Language Related Questions

Q: Where can I learn to speak ancient Egyptian?

A: You can not speak ancient Egyptian. This language of the Ancient Egyptians has been dead for more than 1500 years already. The Ancient Egyptians did not write any vowels, just consonants, so we do not know what their language sounded like.
In addition, their language is bound to have evolved a lot in its more than 3000 year long recorded history. It is unlikely that an Egyptian from 3000 BC would have understood an Egyptian from 300 BC.
There are also bound to have been regional differences in the pronunciation, a bit like dialects. An ancient Egyptian living in Memphis might have had a hard time trying to talk to a contemporary coming from Elephantine.


Q: Wasn't Coptic written with vowels?

A: Yes, it was. However, Coptic represents the very last stage of the language used by the Egyptians. This means that, except for accents and intonations, we have an idea how Coptic sounded, but that it is very risky to extrapolate this to earlier stages of the language. Coptic is still used as the liturgical language of the Egyptian Christians, a bit like Latin was in Europe, but it is not used as a spoken language anymore.


Q: What language is spoken in Egypt nowadays?

A: The language currently used in Egypt is Arabic. If you wish to learn to speak with modern-day Egyptians, you should learn Arabic. This is, however, out of the scope of this site.


Q: Where can I learn to read and understand ancient Egyptian?

A: The Language sections contains a brief introduction into the basic prinicples of hieroglyphic writing. This will help you get started with your study of the languages of Ancient Egypt. I have also listed several excellent study books in the Bibliography chapter, where. you will also find some grammars, dictionaries and text books that will help you in reading the ancient texts.


Q: Can you write my name, a specific word or concept in hieroglyphic?

A: I am afraid that creating hieroglyphic-text is rather time-consuming. Writing your name in hieroglyphics would imply that the Ancient Egyptians had an alphabet, and that each sound in your name is represented by a hieroglyphic sign. This is not the case.
The rendering of specific words or concepts into hieroglyphic also requires me to translate that word of concept before actually writing it down in hieroglyphic.


Q: Can you publish the Ancient Egyptian alphabet?

A: There was no such thing as an Ancient Egyptian alphabet. Find out in the Language section why this is so. You may find something passing for an alphabet on the Internet, but be advised that this is a modern-day creation, mainly used for commercial purposes.


© Jacques Kinnaer 1997 - 2017