Do we know what ancient Egyptian sounded like? and other questions

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navarre
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Hey,

I love Egyptology. In my view, there is no more interesting period in history that ancient Egypt. It's so hard to imagine what it must've been like to be an ancient Egyptian, especially in terms of religion, daily life, what the pharaoh was like etc.

My first question is, do we know what the ancient Egyptian language sounded like? It only occurred to me today when watching The Mummy. I don't think we have any idea what spoken Egyptian sounds like... sure, we can read the hieroglyphs, but we have no clue what they sound like.

Discuss.
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Luna.
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Love that film :rolleyes:
I find it so interesting too, would love to just drop everything and go study Egyptology!
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jfinney94
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(Original post by navarre)
Hey,

I love Egyptology. In my view, there is no more interesting period in history that ancient Egypt. It's so hard to imagine what it must've been like to be an ancient Egyptian, especially in terms of religion, daily life, what the pharaoh was like etc.

My first question is, do we know what the ancient Egyptian language sounded like? It only occurred to me today when watching The Mummy. I don't think we have any idea what spoken Egyptian sounds like... sure, we can read the hieroglyphs, but we have no clue what they sound like.

Discuss.
I don't thinkt here is any way of knowing what they sounded like, but you can get an idea from modern day egyptions.
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Katterson
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It's difficult to know what it sounded like as the writing system didn't really include vowels, just the consonants. So when we 'translate' stuff they have to add in what they guess might have been in there, as it wasn't actually specified. Presumably there was some way for the egyptians to know what they should say, but as far as I'm aware no-one really knows

To the above comment, I don't think modern day egyptian people gives much insight as to what ancient egyptian sounded like, as they speak a dialect of arabic which i'm fairly sure developed quite independantly
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curtis871
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(Original post by navarre)
Hey,

I love Egyptology. In my view, there is no more interesting period in history that ancient Egypt. It's so hard to imagine what it must've been like to be an ancient Egyptian, especially in terms of religion, daily life, what the pharaoh was like etc.

My first question is, do we know what the ancient Egyptian language sounded like? It only occurred to me today when watching The Mummy. I don't think we have any idea what spoken Egyptian sounds like... sure, we can read the hieroglyphs, but we have no clue what they sound like.

Discuss.
They have best guesses at what it sounded like but they can't be certain and it's extremely unlikely that they're 100% right. I've seen a few films where they actually address this but I'm not too good with names of films so I'll have to look through my rental history and hope it's from that not tv.

Of course if you want to complicate it further you could mention that like most languages it developed so you'd have to specify an time frame. There was also various times when two very different written languages can be found which complicates the question even more. As for those who have said vowels were not written that is true for some time periods and for some people but when Greeks wrote in Egyptian they sometimes did and it is from that period and those sources that many of the guesses of how they spoke came from.
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navarre
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(Original post by jfinney94)
I don't thinkt here is any way of knowing what they sounded like, but you can get an idea from modern day egyptions.
Nope. Arabic is the language spoken by Egyptians today. It has very little relation to Egyptian.

It's difficult to know what it sounded like as the writing system didn't really include vowels, just the consonants. So when we 'translate' stuff they have to add in what they guess might have been in there, as it wasn't actually specified. Presumably there was some way for the egyptians to know what they should say, but as far as I'm aware no-one really knows
Thought so. It's fascinating to me how we have a language that we can read and understand very well, but we have no idea how it sounds like in its spoken form. It's just so interesting.
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marcusfox
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(Original post by navarre)
Hey,

I love Egyptology. In my view, there is no more interesting period in history that ancient Egypt. It's so hard to imagine what it must've been like to be an ancient Egyptian, especially in terms of religion, daily life, what the pharaoh was like etc.

My first question is, do we know what the ancient Egyptian language sounded like? It only occurred to me today when watching The Mummy. I don't think we have any idea what spoken Egyptian sounds like... sure, we can read the hieroglyphs, but we have no clue what they sound like.

Discuss.
Each seperate hieroglyph represented a single sound. So 'break' and 'brake' would be spelled the same.

We do know what sounds each one represents and it is the basis for internet hieroglyphics translators.
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MyselfEtAl
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Something like hebrew maybe? :curious:
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player19
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(Original post by navarre)
.

My first question is, do we know what the ancient Egyptian language sounded like? It only occurred to me today when watching The Mummy. I don't think we have any idea what spoken Egyptian sounds like... sure, we can read the hieroglyphs, but we have no clue what they sound like.

Discuss.
Yes, ancient egyptian is preserved and it is used in the Egyptian coptic Church as a liturgical language. Old Egyptian was spread in Egypt til the muslim invaders came and installed arabic instead. The coptic language is related to the egyptian language of the 1st century.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coptic_language#History


(Original post by MyselfEtAl)
Something like hebrew maybe? :curious:
No, hebrew is related to arabic language since both langaages are semitic.
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username931319
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The language is still around. How do you think we can read and speak Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs? Coptic Egyptian is what you're looking for, and it was used in Egypt as the main vernacular until the 17th Century until Egyptian Arabic replaced it.
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navarre
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(Original post by player19)
Yes, ancient egyptian is preserved and it is used in the Egyptian coptic Church as a liturgical language. Old Egyptian was spread in Egypt til the muslim invaders came and installed arabic instead. The coptic language is related to the egyptian language of the 1st century.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coptic_language#History



No, hebrew is related to arabic language since both langaages are semitic.
Yes, but the Coptic language today is vastly different from the Egyptian language spoken 5,000 years ago, which is when the Pyramids were built and the ancient Egyptians were worshipping Horus. We still can't know for sure what the language then sounded like.
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Martyn*
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(Original post by navarre)
Hey,

I love Egyptology. In my view, there is no more interesting period in history that ancient Egypt. It's so hard to imagine what it must've been like to be an ancient Egyptian, especially in terms of religion, daily life, what the pharaoh was like etc.

My first question is, do we know what the ancient Egyptian language sounded like? It only occurred to me today when watching The Mummy. I don't think we have any idea what spoken Egyptian sounds like... sure, we can read the hieroglyphs, but we have no clue what they sound like.

Discuss.
Here you go. It's probably the closest we can hope to get:

http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show....php?t=1279513
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bownessie
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(Original post by navarre)
Hey,

I love Egyptology. In my view, there is no more interesting period in history that ancient Egypt. It's so hard to imagine what it must've been like to be an ancient Egyptian, especially in terms of religion, daily life, what the pharaoh was like etc.

My first question is, do we know what the ancient Egyptian language sounded like? It only occurred to me today when watching The Mummy. I don't think we have any idea what spoken Egyptian sounds like... sure, we can read the hieroglyphs, but we have no clue what they sound like.

Discuss.
Prior to the Rosetta Stone, various similar languages were used to decifer Egyptian. To an extent, they taught us how Egpytian was pronounced. I think it was Armenian that was the prime language used to decifer heiroglifics. For example, it was theorised that the outline around a set of heirogliphics might mean a name. Thus, Armenian was applied to the name in question and it was resulted in the name "Rameses", a name that was known to be a pharao's. Thus, to an extent we can theorise how they pronounced stuff, but exactly how they sounded in terms of exact accent etc is probably not possible.
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Mr. Approachable
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I think it's more interesting to find out how they walked...
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py0alb
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I can see how things like the rosetta stone can help us translate Egyptian, but to know the pronunciation? I just don't see how that would work.
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Ted Wilcock
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Well, it is a fact that someone must have made the first attempt to speak ancient Egyptian in the past. Surely it could not have
be spoken before it was decyphered. What about ancient Greek Of course it is right an attempt was made.
Ted Wilcock
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Copperknickers
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(Original post by navarre)
Nope. Arabic is the language spoken by Egyptians today. It has very little relation to Egyptian.
Actually Arabic is not too distantly related to Egyptian, and Egyptian Arabic still contains a few Medieval Egyptian words. And as has been said, we have Coptic, which is the direct descendant of Ancient egyptian.

But yes, in truth we don't know exactly how it was pronounced, unlike Ancient Greek and Latin. There are many people alive today who could speak Latin fluently and make themselves understood if they were transported back by time machine to ancient Rome. Egypt however, you might as well just speak to them in early Coptic, you'd have a better chance of beind understood.
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