Languages and scripts in Egypt (under construction)
Languages, scripts, and their overlap
Trimegistos at this time does not distinguish language and script by splitting up this information in two fields, which would no doubt be the more correct scholarly procedure. For the later periods of Egyptian history, language stages are in general connected quite closely to a script, although some literary and especially religious texts may combine grammatical elements of several stages. Only in exceptional cases is this signalled in the field Language / Script, by 'anomalous: ' followed by a description of the linguistic-orthographic combination, e.g. 'Middle Egyptian written in Demotic script'. Click here for a full list of all texts with anomalous combinations of language and script. In all other cases one of the terms below is used, or a combination introduced by 'bilingual: '. Click here for a full list of all multilingual texts.
There is substantial chronological overlap between the four or five scripts developed to write down the Ancient Egyptian language. As said above, the various linguistic stages - Old Egyptian, Middle Egyptian, Late Egyptian, Demotic and Coptic - are not distinguished in Trismegistos for the time being.
The traditional Egyptian 'picture' script which is - in the period on which Trismegistos focuses - almost exclusively restricted to epigraphic monuments and some religious, funerary or literary texts. The term includes the cursive hieroglyphs used in for instance Books of the Dead as well. There are currently 5983 hieroglyphic texts in the Trismegistos Texts database. Click here for a full list.
The cursive form of hieroglyphic which was better suited for use on papyrus or other writing materials of daily life. In the New Kingdom hieratic was still actively used in the administration, but from the Third Intermediate Period onwards it only exceptionally appears outside a funerary, religious and literary context. It is replaced by abnormal hieratic and demotic. There are currently 6561 hieratic texts in the Trismegistos Texts database. Click here for a full list.
Inscriptions in Cypriot syllabary are not common in Egypt. Most of them are visitor's inscriptions in the temple of Karnak dating to the early fourth century BC.