Egyptian Hieroglyphs 13000—1342F

  • Number of characters: 1072

The native writing systems of Ancient Egypt used to record the Egyptian language include both the Egyptian hieroglyphics and Hieratic from Protodynastic times, the 13th century BC cursive variants of the hieroglyphs which became popular, then the latest Demotic script developed from Hieratic, from 3500 BC onward. Most remaining texts in the Egyptian language are primarily written in the hieroglyphic script. However, in antiquity, the majority of texts were written on perishable papyrus in hieratic and (later) demotic, which are now lost. There was also a form of cursive hieroglyphic script used for religious documents on papyrus, such as the multi-authored Books of the Dead in the Ramesside Period; this script was closer to the stone-carved hieroglyphs, but was not as cursive as hieratic, lacking the wide use of ligatures. Additionally, there was a variety of stone-cut hieratic known as lapidary hieratic. In the language's final stage of development, the Coptic alphabet replaced the older writing system. The native name for Egyptian hieroglyphic writing is sẖ3 n mdww nt̪r or «writing of the words of god.» Hieroglyphs are employed in two ways in Egyptian texts: as ideograms that represent the idea depicted by the pictures; and more commonly as phonograms denoting their phonetic value. For example, the hieroglyph representing the biliteral pr is typically used as an ideogram to denote the word 'house'. In addition, the same glyph is used as a phonogram to write the word pr(y) 'to go out' due to the similarity in pronunciation. To leave no doubt as to which word is actually meant, a vertical stroke is drawn underneath the glyph to mean 'house', whereas a pair of walking legs is added next to the same glyph to clarify that pr(y) 'go out' is meant instead. To further clarify the pronunciation, the hieroglyph for mouth (ro) is typically added in between the house and the walking legs, so that the whole combination encodes the word pr(y) like this: «Word that sounds like a word for house which ends in an r and is related to walking => to go out». Hieroglyphic writing is thus an intricate mixture of phonetic and semantic components.

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