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First Steps in Egyptian Hieroglyphics
A Book for Beginners
By E. A. Wallis Budge
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2003 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
The widespread interest in Egyptology which has sprung up during the last few years has produced an increased demand for books upon every branch of the science; Egyptologists have striven to meet this demand, and the wants of almost every class of student have been adequately supplied. Only the beginner has been somewhat forgotten. One of the chief obstacles to the study of the Egyptian language is the want of suitable material for elementary work, that is to say editions of texts of all periods of Egyptian history, which may be obtained easily and at a reasonable price. The main sources of information on ancient Egypt must always be such works as the Description de l' Égypte, the Denkmäler, the Select Papyri in the Hieratic Character in the British Museum, the editions of texts by Mariette, etc.; but these are only to be found in large libraries, and their great cost puts them out of the reach of all but the few. Moreover, many of the most important texts in them have been republished with corrections and emendations, and they have formed the subjects of special studies by various scholars who have issued the results of their labours either in the form of independent treatises or as contributions to serial archaeological periodicals. Thus there has grown up around the subject a large and scattered literature which the beginner cannot penetrate alone without loss of time.
The following pages have been drawn up with the view of helping the beginner to take his first steps in Egyptian. In brief, they contain a sketch of the commonest and most useful facts connected with the writing and grammar, short lists of the signs and determinatives which occur most frequently, a short vocabulary of about five hundred common words, a series of thirty-one texts and extracts, with interlinear transliteration and word for word translation, which belong to the period that lies between B.C. 4200 and 200, and a few untransliterated and untranslated texts, with glossary, to be worked out independently. The Introduction is intended to enable the beginner to use with advantage and with little loss of time any of the grammars which he will find in English, French and German, and it is hoped that the frequent examples of words in it will make him familiar with the use of the alphabetic and syllabic signs and determinatives. The hieroglyphic texts which follow the Introduction include examples of the chief divisions of Egyptian literature, historical, funeral, religious, moral, mythological, etc., and the aim has been to give passages which are at once interesting and complete in themselves. The translations have been made as literal as possible.
To learn the hieroglyphic characters and words the beginner is recommended to write them out frequently. Nothing will help him so much in this direction as copying inscriptions, and nothing will teach him the values of the signs and the meanings of determinatives and words so well as constant practice in writing and reading texts. He should note, too, that a few new words learnt correctly each day will, in a short time, enable him to read new texts.
E. A. WALLIS BUDGE.
London, August 31, 1895.
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