Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ancient Egyptian Lexicon


Alice C. Linsley


Introduction

The Egyptian writing system was a combination of phonetic and ideographic signs. Over different periods signs were drawn from different cultural experiences: Nubia, Kushite, etc.

Egyptian has both biconsonantal and triconsonantal signs.

Egyptian words are built of roots and affixes (prefixes, infixes and suffixes). Where a noun is immediately followed by another noun, the first noun serves as a descriptor (as in the English: police man, baby food).

Many adjective-noun phrases are bound constructions in which the two words cannot be separated. This is often employed in the description of individuals (as in English: smooth talker). In Middle Egyptian such phrases specify either a good or bad character trait or quality an individual.

Ancient Egyptian has nisba-adjectives, some of which are derived from propositions. The term "nisba" (meaning “relative”) is taken from Arabic grammar (’ismu-nisbati). In Egyptian nisba-adjectives are identified by the −j ending. Colors often have the nisba marker: blue - khesbedj; green - wadj

In Middle Egyptian the phrase jw wn speaks of existence - there is/there are (like the word "hay" in Spanish). The phrase nn wn speaks of nonexistence  - there is not/are not ("no hay..." in Spanish).

Here is an alphabetically arranged list of Egyptian words, roots and affixes. Not being an expert, there are likely some errors, but I hope that it will be helpful to students of Biblical Anthropology.

Lexicon

akhet – the horizon
akhu - fire (oku - Igbo)
ash - invocation (in Arabic ash means throne)

ba - ram or body/flesh
baty – the north  (cf: suten-baty – south and north)
bbbb (reduplication) - to pierce/kill
bd - month
bdt – gourd, bed of gourds
bnbn - swelling, pillar, mound
brk - to bless/blessing (cf. Hebrew barak means to bless/kneel and berakah means blessing)
bt - bee
bu – place, condition
bw - ivory

deshr – red
dhwty - scribe  (cf. Tahuti - a writer of signs; another name for Thoth)
djrt hand (cf. djrt-ntr – hand of God)
dpt – ship
dpwt – ships
dwa – tomorrow

edjo - cobra

feh - to go away (Yoruba feh - to blow away)

h - to stand up or arise
ha - after, behind
hb - festival
hekau – magician/ lector priests
hakhem or hakim - keeper of received wisdom
hen - eternal
het – front (cf. akhet – horizon)
hat – moment in time  (Bantu hatua – point time/space, pace walk/step, period of time)
henâ – together with
her / hr – over, above, upon
Hr - the One on high
hika - evil  (Yoruba ika - evil) 
hir - praise
horiwo – head
hpr – to come into being, to become
hprr – that which comes into being
hpry – diety with a scarab beetle for a head
hm-ntr - prophets
hnn – phallus,  perhaps pronounced khenen (the kh is a guttural as in Hanukkah)

i – to be
imy-wnwt - hour/sky watcher
i’pw – it is
i’nw –  it is
inw – tribute
imw - woe
imy - who is in, which is in
imyw - interior, inside of
imytw - in the middle, in the midst of
irtiu - blue (also khesbedj - blue)
ir.t – eye (cf. Yoruba iri – to see)
isw – weeds
iw – to come; is/are
iwn - pillar

jb (jib) – heart

ka - spirit, soul or deified ruler
kar - shrine or temple (kar-nak - place of rituals)
kenit (khenet) – yellow
khau - sieve
khem (kem) – black
khenty - before, in front of
khenen (hnn) – penis/phallus
khepesh - thigh
kheper - scarab beetle
khesbedj (also irtiu) – blue
km - to bring to an end, to complete/fulfill  (Bantu koma – strength, force, power, lion)
kwa - east

mau – to see
me – unto, against
medu ntr - divine script, divine speech, hierogylphics
mer – love
myr - beloved
m – in, with, by, at the time of
mm - among
‘m – mother   (cf. Northern Arabian ‘m - mother)
mr - chisel (cf. Hebrew mr - spoken)
mr’t - woman
mdju ntjr – words of God (cf. djrt-ntr – hand of God)
mj - like, according to, as well as
mw or nwy – water (mu)

n - and
ng - cattle
nak - ritual (such as circumcision and the removal of front teeth)
nhh - eternity
nmhf – green stone
nofir - good
ntr /ntjr – deity/King (Neter)
ntr anx - deified
ns – tongue
nub - gold
nut - sky, waters above
nxb – sign for Upper Egypt/sedge
nxn – Onn (Iunu) or Heliopolis (Falcon-City of Horus of the South)
nwh - to intoxicate or be drunk
nwy - water

omi - water
osa - tide

pd - duck, bird
phty - strength, power
pr – house or temple
pr-nfr - good house or house of rejuvenation
pr pn – this house
prw – houses  (cf. O-piru - House of the Sun or temple)

qma - bull rushes

R - Eye of Horus
Râ pw – It is Râ (Ra it is); or He is Râ
re – father of
rmt - man
rmy.t - tear
ro – to talk  (Yoruba ro – to think and Yoruba oro – word)
rwd/rudj – ball, sphere, the Earth

sa – man
sah - ennobled
saakh - to illuminate, make bright
sba – star (may also mean door)
sbg - planet Mercury
sen – granary
shesep (also hedj) – white
sheut (šwt) – shadow (origins of Hebrew Sheol)
s-shr, ssr, scr – linen
shwr - insult, reproach, disgrace
si - son
si-Re - Son of Re (also sometimes sa-Re)
sr.t - proclamation/pronouncement
ssr – corn/flax
ssn – lotus plant
sm – herb, plant
smr – companion
snb – to be healthy (Bantu simba – health)
sut/sutn – the south (cf. suten-baty – south and north)
su - reed
swnw - doctors

tà-k-ïo ra - to be drunk or to become drunk
tm - universe/totality/complete (Atum)
tm - verb of negation
tr – pure

urshu - soldiers on watch (There may be a connection to Nubian Shasu.)

wab sxmt (wab sekhmet) - physician priest
w'b.t - purification/place of purification
wadj – green
warih – moon
wbn – rising sun   (cf. bnbn – stone pillars, mounds, swelling)
wgs - cut open, gut (as fish); pluck feathers
wi – mummy
wmt - lintel
w-r-q – green

zaw – guardian


References:

Daniel L. Selden, Hieroglyphic Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Literature of the Middle Kingdom

The Pronunciation of Ancient Egyptian

E.A. Wallis Budge, An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary

Rainer Hannig, Grosses Handworterbuch Agyptisch-Deutsch

Raymond O. Faulkner, Middle Egyptian


3 comments:

  1. Hello, Alice!
    You might help me for a word I'm trying to translate. There is a place, on the east coast of the Sinai Peninsula called Nuweiba. It would come from Nuwayba' al Muzayyinah. Some say it is of Arabic origin, and would mean 'The opening of the waters of Moses'. But I have seen that 'nwy' is from Egyptian origin and means water. We can see these three letters n-w-y in certain known forms of the name Nuweiba, which are: Nuwaybi` al Muzayyinah, Nuwaybi` el-Muzayyinah, Nuwaybi‘ al Muzayyinah, Nuwaybi‘ el-Muzayyinah, Nuweiba` al Muzeina, Nuweiba` el-Muzeina, Nuweiba‘ al Muzeina, Nuweiba‘ el-Muzeina. If 'nwy' is from Egyptian origin and means water, was the name of Nuweiba al Muzayyinah (or Nuwaibi...) an Egyptian name which along the generations was then used by Arabs, even if we know that Muza means Moses in Arabic? And how would you divide this name for a translation?
    Thank you much for your answer. It's much puzzling to me.
    Greetings,
    FP

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nuweiba is sometimes claimed to be where the waters parted for Moses. However, there are several places about which that claim has been made.

    The Egyptian place name would also be in Arabic. The Egyptians have spoken Arabic since before Islam. The oldest Arabic texts are called "Dedanite" and Dedan was a Kushite from the Nile Valley.

    The highest concentration of Old Arabic texts has been found in the region of Dedan in Arabia. Genesis 10:7 tell us that Dedan the Elder was a grandson of Kush by his son Raamah. Raamah was Nimrod's brother. Raamah settled in the region to the southeast of Dedan while Nimrod built a kingdom in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley. The Afro-Arabian Dedanites and the Afro-Asiatic Arameans were kin. The separation of the two groups took place in the time of Peleg, though the separation was territorial only, as their ruling lines continued to intermarry.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you much for this information. I've heard that Arabs borrowed some names from Egyptians, I did not know that the Egyptians spoke Arabic long time ago; that's quite interesting.
    Thanks again,
    Yours,
    Frederic P

    ReplyDelete

Your comments are welcome. Please stay on topic and provide examples to support your point.