On the names of the Egyptian gods and months

Introduction It was realized early in the study of Ancient Egyptian that when the sounds of words are written out at all, the most you get is the consonants. Arabic and Hebrew, distantly related to Egyptian, are written in a similar fashion: only the consonants are generally written down. (There are, as always, exceptions, but they aren't relevant here.) In those languages, it makes sense, since changing the vowels in a word is the most common way to mark, say, plurals, or verb tense changes. It stands to reason that the same is true of Egyptian. But in the case of Egyptian, we have no living specimens, no Ancient Egyptians to go listen to, or learn the spoken language from, and so we can't say firsthand what those vowels might have been. Now return with me to our Early Days of Egyptology. This presents an obvious problem for anyone who wants to discuss the vocabulary of the language, in spoken conversation: Hw d y prnnc wrds tht hv n vwls? As you can see, it's not that difficult if you already know what vowels to expect; the problem was precisely that no one did know which ones to expect. They could have been anything. So a convention was patched together. Certain consonants could be pronounced as vowels: w becomes u, j (y) becomes i, and the sounds a lot of Europeans, at least, had trouble with, ` and ' (for language buffs: a voiced pharyngeal fricative and glottal stop, respectively) could be pronounced as a. If you were still left with something unpronounceable, just insert es wherever you need them. As an example, the name DHwtjbecomes DeHuti. But as it turns out, the Egyptian language did not actually die out until well into the Christian era. Instead, it evolved, as languages will do given time. The Christians of Egypt are known as Copts, and their liturgical language remains, to this day, the tongue known as Coptic, the latest form of the Egyptian language. And Coptic is written in a true alphabet, derived from the Greek one, complete with vowels. So, as usual, the sounds of Coptic can be worked back to shed a little light on the sound of earlier forms of Egyptian. In addition, there exist records in Assyrian cuneiform that mention Egyptian personal names, dating from the later Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom; these too indicate vowel sounds. Also, a few place-names here and there were borrowed into neighboring languages, such as Hebrew, in which the subsequent sound changes can be inferred from what's already known about the language that did the borrowing. It turns out DHwtj was probably something more like DiHawtaj! Unfortunately, in spite of this plethora of indirect evidence, scholars still disagree on the exact pronunciation of Ancient Egyptian, with vowels. In any scientific field, evidence can be interpreted in any number of ways; how well you back up your interpretation is what determines how seriously

hethôl. at least in theory. though: Thoout was always first. I don't give equivalent modern month names. and it may seem ancient from a non-Egyptian point of view. Coptic is certainly Egyptian. The "Egyptian" Month-Names I've found a lot of sites on the web that claim to give the names of the months in the "Egyptian" calendar. hathol. Information in this chart is from Vycichl. The names are given in several variant forms from two or three Coptic dialects.you'll be taken. and therefore has. khoiak Khoiak Kiyahk . the months tend to shift over time. because the traditional year in this calendar is shorter than an actual (astronomical) year. because it is recent. hatol kiakh. kiahk. While this may be one accepted name for it. the benefit of all previous works. where possible. thaut paope. Speakers of one would not be able to understand the other. khoiahk. and Atiya. followed by the Greek and Arabic forms derived from them. paôpi paapi Phaôphi Bâba 3 hathôr athôr hathôl. It's misleading and confusing to present Coptic words as if they were Ancient Egyptian. Linguistics is certainly no exception. poope Bohairic Fayyumic Greek Arabic translation 1 thôout Thôth Tût (the god) Thoth 2 paophi. or that Panjabi is the same language as Sanskrit. I choose here to draw primarily on the work of Antonio Loprieno (see Main Sources below). khiak Athyr Hâtûr (the goddess) Hathor 4 koiahk. I do attempt to give the actual translations. Sahidic thoout. and because this happens to be a convenient starting place for me. Cerny. paape. the calendar used by the Coptic Church is more widely—and correctly—termed the Coptic Calendar. but to say that Coptic is the same language as Ancient Egyptian is a little like saying that Spanish is the same language as Latin. Some information on the pronunciation of Coptic can be found in Loprieno. thôth. so that what was January in any given year might be May in some other year. thoot. They were always in the same order.

khiahk. A few of the Coptic forms are extracted from longer names. I transliterate the . epeiph 12 mesorê paôni Paÿni Ba'ûna epêp 'Abîb mesôrê Misrâ birth of (the god) Re * The dot should be under the T. Some names of Egyptian deities Information here is from Vycichl and Loprieno. 11 epêph. pakhans. pašas Pakhôn Bašans (month of the god) Khonsu 10 paône epêp. the acute accent for stressed short vowels.aa' or "emphatic t".ûba* 6 mšir. pakhons. khaiak. pašôns. tôôbe mšir. and the umlaut (in lieu of a macron) for unstressed long vowels. Transcriptions of Greek forms employ the circumflex accent for stressed long vowels. apšoos pašons. mekhir mekhil Mekheir Amšir 7 parmhotp phamenôth Phamenôth Baramhât (month of the deified) Amenhotep (month of the goddess) Renenutet 8 parmoute pharmouthi Pharmouthi Baramûda 9 pašons. khoiakh tôbe. representing the Arabic letter t. pakhons pašans. khoiak. except some of the proposed vocalizations. which are mine based on their works. pakhôn. mekhir (month of) the sacrificial offering 5 tôbi tôbi Tybi T.

but since I'm adding vowels that would only be confusing. the glottal stop is represented with a3. because those are easier to see than ' and `. see the footnote below the chart.letter upsilon as u instead of y in order to show the relation to the Coptic form a little more obviously. Greek Coptic Hieroglyphic Proposed Vocalization 3ûsat 3usijrij jamânu(w) janâpaw Hujpaw c meaning Isis Osiris Amon Anubis Apis Apophis Hathor Horus Khnum Khonsu Maat îsis ósiris amoûn ánoubis ápis ápöphis athûr hôros khnoûbis êse ousire amoun anoup hape aphôph hathôr hôr hnoum šons me 3st 3sjrj jmn(w) jnpw Hjpw c "throne" 3pp(j) a3pâpi(j) Hwt-Hr(w) Hr Xnmw xnzw m3ct Hawit-Hâru(w) "house of Horus" Hâru(w) Xanâmaw xanzaw mu3cat "truth" "falcon" . and the voiced pharyngeal is represented with a c. Otherwise I follow the conventions used by the AEgyptian-L mailing list.) In the hieroglyphic forms and proposed vocalizations. and because I'm evidently not allowed to put a circumflex accent on a y.) Also. (What if I wanted to translate this site into Welsh? And in fact the name Cerny in the list of sources should have an acute accent on the y. (Normally they're represented in ASCII with A and a.

Loprieno reconstructs an actual. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press. in chief. whereas in most cases the later glottal stop came from a uvular r sound. Cerny. Main Sources Atiya. Coptic etymological dictionary. Antonio. original glottal stop.Mehit Month Mut moûth mont maau mHjt mnTw mwt nbt-Hwt ptH rc(w) stX DHwtj maHûjat manTaw mu'wat* nibat-Hâwit pitáH rîcu(w) sûtaX Dihawtij "the sun" "mother" "lady of the house" Nephthys néphthus nebthô Ptah Re Set Thoth thôth phthá ptah rê sêt thoout * In this name and a few other words. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press. Werner. ed. Loprieno. paleographer. 1976. Vycichl. 1991. New York: Macmillan. 1995. 1983. Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue copte. Leuven: Peeters. Aziz S. (Back to main text) This page was added to the site on 04 February 2002. . To get in touch. please use the contact form at the Ink Sauce blog. Ancient Egyptian: a linguistic introduction. The Coptic Encyclopedia. Jaroslav..

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