Egyptian Hieroglyphics Part 2

By Joseph Manning

Egyptian has a set of suffix-pronouns which identify person, number, and gender of verbs; these also act as possessives when used with nouns.

All but the first person singular are simply one or two phonograms with or without plurality marks (the three little lines pointing down).  Their grammatical function is made clearer in the sentence below.

This sentence structure is Verb-Subject-Object — typical of Middle Egyptian.


This first word is the verb ‘to be’ and it is composed of two phonograms. There is the consonantal ì followed by the chick symbol for w.

This verb is modified by a suffix-pronoun from the table above.  If you remember from the first sentence we worked with in the last blog post the wiggle line is n. Because it immediately follows the verb it marks first person plurality.  So what does all that mean?  The verb is ìw n or yoo en meaning “we are.”

The owl symbol is another repeat from our last post.  It still means ‘m’  and its still acting as a preposition, but this time it means ‘in’.  The next hieroglyph is the object of the sentence.  It is a biliteral.

This next hieroglyphic represents the consonant cluster pr and is a noun meaning ‘house’.

Finally, the last hieroglyph is from the table above.  It is a phonogram for f, and it is acting as suffix-pronoun for masculine, third person, singular.  Because it is connected to the noun it serves as a possessive.

So, the sentence reads as ‘ìw n m pr f’ or ‘yoo en em peref’ translated as “we are in his house.  This phrase could stand alone as a declarative statement, or it could be a dependent clause as in this example:

Notice this sentence is reversed to show hieroglyphic writing can be read right to left depending on the direction the creatures face.  This new sentence uses the last example as a dependent clause.  The new part begins with the verb ‘rejoice’

The verb consists of two consonants and two determinatives.  As before remember the football is r.  The rectangle is sh.  The word is rsh or resh.  The face and human are determinatives reinforcing the meaning of emotion.  The next hieroglyphic is a noun.

The first symbol is simply a biliteral composed of s and sh and it is followed by a determinative.  This word is sesh.  Together the two words make ‘resh sesh‘ or “the scribe rejoices.”  Combining that with the previous sentence the total is ‘resh sesh yoo en em peref’ and translates to ‘the scribe rejoices, (when) we are in his house.’

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