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Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the Ancient Egyptian Language List for?

This list is intended for anyone who is interested in Ancient Egyptian. We have members of all ability levels from beginners to established Egyptologists. If you are interested in joining, check out our subscribing page.

I am a complete beginner, how do I get started?

You can get started straight away by studying some of the introductions to hieroglyphs available on the web. A good place to start is the Learning Ancient Egyptian page. If you are serious about learning to read Ancient Egyptian, you should consider getting at least one good book on the subject. Take a look at our bibliography page for some popular publications and links.

Where can I buy books on Ancient Egyptian?

Many of the well known leading internet booksellers will be able to supply books on Ancient Egyptian. www.amazon.co.uk and www.amazon.com are very popular. There are also specialist suppliers such as Eisenbrauns , Schoenhof's, and ATLEEST.

How do you write (transliterate) hieroglyphs in email messages?

The hieroglyphic script represented only the consonantal skeleton of the words. Today we do not have precise knowledge of what the vowels would have been. Fortunately, it is not necessary to know exactly what the vowels were in order to translate a hieroglyphic text.

When we discuss hieroglyphic texts in email messages we write out, i.e.transliterate the consonants we believe that each word would have contained. The translation scheme that we use is based on what is known as the Manuel de Codage system. In addition to the consonants, there are also a few symbols that we use to separate certain units of meaning. For example an equals sign "=" is used to attach a suffix pronoun to a verb stem, and a full stop "." is used to indicate where the root of a word ends, and a grammatical inflection begins: e.g. sDm=f "he hears", sDm.n=f "he heard" where the .n is the past tense marker.

There is a chart showing the transliterations commonly used in email messages on the Learn To Read Hieroglyphs page.

Where can I get a hieroglyphic font?

The "Glyph Basic" font is available from The Freelang Fonts Center.

I've heard that books by E.A. Wallis Budge are too unreliable to be used today. Is this true?

The usefulness of Budge's books is a subject that has caused much heated debate in recent years. With regard to learning to read ancient Egyptian, the most useful aspect of Budge's books is the many hieroglyphic texts that are reproduced in them. The translations and transliterations in Budge's books are outdated by today's standards; remember that there have been significant improvements in our understanding of Ancient Egyptian over the last 100 years or so since Budge wrote his books.

Probably one of the most balanced views on the reliability of Budge was given by Geoffrey Graham in a post to the AEL list on March 1st 1999.


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