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Egyptian vocabulary list
And now, just for fun, here are a few of my favorite middle Egyptian words and phrases of interest. None of these were constructed by me, so you can feel safe about them being legitimate. :) All are written in phonetic language, because my keyboard doesn’t have an aleph option.
Heka — Holy magic. Typically wielded by the pharaoh.
Hekka khasut — “Rulers of foreign lands.” From which we derive the term “Hyksos.”
Hem-netjer — “God’s servant.” Term for a priest, typically the priests of Amun.
Hu — The word of the gods. Usually translated as “divine utterance.”
Imy-khent — Chamberlain.
Isfet — Chaos.
Kap — Royal nursery.
Kenbet — Court of law.
Maat — Order, control, justice. Sometimes written ma’at. The pharaoh was considered an avatar of maat on Earth, and it was his job to preserve the kingdom against the forces of isfet.
Netjer — God
Netjer aa —Great god. A legit god, like Osiris or Isis.
Netjer nefer — Good god. Also can be interpreted as ‘lesser god.’ Normally used to refer to the pharaoh.
Sebayet — “Teachings.” Also called wisdom texts. Basically the encyclopedias of the day.
Sem — Having to do with funerals. A funerary priest was a sem priest. A funerary priest was not, however, “sem hem-netjer.”
Sia — Divine knowledge.
Sobekneferu — “The beauty of Sobek.” Used as a name, not a phrase, though you could probably get away with it at a pinch. Sobek was the crocodile god—alluded to in another famous creation, Ammet, who was both a lady and had the head of a crocodile.
Tawy — “The two lands,” IE Upper and Lower Egypt. Typically appears in descriptive constructions, as in itj-tawy (“seizes possession of the two lands,” the rather boastful name of the city of Amenemhat I) and ankh-tawy (“life of the two lands,” self-explanatory).
I’ve been looking at my course modules again and I’m not sure if I’d be any good at Middle Egyptian.
I tend to go through this cycle where I think I really love learning new languages so I take German and French and I’ll be fine for, like, the first month or so and then I realise that I actually can’t stand doing all of the ‘fiddly’ stuff and it gets less fun.
But this is MIDDLE EGYPTIAN and it’s at a UNIVERSITY.
The words university and lecturer still really intimidate me.
For some reason, it rather amuses me when even classics grad students are impressed by the ability to read hieroglyphs.
I mean, they study an ancient civilization with a dead language too, right? It’s just a dead language that works significantly differently. I reckon people just react to strongly to hieroglyphs because they look so mysterious and exotic and cool. Which they (and those who study them, heheh) most certainly are—certainly they work far differently from the most of the languages spoken most frequently in this country. But in the end, it’s a language, with a system that can be learned, not witchcraft. Even though it usually feels much more like the latter when one is attempting said learning…
Besides, I’m an undergraduate student still. As far as I’m concerned, graduate students have a vast unsurpassable knowledge of all things. It is known.
Hey! :) I'm considering applying to Brown and I was wondering how strong the English department is? I was looking at the concentration list and it looks like there is a range of things from lit to linguistics to just general English, which is cool. Also, what about foreign languages? :) Thank you so much!
Hey yourself! I don’t know much about the English department because I haven’t taken a class in it yet, but from what I hear it is a great concentration. The classes seem really interesting and very broad in their subjects. My friend is a linguistics concentrator and actually wants to go to grad school for Historical Linguistics, so he has taken Akkadian, Coptic, and is in my Middle Egyptian class. So in terms of foreign languages, Brown has a lot, surprisingly a ton of ancient languages like Coptic, Akkadian, Middle Egyptian, Ancient Greek, Mayan, and Latin. Brown has a really strong Portuguese Department and a strong Spanish Department. If you have an interest in foreign languages, Brown is great because the classes are so small and a lot of people start off on the same level, with no previous experience (for languages like Hindi, Mayan, etc). Hope this helps!