Situated in the north-eastern corner of the African
continent, on the border with the Asia, the Egyptian language evolved
between two important linguistic families: the Semitic languages of the
Near-East (Akkadian, Hebrew, Arabic, ...) and the Hamitic languages of
Central- and North-Africa (Somali, Galla, Berber, ...).
It is thus not surprising that the Egyptian language shows some similarities with both the Semitic and, to a lesser degree, the Hamitic languages.
In general semantics, it shares with the
Semitic languages the peculiarity that its word-stems are combinations
of consonants, as a rule three, which are theoretically unchangeable.
Grammatical inflection and minor changes of meaning were either contrived by changing the internal, unwritten vowels.
More important differences of meaning are created by whole or partial duplication of the word-stem, or by placing a special consonant before or after the word-stem:
There are also many similarities in the vocabulary itself. The following is a list of some similarities between Ancient Egyptian words and words in several Semitic languages. Please note, however, that the representation of the Ancient Egyptian words is but a consonantal skeleton of the words. The Ancient Egyptians didn't write any vowels. Any character in the list below that is a vowel in our language, is either added by the modern-day Egyptologist to facilitate reading of Egyptian texts, or a representation of a consonant unknown in western languages, but common in Semitic languages.
|English||Ancient Egyptian||Semitic languages|
|to count||Hsb||Hasaba (Arabic)|
|I (1st person singular)||ink||anoki (Hebrew)|
|stone vessel||ikn||akunu (Babylonian)|
|to fall||kher||khur (Arabic)|
Sometimes such semantic similarities are obscured by unobvious consonantal changes or by a changing in the order of the consonants. Thus the Ancient Egyptian word snb "be healthy" is related to the Arabic word salima where the Egyptian n has been transformed into the Arabic l and the b into m.
This, however, does not mean that the language of the Ancient Egyptians was a mere combination of linguistic and semantic elements of the Semitic and Hamitic languages! It shows many of its own peculiarities that belong to neither of the two linguistic families, that can only be explained if it were part of yet another linguistic family: the Hamo-Semitic languages.
Through its more than 3.000 year long history, it is but natural that the language of the Ancient Egyptians changed and evolved grammatically and semantically. Considering grammatical evolution, the following linguistic stages can be distinguished:
Language: Aspects of writing | Linguistic Features | Hieroglyphs etc.Gods
Gods: Isis | Ra | Set | Osiris | Qebhsennef | Maat
Pyramids: Building stones | Egypt Land of the pyramids | Canstruction of Pyramids | Huni's Pyramid | Zoser's step Pyramid | Sneferu's Pyramid | The solar Boat | The grest pyeamid of cheops | Chephren's pyramid | Senusert I's pyramid | Sphinx
Paint: Introduction | Subjects of paint scenes
sports: Introduction | Chariots-training horses | Running | Combating sports | Aquatic sports | Competition | Games and toys | Acrobtics
jewellery: Introduction | Gold | Silver | The precious & semi-precious Stones | The substitutes of precious stones | Same kinds of jewellery | Discoveries of jewellery
Sculpture: Introduction | Old kingdom statues | Middle kingdom statues | New kingdom statues