Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Pharaonic Egyptian Hieroglyphs 1 - Vowel Sounds - ANE BC P15
Pharaonic Egyptian Hieroglyphs 1 - Vowel Sounds - ANE BC P15
Pharaonic Egyptian Vowels in Hieroglyphs
The current view of the Egyptian hieroglyphs is that they contained no "vowels". Although this is true in terms of "modern" vowels as used to separate consonants, the Egyptian hieroglyphs do in fact have symbols for vowel-type sounds which did not function as "vowels" per se but which represented separate language elements as specific sounds.
The above graphic shows my new decipherment of the ancient Old Kingdom Pharaonic Egyptian vowel-sound system.
Decipherment of the Vowel-Sound System of Ancient Egypt
This decipherment is the beginning of my correction of the mainstream transcriptions, transliterations and interpretations of the hieroglyphs. Mainstream work contains many, many errors.
In the early days of the Pharaonic Egyptian hieroglyphs, the ancients did not yet have our words or specific concepts for "vowel" or "consonant".
Indeed, even in modern times, a thing like "vowels" is a complicated subject. See e.g. Louis Goldstein of Yale University and his writings on "vowel theory".
Yet, in order to devise a written language, the ancients had to have some primitive "linguistic" understanding of sound and its connection to symbols in order to devise a workable writing system.
I have discovered how that Pharaonic "vowel" system worked.
Mater Lectionis - Early vowels in the Hebrew Alphabet
The Pharaonic "vowels" show that the Egyptian hieroglyphs were the DIRECT predecessor system to what is known as the matres lectionis of the Hebrew alphabet in which the letter Aleph is mostly an A, the letter He mostly an A, the letter Waw mostly an O or a U, and the letter Jod (also spelled Yod) mostly I, E or AE.
The Linguistics of Sound and Vowel Theory
Mater lectionis derives out of the limited number of ways in which
vowels can be formed by human speech.
Early Vowel Theory
As Goldstein notes:
Indian grammarians as early as the 7th century
already divided vowels into three distinct types:
(1) palatal (so-called "mouth vowels")
(2) labio-velar (so-called "lip vowels")
(3) pharyngeal (so-called "throat vowels")
Modern Vowel Theory
Modern linguistics has expanded this list to four types of vowels:
(1) palatal ("mouth vowels")
(2) velar ("lip vowels")
(3) uvular ("tongue vowels")
(4) pharyngeal ("in the throat")
The Egyptian Vowel-Type Hieroglyphs mark Vowel Sounds
What I have discovered in the most ancient Pharaonic Egyptian hieroglyphs is that their makers recognized four qualities of vowel-type sounds - and consciously selected homophonic (same-sounding) symbols to mark these sounds - sounds which are similar in function to modern linguistic vowel theory, but of course not as advanced in their nature 5000 years ago.
These four vowel-type sounds in ancient Egypt were:
1. The Breath Sound - - the "LEAF, reed LEAF" Hieroglyph
2. The Throat Sound - - the "EAGLE" (vulture) Hieroglyph
3. The Nasal Sound - - the "CHICKEN" Hieroglyph
4. The Palatal Sound - - the "BENT ARM" Hieroglyph
In order to represent these "vowel-types" with symbols, the makers of the hieroglyphs - on the basis of the evidence of the Indo-European language, e.g. on the basis of Latvian lexical comparisons, selected symbols which were pronounced similarly - i.e. were homophonic - to the vowel sound description.
The Four Pairs of Homophonic Hieroglyphs and Vowel Sound Functions
The following four pairs of words are homophonic in Latvian - and fit the Egyptian hieroglyphs perfectly. I find that these same homophonic pairs are found clearly in the Egyptian hieroglyphs:
1. ALPA (whence ALPHA) viz. ELPA "breath" is homophonic with LAPA viz. VARPA "leaf, ear" whence also VARPATA "couch-grass, dog grass". (Note that the later alphabet used the "steer, ox" symbol for Alpha, a steer in Latvian being LUOP, also a word homophonic to ALPA.) In ancient Old Kingdom Egypt, the "leaf" or "reed leaf" symbol thus represented the "breath sound" in the ancient hieroglyphs.
2. IERIKLIS ("in the throat") is homophonic with ERGLIS "eagle" (vulture in Egypt). The "eagle" viz. "vulture" symbol thus represented the "throat sound" in the ancient hieroglyphs.
3. UOSTA ("smell, smeller, of the nose") is homophonic with VISTA "chicken".
The "chicken" symbol thus represented a "nasal sound" in the ancient hieroglyphs.
4. ROKA ("bent, arm") is homophonic with LOKA "bent, pliable, flexible", supple").
The "bent arm" thus represented a "palatal (bent) sound" in the ancient hieroglyphs. Even today LOCISHANA in Latvian is applied as a word in linguistics, applying to declension and conjugation.
Consequence of the Hieroglyphic "Vowel-Sound" Discovery
This above discovery now permits us to recognize that the hieroglyphs were not just chance symbols selected at random or because of religious or other considerations, but were selected primarily for their pronounced SOUND as being similarly sounding - homophonic - to an intended linguistic sound FUNCTION.
Accordingly, we will expect a similar intelligence and rational reasoning to be at work in the formulation of the remainder of the hieroglyphs, also for the "consonants" (which - as we will see - were also seen combined with vowel sounds). Even though the ancients did not have the precise equivalent concept of "consonant" in ancient days, they recognized similar sounds.
An explanation of the hieroglyphs of the ancient Egyptian "alphabet" will also soon be forthcoming, as well as further correction of the decipherment of many other hieroglyphs which did not attain later "alphabetic" status.
Egyptology, Hieroglyphs, Vowel Theory, Matres Lectionis, Hebrew Alphabet, Alphabet, Origin of the Alphabet, Mater Lectionis, Palatal, Velar, Uvular, Pharyngeal, Labio-velar, Linguistics
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