Middle Egyptian Grammar

Middle Egyptian Grammar by James E Hoch, SSEA Publication XV, from Benben Publications, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

James E Hoch Middle Egyptian Grammar from Benben Publications

This was the required text for the correspondence / distance course offered, though I think they stopped offering it a few years ago, by the Oriental Institute in Chicago, which I signed up for way back in 1999. Though I didn’t manage to stick with it long, and have subsequently forgotten most of what little I learned, I recall the sense of sheer euphoria when I subsequently watched some documentary on Egypt and was able to read a short bit of a random passage from a column as it flashed by on screen …

“Translating Egyptian at the early stages is often more like puzzle solving than learning to speak a new language.”

“There is great for students in translating to ‘guess’ at the general meaning of a sentence. This is the worst possible approach, since Egyptian writers often said things that surprise us.”

“In any case, the student should expect to feel the language rather alien, and for the first few years one must constantly ask mechanical questions […] Often one must hold open two or three possible interpretations. With experience one can eliminate some possibilities, but building experience requires time. A good suggestion is to return to what one thinks is the right answer and then ask if there are any other possibilities. Sometimes one’s first inclination is far from the mark, and a good second consideration can lead to better interpretations.” — from the Preface