Egyptian Vowels, and Hebrew ones

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at
Sun Aug 26 12:18:35 EDT 2001

We can also reconstruct quite a lot of Egyptian vowels, especially personal
names, from the Greek forms of names e.g. in the Egyptian Pharaoh lists of
e.g. Manetho. But this can be a precarious undertaking, as can be
demonstrated by comparing LXX and Hebrew forms of many Biblical names - and
for that matter English spellings of many place names of indigenous origin
in many parts of the world, actually even in England where many place names
are corruptions of Latin forms e.g. York from Eboracum. For the same reason
it is precarious to reconstruct the divine name from Greek versions.

Peter Kirk

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Greg Jordan [mailto:jordan at]
> Sent: 24 August 2001 23:33
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Cc: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: Egyptian Vowels
> 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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