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The historical pronunciation of Egyptian underwent numerous significant changes over the course of several millennia. The pronunciation of the earlier stages can be reconstructed on the basis of a variety of evidence, such as the pronunciation of Coptic (and comparison between its dialects), transcriptions and loanwords (both to and from other languages), changing orthographic usage and internal evidence, and, most controversially, comparative Afro-Asiatic evidence. Because the work of reconstructing earlier Egyptian phonology only began to gather steam recently, in the second half of the 20th century, and because some aspects of it remain under debate, Egyptologists traditionally use a conventional ‘Egyptological pronunciation’ that is not intended to reflect any actual historical pronunciation for the sake of convenience.

Wiktionary includes, if possible, both the reconstructed historical pronunciation (according to the prevailing scholarly view) and the modern conventional Egyptological pronunciation. Because of the long-term changes in the language’s historical pronunciation, it is necessary to approach it from a diachronic perspective and select particular stages to include. Below, the changes in the pronunciation of the langauge over time are detailed, and the stages included by default are highlighted: Old Egyptian, c. 2500 BCE; Middle Egyptian, c. 1700 BCE; and Late Egyptian, c. 800 BCE. Following this, explanations are given of the conventions used for representing Egyptian pronunciation at Wiktionary.

Sound changesEdit

The large table in this section shows a possible sequence of sound changes leading from Old Egyptian to Coptic with example vocabulary items. The phonological values and history given here broadly follow the reconstruction paradigm of Fecht, Osing, Schenkel, and Loprieno, but draw from the other works given in the references to revise and clarify some details. Details are generally much less clear for earlier periods than for later periods. Highlighted rows indicate the forms typically given as reconstructions for each stage of the language in Wiktionary entries. When the Coptic dialects break apart, the vocabulary items follow the path of Bohairic Coptic.

The more speculative early phonological history proposed by some followers of the neuere Komparatistik school has largely been excluded, as it relies heavily on debated Afro-Asiatic correspondences and other uncertain evidence, and as it is far from clear whether such phonological changes, if they took place, happened within the historical period at all. The tendency to try to force Proto-Egyptian consonants into a ‘neat’ phonological system has especially been avoided where other evidence is lacking.

Symbols used:

  • > sound change
  • >! unexpected change
  • / in the following phonetic environment
  • _ stands for the position of the phoneme in the phonetic environment
  • / _ everywhere (in all phonetic environments)
  • # word boundary
  • + morpheme boundary
  • $ syllable boundary
  • V vowel
  • V̀ unstressed vowel
  • V́ stressed vowel
  • C consonant
  • Cʰ aspirated consonant
  • [...] any one of the enclosed phonemes
  • (...) encloses optional elements
  • ∅ null (e.g. phoneme deleted; not to be confused with ø)
  • A, B, F, L, M, S sigla specifying a Coptic or pre-Coptic dialect in which the change occurred
consonants shortly before the historical period
labial dental palatal velar uvular pharyngeal glottal
nasal m n
plosive voiceless aspirable p~ t~ k~
ejective/glottalic (ʔ)
voiced b
fricative voiceless f s ç χ ħ h
voiced z ʕ
rhotic ɾ ʀ
approximant w l j

The aspirable and ejective series may alternatively be an aspirated and plain voiceless series, respectively; both interpretations are plausible and held by numerous scholars.

/kʼ/ ⟨g⟩ and /qʼ/ ⟨q⟩ are likely both actually velar ejectives, distinguished by some unknown feature, and both may be expressed as labiovelars in certain environments. The details remain unclear.

The actual phonetic values of /z/ and /ʀ/ are extremely unclear. Recent suggestions for the value of the former include /z, t͡s, sʼ, θ/, etc.; the latter, /ʀ, r, l, ɫ/, etc.

vowels
front back
high i~ u~
low a~
sound changes
language stage dating of change sound change “god”
nṯr
“find”
gmt
“hand”
ḏrt
“his hand”
ḏrt.f
“lotus flower”
z(š)šn
“bow”
pḏt
“scribes”
zẖꜣww
Old Egyptian —————————— —————————————————— ˈnaːkaɾ ˈkʼiːmit ˈcʼaːɾat ˈcʼaːɾatVf zaˈçaːçVn ˈpʰiːcʼat zaçˈʀaːwaw
prehistoric to Old Kingdom, c. 3300–2700 BCE? k(ʰ) > c(ʰ) / environment unclear ˈnaːcaɾ ˈkʼiːmit ˈcʼaːɾat ˈcʼaːɾatVf zaˈçaːçVn ˈpʰiːcʼat zaçˈʀaːwaw
prehistoric to Old Kingdom V̀ > ∅ / posttonic _$ ˈnaːcaɾ ˈkʼiːmit ˈcʼaːɾat ˈcʼaɾtVf zaˈçaːçVn ˈpʰiːcʼat zaçˈʀaːwaw
3rd Dynasty onward ç > ʃ / environment unclear ˈnaːcaɾ ˈkʼiːmit ˈcʼaːɾat ˈcʼaɾtVf zaˈʃaːʃVn ˈpʰiːcʼat zaçˈʀaːwaw
6th Dynasty z > s / _ ˈnaːcaɾ ˈkʼiːmit ˈcʼaːɾat ˈcʼaɾtVf saˈʃaːʃVn ˈpʰiːcʼat saçˈʀaːwaw
late Old Kingdom onward ɾ > j / occasionally _$, especially _# ˈnaːcaɾ ˈkʼiːmit ˈcʼaːɾat ˈcʼaɾtVf saˈʃaːʃVn ˈpʰiːcʼat saçˈʀaːwaw
late Old Kingdom onward, c. 2200 BCE c(ʰ) > t(ʰ) / _(V)([w, j])# except #_
c(ʰ) > t(ʰ) / _(V)[b, h]
c(ʰ) > t(ʰ) / further unclear environments
ˈnaːtaɾ ˈkʼiːmit ˈcʼaːɾat ˈcʼaɾtVf saˈʃaːʃVn ˈpʰiːcʼat saçˈʀaːwaw
by Middle Egyptian j > w / unstressed u_# ˈnaːtaɾ ˈkʼiːmit ˈcʼaːɾat ˈcʼaɾtVf saˈʃaːʃVn ˈpʰiːcʼat saçˈʀaːwaw
Middle Egyptian First Intermediate Period w > j / V́_V̀ except _V̀[w, j] ˈnaːtaɾ ˈkʼiːmit ˈcʼaːɾat ˈcʼaɾtVf >! ˈsaːʃVn ˈpʰiːcʼat saçˈʀaːwaw
early Middle Kingdom onward cʼ > tʼ / _(V)([w, j])# except #_
cʼ > tʼ / _(V)[b, h]
cʼ > tʼ / further unclear environments
ˈnaːtaɾ ˈkʼiːmit ˈtʼaːɾat ˈtʼaɾtVf ˈsaːʃVn ˈpʰiːtʼat saçˈʀaːwaw
Middle Kingdom onward ʕ > j / often _(V)ħ, ħ(V)_
ʕ > j / sometimes +_ in the same word as χ
ˈnaːtaɾ ˈkʼiːmit ˈtʼaːɾat ˈtʼaɾtVf ˈsaːʃVn ˈpʰiːtʼat saçˈʀaːwaw
Middle Kingdom ɾ > ʔ / _$ ˈnaːtaʔ ˈkʼiːmit ˈtʼaːɾat ˈtʼaʔtVf ˈsaːʃVn ˈpʰiːtʼat saçˈʀaːwaw
Middle Kingdom n(V̀)w > m / _ if n or ʀ is in the word ˈnaːtaʔ ˈkʼiːmit ˈtʼaːɾat ˈtʼaʔtVf ˈsaːʃVn ˈpʰiːtʼat saçˈʀaːwaw
by the late Middle Kingdom c(ʰ) > t͡ʃ(ʰ) / _
cʼ > t͡ʃʼ / _
ˈnaːtaʔ ˈkʼiːmit ˈtʼaːɾat ˈtʼaʔtVf ˈsaːʃVn ˈpʰiːtʼat saçˈʀaːwaw
by the New Kingdom, mid second millennium BCE t(ʰ) > ʔ / _$ except V̀_[ɾ, ħ, h] ˈnaːtaʔ ˈkʼiːmiʔ ˈtʼaːɾaʔ ˈtʼaʔtVf ˈsaːʃVn ˈpʰiːtʼaʔ saçˈʀaːwaw
by the New Kingdom ∅ > ə / frequently #_CV̀ʀV́ ˈnaːtaʔ ˈkʼiːmiʔ ˈtʼaːɾaʔ ˈtʼaʔtVf ˈsaːʃVn ˈpʰiːtʼaʔ saçˈʀaːwaw
by the New Kingdom ʀ > ɾ / sporadic, in a few words
ʀ > l / sporadic, in a few words
ˈnaːtaʔ ˈkʼiːmiʔ ˈtʼaːɾaʔ ˈtʼaʔtVf ˈsaːʃVn ˈpʰiːtʼaʔ saçˈʀaːwaw
late Middle Kingdom to early New Kingdom, by c. 1400 BCE ʀ > j / _ ˈnaːtaʔ ˈkʼiːmiʔ ˈtʼaːɾaʔ ˈtʼaʔtVf ˈsaːʃVn ˈpʰiːtʼaʔ saçˈjaːwaw
late Middle Kingdom to early New Kingdom, by c. 1400 BCE C[j, w] > [j, w]C / often V́_ except V́_V̀[j, w] ˈnaːtaʔ ˈkʼiːmiʔ ˈtʼaːɾaʔ ˈtʼaʔtVf ˈsaːʃVn ˈpʰiːtʼaʔ saçˈjaːwaw
late Middle Kingdom to early New Kingdom, by c. 1400 BCE waw > wəʔ / [ˈiː, ˈuː]_#
waw > jəʔ / ˈaː_#
[jaw, waj] > wəʔ / V́_#
[w, j]i[w, j] > jəʔ / [ˈaː, ˈuː]_#
[w, j]i[w, j] > ʔəʔ / ˈiː_#
[w, j]u[w, j] > ʔəʔ / V́_#
jaj > ʔəʔ / V́_#
ˈnaːtaʔ ˈkʼiːmiʔ ˈtʼaːɾaʔ ˈtʼaʔtVf ˈsaːʃVn ˈpʰiːtʼaʔ saçˈjaːjəʔ
late Middle Kingdom to early New Kingdom, by c. 1400 BCE V̀ > ə / _[j, w]# ˈnaːtaʔ ˈkʼiːmiʔ ˈtʼaːɾaʔ ˈtʼaʔtVf ˈsaːʃVn ˈpʰiːtʼaʔ saçˈjaːjəʔ
late Middle Kingdom to early New Kingdom, by c. 1400 BCE [j, w] > ʔ / posttonic V̀_$ except [j, w]V̀_$
j > ʔ / sometimes V́C_
j > ʔ / V́_V̀
j > ʔ / sometimes V́_$
w > ʔ / sometimes ˈu_$
j > ʔ / pretonic _[V̀, $]
w > ʔ / sometimes in pretonic _[V̀, $]
j > ʔ / _V́ in most verbs (by analogical leveling)
j > ʔ / in a few words _V́
j > ʔ / usually _ˈu
ˈnaːtaʔ ˈkʼiːmiʔ ˈtʼaːɾaʔ ˈtʼaʔtVf ˈsaːʃVn ˈpʰiːtʼaʔ saçˈʔaːjəʔ
early New Kingdom ˈi > ˈe / _ ˈnaːtaʔ ˈkʼiːmiʔ ˈtʼaːɾaʔ ˈtʼaʔtVf ˈsaːʃVn ˈpʰiːtʼaʔ saçˈʔaːjəʔ
New Kingdom, by c. 1350 BCE unstressed [a, i, u] > ə / _ except #[ʔ, ʕ]_ and _ʔ#
unstressed [a, i, u] > ə / ʔ_ʔ#
unstressed [i, u] > a / #ʕ_
unstressed i > ə / #ʔ_
AFLMS unstressed a > ɞ / #ʔ_[m, p(ʰ), b, f, w]
unstressed u > ɞ / #ʔ_
unstressed [a, i, u] > a / _ʔ# except ʔ_
ˈnaːtaʔ ˈkʼiːmaʔ ˈtʼaːɾaʔ ˈtʼaʔtəf ˈsaːʃən ˈpʰiːtʼaʔ səçˈʔaːjəʔ
Late Egyptian New Kingdom, by c. 1200 BCE BFLMS ˈiː > ˈeː / _[ʕ, j] ˈnaːtaʔ ˈkʼiːmaʔ ˈtʼaːɾaʔ ˈtʼaʔtəf ˈsaːʃən ˈpʰiːtʼaʔ səçˈʔaːjəʔ
F ɞ > a / sometimes
ɞ > ə / _
ˈnaːtaʔ ˈkʼiːmaʔ ˈtʼaːɾaʔ ˈtʼaʔtəf ˈsaːʃən ˈpʰiːtʼaʔ səçˈʔaːjəʔ
AL unstressed a > ə / sometimes #[ʔ, ʕ]_ if the stressed vowel is ˈiː~ˈe ˈnaːtaʔ ˈkʼiːmaʔ ˈtʼaːɾaʔ ˈtʼaʔtəf ˈsaːʃən ˈpʰiːtʼaʔ səçˈʔaːjəʔ
New Kingdom ʔ > ∅ / _ except #_ and V́_ ˈnaːta ˈkʼiːma ˈtʼaːɾa ˈtʼaʔtəf ˈsaːʃən ˈpʰiːtʼa səˈçaːjə
New Kingdom b > p / V́_# ˈnaːta ˈkʼiːma ˈtʼaːɾa ˈtʼaʔtəf ˈsaːʃən ˈpʰiːtʼa səˈçaːjə
New Kingdom b > β / _ except B _# ˈnaːta ˈkʼiːma ˈtʼaːɾa ˈtʼaʔtəf ˈsaːʃən ˈpʰiːtʼa səˈçaːjə
late New Kingdom, c. 1200–1000 BCE Canaanite shift: ˈaː > ˈoː / _ ˈnoːta ˈkʼiːma ˈtʼoːɾa ˈtʼaʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtʼa səˈçoːjə
late New Kingdom, after c. 1200 BCE ə > ∅ / _#
unstressed a > ə / _#
ˈnoːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼaʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtʼə səˈçoːj
Third Intermediate Period, c. 1000–800 BCE ˈuː > ˈeː / _ ˈnoːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼaʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtʼə səˈçoːj
Third Intermediate Period, c. 1000–800 BCE ˈu > ˈø / _ ˈnoːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼaʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtʼə səˈçoːj
Third Intermediate Period, c. 1000–800 BCE A(L) ˈoː > ˈuː / _[ʔ, ʕ]
A(L) ˈeː > ˈiː / _[ʔ, ʕ]
AL ˈa > ˈo~ˈoː / _[ʔ, ʕ]
ˈnoːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼaʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtʼə səˈçoːj
Third Intermediate Period, starting c. 1000 BCE tʼ > t(ʰ) / _ except _V́
tʃʼ > tʃ(ʰ) / _ except _V́
[kʼ, qʼ] > k(ʰ) / _ except _V́
ˈnoːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼaʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə səˈçoːj
Third Intermediate Period onward ˈoː > ˈuː / [m, n]([h, ħ])_ except B _w ˈnuːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼaʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə səˈçoːj
Third Intermediate Period to Late Period ˈoː > ˈuː / _[ɾ, l] in Semitic loanwords
ˈeː > ˈiː / sometimes _ɾ
ˈoː > ˈuː / _j
ˈnuːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼaʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə səˈçuːj
possibly after c. 800 BCE F ɾ > l / in most cases; environment unclear ˈnuːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼaʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə səˈçuːj
Demotic c. 700–450 BCE B ˈa > ˈoː / _w$ except sometimes _w#
B ˈa > ˈoː / _j$ except sometimes _j#, and except when followed by a suffix pronoun
B ˈe > ˈoː / _w$ except sometimes _w#
B ˈe > ˈeː / _j$ except sometimes _j#
ˈnuːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə səˈçuːj
c. 700–450 BCE BS ˈa > ˈo / _ except _[ħ, χ, ç, ʕ]
BS ˈe > ˈa / _ except _[h, β, l, m, n, ɾ] and sometimes S _ʔ#
BS ˈø > ˈa / _ except _[ʔ, ʕ]
ˈnuːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə səˈçuːj
c. 700 BCE–100 CE FM ˈa > ˈe / _[ħ, χ, ç, ʕ] ˈnuːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə səˈçuːj
c. 700 BCE–100 CE BS ˈeː > ˈe / _ħ
B ˈoː > ˈo / _ħ
ˈnuːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə səˈçuːj
c. 700 BCE–100 CE FM ˈø > ˈeː / _[ʔ, ʕ] ˈnuːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə səˈçuːj
c. 700 BCE–100 CE M ˈoː > ˈo / _ except _[ʔ, ʕ] ˈnuːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə səˈçuːj
c. 700 BCE–100 CE A ˈew > ˈo~ˈoː / [m, n]([h, ħ])_# ˈnuːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə səˈçuːj
c. 700 BCE–100 CE F ˈø > ˈeː / _j
F ˈe > ˈeː / _j
ˈnuːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə səˈçuːj
c. 700 BCE–100 CE ALMS ˈe > ∅ / _[β, l, m, n, ɾ]C
ALMS ˈe > [β, l, m, n, ɾ] / _[β, l, m, n, ɾ][V, #]
F ˈe > ˈeː or sometimes ˈuː / _[β, l, m, n, ɾ]C
F ˈe > ˈeː[β, l, m, n, ɾ] or sometimes ˈuː[β, l, m, n, ɾ] / _[β, l, m, n, ɾ][V, #]
ˈnuːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə səˈçuːj
ˈø > ˈe / _ ˈnuːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə səˈçuːj
ə > ∅ / often except #[ʔ, ʕ]_ and _(ʕ)# ˈnuːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sçuːj
wə > uː / #_ ˈnuːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sçuːj
Cː > C / generally
Cː > mC or nC / occasionally
ˈnuːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sçuːj
p > β / _[t(ʰ), tʼ] except #_
p > β / occasionally [t(ʰ), tʼ]_
ˈnuːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sçuːj
B ʕ > ħ / sporadic and irregular ˈnuːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sçuːj
S f > ɸ / _uː ˈnuːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sçuːj
n > m / _([h, ħ])[p(ʰ), m]
B n > m / _([h, ħ])[β, b]
ˈnuːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sçuːj
S k > ŋ / m_#
S nk > ŋ / _#
ˈnuːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sçuːj
by c. 600 BCE χ > k / sporadic, in a few words ˈnuːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sçuːj
after c. 450 BCE C(V̀)ʕ > ʕ(V̀)C / V́_ ˈnuːtə ˈkʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sçuːj
Late Period, after c. 400 BCE qʼ > kʲʼ / in Semitic loanwords
kʼ > kʲʼ / in most cases; not fully predictable
k(ʰ) > kʲ(ʰ) / in half of cases; environment unclear
ˈnuːtə ˈkʲʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sçuːj
Late Period, after c. 400 BCE qʼ > kʼ / _ ˈnuːtə ˈkʲʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sçuːj
Late Period, c. 400–300 BCE ç > x / _ ˈnuːtə ˈkʲʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sxuːj
Late Period, c. 400–300 BCE BFLMS χ > ç / in most cases; environment unclear
χ > x / otherwise
ˈnuːtə ˈkʲʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈsoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sxuːj
Late Period to Ptolemaic Period? s > ʃ / _ in the same word as ʃ
B s > ʃ / _ in the same word as ç
s > ʃ / often if t͡ʃʼ or t͡ʃ(ʰ) follow somewhere in the same word
s > ʃ / often _kʲʼ and _kʲ(ʰ)
ʃʃ > ʃ / _
ˈnuːtə ˈkʲʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈʃoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sxuːj
Late Period to Ptolemaic Period, c. 450 BCE–100 CE B ħ > ʔ / #_a (unstressed)
AS ħ > ʔ / sporadic, in a few words
ˈnuːtə ˈkʲʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈʃoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sxuːj
by the 1st century CE S h > ∅ / Cʰ_ ˈnuːtə ˈkʲʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈʃoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sxuːj
Ptolemaic Period, c. 100–1 BCE AFLMS Cʰ > C / _ ˈnuːtə ˈkʲʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈʃoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sxuːj
by c. 50 BCE ˈiː > ˈeː / [m, n]([h, ħ])_ except _[m, n] ˈnuːtə ˈkʲʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈʃoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sxuːj
by c. 1 CE S ə > ∅ / ʕ_# ˈnuːtə ˈkʲʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈʃoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sxuːj
Roman Period, by c. 100 CE ħ > h / _ ˈnuːtə ˈkʲʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈʃoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sxuːj
Roman Period, after c. 100 CE B h > ∅ / sometimes Cʰ_ ˈnuːtə ˈkʲʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈʃoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sxuːj
Coptic early Roman Period (Demotic to Old Coptic) ʕ > ʔ / #_ and V́_
ʕ > ∅ / otherwise
ˈnuːtə ˈkʲʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈʃoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sxuːj
Roman Period, c. 200 CE FLMS x > h / _ ˈnuːtə ˈkʲʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈʃoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sxuːj
Roman Period, early Coptic BFLMS ç > ʃ / _
B kʲʼ > t͡ʃʼ / _
B kʲ(ʰ) > t͡ʃ(ʰ) / _
ˈnuːtə ˈt͡ʃʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈʃoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sxuːj
by c. 900 CE ˈeː > ˈiː / often in Greek loanwords ˈnuːtə ˈt͡ʃʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈʃoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sxuːj
by c. 900 CE ˈeː > ˈiː / sometimes if followed by a syllable without iː or ə# ˈnuːtə ˈt͡ʃʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈʃoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sxuːj
by c. 900 CE [ˈeː, ˈe] > ˈa / _ ˈnuːtə ˈt͡ʃʼiːmə ˈtʼoːɾə ˈtʼoʔtəf ˈʃoːʃən ˈpʰiːtə sxuːj
c. 1300–1400 CE B p > b / _ except _#
B [tʼ, t] > d / _ except _#
B [t͡ʃʼ, t͡ʃ] > d͡ʒ / _ except _#
B [kʼ, k] > g / _ except _#
ˈnuːdə ˈd͡ʒiːmə ˈdoːɾə ˈdoʔdəf ˈʃoːʃən ˈpʰiːdə sxuːj
c. 1300–1400 CE B Cʰ > C / _ ˈnuːdə ˈd͡ʒiːmə ˈdoːɾə ˈdoʔdəf ˈʃoːʃən ˈpiːdə sxuːj
c. 1400 CE B p > b / _
B g > k / _
B β > w / _
B t͡ʃ > ʃ / _
B d͡ʒ > ɟ / _
ˈnuːdə ˈɟiːmə ˈdoːɾə ˈdoʔdəf ˈʃoːʃən ˈbiːdə sxuːj
1858–c. 1940 CE B Coptic pronunciation reform (introduction of artificial spelling pronunciation based on modern Greek) ˈnuti ˈd͡ʒimi ˈtori ˈtotef ˈʃoʃen ˈfiti sxuj
language stage dating of change sound change “god”
ⲛⲟⲩϯ
nouti
“find”
ϫⲓⲙⲓ
jimi
“hand”
ⲧⲱⲣⲓ
tōri
“his hand”
ⲧⲟⲧϥ
totf
“lily”
ϣⲱϣⲉⲛ
šōšen
“bow”
ⲫⲓϯ
phiti
“scribes”
ⲥϧⲟⲩⲓ
sxoui

ConsonantsEdit

The chart below shows the way in which Egyptian consonants are represented in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) in Wiktionary entries. Most of the diachronic changes in the chart reflect the sound changes given above; some, however, merely represent changes in orthographical conventions.

Consonants
Uniliteral
sign
Transliteration IPA
Old Egyptian
c. 2500 BCE
Middle Egyptian
c. 1700 BCE
Late Egyptian
c. 800 BCE
Egyptological pronunciation
c. 2000 CE
 
/ʀ/ /ʀ/ /ʔ/, /j/, ∅, (/ɾ/, /l/) /ɑ/
 
j /j/ /j/ /ʔ/, /j/, ∅ /i/
 
  
y /j/ + /j/ /j/ //
 
/ʕ/ /ʕ/ /ʕ/ /ɑː/
 
w /w/ /w/ /w/, /ʔ/, ∅ //, /w/
 
b /b/ /b/ /β/, /p/ /b/
 
p /p/ /p/ /p/ /p/
 
f /f/ /f/ /f/ /f/
 
m /m/ /m/ /m/, /n/ /m/
 
n /n/ /n/ /n/, /l/ /n/
 
r /ɾ/, /l/ /ɾ/, /l/, /ʔ/, /j/ /ɾ/, /l/, /ʔ/, /j/, ∅ /r/
 
h /h/ /h/ /h/ /h/
 
/ħ/ /ħ/ /ħ/ /ħ/
 
/χ/ /χ/ /χ/ /x/
 
/ç/ /ç/ /ç/ /ç/
 
z /z/ /s/ /s/ /z/
 
s /s/ /s/ /s/ /s/
 
š /ʃ/ /ʃ/ /ʃ/ /ʃ/
 
q // // // /k/
 
k /k/ /k/ /k/ /k/
 
g // // // /ɡ/
 
t /t/ /t/, /t͡ʃ/, /ʔ/ /t/, /t͡ʃ/, /ʔ/, ∅ /t/
 
/c/ /t͡ʃ/, /t/, /ʔ/ /t͡ʃ/, /t/, /ʔ/, ∅ /t͡ʃ/
 
d // //, /t͡ʃʼ/ //, /t͡ʃʼ/ /d/
 
// /t͡ʃʼ/, // /t͡ʃʼ/, // /d͡ʒ/

Egyptological pronunciationEdit

The conventional modern Egyptological pronunciation does not reflect any actual historical pronunciation, but is directly derived from the written representation of Egyptian by a series of arbitrary conventions.

The consonants of Egyptian are given the values listed in the table above under ‘Egyptological pronunciation’; as shown, some of them are pronounced as vowels, following abandoned 19th-century ideas about the historical Egyptian pronunciation. ⟨w⟩ is generally rendered /uː/, but root-initially (and exceptionally elsewhere) many Egyptologists instead pronounce it as /w/. Some speakers add a glottal stop in various places, such as before pronominal suffixes and between identical vowels.

An epenthetic vowel /ɛ/ is inserted as needed to break up consonant clusters, so that no more than one consonant in a row starts or ends each word, and no more than two consonants appear sequentially within a word. The causative prefix s- and all -w suffixes (and, optionally, the feminine suffix -t) are ignored when determining where to insert /ɛ/ in the rest of the word. Words consisting of only a single consonant have /ɛ/ added before them if the consonant is a sonorant; otherwise, /ɛ/ is added after them. An /ɛ/ can also be added to separate two identical consonants. In words containing a reduplication, the two reduplicated parts are pronounced identically and no /ɛ/ intervenes between them.

Exceptions to these conventions are rare; a significant one is that ꜥnḫ is pronounced /ɑːnx/ instead of the expected /ɑːnɛx/.

ReferencesEdit

  • Loprieno, Antonio (1995) Ancient Egyptian: A Linguistic Introduction, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, →ISBN
  • Loprieno, Antonio (2001) “From Ancient Egyptian to Coptic” in Haspelmath, Martin et al. (eds.), Language Typology and Language Universals
  • Peust, Carsten (1999) Egyptian Phonology: An Introduction to the Phonology of a Dead Language[1], Göttingen: Peust und Gutschmidt Verlag GbR
  • Allen, James P. (2013) The Ancient Egyptian Language: An Historical Study, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Takács, Gábor (2015) “Questions of Egyptian Historical Phonology and Afro-Asiatic” (review of Allen 2013)
  • Gensler, Orin D. (2014) “A typological look at Egyptian *d > ʕ” in Grossman, Eitan; Haspelmath, Martin; and Richter, Tonio Sebastian (eds.), Egyptian-Coptic Linguistics in Typological Perspective
  • Hoch, James E. (1994) Semitic Words in Egyptian Texts of the New Kingdom and Third Intermediate Period, Princeton: Princeton University Press, →ISBN
  • Kasser, Rodolophe (1991), “Dialect P (or Proto-Theban)”, in Atiya, Aziz Suryal, editor, The Coptic Encyclopedia, volume 8, New York: Macmillan, →ISBN
  • Kasser, Rodolophe (1991), “ꜥAyin”, in Atiya, Aziz Suryal, editor, The Coptic Encyclopedia, volume 8, New York: Macmillan, →ISBN
  • Kasser, Rodolophe (1991), “Protodialect”, in Atiya, Aziz Suryal, editor, The Coptic Encyclopedia, volume 8, New York: Macmillan, →ISBN
  • Satzinger, Helmut (2017) “Dialectical Variation of the Egyptian-Coptic Language in the Course of Its Four Millennia of Attested History” in Journal of the Canadian Society for Coptic Studies 9
  • Satzinger, Helmut (1990) “On the Prehistory of the Coptic Dialects” in Acts of the Third International Congress of Coptic Studies, Warsaw
  • Satzinger, Helmut (2010) “Scratchy Sounds Getting Smooth: the Egyptian Velar Fricatives and Their Palatalization” in CAMSEMUD 2007: Proceedings of the 13th Italian Meeting of Afro-Asiatic Linguistics
  • Callender, John Bryan (1987) “Plural Formation in Egyptian” in Journal of Near Eastern Studies 46 no. 1

Works not yet consulted that need to be eventually:

  • Schenkel, Wolfgang (1990) Einführung in die altägyptische Sprachwissenschaft
  • Osing, Jürgen (1976) Die Nominalbildung des Ägyptischen
  • Schenkel, Wolfgang (1983) Zur Rekonstruktion der deverbalen Nominalbildung des Aegyptischen, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz
  • Schenkel, Wolfgang (2009) “Zur Silbenstruktur des Ägyptischen” in Lingua Aegyptia vol. 17
  • Hintze, Fritz (1980) “Zur Koptischen Phonologie” in Enchoria: Zeitschrift für Demotistik und Koptologie
  • Takács, Gábor (1999) Etymological Dictionary of Egyptian, volume 1, Leiden: Brill, →ISBN
  • Zeidler, Jürgen (1995) “Die Entwicklung der Vortonsilben-Vokale im Neuägyptischen” in Per aspera ad astra: Festschrift Wolfgang Schenkel zum 59. Geburtstag
  • Vycichl, Werner (1990) La vocalisation de la langue égyptienne