Mark J. Reed scripsit:

> Right.  AE didn't get written with the Roman alphabet, so first you have
> to indicate which transcription system you're using, and even then no
> one is sure about the actual sounds.  Completely at a loss for vowels,
> in fact, although I understand we have some idea about the consonants.

We have a firm idea of the consonants: they are all that is written in
the phonetic part of the orthography, and there is little or no dispute
about the pronunciation of any of them.

There are two sets of vowels for Egyptian: the conventional and the
reconstructed.  The conventional vowels are created by transcribing
every alef (glottal stop, CXS [?]) as either zero or "a", most yods as
"i", most waws as "u", every ayin (voiced pharyngeal fricatives, or [?\]
in CXS) as "a", and throwing in "e"s as needed for pronounceability.
Thus the royal name [twt ?\nx ?mn] with conventional vowels comes out
"Tut-ankh-amen".  This pronunciation has the advantage of being definite,
and the disadvantage of being definitely wrong.

Reconstruction of the actual vowels is based on comparisons with
other Afro-Asiatic languages and Egyptian borrowings into surrounding
languages, whether Afroasiatic or not.  This tells us that the renegade
Pharoah whose name is conventionally vocalized as "Akhnaton" was
probably [?axenjati(n)].  There are of course many different possible
reconstructions: infinite are the arguments of mages.

> NB: I find it interesting that "nah" represents /n&/ while "na"
> represents /na/ ("na na na na, hey hey-ey, good-bye"); yet "ah" in
> most Meanwhile, "yeah" represents /y&/,

This word is very variable not only betweeen, but within, dialects of
English.  For me it has a centralizing diphthong, [je@], that I don't
otherwise have.  I'd guess that whoever wrote this down first used a
pronunciation similar to mine.  The variant spelling "yah" probably
represents something closer to [j&].

All this paralinguistic stuff has very strange phonology and stranger
orthography.  I remember being quite surprised as a child to discvoer
that written "tsk" meant a click, and that written "er" was just a
non-rhotic spelling of [@], aka "uh".

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