Understanding Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs

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Understanding Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Postby FortOfBlankets » Sun 06 Jul 2014 12:15 am

Hi! I'm trying to learn Ancient Egyptian, as I've been interested in the hieroglyphs since I was little, and I didn't think people had cracked their "code". From what I've seen online, each picture represents a syllable, two syllables, or even three syllables, but some of the letters they transliterate to don't make sense to me. Like an "h" with an underline?
I also don't know how you're supposed to speak this language if it's writing has little to no vowels. :?
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Re: Understanding Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Postby choc_pud » Tue 15 Jul 2014 3:30 pm

Usually a picture will be either a pictogram or a logogram, but there are also about twenty five consonant symbols as well, and many more which stand for consonant clusters. I don't know for sure but I believe the underlined h is representing the voiceless pharyngeal fricative.

The reason it is so hard to speak is because, due to it being a Semitic language, the Ancient Egyptians had very little need to write vowels (rather akin to Modern Arabic, though the reasoning is slightly more complicated there). Although it worked fine for them, it does mean that it's impossible for us in the present day to be able to say with any certainty what the values of vowels may've been. For this reason, there are various theories as to how the glyphs should be pronounced.

Hope this helped!
Dyfal donc a dyr y garreg, ydy?
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Re: Understanding Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Postby Yaziq » Fri 25 Jul 2014 7:42 pm

Actually Ancient Egyptian is/was part of the Afro-Asiatic family of languages which was called "Hamitic" in the not-too-distant past. Some linguists might want to include Semitic languages as part of the Afro-Asiatic family, so things are somewhat confused.
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