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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ancient Egyptian Lexicon


Alice C. Linsley


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). A particularly interesting suffix is -itti, indicating to a ruler. This appears as a title in Leviticus 16 in reference to the person who is to escort the scapegoat (the azaz-el) to the wilderness.

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.

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).

Many words represent a complex of related meaning. The word ˁnḫ is an example. It means live and it represents the ankh with its solar handle. The Sun was the emblem of the Creator Ra (Ani in Akkadian) and his son Horus (Enki in Akkadian). God Father and God Son are associated with the Sun. In this image from Angkor Wat Horus is perched on the mast of the solar boat in the form of his falcon totem.



What follows is an alphabetically arranged list of Egyptian words, roots and affixes. Not being an expert, there are likely errors, but I hope that it will be helpful to students of Biblical Anthropology. I also suggest possible connections to African and Semitic words.


Lexicon

aha - to fight
akhet - the horizon
akh - spirit (similar to Hebrew ruach/breath); to be useful
akhu - fire (Igbo- oku); also the divine spark that gives life
ash - invocation (possibly related to the Arabic arsh, meaning throne)

ba - ram; body/flesh (Horus as Khnum is the only deity shown with a ram's head and human body.)
baar - sea
baty - the north  (cf: suten-baty – south and north)
bbbb (reduplication) - to pierce/kill
bd - month
bdt - gourd, bed of gourds
bity - king/ king's presence in palace
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

dd - say; speak
deshr - red
dhwty - scribe  (cf. Tahuti - a writer of signs; another name for Thoth)
didi - red fruit
djeser - holy, sacred
djrt - hand (cf. djrt-ntr – hand of God)
dmi - town
dpt - ship
dpwt - ships
dr - to sift
dwa - tomorrow

eb - I want
edjo - cobra

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

h - to stand up or arise
ha - spirit, after, behind
hakhem or hakim - keeper of received wisdom
hb - festival
hedj - radiant, white, silver, bright
hekau - magician/ lector priests
hen - eternal
ḥeq - chief, ruler
hesy - favored
het - front (cf. akhet – horizon)
hat - moment in time  (Bantu hatua – point time/space, pace walk/step, period of time)
henâ - together with
hm - servant
her / hr - over, above, upon
Hr - the One on high, Most High One (Horus with Father Râ)
hika - evil  (Yoruba ika - evil) 
hir - praise
horiwo - head
hpr - to come into being, to become
hprr - that which comes into being
hpry - deity with a scarab beetle for a head
hpw - law
hm ntr - prophets
hmt - woman
hnn - phallus,  perhaps pronounced khenen (the kh is a guttural as in Hanukkah)
htm - to seal
hu - the spoken word, the authoritative word that resides with the high king
hwtw - enclosures
hy - gladness, happiness

i - to be
iaru - reeds
imy-wnwt - hour/sky watcher
imn - create
imw - woe
imy - who is in, which is in
imyw - interior, inside of
imytw - in the middle, in the midst of
ink - first person singular pronoun
inw - tribute
i’nw -  it is
i’pw - it is
iri - enact
irtiu - blue (also khesbedj - blue)
ir.t - eye (cf. Yoruba iri – to see)
ir.t rʿ - the eye of Ra (referring to the sun, the symbol of the High God)
irty - evil-doer
isw - weeds
iterw - the river, referring to the Nile River
iw - to come; is/are
iwnw (Iunu) - place of pillars (Heliopolis, Biblical On)
iwn - pillar

jb (jib) - heart

ka - spirit, soul or deified ruler (As a suffix in Hittite, ka refers to a place; Ida-ka, "forest place")
kar - shrine or temple (kar-nak - place of rituals)
kenit (khenet) - yellow
kham - cheating
khau - sieve
khem (kem) – black
khenty - before, in front of
khenen (hnn) – penis/phallus
khepesh - thigh
kheper - scarab beetle
khesbedj (also irtiu) – blue
khry - master, head man, leader
km - to end, to complete/fulfill, to carry out order  (cf. Bantu koma – strength, force, power, lion)
kwa - east

mau - to see
me - unto, against
medu ntr - divine script, divine speech, hierogylphics
men - to establish
mer - love
mery/myr - beloved
mes/mose - born
m - in, with, by, at the time of
mhn - coiled serpent (a solar image)
mhwt - clans
mm - among
‘m - mother   (cf. Northern Arabian ‘m - mother)
mo - water
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
nak - ritual (such as circumcision and the removal of front teeth)
nakht - strong
nbt - lady
ng - cattle
nedjem - sweet
nefer/nofir - good, pleasant, well, beautiful
netjer - God. deity, divine
 ˁnḫ - live, ankh
nhh - eternity, to become as a star
nhn - shrine, Nekhen (City of Horus on the Nile)
nmhf - green stone
Nnu - Noah
ntr /ntjr – deified king (tr - blood, pure)
ntr anx - deified
ns - tongue
nu - fragile
nub - gold
nut - sky, waters above
nxb - sign for Upper Egypt/sedge
nxn - Onn (Iunu - place of pillars); the Sun City of biblical On (Gen. 41:45)
nwh - to intoxicate or be drunk
nwy - 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 - Sun House, shrine or temple)
psd- nine
pshai - prophet
pt - sky

qma - bulrushes

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

sa - man/protection
sah - ennobled
saakh - to illuminate, make bright
sba - star (may also mean door)
sbg - planet Mercury
sekhem - power
sen - granary
setep - chosen
shamsh - Sun (Arabic - shams; Hebrew - shemesh)
shesep (also hedj) - white
sheut (šwt) - shadow (origins of Hebrew "sheol")
s-shr, ssr, scr - linen
shni - to dwell
shu - wind
shwr - insult, reproach, disgrace
si - son
si-Re - Son of Re (also sometimes sa-Re)
srh/serekh - that which brings understanding
sr.t - proclamation/pronouncement
ssr - corn/flax
ssn -  lotus plant
sm -  herb, plant
smr -  companion
snb/seneb -  to be healthy (Bantu simba – health)
snw - high social rank
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
taw - bread
tbb - crush, mash, shatter
tbw - sole of foot
tm - universe/totality/complete (Atum)
tm - verb of negation
tn - rise up, resurrection
tr - pure, blood (Related: Hebrew thr - to be pure; Hausa/Hahm toro - clean; the Amarigna (Ethiopia) anatara - pure; Tamil tiru - holy, and proto-Dravidian tor - blood. In some Kushitic languages mtoro means rain and toro refers to God.)
twn - to gore
twt - done

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

wabau - healer
wab sxmt (wab sekhmet) - physician priest
w'b.t - purification/place of purification
wadj - green
wd.t - decree
wakhz - wound
warih - moon
was - dominion
wbn - rising sun   (cf. bnbn – stone pillars, mounds, swelling)
wen - to exist, to be
wer - great
wgs - cut open, gut (as fish); pluck feathers
wi - mummy
wmt - lintel
wnm - food
wrh - to anoint
wrq - green
wryt - great ones

zaw - guardian
zhn - reed boats
zw - be harmful, dangerous
znbw - battlements
znt - hostile

References:

E.A. Wallis Budge, An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary
Rainer Hannig, Grosses Handworterbuch Agyptisch-Deutsch
Raymond O. Faulkner, Middle Egyptian
Raymond O Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts
Daniel L. Selden, Hieroglyphic Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Literature of the Middle Kingdom

Related reading: The Pronunciation of Ancient Egyptian; An Outline of Comparative Egypto-Semitic Morphology


2 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

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