Ancient Egyptian Language History
The ancient Egyptian language is the world’s oldest indigenous tongue and is linked to Berber and other Semitic languages such as Arabic, Amharic, and Hebrew. It is a branch of the Afro-Asiatic languages. Along with Sumerian, it is one of the oldest documented languages. It was used in the form of demotic until the 17th century in the middle ages in the form of Coptic. Its oldest known records date back to the mid-3rd millennium BC during the ancient kingdom of Egypt in 3400 BC. Hieroglyphs, which became the official writing system, were used to accompany the language. Egyptian Arabic, which took over following the Muslim conquest in the 7th century, has become the country’s official language. Check out the Ancient Egyptian Alphabet.
Ancient Egyptian Language Classification
The ancient Egyptian language’s transformational history may be split into six key historical sections:
Egyptian archaic (Before 2600 BCE)
It is the early dynastic and late predynastic period’s reconstructed language. On numerous works of art, like Naqada II ceramic vessels, also contains the first evidence of Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions.
Old Egyptian Language (2600–2000 BCE)
It was used to produce the pyramid texts, which are the biggest number of publications written in this language and were intended to exhibit autobiographical writings portraying old Egyptians, and it became the official language of the old kingdom and the first intermediate period. It is distinguished by the use of three ideograms, phonograms, and determinatives to denote plural.
Middle Egyptian Language (2000-1300 BCE)
It was given the name Classical Egyptian because it was used to create a wide range of textual writings in hieroglyphics and hieratic scripts, including mortuary texts such as coffin texts and wisdom texts that serve as a guide on how anyone can live a life that represents the ancient Egyptian metaphysical vision of the world. It was also used to chronicle the adventures of particular individuals, medicinal and scientific documents such as the Edwin Smith papyrus, and poetry poems of ancient Egyptian gods and rulers. Because the language was so powerful and widely spoken, the Egyptian dialect began to alter in order to resemble the classical middle Egyptian dialect. The grammatical structure of this language is quite similar to that of the former kingdom’s language.
Late Egyptian language (1300-700 BCE)
This language first arose in Egypt’s new kingdom, which is regarded as the apex of ancient Egyptian civilization. During this time, it had many rich spiritual passages and secular poetry, as well as many classicisms that emerged in historical and literary works. The gap between intermediate and ancient languages is much larger than the gap between middle and new languages. It also serves as an excellent example of spoken language. The hieroglyphic orthography also resulted in a huge increase in its graphemic inventory.
Demotic Language (600 BC – 400 AD)
It is a name from the Late and Ptolemaic periods of ancient Egypt’s vernacular. It has been in use for about 1000 years. The name demotic is derived from the hieratic (writing system) employed in the delta’s northern forms. During its existence, it went through three stages:
The Early Demotic Language
The majority of writings were written between the 26th dynasty and the Persian period, therefore it was formed in Lower Egypt between 650 and 400 BC. For administrative, legal, and commercial procedures and writings, the demotic language was employed.
The Middle Demotic Language (400-30 BC)
It is a writing phase that was widely employed for literary and religious writings. Greek was employed as the country’s governmental language by the end of the third century.
Late Roman Demotic Language
Writings, holy books, mummies, and graffiti-like those on the temple walls of Goddess Isis on Philae that you can visit during your journeys to Egypt-in Greek started to fade, but there are a number of written works from the first and second centuries AD, but unfortunately, most of the demotic texts decreased after the rise of Greek.
As the last direct descendent of the ancient Egyptian language, the Coptic language represents the culmination of the transition. Despite the fact that Egyptian hieroglyphics and demotic scripts may be used to write the language, the Coptic alphabet was heavily influenced by the Greek alphabet. From 200 AD to 1100 AD, the language was the official language of the country, and the last time it was spoken was in the 17th century. The language has only survived today as a liturgical language of the Coptic Orthodox Church, due to European scholars who acquired it from native speakers during the Renaissance. Egypt has taken the cultural change process to unprecedented heights. The majestic cities of Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, and Aswan provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness true wonder and magic in their fullest light, and if you want to make your experience even more memorable, board an enchanting Nile river cruise on Egypt’s beating heart with our Egypt tour packages.