Egyptian language

r n km.t[1]
RegionAncient Egypt
Eraevolved into Demotic by 600 BC and Coptic by 200 AD. It is also the liturgical language of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria
  • Egyptian
hieroglyphs, cursive hieroglyphs, hieratic, demotic and Coptic (later, occasionally Arabic script in government translations)
Language codes
cop for Coptic)
ISO 639-3egy (also cop for Coptic)
Papyrus Ebers.png
Ebers Papyrus detailing treatment of asthma

The Egyptian language (Egyptian: r n km.t, Middle Egyptian pronunciation: [ˈraʔ n̩ˈku.mat])[3][4] was spoken in ancient Egypt and was a branch of the Afro-Asiatic languages. Its attestation stretches over an extraordinarily long time, from the Old Egyptian stage (mid-3rd millennium BC, Old Kingdom of Egypt). Its earliest known complete written sentence has been dated to about 2690 BC, which makes it one of the oldest recorded languages known, along with Sumerian.[5]

Its classical form is known as Middle Egyptian, the vernacular of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt which remained the literary language of Egypt until the Roman period. The spoken language had evolved into Demotic by the time of Classical Antiquity, and finally into Coptic by the time of Christianisation. Spoken Coptic was almost extinct by the 17th century, but it remains in use as the liturgical language of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.[6][7]


The Egyptian language belongs to the Afroasiatic language family.[8] Among the typological features of Egyptian that are typically Afroasiatic are its fusional morphology, nonconcatenative morphology, a series of emphatic consonants, a three-vowel system /a i u/, nominal feminine suffix *-at, nominal m-, adjectival * and characteristic personal verbal affixes.[8] Of the other Afroasiatic branches, linguists have variously suggested that the Egyptian language shares its greatest affinities with Berber,[9] and Semitic.[10][11]

In Egyptian, the Proto-Afroasiatic voiced consonants */d z ð/ developed into pharyngeal ⟨ꜥ⟩ /ʕ/: ꜥr.t 'portal', Semitic dalt 'door'.[12] Afroasiatic */l/ merged with Egyptian ⟨n⟩, ⟨r⟩, ⟨ꜣ⟩, and ⟨j⟩ in the dialect on which the written language was based, but it was preserved in other Egyptian varieties.[12] Original */k g ḳ/ palatalise to ⟨ṯ j ḏ⟩ in some environments and are preserved as ⟨k g q⟩ in others.[12]

The Egyptian language has many biradical and perhaps monoradical roots, in contrast to the Semitic preference for triradical roots.[13] Egyptian is probably more conservative, and Semitic likely underwent later regularizations converting roots into the triradical pattern.[13]

Although Egyptian is the oldest Afroasiatic language documented in written form, its morphological repertoire is very different from that of the rest of the Afroasiatic, in general, and Semitic, in particular.[14] There are multiple possibilities: Egyptian had already undergone radical changes from Proto-Afroasiatic before it was recorded, the Afroasiatic family has so far been studied with an excessively Semito-centric approach, or, as G. W. Tsereteli suggests, Afroasiatic is an allogenetic rather than a genetic group of languages.[14]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Egipties
አማርኛ: ግብጽኛ
العربية: لغة مصرية
azərbaycanca: Misir dili
Bân-lâm-gú: Ai-ki̍p-gí
беларуская: Егіпецкая мова
български: Египетски език
brezhoneg: Egipteg
čeština: Egyptština
Cymraeg: Eiffteg
dolnoserbski: Egyptojska rěc
Esperanto: Egipta lingvo
euskara: Egiptoera
français: Égyptien ancien
Frysk: Egyptysk
Gaeilge: An Éigiptis
한국어: 이집트어
հայերեն: Եգիպտերեն
hornjoserbsce: Egyptowšćina
hrvatski: Egipatski jezik
Bahasa Indonesia: Bahasa Mesir
íslenska: Fornegypska
italiano: Lingua egizia
עברית: מצרית
Basa Jawa: Basa Mesir
қазақша: Мысыр тілі
Kiswahili: Kimisri
Кыргызча: Египет тили
Limburgs: Egyptisch
Lingua Franca Nova: Egiptian (lingua)
македонски: Египетски јазик
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Ăi-gĭk-ngṳ̄
Nederlands: Egyptisch
日本語: エジプト語
norsk nynorsk: Egyptisk
occitan: Egipcian
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Misr tili
Papiamentu: Egipcio
پښتو: مصري ژبه
português: Língua egípcia
Simple English: Egyptian language
slovenčina: Egyptčina (stará)
slovenščina: Egipčanščina
Soomaaliga: Luqada Masaarida
српски / srpski: Египатски језик
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Egipatski jezik
svenska: Egyptiska
Türkçe: Mısırca
українська: Єгипетська мова
Tiếng Việt: Tiếng Ai Cập
粵語: 埃及文
Zazaki: Mısırki
中文: 埃及语