Men came from far and wide to hear his counciling. He lived during the reign of Amenhotep III and died a very old man of between 80 and 100yrs.
As a rare honour to his greatness, a large mortuary temple was built for him on the west bank of Thebes - next to and dwarfing the Temple of Thutmose II, it was as large as the Temple for Thutmose III.
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2005 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I remember seeing 'nekhtet' as meaning victory...I saw it written on a site as an exclamation, sort of like 'hooray!' or something.

I had heard of Imhotep being linked to Asclepius but I wasn't sure of it, thanks for clarifying and verifying it.

Also, what does 'rekeh ur' mean?
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 1:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sesen wrote:
As a rare honour to his greatness, a large mortuary temple was built for him on the west bank of Thebes - next to and dwarfing the Temple of Thutmose II, it was as large as the Temple for Thutmose III.


That's right! I'd almost forgotten about the temple of Amunhotep son of Hapu. What a singular honor, to share the ground of pharaohs. That alone tells you how influential and well respected this commoner was.

And actually, some of the books I possess state that his temple at western Thebes is larger than the Gurna temple of Tuthmosis III.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 1:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

isisinacrisis wrote:
what does 'rekeh ur' mean?


I'm curious about the context of this term. That would help me narrow it down. Taking a guess, I might say you're providing the word rkh wr (both the "k" and the "h" in the first word have a dot under them in transliteration), which is probably a reference to the Great Burning, one of the chief Egyption religious festivals. The word rkh means "flame" and of course wr means "great" or "important."
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