Egyptian Vowels

Greg Jordan jordan at
Fri Aug 24 18:33:10 EDT 2001

The Massoretes didn't *perfectly* preserve the vowels of ancient Hebrew,
as we know from earlier sources (see Sperber etc.). 
The other sources of info. on Egyptian vowels are early transcriptions
into languages with ways to represent vowels, and comparison to other
Afro-Asiatic languages and the reconstructed prehistory of the language
family. Plus some vowels can be surmised from Coptic (the liturgical
language of Egyptian Christians, descended from Ancient Egyptian,
written in a script that includes vowels). But even after all that, we
often have no idea for a particular word what it's vowels were. Thus the
"e" is inserted between consonants just so we can pronounce the Egyptian
words when we are talking about them :)

On Thu, 23 Aug 2001, Matthew R. Miller wrote:

> Hello to all,
> We know the vowels and thus the pronunciation of Hebrew because of the
> work of the Masorites, and by making applicaiton of modern pronunciation.
> While we may not be 100% sure of the vowels of Hebrew as, say, Moses knew
> them, we are probably pretty close. Obviously, Semetic languages were
> written without vowels, and I am currently learning the Egyptian
> hieroglyphs. Scholars have conveniently made every vowel to be a German
> "e" except after glottla stops, in which case it is German "a." My
> question is this: Is there any wya at all to ascertain any degree of
> confidence regarding the real vowels of the ancient Egyptians? Thanks,
> Matthew R. Miller
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