At 10:51 am -0400 27/4/02, John Cowan wrote:
>Raymond Brown scripsit:
>> [A]ncient Egyptian which, like the syllabary, didn't express
>> vowels (and, sadly, they are now lost probably for ever; so we don't
>> really know how pronounce the language), except that one symbol is
>> traditionally transcribed {i}.
>We have to distinguish between conventional and actual vocalism for
>Egyptian.  We construct conventional vocalism for convenience, so
>we can pronounce words and names when useful or necessary.  The
>rule is: pronounce ' as a, y as i, w as u, and insert e whenever
>things get hairy, so NFRTYTY becomes Nefertiti and 'MNShPSWT becomes

Quite true - and I find it rather amusing when TV presenters on some
'history/archeology for masses' type program take great pains in
pronouncing such names with great care and often 'foreign sounding'
annunciations, as tho the names were the actual ancient Egyptian forms.

This is particularly noticeable with Nfrtyty's (I wonder if we'll ever know
how her name really was vocalized?) husband whom we know popularly as
"Tutankhamun" (twt-'nx-imn)*.  It seems that these presenters will do
anything to avoid saying /"tu:tn=kamn=/ which plebs like me say; but the
result is that they remain as inaccurate as I am

* ' represent the symbol for "ayin", which is conventionally a reversed

>Work on the actual vocalism, based on Coptic and comparative Afroasiatology
>(ugh, what a word) is ongoing.

I know, and hopefully a more accurate picture will emerge, tho I think
without time travel we'll never get the full picture.  But any advance made
by such studies has simply got to be more accurate than the present system
which everyone in the know realizes is nothing but convention and has, as
far as vowels are concerned, nothing to do with the Egyptians (ancient or

But BrSc* will not suffer from this failing - the script will include a way
of marking the vocalism   :)

*this naming convention is being used for convenience, so we can name the
language when necessary.  Work on the actual name is ongoing.