Omophony and its contribution to the taxonomic question

abstract of my article published on the Proceedings of EVOA - Pisa 2018

published on 3rd August 2018, 10:48 pm

Why does the phonetic complement of a biliteral sign appear in some forms of a verb and not in others?

Why is a phonetic determinative employed in some roots and not in others?

Why are two consonants expressed one by one in a lexeme and by means of a biliteral sign elsewhere?

These questions raise serious doubts about the consonantal nature of the Egyptian writing system. The functional theory according to which the Egyptian writing is consonantal was proposed by Sethe at the end of the 19th century and uncritically accepted by the scholars of the following century until now. However, to answer those questions basing on this theory requires a good deal of a posteriori interpretations. Unfortunately, these interpretations are only rarely able to explain single cases and never to clarify the whole problematic. My work starts with a taxonomic approach: how is it likely that, during IV mil. a. e. v., a civilization invented a writing system with such features like consonantism, which emerged in alphabetic systems only 2000 years later? Re-starting from this doubt, raised by Gelb in 1960s, and after having briefly discussed the main theories which gained acceptance among the scholars, I propose a little series of examples taken from the Pyramid Texts and from the middle Kingdom Hieratic literature, which are able to demonstrate that the Hieroglyphic and Hieratic writing are syllable-sensitive.

This is the abstract of my article published on "Egitto e Vicino Oriente Antichi: Tra Passato e Futuro. Studi e ricerche sull'Egitto e Vicino oriente in Italia: I convegno nazionale Pisa 5-6 giugno 2017", edited by Marilina Betrò, Stefano de Martino, Gianluca Miniaci, Frances Pinnock for PUP (Pisa University Press), Pisa 2018, pp. 285-292. The volume can be brought here

Stefano Vittori

about the author

> previous article
Hymn to listening