Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Relationship between ancient Egyptian and Dagara? Part 2

Carried from Part 1

Peust’s chart overviews the strong compatibility restrictions of pairs of consonants with an asterisk (*) and absolutely no occurrences with (x). His strong restriction means that these pairs of consonants are clearly disfavoured, although they may appear occasionally. I take the occasional appearance of these consonants to mean that they are nonadjacent, again, however, Peust does not indicate any positional variations on consonantal incompatibility. Further, Peust omits the three consonants transcribed as 'a', 'j' and 'n' as he found they were not subject to strong restrictions (1999b:196).

Peust (1999b) does not discuss the general restrictions of these consonants such as articulatory sets or their positioning within a root therefore they will be discussed here supported by Greenberg’s (1950b) and Watson’s (1979) studies into verbal root consonantal compatibility restrictions.

As there are consonants that have been through internal developments, the articulatory divisions are discussed in-depth. I use the standard transcription (put in pointed brackets <> [or '' or "" here] ) along with their posited phonemic representation as put forward in Loprieno (1995:32), which is given for the Old Kingdom period (3000-2000 BCE) and Peust (1999b) for the Late Kingdom period (1300-700 BCE):

3.2.1 Labials

The labial series of consonants in Egyptian are:

/b/, 'f' /f/, 'm' /m/, 'p' /p/, ('w' /w/)

The co-occurrence restriction of consonants from the labial group in Egyptian is the most clear and rigorous of all the articulatory series. Although it is seen that the labials can combine freely with the labial glide /w/, Greenberg omitted the labial glide from his discussion because ‘w and y do not consistently pattern with any group of Consonants. It has long been realized that the so-called weak verbs of Semitic, containing w and y in various positions, are ‘rationalizations’ by which older forms containing root u and i were incorporated into the dominant triconsonantal schema’.(1950b:163). Specifically applied to Egyptian this is an instantiation of the “law of Belova” (Takács 1996:355). The initial 'w-' or 'j-' when found in an Egyptian triliteral root are, in many cases, part of the original root of Proto-Afroasiatic with the internal root vocalism *-u- or *-i-, therefore, PAA *C1uC2 > Eg. wC1C2.

These initial glides have previously nearly always been treated as prefixes, and as Watson (1979:100) points out ‘affixal elements do not obey patterning’ (in this root-level co-occurrence restriction, Egyptian is similar to Arabic). Instances can subsequently be seen of the labial glide 'w' /w/ patterning with other consonants from the labial series.

What is interesting from Peust’s chart (fig. 13) is that it shows that the labial glide 'w' /w/ does have strong restrictions against it co-occurring with the velar stop 'k'/k/ and the uvular (?) stop q /q/ .35

However, Watson (1979:105) states that 'w' /w/ does not show any significant patterning in verbal roots and so dismisses any discussion of its co-occurrence restrictions from his paper. Although, when looking at Watson’s root distribution table (1979:101) for first and second root position, in can be seen that the labial glide 'w' /w/ does not pattern with the velar 'k' /k/ or the uvular (?) 'q' /q/ either.36

Furthermore, from Watson’s chart 'w' /w/ is not seen to co-occur with 'p'/p/ and 'f'/f/, although this restriction is not evident from Peust’s chart (perhaps this is due to Peust analysing the nominal and verbal roots, so it can be assumed that /w/ patterns with /p/ and /f/ in nominal forms).

3.2.2 Coronal sonorants

The coronal sonorant series in Egyptian contains the consonants:

/r/, /n/ 37

Contrary to Peust’s (1999b) findings, that /n/ is not subject to strong restrictions, is the claim made by Greenberg (1950b:180) that ‘In Egyptian, verb roots with r and n in adjacent positions are rare.’ These two studies elicit differing results, again due to the grammatical nature of the data they analyse. Greenberg (1950b) specifically deals with verbal roots and not nominal, whereas Peust (1999b) analyses both. Watson (1979:104), who following Greenberg, only analyses the verbal roots gives a contradictory analysis to Greenberg’s claim of this articulatory series and states that ‘[r and n]…are not as exclusive in regard to combining with each other.’ Watson goes on to summarise this articulator series as ‘n and r seemingly ignore patterning altogether.’ (1979:105). Due to the contradiction between Greenberg and Watson’s claims on the coronal sonorants series, this would require a firmer investigation. Although on the surface, as with other Afroasiatic languages, it could be stated here that there is a gradient co-occurrence restriction involving the feature [+nasal] within the coronal sonorants that needs to be taken into consideration.

The articulatory set of coronals is further sub-divided in Egyptian as it is seen there are no co-occurrence restrictions of the stops patterning with the fricatives, although within these sets there are restrictions. This position is reflected in Semitic languages where the same co-occurrence is evident. Importantly there is a ‘rule of transposition’ that is exhibited in Semitic languages whereby the ordering of the consonants coronal stop + coronal fricative > coronal fricative + coronal stop.38

However, Watson (1979 104) states this ‘may have been observed in Egyptian but was not certainly so.’

3.2.4 Coronal fricatives

The class of coronal fricatives is:

's' /s/, 'z' /z/

The co-occurrence of these consonants is strongly disfavoured in Egyptian. Watson (1979:104) lists only two roots containing a co-occurrence of these consonants, but through such a low co-occurrence ‘one may tentatively admit exclusive patterning to have been at work’ (1979:104). Greenberg (1950b:180) also concludes that the co- occurrence of these consonants is ‘very rare’ and only cites one example known to him where they do co-occur. It is noted that in the Middle Egyptian stage of the language these two phonemes merged resulting in only /s/ (Allen 2000:16). It is seen that two distinct graphemes were still used that came to represent the one phoneme /s/ by the Middle and Late Egyptian stages.

3.2.5 Dorsals 39

The dorsal series of consonants are:

'g' /g/, /k/, 'q' /q/, /x/ /χ/

In Watson’s study (1979:103), there are absolutely no occurrences of this series of
consonants co-occurring together in the same verbal root
, and Greenberg notes ‘I Could discover no instances of Egyptian roots containing two different velars.’(1950b:179). Confusingly though, these two studies label these consonants as velar and post-velar. For Greenberg, the sign he transcribes as 'x' is commonly transcribed as 'x' and he terms this as a ‘post-velar’. Watson gives the Egyptological transcription as 'x', although he follows Greenberg in also terming this sound a post-velar. Loprieno(1995:33) gives the representation of 'x' as a uvular fricative /χ/.

Although Egyptologists are undecided as to whether this sound is thought to represent a velar or uvular fricative, it can be positioned into the dorsal set due to its incompatibility with the other segments in this series. 40

The sign, transcribed as 'q', is thought to be representative of either a uvular stop/velar ejective/labio-velar. Loprieno transcribes 'q' as a uvular stop /q/ (1995:33), whereas Greenberg (1950b) does not define the phonemic transcription of this sign and only posits the Egyptological transcription 'q' (although Greenberg (1950b:180) terms this sound as a velar). Peust (1999b:110) gives the phonemic representation of this sign as a labio-velar /k /. Watson (1979) also only gives a transcription of this sign but for him it is represented as 'q'. 41

Allen (2000:16) states that Egyptian 'q' is ‘A kind of k, probably like Arabic and Hebrew q ...or with some kind of “emphasis,” like q in some Ethiopic languages...’ Moreover, Greenberg (1950b:180) states that ‘the Semitic rules concerning the non-occurrence of velars and post-velars finds its correspondence in Egyptian.’ For clarity, therefore, it is proposed here that the Egyptian velars and ‘post-velars’ should be termed ‘dorsal’. As the term, ‘post-velar’ implies the inclusion into this set of any other sound that is articulated further back than the velar place of articulation (such as the gutturals). This is in line with the Arabic categorisation.

In Egyptian verbal roots, the co-occurrence restriction of the uvular stop/velar ejective/labio-velar 'q' /q/ /k’/ /k /, the velar stops 'g' /g/ and 'k' /k/ or the velar/uvular fricative "x" /x/ /χ/ with each other is upheld.

3.2.6 Gutturals

The gutteral series of consonants are:

/h/, /ħ/, "a" / /, "a" / / / /

Watson (1979:102) describes these consonants as being laryngeals ("a", ) and pharyngeals (, "a"), which ‘display a complex series of interreactions and are party to phonological rules, for the most part unformulated and little understood.’ Watson finds that these consonants ‘exhibit no degree of patterning whatsoever.’(1979:102). Although Greenberg claims that the combination is not found but , and do occur (1950b:180). 43

He outlines that the combinations of "a" with the other gutturals can be ‘understood as the development of r and l’ (1950b:180). It is evidenced that this phoneme, transcribed as "a", frequently corresponds to Proto-Semitic *r and *l, hence the dual representation given in fig.14f. 44

Watson states that ‘Egyptian A often represents etymological r and l as well as A’ (1979:102). Furthermore he discusses the developments of the other sounds ‘a, likewise, commonly derives from r and less frequently from l besides a itself; and finally H may under certain conditions reflect an original x.’

Conclusively, Watson states that ‘For the time being therefore it must be confessed that no rules of patterning among laryngeals and pharyngeals in Egyptian are immediately apparent and that, in our present state of knowledge no definite conclusions can be drawn.’ (1979:102-103). However, Petráček (1969) finds that 'h' shows incompatibility with 'h' and 'a'. This is also seen from Peust’s chart in fig.13. Interestingly, Rössler (1971) finds that 'a' shows restrictions with the coronal series 'd', 't' and 'z' (also seen in Peust’s chart). 45 As Watson pointed out, this series of Egyptian consonants demand further investigation.46

3.2.7 Ancient Egyptian internal phonemic developments It is evidenced that the series of consonants in fig. 14 have gone through internal developments; this is clearly seen with the analysis of their co-occurrence restrictions with certain articulatory sets. 47

(14) 's', 't', 'd', 'x'

The Egyptian sign transcribed as 's' is proposed by Loprieno (1995:33) to have the phonemic value / /. He states (1995:34) that this phoneme, when palatalised, corresponds etymologically to Afroasiatic *x. 48

This was Greenberg’s theory (1950b:181) although he was unable to support this with any etymologies. Watson (1979:103) shows that 's' ‘does not seem to pattern as though it were a sibilant, and it must be suggested that S behaves as though it were a (prepalatalised) post-velar.’

Although Watson does not discuss its exact phonological nature, he notes that in Old Kingdom writings there is ‘confusion between x and S’ (1979:106). The dorsal nature of this sign is evidenced in Watson’s chart that shows this through the incompatibility of 's' with velars where their co-occurrence is ‘rare.’ From Watson’s analysis (1979:101), this co-occurrence restriction is validated and further 's' patterns frequently with other sibilants, where it has already been discussed that the sibilant series do not pattern with each other. Peust’s chart (fig.13) omits this sign from the compatibility analysis.

The two signs transcribed as 't' and 'd', are given by Loprieno (1995:33) with the phonemic representation of the palatals /t / and /d / respectively (1995:33). 49 However, Greenberg (1950b:180) discusses the fronting of an original 'k' /k/ resulting in 't', and 'd' from a fronted 'g' /g/. Watson terms these sounds as being ‘prepalatalised’ 't' from 'k' and 'd' from 'g' (1979:103). Evidence for their prepalatalisation comes from their incompatibility with the consonants from the dorsal series. Watson’s chart shows that there are no co-occurrences of these two sounds with any consonants from the dorsal series. Greenberg (1950b:180) also sees the incompatibility of these sounds with the dorsal series, ‘It is striking therefore, that there are no verb roots in Egyptian containing both T and a member of the velar stops…it also appears that D does not occur in roots along with a velar stop.’50

A further sign - 'x' is known to be subject to internal developments. Loprieno (1995:33) gives the phonemic transcription of this sign as / / - a palatal fricative. Further, he states that this sound was also, along with 's', the heir of Afroasiatic *x (Afroas. *xanam > Eg. Xnmw “[the ram-god] Khnum” (1995:35)). Watson (1979:103) states that this sound was ‘prepalatalised’. In Watson’s analysis, he finds no instances of roots containing both 'x' and 'x' (velar/uvular fricative). This co-occurrence restriction evidences the prepalatalised nature of this sound. Peust’s chart (fig. 13) also shows that this sound has strong restrictions against its occurrence with the dorsal series of consonants ('x', 'k', although 'q' and 'g' are questioned marked) and interestingly with the three other signs that are subject to internal ‘prepalatalised’ developments ('t', 'd' and 's').

Greenberg’s (1950b:181) study concludes, ‘The general subject of the patterning of consonantal phonemes within the morphemes in Hamito-Semitic languages would seem to be a promising subject of investigation and one whose results must be kept in mind for their bearing on the historical analysis of this family of languages.’ Watson, in supporting the conclusions made in Greenberg’s ‘preliminary attempt’ is unequivocal in his conclusion: ‘...more important however is that the presence of this patterning in Egyptian helps locate Egyptian’s historical position within Hamito-Semitic [Afroasiatic] with slightly more precision that hitherto.’ (1979:105).

.3 Non-Semitic Afroasiatic languages Bender (1978) extended the consonantal compatibility restriction analysis to all the branches of Afroasiatic. Bender found ‘strongly positive results’ for Tamazigt (Berber), an autonomous member of the Northern branch, and the Cushitic languages Beja and Oromo. 51

Further he found ‘More equivocal positive results are obtained for Hausa, Mubi, and Logone (Chadic), Awngi and Sidamo (Cushitic), Welamo (Omotic), Koma (Nilo-Saharan), 52 and Proto-Indoeuropean (all verb roots). Negative results, equivocal or clearcut are obtained for Margi (Chadic), Kefa and Ari (Omotic), Kanuri and Masai (Nilo-Saharan), Proto-Bantu and Moro (Niger-Kordofanian).’ (1978:9). 53

Bender breaks down the consonantal restrictions into their articulatory classes such as labials, dentals (coronals) etc. and gives an overview of their positional incompatibility. Bender concludes that these results obtained show that ‘the co-occurrence restrictions are a good Afroasiatic isomorph, though it is see that Omotic is the weak link, and Chadic is also on the weak side.’ (1978:9-10). 54

The outline given of the consonantal compatibility restrictions evident in these languages primarily shows that these restrictions are not just characteristic of the Semitic language family, but of further language families in the Afroasiatic phylum as a whole. Secondly, that the restrictions are gradient in being (i) positional (adjacency of positions I-II stronger than positions I-III etc), and importantly, (ii) articulatory, as the gradient restrictions always involve the coronal consonantal series.

Source: Kirsty Rowan, Meroitic – an Afroasiatic language?, 2006.

Asar Imhotep puts forth:

The mere argument that because an African term has more than one meaning does not give grounds for dismissal of the obvious connections of Egyptian and the Niger-Congo languages.

Mystery Solver replies:

You simply cannot cherry pick one particular meaning of a word with multiple distinct meanings, out of convenience of the occasion at hand and pass it off as the root context, without understanding the underlying figurative nuance. Specific words are not created out of happenstance, whereby in a single language a specific word is invented many times over and where the meanings attached to each is entirely unconnected to the other.

Asar Imhotep puts forth:

This just goes to prove that linguists has the Egyptian language categorized all wrong in the first place. The reason you have so many definitions for the same word is more than likely it is a tonal language, or, as I have argued, it is an agglutinative language that “hides” various verbs and nouns (just like in the names for the land of Ta-Meri –- Kaa in Km.t and in BaKaa - both meaning Egypt). Ra Un Nefer expressed this point on pg 27 of Metu Neter when he brought out the fact there is no way for to ascertain the meaning of a word in Egyptian verbally unless it was a tonal language. For example the Egyptian word “a-au-au” has the following meanings.

Mystery Solver replies:

Having many contexts for a single term doesn't prove that a language is tonal. For instance, though not perhaps the best examples, in English, black could have many distinct meanings like:

'It was a black day'

'He/she has a black heart'.

'It is a black car'

'He sold the gun at the blackmarket'.

'The blacksheep of the family'

"The room went black"


"Don't let this cloud your judgement."

"He has a black cloud hanging over his head"

"The sky is clear off clouds at the moment"

The word here doesn't need any variation in pitch to be understood within the context it's placed, but more so, by its cotext. It is obvious that these terms have some consistent fugartive undertone, nowithstanding the different contexts.

Asar Imhotep puts forth:

Looking for the "root" of the words will NOT give you ANY indication of the many uses of the word and is why your assumption would not stand up to scrutiny in comparing Egyptian to any other language by the criteria you suggest.

Mystery Solver replies:

If you don't know the root of the word, then how can you just stubbornly go ahead and pick one out of its many distinct applications, and then use that as an argument to suggest that this word derived from so and so language, or that this is the shared common root or genetic link between the words from the host language and a foreign language, while ignoring the other different applications that don't seem to support that position? So of course, you have to have an idea of what the possible root of the word is, before you use it comparative analysis and ultimately, if necessary, reconstruct a proto-term for the proto-language.

Another discussant, Wally, puts forth:

5) Prove that the following expressions are NOT genetically/linguistically related:

EGYPTIAN:Bu nafret su em bu bon, "a state of good has become a state of evil"
WOLOF :Bu rafet mel ni bu bon, "a state of good has become a state of evil"

EGYPTIAN:mer on ef, "he loved"
WOLOF :maar on ef, "he loved passionately"

EGYPTIAN:mer on es, "she loved"
WOLOF :maar on es, "she loved passionately"

EGYPTIAN:mer on sen, "they loved"
WOLOF :maar on sen, "they loved passionately"

Mystery Solver replies:

You have to understand the either “neuter” or “genderless” terms, to be able to recognize their counterparts when they appear in gender suffixed or prefixed pronoun forms, as is the case above, with the term “nfr” - which becomes “nfr.t” [as feminine singular]. While some phonological similarity is obviously invoked in certain terms, like the case is between ‘bw” [Egyptian] and “bu” [Wolof], the “underived” or original application of terms must be examined to see if terms like “bw” [Egyptian], which appear to have multiple meanings, were reinvented multiple times [meaning - phonologically similar terms written in the same letters but without any relationship whatsoever] or simply took upon different disguises, with all ultimately converging on a common ancestral basic theme.

I am aware of ’n’ being used as a preposition, an adjective, a suffixed or dependent pronoun amongst its different applications, but not sure how or whether it relates to the term ‘on‘ used in the examples above, given that we are both familiar with the pronoun Egyptian terms [he, she, they] and the verb [loved] in question. If ‘n’ here does relate to ‘on’, then please clarify its grammatical application in the Wolof counterpart, and also please account for “passionately”, which doesn’t appear in the Mdu Ntr counterpart; for instance, is it denoted by some prefix or suffix [perhaps in the term ‘maar‘] or a lone-standing term [as in ‘on‘]. Whatever the case may be, I have a good hunch that it will weaken the seemingly smooth parallelism in the examples, by not repeating that level of parallelism in the substance behind the terms.

While one cannot rule out some level of relationship between the major African super-language phylums [be it through distant common origins or through historic contacts via immigration, trade networks or conflict], which should at any rate be expected and may well explain some similar terms appearing here and there, such links may or may not be strong when the languages in question are *elaborately* studied.

— Concludes.

Relationship between ancient Egyptian and Dagara? Part 1

Revisiting a case put forth by a forum discussant about language relationship between ancient Egyptian [generally placed in the Afrasan language phylum] and Dagara [generally placed in the Niger-Congo language phylum]:

Asar Imhotep puts forth:

In egyptian, some words are formed from this primitive i, all having an affirmative content of "to be". We have:
i: "to be"
i+w: iw: "is", "are"
i+pw, ipw: "it is"
i+nw, inw: "it is"

In dagara there is an identical system, also derived from the primitive i:
i: "to be"
i+na: ina: "to be, to exist"(egyptian: iwn, wn, wnn)
i+nu, inu: "it is"(egyptian: inw, nw, nu)

Mystery Solver replies:

Elsewhere, it is maintained:

‘i‘- suffix ~ I, me, my

And yes, iw ~ is

“pw” (masculine pl.) ~ these, this

“nw” ~ these, this and we also have “nw” ~ time, also “nw” (pl.) ~ belong to

Yes, “wn” and “wnn” ~ to be, to exist.

“sw”, “sy”, and “st” are all alternatives to “it”.

Again, it is a complex matter in Egyptic, and roots of words need to be sought out. Besides, based on this, there is obviously some mismatches between Obenga’s translations and the above.

Asar Imhotep puts forth:

Ancient Egyptians used the suffix -w and -wt for masculine and feminine, respectively:
pr, "house"; prw "houses"
dpt, "ship"; dpwt "ships"

In Dagara, we have:
nir, "man"; nibè, "men"
po, "woman"; pobè, "women"

The element -bè is indeed the element used by Dagari people to express the plural of substantives.

Laymen with no knowledge in linguistics will probably say that although the system is the same, the elements are different as -w,-wt is very different from -bè. That is why one should never draw a conclusion looking at the appearances. Phonetically m/b can evolve into w. Dagara may well have known the forms *niwè and *powè, that would have given the rise to the attested forms nibè and pobè. Actually the pharaonic suffix -w would correspond to the dagara -bè in the same grammatical functions. It is very plausible all the more so since the morphologies are identical.

Mystery Solver replies:

Highly speculative! Just about any language has a means to communicate plurality in one form or another.

Yes, appearances apparently matter, even to Obenga, as he dedicates portions of his lexical comparisons to similarities in lexical appearance, although he tries to argue for genetic basis for such relationship. If Egyptic and these languages come from common branch, one would expect to see not only grammatical cognates shared between the sub-languages of that common branch and Egyptic in attaining plurality, but also lexical appearance of those cognates, which I shall demonstrate in due time, as is exemplified in the case of the functions of “n” and “w” in Egyptic on one hand, and the function of “n” in attaining plurality across the Afrasan super phylum on the other hand. Also, not mentioned here, as it pertains to Dagara, is the grammatic structure of de-neutering terms, so as to attain “masculine” and “feminine” counterparts of a single term. In the Afrasan super family, there is consistency in this structure, along with consistency in lexical appearance in attaining this structure.

Asar Imhotep puts forth:

nfr: "beautiful, good, happy, perfect"
bw+nfr, bwnfr: "beautifulness, goodness, happiness, perfectness"
-bin: "bad"
bw+bin, bwbin: "badness"

Mystery Solver replies:

Yes, “nfr” ~ good, but can also imply “goodness” [Jim Loy, 1998], beautiful or beauty without modification to the term.

“nfrw” ~ goodness [e.g. mnw pw n zj nfrw.f ~ The monument of a man in his goodness - courtesy James P. Allen, 2000] , beauty . This term is apparently the alternative to ‘nfr’ and ‘bw-nfr’, yet doesn’t follow the pattern in question.

Whereas “bw-nfr” ~ good (as noun), as is “bw-bin” ~ bad (noun)

“wr” ~ greatness, yet does not abide by the pattern so-described.

‘bnr’ ~ sweetness, pleasant,
“bw-ikr” ~ excellence, which is not much different from plainly”ikr” ~ excellent, excellence, trustworthy

“bw” also means “place”.

Hence, taking up a few words here and there, without a broader look at the possible alternative uses of single terms, can lead to simplistic conclusions. Obenga himself unintentionally and partly directs us to the complexity of situation in Egyptic, in the following, by acknowledging “nfrw” as an alternative to “bw-nfr” to beautifulness…

Asar Imhotep puts forth:

a) nfr: "beautiful"
bw+nfr bunefer: "beautifulness"

b) nfr: "beautiful"
nfr+w nfrw: "beautifulness"

Mystery Solver replies:

…although, he makes it appear as though it is necessary to have co-occurrence of singular terms to relay the meanings so described; there is no evidence however, that single appearance of the terms in question relay anything different from their supposed co-occurrence. In fact, I’ve just provided an example which suggests otherwise [see above].

Asar Imhotep puts forth:

Egyptian: m(m pr: "in the house")
Dagara: mi(zu mi: "in the head")

Egyptian: m(m ssh: "as a scribe")
Dagara: me(me iba: "as a cayman")

Egyptian: n
Dagara: ni (fu ni u: "you and him")

4)"upon, on"
Egyptian: her
Dagara: zu (r/z)(yir zu: "on the house")

The sound correspondances are regular and do match:


Mystery Solver replies:

Yes ‘m’ ~ in; but not quite so simple as that; there is alternative term for it: ‘hr’ ~ in. In fact, Obenga’s repetition of this letter again for a totally different meaning, as the equivalent of “as”, is enough evidence of its use in totally different contexts.

The Egyptic terms for ’and’ from other sources, is “hr” or “hn“ [n with an accent of some sort] ~ and. Haven’t come across any source suggesting “n” ~ and.

Speaking of “hr”, it reappears in Mdu Ntr as the equivalent of “on”, “upon“, “at“, “through“, (conj.) “because“, “and” (with suffix pron.) or “face", which again attests to the problems with cherry picking one context of a single term that could possibly turn out to have one, two or three more other meanings. Again, the root of these terms may well shed light on their origins, and hence, account for parallel designations for the various contexts. Why? Because it is necessary to understand the context of the original term that begat other contexts, and to examine if a well defined figurative undertone accounts for this. With multiple contexts of a single term, one can't simply use it in one convenient context as though it were the root term, without first examining what was just said.

Asar Imhotep puts forth:

In egyptian, n is the first plural personal suffix pronoun (feminine and masculine). Let's suppose a reversed alternation happened between the two situations.

Mystery Solver replies:

Consistency across Afrasan languages is observed, no “reversed alternation“ to speak of.


--------------Beja-----Arabic----Dahalo-general non-past

you (m.)------>-tia<---->-ta<------>-to
you (f.)------>-tii<---->-ti<------>-to
you (pl.)----->-tina<--->-tum<----->-ten
they---------->-ina<---->-u:<------>-en, -ammi

Observe the plural suffix pronouns above, where ‘n’ consistently appears in the languages in question.

Asar Imhotep puts forth:

Precisely, in dagara, the second singular personal pronoun is fu, "you". In egyptian, f is the third singular personal suffix pronoun (masculine),"he". It would have been another inversion between dagara and egyptian.

Mystery Solver replies

Whereas in Afrasan we see clear consistency:

Word that ends in:

i = "I, me, my" - per.i = "my house"
k = "you, your" - per.k = "your house"
t = "you, your" - per.t = "your house"
f = "he, him, his" - per.f = "his house"
s = "she, her - per.s = "her house"
n = "we, us, our" - per.n = "our"
tn = "you, your" - per.tn = "y'alls house" best way to show its usage.
sn = "they, them" - per.sn = "their house"
ny(ni) = "our, we two" - per.ny = "We two's house"
tny = "you two" - per.tny = "You two's house"
sny = "those two" - per.sny = "Those two's house"
- posted by Wally

Taking that [Kemetic suffixes] and then comparing it with the above suffixes [from Beja, Arabic, Kabyle and Dahalo], we have:

And the pronominal object suffixes add credence:

me----------->-i,<--->-o -ni:<-->-iyi
you (pl.)---->-okn<-->-kum <---->-kən

^Compare with Kemetic examples:

'me' or 'I' ------> -i
'you' -------> -k
Plural suffix pronouns -------> -n

Independent pronouns in Egyptic, do no different:

“ink” ~ I

‘ntk’ ~ you (m.)
‘ntt’ ~ you (f.)

“ntf” ~ he, it
“nts” ~ she, it

“inn” ~ we
“nttn” ~ you (pl.)
“ntsn” ~ they


--------------Beja-----Arabic----Dahalo-general non-past

you (m.)------>-tia<---->-ta<------>-to
you (f.)------>-tii<---->-ti<------>-to
you (pl.)----->-tina<--->-tum<----->-ten
they---------->-ina<---->-u:<------>-en, -ammi

The main observation above, is the usual pattern for “t”, in the feminine terms, and reappearances of “n” in the plural terms.

According to Ali Alalou of Columbia University, we have the following "direct object pronoun" examples in "Berber language system" [using Tamazight dialect of the Central Atlas region, namely Imdghas and Dades Valley]:

'him' = 't'

'her' = 'ts'

'them' = 'tn'[Musculine plural]

'them' = 'ttn.t [Feminine plural]

'you' = 'tkwn' [Musculine plural]

Feminine pronoun - appearance of ‘s’

Plural pronouns - addition of ‘n’

Feminine pronouns - characterization by addition of ‘t’.

More object pronoun suffixes in Egypt, alternative to the previous citations:

‘sw’ ~ he, him, it

‘sy’ ~ she, her, it

‘st’ ~ she, her, it

‘n’ ~ we, us
‘tn’ ~ you (pl.)
‘sn’ ~ they, them

Feminine pronoun suffix - again addition of ‘t’

Plural pronoun suffix [both masculine and feminine] - addition of ‘n’


Beja definite article--Arabic noun endings--Kabyle obligatory prefix

------Masculine nominative singular------
[Beja df*] u:- ;[Arabic ne*] -u ;[Kabyle op*] w-

------Masculine accusative singular-------

[Beja df*] o- ;[Arabic ne*] -a ; [Kabyle op*] a-

-------Feminine nominative singular-------

[Beja df*] tu:- ;[Arabic ne*] -atu ;[Kabyle op*]t-

-------Feminine accusative singular

[Beja df*] to- ;[Arabic ne*] -ata;[Kabyle op*] ta-

[Notes on abreviations >

Beja df* =Beja definite article

Arabic ne* =Arabic noun endings

Kabyle op* =Kabyle obligatory prefix]


And now Kemetic terms, starting with the most popular term:

Km [Kem, Kam] ---- Musculine singular

Km.t [Kemet] ---- Feminine singular

Kmu [Kemu] ---- Musculine, assuming the role of an accusative adjective.

Kmu.t [Kemu.t] ---- Feminine, assuming the role of an accusative adjective.

Sa Kemet - male citizen of Kemet ---- Musculine noun

Sa.t Kemet - female citizen of Kemet ---- Feminine noun

Rome n Keme - people of Kemet ---- Muscline noun plural

Rome.t Kemet - people of Kemet ---- Feminine noun plural

Nehesi - [southerner] male ---- Muscline noun singular

Nehesi.t - [southerner] female ---- Feminine singular

Shepsu - the noble ---- Musculine plural

Shepsi[.t] - the noble ---- Feminine plural

What pattern is observed herein? Yes, the re-appearance of "t" in conversion of a term into its feminine form.

Asar Imhotep puts forth:

2) Pharaonic egyptian: Dagara:
ir.t: "eye" djir: "to see"

iri: "to see

Mystery Solver replies:

Egyptic term to see:

‘maa’ - ‘see’ [Jim Loy, 1998]

Asar Imhotep puts forth:

3) Pharaonic egyptian: Dagara:
nw: "to see, to watch" nyè:"to see"
nwa: "id." wolof: "nau"

Mystery Solver replies:

“nw” in Etyptic ~ of, belonging to [plural]; time; this, these

I can also understand how the glyphs for water can be read as “nw”, designating the plurality of the undulating symbols, nonetheless several sources read this as:

“mw” ~ water

Asar Imhotep puts forth:

4)Pharaonic egyptian: Dagara:
nwy: "water" nyu: "to drink"
niw, "primordial water" Kikongo:
-nwa: "id."
-nyua: "id."

Mystery Solver replies:

As noted above, alternative term for Egyptic ‘water’ is read as ‘mw’, while ‘nwy’ also has an alternative meaning of ‘return’ [e.g. Russell G. Schuh The Use And Misuse Of Language In The Study Of African History (an interesting read btw for students of African Studies); Jim Loy 1998]

Asar Imhotep puts forth:

6) Pharaonic egyptian: Dagara:
iw: "to come" wa: "to come"
yi: "to come"
wa.t: "road, way" yaa: "to come"

Mystery Solver replies:

“iw” ~ come; alternatives > “ii” and “nwy”

Enough demonstrations of the multiplicity of contexts that single Egyptic terms can have.


Leo Depuydt (Brown University):


The Origin and Development of the Ancient Egyptian Suffix Conjugation

Having been written as well as spoken for more than 4000 years, from about 3000-2500 B.C.E. to about 1000-1500 C.E., Egyptian is the world's longest attested language. A topic that deserves treatment in a comprehensive history of the language is the origin and the development of the suffix conjugation. When it first emerged in writing in the early third millennium B.C.E., Egyptian had two distinct ways of conjugating a verb according to person, gender, and number, or just person and number. The first is the suffix conjugation, in which suffix pronouns effect conjugation.

Suffix pronouns are attached to prepositions and nouns in both Egyptian and Semitic; to verbs only in Egyptian. In the suffix conjugation, suffix pronouns originally mostly follow the verbal stem, like .f "he" in Middle Egyptian stp.f "may he choose." But increasingly, they join a "conjugation base" preceding the stem, like .f in Late Egyptian bwpw.f stp "he has not chosen."

The only other conjugation in earliest written Egyptian was the stative conjugation, generally thought to be related to the West-Semitic Perfect and the Akkadian permansive. The stative conjugation is in a sense also a suffix conjugation. Its conjugation endings are attached to the verbal stem. In the second millennium B.C.E., the stative conjugation gradually lost its conjugation and became a stative form. Conjugation of the stative was henceforth effected either by the suffix conjugation attached to a preceding conjugation base, like .f in jw.f stp "he being chosen," or by a newly evolved proclitic conjugation, the third of a total of three conjugations found throughout Egyptian history, as in twj stp "I am chosen." The stative conjugation is known to Egyptologists also as the Old Perfective or Pseudo-participle; the stative form to Copticists also as the Qualitative.

In Afroasiatic terms, the Egyptian suffix conjugation appears to be an innovation. It is widely thought to have evolved from passive participles. But other theories have been proposed. Since the suffix conjugation appears fully developed in earliest written Egyptian, its origin and evolution belong to prehistory. Postulating patterns of evolution in languages is hazardous enough for the historical period. The present investigation makes statements about the suffix conjugation only in as far as they can be derived from facts from the historical period pertaining to this conjugation. I believe that the available facts have not yet been fully exploited to obtain a satisfactory theory of how the suffix conjugation came into being and evolved.

The passive participle theory remains the most plausible, especially if one considers that analogy must have played a crucial role, as it does in every linguistic evolution. Analogical formations are in a sense mistakes. Languages evolves in large part by error, as it were. But what is owed to analogy has been in danger of discrediting the passive participle theory because it is not logical in a certain sense. It will be crucial to identify that part of the suffix conjugation that derives directly from passive participles and that part that came about subsequently by analogy.


Any family resemblance with Egyptic?…

In his effort to demonstrate the "pragmatics of two Berber morphemes n (the space containing the addressee) and d (the space containing the speaker) and their grammaticalization", Ali Alalou says:

"[wt is a verb which means either 'to hit' or 'to throw something at someone'.]

Y -wt n wrba aryaz Y -ssigh *i
[threw something at -3p.Ms.Sg][towards the addressee][boy-Sub-Cons.][Man-DO-NotCons.][Hit -3p.Ms.Sg][me]

"The boy threw something at (towards the addressee) the man and hit me"

Y -wt n wrba aryaz Y -ssigh *agh
[threw something at -3p.Ms.Sg][towards the addressee][boy-Sub-Cons.][Man-DO-NotCons.][Hit -3p.Ms.Sg][us]

"The boy threw something at (towards the addressee) the man and hit us"

Y -wt d wrba aryaz Y -ssigh i
[threw something at -3p.Ms.Sg][towards the speaker][boy-Sub-Cons.][Man-DO-NotCons.][Hit -3p.Ms.Sg][me]

"The boy threw something at (towards the speaker) the man and hit me"


Ali Alalou (Columbia University) - Two Berber Deictics n & d: From Pragmatics to Syntax


Mystery Solver replies and cites:

Consonant Compatibility Restrictions in Egyptic and the Afrasan super phylum - another Pan-Afrasan grammatical trait, and other grammatical affinities:

From Kirsty Rowan, we have:

The first seminal study into consonant compatibility restrictions (or dissimilation) is Greenberg’s 1950b paper. 17 In this study, Greenberg analysed and discussed the evident restrictions between certain consonantal segments in the verbal roots, but not on derived forms, of Semitic languages. His investigation, which included the Semitic languages Syriac, Hebrew, Ugaritic, South Arabian, Ethiopic and Assyrian, was also extended to Egyptian, an autonomous branch of Afroasiatic. This led him to make the important assertion that ‘The general subject of the patterning of consonantal phonemes within the morphemes of Hamito-Semitic [Afroasiatic] languages would seem to be a promising subject of investigation and one whose results must be kept in mind for their bearing on the historical analysis of this family of languages’ (1950b:181). Bender (1978) extended Greenberg’s study to other branches of the Afroasiatic phylum and from the positive results obtained led him to conclusively state that ‘…the co-occurrence restrictions are a good Afroasiatic isomorph…’ (1978: 9

The following sections overview the restrictions that take place in a selection of languages from the Afroasiatic phylum.

3.1 Semitic Languages
3.1.1 Arabic

Of all the Afroasiatic languages, Arabic has one of the most well documented phonological dissimilatory processes in terms of its root consonantal system and this has led to many phonological discussions and analyses into these consonantal compatibility restrictions. The fundamental characteristic of Semitic morphology is the consonantal root template, where vowels are inserted between the consonants to make forms according to a CV template (McCarthy 1979). Subsequently, Semitic languages are classed as having a non-concatenative morphological system. The most common root type throughout the Semitic languages is the triliteral root form whereby a root is made up of three consonants, although, Semitic roots can also be biliteral and quadriliteral. Greenberg’s (1950) study specifically dealt with the combinations of consonants that could occur in the triliteral root forms.

A Semitic triliteral root can take the form such as /drs/ made up of three consonants or ‘radicals’. These fixed ordered consonants have a range of templates where vowels are interspersed, depending on the grammatical form, which can also take inflectional affixes, shown in the following example:

(1) a. daras-a ~ ‘he studied’
b. dars-un ~ ‘a lesson’
c. diraas-ah ~ ‘studies’
d. daaris ~‘studying’

Greenberg’s (1950) study showed was that the combination of consonants that can make up a root in Arabic is restricted. There is not a free co-occurrence of consonants. These restrictions depend upon the placement of consonants within a root. Therefore, a triliteral root has consonants in the placement of C 1 C 2 or C 3 positions:


C1 C2 C3
|  |  |
d  r  s

The adjacency of the positions C1 C2 , and C2 C3 was found to have the strongest restrictions in which consonants could occur, with the non-adjacent C1 and C3 positions still having an avoidance constraint, although a weaker one. Greenberg (1950:162) concluded that not only are identical adjacent consonants prohibited in a root but also that consonantal homorganicity (non-identical consonants sharing the same place of articulation) were strongly disprefered. McCarthy (1979; 1988; 1994) developed Greenberg’s observation, specifically with regards to Arabic, and demonstrated further that the consonant compatibility restrictions were fundamentally determined by the place of articulation and furthermore by the major manner feature of [sonorant] for the coronal place articulator.

(3) a. labials [f, b, m]
b. coronal sonorants [l, r, n]
c. coronal stops [t, d, −t , −d]
d. coronal fricatives [ð, θ, s, z, −s, −z, ]
e. dorsals [g, k, q]
f. gutturals [ , h, , ħ, , χ ]

Fig. 4 shows Kenstowicz’s (1994:163) results table of the distribution of a sample of triliteral roots with adjacent consonants; C1 C2, and C2 C3: 20


labial   cor.son  cor.stop  cor. fric  dorsal  gutteral

labial   0        210       125      138       82      151

cor.son  196      15        122      161      165      208

cor.stop 118      153       7        26       29       105
cor.fric 196      211       58       5        89       168
dorsal   118      167       66       105      1        79
gutteral 211      252       148      182      81       11

The table shows the vertical column represents the first adjacent consonant with the horizontal column representing the second adjacent consonant. The series’ are given of the consonants depending upon their place of articulation. What can be seen from the table is that there is an overwhelming dispreference for two adjacent consonants of a triliteral root sharing the same place specification (diagonal axis highlighted in bold). 21

Furthermore, analyses of the first and third consonants in a triliteral root also show a dispreference for the consonants sharing the same articulator, as shown in the following table, again taken from Kenstowicz (1994:164)

labial   cor.son  cor.stop  cor. fric  dorsal  gutteral

labial   20       88        53       37       41       79
cor.son  97       76        52       83       47       85
cor.stop 36       53        9        29       28       45
cor.fric 93       127       61       14       46       88
dorsal   74       72        44       53       3        54
gutteral 126      162       66       85       64       37

It is evident that there are a high proportion of occurrences of the coronal sonorant consonants [n, l, r] that can occur in the nonadjacent first and third positions of a triliteral root, subsequently the coronal sonorant set is separated to distinguish between [+nasal].

Conclusively, this data shows that there are consonantal compatibility restrictions in Arabic verbal roots, whereby the occurrence or non-occurrence of consonants is determined by their articulatory place specification.

3.1.2 Tigrinya
Tigrinya is an Ethio-Semitic (South Semitic) language that also shows the same restrictions as Arabic on the occurrences of consonants within a root (Buckley 1997). Even though Tigrinya does not share the exact phonemic inventory as Arabic, it is still seen that the co-occurrence of these consonants rests upon which articulatory sets they are divided into, and again the class of coronals is further subdivided. The Tigrinya inventory has the following classification: (6) 23

a. labials [f, p, b, −−p, m]

b. coronal sonorants [r, n, l]

c. coronal stops [t, d, −t]

d. coronal fricatives [s, z, −s, ]

e. velars [k, g, −k, k , g , −k ]

f. post-velars [h, , , ħ]

Buckley (1997) draws upon a corpus of Tigrinya verb roots and finds that there are no roots containing adjacent identical consonants. However, there are some roots found with nonadjacent identical consonants (1997:12):

(7) sls ‘plow a field for a third time’
l l ‘raise, lift off the ground’
trt ‘tell stories, old traditions’

Although, Buckley points out that some of these roots have known historical origins in roots without identical consonants, such as / sls / is the root for ‘three’ where in Ge’ez it is / ls /. Further, Buckley states that only 12 such roots exist in his corpus of 2744 roots. But what is salient about this data is that the roots with nonadjacent identical consonants nearly always involve the coronal articulator class. Within the coronal sonorant class, Tigrinya makes a further distinction between the feature [+nasal]. As Greenberg (1950:172) noted, the coronal sonorant /n/ can occur freely (whether adjacent or nonadjacent) with /l/ and /r/, but there is a strong prohibition on the liquids /l/ and /r/ occurring together. As Buckley (1997:14) states ‘…the most salient feature among the sonorants is [+nasal], splitting the members into two classes /n/ and /l, r/. Within either class the co-occurrence restriction is absolute in effect, but across the classes the effect is weaker.’ As with the Arabic co- occurrence restrictions, the feature [+continuant] is needed to define two further subsets of the coronal class in that the coronal fricatives ([+continuant] /s, z, −s/) can occur with the coronal stops ([-continuant] /t, d, −t/) but the co-occurrence of these consonants from the same subset is disprefered. 24

In light of the occurrences of adjacent and nonadjacent coronal consonants, this major articulatory class has to have further subdivisions.

Moving on to the velar class of consonants, Tigrinya exhibits an interesting contrast between plain velars and labialised velars. Whereby the co-occurrence of plain velars is strongly prohibited, whether adjacent or nonadjacent, the co-occurrence of labialised velars is more particular. Although in adjacent position labialised velars are prohibited, they can co-occur in non-adjacent position. Buckley’s (1997:15) study does not take into account six suspicious cases of co-occurring labialised velars in quadriliteral roots. He omits these from his analysis because he believes these are cases of historical reduplication of biliteral roots or from a triliteral with infixation (where the same process is attested in Arabic). Furthermore, he proposes that these suspicious cases, and the asymmetry between the plain velars and labialised velars is due to the labialised velars not being inherited from Proto-Semitic, but attributable from borrowed forms from the Cushitic substrate in Ethiopia.

3.1.3 Akkadian
Akkadian is classified as being an East Semitic language of the Afroasiatic phylum. The language, although now deceased, was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia and is known through written records – 2400BC to 100AD. The following classification gives the inventory of the literary dialect of Akkadian (Reiner 1966):

(8) 25
a. labials [p, m, b]

b. coronal sonorants [n, r, l]

c. coronal stops [t, d, −t]

d. coronal fricatives [s, , z, −s]

e. dorsals [k, g, x, q]

Identical adjacent consonants are prohibited in Akkadian verb roots. Again, the root is almost canonically made up of three consonants, although some quadriliteral roots are attested. Reiner (1966:51) states that two adjacent homorganic consonants are also prohibited and puts this non-co-occurrence down to phonotactics as ‘both the first and second, and the second and third consonants of a root come into contact position in some inflectional forms.’ The co-occurrence of consonants that are drawn from the same articulatory set is prohibited in Akkadian. However, the set of coronal sonorants needs further explanation.

Akkadian makes the same distinction within the coronal sonorants of the feature [+nasal] as does Tigrinya. Therefore, the coronal sonorants /r/ and /l/ are prohibited to co-occur in the same root, although the coronal sonorant [+nasal] /n/ is allowed to co-occur with the [-nasal] coronal sonorants /r/ and /l/ but only when it is following - / ln/ or / rn / but never */ nl / or */ nr /. 26

Reiner (1966:50) labels these restrictions as ‘non-reversible’ and gives further instances of non-reversible clusters where these are all instances of consonants from the coronal articulatory set. 27

Further, she states that ‘…this list goes beyond occurrences limited to “root-incompatibility”.’ It is seen in (9) that when there are co-occurrences of coronals consonants, the primary coronal is drawn from the coronal fricative set and the secondary coronal from the coronal stop set and importantly these sequences are prohibited from co-occurring in reverse order (Reiner 1966:41):

(9) /st/, /sd/, /s−t/, /zt/, /zd/, /z−t/, /−st/, /−sd/, / t/, / d/, / −t/,

A further restriction is that two emphatic coronals cannot co-occur:

(10) */−s−t/

Moreover, this restriction on emphatic consonants co-occurring is evidenced when the consonants are drawn from across the articulatory sets. This is known as an instantiation of Geers Law (1945):

(11) */−tq/, */q−t/, */q−s/, */qq/

Reiner (1966:50) points out that it is difficult to discern in instances when these consonantal compatibility restrictions are not respected whether these violations are due to the ‘approximation of foreign words in the vocabulary’ or to ‘actual phonetic realisations.’ Furthermore, she addresses the issue that certain combinations such as /mb/ occur morpho-phonologically as a dissimilation of /b:/ in that /m/ and /b/ are not successive consonants in a root. However, as with other analyses of restrictions in Semitic languages of consonantal compatibility (Greenberg 1950), there are instances of geminated consonants in only second and third positions of triliteral roots but never in first and second position. Generally, this has been attributed to a diachronic process of alteration to the template pattern of biliteral roots transformed into triliteral ones.28

The instances of consonant compatibility restrictions in Akkadian are not restricted to root forms but can also straddle a morpheme boundary when the affix is Derivational. Reiner (1966:51) shows this with the example of the derivational morpheme prefix /ma/ /me/ which is dissimilated to /na/ /ne/ when the root contains a labial consonant. This same process is also evidenced in the Afroasiatic language Tashlhiyt Berber where there is a co-occurrence restriction on derived stems which can only contain one labial consonant, i.e. /b, f, m/. A derivational prefix containing /m/, such as the reflexive or agentive morpheme, will dissimilate from /m/ to /n/ when prefixed to a root that contains a labial consonant in any position (Boukous 1987; El Medlaoui 1995): 29

(12a) Reflexive prefix: m n   (12b)  Agentive prefix: am an

     m-xazar  ‘scowl’               am-las   ‘shear’
     m-saggal ‘look for’            am-zug   ‘abscond’
     n-fara   ‘disentangle’         an-bur   ‘stay celibate’
     n-kaddab ‘consider a liar’     an-azum  ‘fast’

The dissimilative process that can apply across morphemes, however, is not seen in other Afroasiatic languages such as Arabic as Greenberg (1950:179) noted. A root such as ftH ‘to open’ can have the nominal instrument prefix m- attached with no change on the labial quality of the consonants, therefore resulting in the form mifta:H ‘key’. Subsequently, two labial consonants can be adjacent when they belong to separate morphemes.

Akkadian and Berber are languages that apply the consonantal incompatibility rule to a higher order constituent, namely the word, rather than languages such as Arabic where it is restricted to the root.30

And now, examining this pattern in ancient Egyptian:

Compatability restrictions in Egyptic, courtesy Kirsty Rowan...

3.2 Ancient Egyptian
Ancient Egyptian is classified as being an autonomous member of the Afroasiatic Phylum and a such is positioned on its own sub-branch of Northern Afroasiatic. It is the longest continually attested language in the world and is fundamentally known through its writing system which appeared shortly before 3000 BCE and survived, in various stages, until the fifth century CE, although the spoken language was actively used for a further six centuries before being superseded by the Arabic language (Allen 2000).

Ancient Egyptian is a dead language, however, Coptic which is its last spoken phase is still used as the liturgical language of the Christian Coptic church in Egypt. Greenberg(1950b:179) addressed the issue of whether the incompatibility of consonants could be attributed to the Proto-Semitic period through a preliminary examination of Egyptian verbal roots (as Egyptian has such a long documented history), which are also formed by two or three consonants. Greenberg rested his investigation into this on certain series’ of consonants as the patterning of others was too obscure in Egyptian ‘because of the coalescence within Egyptian of consonants originally belonging to different and compatible series and sections’ (1950b:179).

Overall, Greenberg was able to specifically outline the most fundamental restrictions. Further studies on consonantal compatibility restrictions in Egyptian (Peust 1999b; Takács 1996; Watson 1979; Roquet 1973; Rössler 1971; Petráček 1969) have contributed to Greenberg’s (1950b) Egyptian consonantal incompatibility claims. 31

The main findings from these researchers are presented here, with an incompatibility chart taken from Peust (1999b:196). Although, Peust does not discuss the general principles that are behind these restrictions i.e. the restriction into root occurrence whereby there is a fundamental dispreference for identical first and second positional consonants etc. However, Peust’s (1999b) examination does detail how the data is counted.32

He goes on to state that ‘It is therefore to be assumed that the chart actually represents the consonantal incompatibilities as they were valid around the time of the late Old Kingdom. In the early Old Kingdom, not all of these incompatibility rules were already valid. From the Middle Kingdom on, Egyptian integrated a considerable number of loan words which did not conform with these rules, and consequently the system of compatibility restrictions was obscured.’ (1999:195). 33

Furthermore, the restrictions that Peust posits surely include the incompatibility of nominal forms as well as verbal (this is not explicitly stated but can be seen through his small use of data), whereas Greenberg and Watson kept to the analysis of only verbal forms. Consequently, I believe this can, at times, contradict the claims of incompatibility made by these scholars, as Greenberg outlined when looking at the incompatibility of Semitic roots ‘It is therefore striking that so many Semitic substantival roots have identical first and third consonants.’(1950b:168).

To be continued in Part 2.