Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures
Traditional Egyptian II (Ptolemaic, Roman)
- Author(s): Engsheden, Ake
- et al.
From 404 BCE - 394 CE hieroglyphic texts were in general composed in the high-status language variety termed Traditional Egyptian. This was used exclusively in religious and sacerdotal contexts and is as such opposed to Demotic, which served both as a spoken and as a written language. Traditional Egyptian is a reflex of how the late scribes perceived the classical language. The result is a morphologically impoverished Egyptian (in comparison with the classical language), in combination with a phonology that corresponds largely to Demotic. Traditional Egyptian served as a vehicle for many new compositions, in particular religious inscriptions in temples and on papyri, but also funerary, historical, and autobiographical texts. Meanwhile, older texts in the classical language continued to be copied: as long as there are no reliable means of dating texts according to linguistic criteria, it remains difficult to establish the exact corpus of texts written in Traditional Egyptian.