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Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V09, Page 71 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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WEAK VERBS. II. geminatae reigned in different countries forming a compact and not very large area—perhaps from South Arabia to Asia Minor, and from Persia to Crete and Egypt. Whether they all sprang from one common stock of picture-writing we shall perhaps never know, nor can we as yet trace the influence which one great system may have had on another, owing to the poverty of documents from most of the countries concerned. It is certain that in Egypt from the IVth Dynasty onwards the mode of writing was essentially the same as that which was extinguished by the fall of paganism in the 4th century A.D. Its elements in the hieroglyphic form are pictorial, but each hieroglyph had one or more well-defined functions, fixed by convention in such a manner that the Egyptian language was expressed in writing word by word. Although a picture sign may at times have embarrassed the skilled native reader by offering a choice of fixed values or functions, it was never intended to convey merely an idea, so as to leave to him the task of putting the idea into his own words. How far this holds good for the period before the IVth Dynasty it is difficult to say. The known inscriptions of the earlier times are so brief and so limited in range that the system on which they were written cannot yet be fully investigated. As far back as the Ist Dynasty, phonograms (see below) were in full use. But the spelling then was very concise: it is possible that some of the slighter words, such as prepositions, were omitted in the writing, and were intended to be supplied from the context. As a whole, we gain the impression that a really distinct and more primitive stage of hieroglyphic writing by a substantially vaguer notation of words lay not far behind the time of the Ist Dynasty. The employment of the signs are of three kinds: any given sign represents either (I) a whole word or root or (2) a sound as part of a word; or (3) pictorially defines the meaning of a word the sound of which has already been given by a sign or group of signs preceding. The number of phonograms is very restricted, but some signs have all these powers. For instance, is the conventional picture of a draughtboard (shown in plan) with the draughtsmen (shown in elevation) on its edge:—this sign (I) signifies the root mn, " set," "firm"; or (2) in the group , represents the same sound as part of the root mnj{, " good "; or (3) added to the group .snt (thus : shows that the meaning intended is " draught- board," or " draughts," and not any of the other meanings of snt. Thus signs, according to their employment, are said to be (x) " word-signs," (2) " phonograms," or (3) " determinatives." Word-signs.—The word-sign value of a sign is, in the first place, the name of the object it represents, or of some material, or quality, or action, or idea suggested by it. Thus' is hr, "face"; II , a vase of ointment, is mrh.t, " ointment "; is wdb, " turn," Much investigation is still required to establish the origins of the values of the signs; in some cases the connexion between the pictures and the primary values seems to be curiously remote. Probably all the signs in the hieroglyphic signary can be employed in their primary sense. The secondary value expresses the consonantal root of the name or other primary value, and any, or almost any, derivative from that root: as when ,==3, a mat with a cake upon it, is not only htp, an " offering-mat," but also htp in the sense of " conciliation,' " peace," " rest," " setting " (of the sun), with many derivatives. In the third place, some signs may be transferred to express another root having the same consonants as the first: thus , the ear, by a play upon words can express not only sdm, " hear," but also sdm, " paint the eyes." Phonograms.—Only a limited number of signs are found with this use, but they are of the greatest importance. By searching through-out the whole mass of normal inscriptions, earlier than the periods of Greek and Roman rule when great liberties were taken with the writing, probably no more than one hundred different phonograms can be found. The number of those commonly employed in good writing is between seventy and eighty. The most important phonograms are the uniliteral or alphabetic signs, twenty-four in number in the Old Kingdom and without any homophones: later these were increased by homophones to thirty. Of biliteral phonograms—each expressing a combination of two consonants—there were about fifty commonly used: some fifteen or twenty were rarely used. As Egyptian roots seldom exceeded three letters, there was no need for triliteral phonograms to spell them. There is, however, one triliteral phonogram, the eagle,, tyw, or tiu (?), used for the plural ending of adjectives in y formed from words ending in t (whether radical or the feminine ending). The phonetic values of the signs are derived from their word-sign values and consist usually of the bare root, though there are rare examples of the retention of a flexional ending; they often ignore also the weaker consonants of the root, and on the same principle reduce a repeated consonant to a single one, as when the hoe N , bun, has the phonetic value bn. The history of some of the alphabetic signs is still very obscure, but a sufficient number of them have been explainedto make it nearly certain that the values of all were obtained on the same principles.' Some of the ancient words from which the phonetic values were derived probably fell very early into disuse, and may, never be discoverable in the texts that have come down to us. The following are among those most easily explained: qreed flower, value y and H; from 3 1,, " reed." (It seems as if the two values y and ti were obtained by choosing first one and then the other of the two semi-consonants composing the name. They are much confused, and a conventional symbol 1 has to be adopted for rendering q.) forearm, value '(v); from D'(9), " hand." mouth, value r; from r, " mouth." belly and teats, value b; from 107, b.t, " belly." (The feminine ending is here, as usual, neglected.) tank, values; from 0, " tank." slope of earth value q; „ q",” slope," or brickwork, d d, " height." (The doubled weak consonant is here neglected.) cam, '1, cobra, value z; from , z.t, " cobra." of For some, alphabetic signs more than one likely origin might be found, while for others, again, no clear evidence of origin is yet forthcoming. It has already been explained that the writing expresses only consonants. In the Graeco-Roman period various imperfect attempts were made to render the vowels in foreign names and words by the semi - vowels as also by the consonant Y which „._ originally represented having been reduced in speech by that time to the power of K, only. Thus, HroXeµauos is spelt Ptwrmys, Antoninus, 'Nt'nynws or Intnyns, &c. &c. Much earlier, throughout the New Kingdom, a special " syllabic " orthography, in which the alphabetic signs for the consonants are generally replaced by groups or single signs having the value of a consonant followed by a semi-vowel, was used for foreign names and words, e.g. nano, "chariot," was written e in n Coptic I pe6WO'Y'T• '711o, - ~1n, " tower,” was written e O I Coptic !l.tE6TOW \ NW/VS 11 1 1 n», " harp," was written nrwv., I I I non, " Hamath," was written )84. According to W. Max Muller (Asien and Europa, 1893, chap. v.), this represents an endeavour to express the vocalization; but, if so, it was carried out with very little system. In practice, the semi-vowels are generally negligible. This method of writing can be traced back into the Middle Kingdom, if not beyond, and it greatly affected the spelling of native words in New Egyptian and demotic. Determinatives.—Most signs can on occasion be used as determinatives, but those that are very commonly employed as phonograms or as secondary word-signs are seldom employed as determinatives; and when they are so used they are often somewhat differentiated. Certain generic determinatives are very common, e.g.: of motion. 5---° of acts involving force. of divinity. It seems that " acrophony " (giving to a sign the value of the first letter of its name) was indulged in only by priests of the latest age, inventing fantastic modes of writing their " vain repetitions" on the temple walls. , hand, value d; from r, d.t, " hand." of a person or a man's name. =; of buildings. of inhabited places. Mil; of foreign countries. club; of foreigners. of all actions of the mouth—eating and speaking, likewise jj silence and hunger. vvww wvwe ; ripple-lines; of liquid. vvvvw hide; of animals, also leather, &c. of plants and fibres. Q ; of flesh. a sealed papyrus-roll; of books, teaching, law, and of abstract ideas generally. In the earliest inscriptions the use of determinatives is restricted to the , jl, &c., after proper names, but it developed immensely later, so that few words beyond the particles were written without them in the normal style after the Old Kingdom. Some few signs ideographic of a group of ideas are made to express particular words belonging to that group by the aid of phonograms which point out the special meaning. In such cases the ideogram is not merely a determinative nor yet quite a word - sign. Thus 1 __ n ," Semite," 1 0 ' 1 1 I I "Libyan," &c., but 1 cannot stand by itself for the name of any particular foreign people. So also in monogram 1p is sm " go," -- is " conduct." Orthography.—The most primitive form of spelling in the hieroglyphic system would be by one sign for each word, and the monuments of the Ist Dynasty show a decided tendency to this mode. Examples of it in later times are preserved in the royal cartouches, for here the monumental style demanded special consciseness. Thus, for instance, the name of Tethmosis III.—MN-FJPR-R'—is spelled Cp g) (as R' is the name of the sun-god, with customary deference to the deity it is written first though pronounced last). A number of common words—prepositions, &c.—with only one consonant are spelled by single alphabetic signs in ordinary writing. Word-signs used singly for the names of objects are hr, " face," &c. But the use of bare word-signs is not ,common. Flexional consonants are almost always marked by phonograms, except in very early times; as when the feminine word'' =z.t, "cobra," is spelled Also, if a sign had more than one value, a phono- c gram would be added to indicate which of its values was intended: thus ; in 1 is iw, " he," but in 1 it is stn, " king." Further, ~~1111.. o owing to the vast number of signs employed, to prevent confusion of one with another in rapid writing they were generally provided with " phonetic complements," a group being less easily misread than a single letter. E.g. 1, wz, " command," is regularly written wz (w) ;but 1, hz, " white," is written I hz(z). This practice had the advantage also of distinguishing determinatives From phonograms. Thus the root or syllable Izn is regularly written 1 vt to avoid confusion with the determinative. Redundance (b)b'(0). Biliteral phonograms are very rare as phonetic complements, nor are two biliteral phonograms employed together in writing the radicals of a word. Spelling of words purely in phonetic or even alphabetic characters is not uncommon, the determinative being generally added. Thus in the pyramidal texts we find hpr, " become," written in one copy of a text, in another ~~. Such variant spellings are very important for fixing the readings of word-signs. It is noteworthy that though words were so freely spelled in alphabetic characters, especially in the time of the Old Kingdom, no advance was ever made towards excluding the cumbersome word-signs and biliteral phonograms, which, by a judicious use of determinatives, might well have been rendered quite superfluous. Abbreviations.—We find -Ye [1, strictly 'nh z> .t standing for the monogram is , i.e. and for H•t-Hrw " Hathor." A word-sign may be compounded with its phonetic complement, as hz " white," or with its determinative, as hz "silver." The table on the opposite page shows the uses of a few of the commoner signs. The decorative value of hieroglyphic was fully appreciated in Egypt. The aim of the artist-scribe was to arrange his variously shaped characters into square groups, and this could be done in great measure by taking advantage of the different ways in which many words could be spelt. Thus its could be written 1 , hsy q q, . hs f - hs-n f NVWSA But some words in the lassical writing zi.., were intractable from this point of view. It is obvious that the alphabetic signs played a very important part in the formation of the groups, and many words could only be written in alphabetic signs. A great advance was therefore made when several homophones were introduced into the alphabet in the Middle and New Kingdoms, partly as the result of the wearing away of old phonetic distinctions, giving the choice between ~— and p, e and and navw^ and , and Q. In later times the number of homophones in use increased greatly throughout the different classes, the tendency being much helped by the habit of fanciful writing; but few of these homophones found their way into the cursive script. Occasionally a scribe of the old times indulged his fancy in •"' sportive " or " mysterious " writing, either inventing new signs or employing old ones in unusual meanings. Short sportive inscriptions are found in tombs of the XIIth Dynasty; some groups are so written cursively in early medical papyri, and certain' religious inscriptions in the royal tombs of the XIXth and XXth Dynasties are in secret writing. Fanciful writing abounds on the temples of the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. , PALAEOGRAPHY Hieroglyphic.—The main division is into monumental or epigraphic hieroglyphs and written hieroglyphs. The former may be rendered by the sculptor or the painter in stone, on wood, &c., with great delicacy of detail, or may be simply sunk or painted in outline. When finely rendered they are of great value to the student investigating the origins of their values. No other system of writing bears upon its face so clearly the history of its development as the Egyptian; yet even in this a vast amount of work is still required to detect, and disentangle the details. Monumental hieroglyphic did not cease till the 3rd century A.D. (Temple of Esna). The written hieroglyphs, formed by the scribe with the reed pen on papyrus, leather, wooden tablets, &c., have their outlines more or less abbrevi ated, producing eventually the cursive scripts hieratic and demotic. The written hieroglyphs were employed at all periods, especially for religious texts. Hieratic.-A kind of cursive hieroglyphic or hieratic writing is found even in the Ist Dynasty. In the Middle Kingdom it is well generally marked with I in classical writing, as -0, lb, " heart," in writing is the rule; for instance, b is often spelled j ceremonial viva! >nli wz, snb. " Life, Prosperity and Health," and in course of time '' was used in accounts instead of PA dmz, " total." Monograms are frequent and are found from the earliest times. Thus JJ , -f- mentioned above are monograms, the association of CI= and .1.\ having no pictorial meaning. Another common Sign. I Description. Name. Word-sign Phonetic Determinative Value. Value. Value. ~J) child hrd (khrod) youth ' face br (bor) br [br] .47>" eye ir.t (yori.t) lr it see, &c. mouth r (ro) r r forearm .('ei) [action of hand or arm] L=o arm with nbt " be strong " nbt violent action stick man with nbt " be strong " nbt violent action stick sm; sm; lungs and windpipe heart Lb heart heart and ? nfr windpipe sparrow ? sr in evil, worthless- widgeon s;.t s; bb ness, smallness bolti-fish In.t in bite, &c. tusk (I) Lbb " tooth " bb p cut branch (2) bw " taste " bw [bt] wood, tree threshing- bt bt floor sp.t sp 0 sun (I) r'"sun" (I) sun chamber, (2) hrw " day " (2) division of time J house pr pr ' flat land t' t' t' (boundless hori- I) libation bs.t bs bs zon, eternity vase wz wz wz cord on stick \~ basket nb.t nb C25 looped ? k k basket sickle ? m' m, tillage composite [mr ?] mr mr fire-drill z•.t(?) z' z' attendant's sms "follow " sms equipment 'O.-- knife ds dg cut, prick, cut- ting instrument characterized, and in its most cursive form seems hardly to retain any definable trace of the original hieroglyphic pictures. The style varies much at different periods. Demotic.—Widely varying degrees of cursiveness are at all periods observable in hieratic; but, about the XXVIth Dynasty, which inaugurated a great commercial era, there was something like a definite parting between the uncial hieratic and the most cursive form afterwards known as demotic. The employment of hieratic was thenceforth almost confined to the copying of religious and other traditional texts on papyrus, while demotic was used not only for all business but also for writing literary and even religious texts in the popular language. By the time of the XXVth Dynasty the cursive of the conservative Thebais had become very obscure. A better form from Lower Egypt drove this out completely in the time of Amasis II. and is the true demotic. Before the Macedonian con-quest the cursive ligatures of the old demotic gave birth to new symbols which were carefully and distinctly formed, and a little later an epigraphic variety was engraved on stone, as in the case of the [HIEROGLYPHICS ; ' ETC. Rosetta stone itself. One of the most char acteristic distinctions of later demotic is the minuteness of the writing. Hieroglyphic is normally written from right to left, the signs facing to the commencement of the line; hieratic and demotic follow the same direction. But monumental hieroglyphic may also be written from left to right, and is constantly so arranged for purposes of symmetry, e.g. the inscriptions on the two jambs of a door are frequently turned in opposite directions; the same is frequently done with the short inscriptions scattered over a scene amongst the figures, in order to distinguish one label from another. In modern founts of type, the hieroglyphic signs are made to run from left to right, in order to facilitate the setting where European text is mixed with the Egyptian. The table on next page shows them in their more correct position, in order to display more clearly their relation to the hieratic and demotic equivalents. Clement of Alexandria states that in the Egyptian schools the pupils were first taught the " epistolographic " style of writing (i.e. demotic), secondly the " hieratic " employed by the sacred scribes, and finally the " hieroglyphic " (Strom. v. 657). It is doubtful whether they classified the signs of the huge hieroglyphic syllabary with any strictness. The only native work on the writing that has come to light as yet is a fragmentary papyrus of Roman date which has a table in parallel columns of hieroglyphic signs, with their hieratic equivalents and words written in hieratic de-scribing them or giving their values or meanings. The list appears to have comprised about 46o signs, including most of those that occur commonly in hieratic. They are to some extent classified. The bee heads the list LL&I as a royal sign, and is followed by figures of nobles and other human figures in various attitudes, more or less grouped among themselves, animals, reptiles and fishes, scorpion, animhls again, twenty-four alphabetic characters, parts of the human body carefully arranged from to J, thirty-two in number, parts of animals, celestial signs, terrestrial signs, vases. The arrangement down to this point is far from strict, and beyond it is almost impossible to describe concisely, though there is still a rough grouping of characters according to resemblance of form, nature or meaning. It is a curious fact that not a single bird is visible on the fragments, and the trees and plants, which might easily have been collected in a compact and well-defined section, are widely scattered. Why the alphabetic characters are introduced where they are is a puzzle; the order of these is:— es U (?) t (?) P (?) —"— (?) — — TIToT (?) • Z 6 (?) o _ aII® '(?)q Three others, 4at~ and &co.., had already occurred amongst the fish and reptiles. There seems to be no logical aim in this arrangement of the alphabetic characters and the series is incomplete. Very probably the Egyptians never constructed a really systematic list of hieroglyphs. In modern lists the signs are classified according to the nature of the objects they depict, as human figures, plants, vessels, instruments, &c. Horapollon's Hieroglyphica may be cited as a native work, but its author, if really an Egyptian, had no knowledge of good writing. His production consists of two elaborate complementary lists: the one describing sign-pictures and giving their meanings, the other cataloguing ideas in order to show how they could be expressed in hieroglyphic. Each seems to us to be made up of curious but perverted reminiscences eked out by invention ; but they might some day prove to represent more truly the usages of mystics and magicians In designing amulets, &c., at a time approaching the middle ages. Demotic. Hieratic. Hieroglyphic. art, " who " . . . .) 7 4 q i+ new% my Perso ("Pharaoh ") . 4014) )j t I v^•_) // Pero End of Article: WEAK VERBS

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