Today I will teach you the Egyptian alphabet. If you follow everything provided in this page, you will be able to read, write and pronounce the Egyptian letters quickly and easily. I'm providing the sound so that you can hear the pronunciation of the characters. Egyptian contains 28 letters (consonants and vowels). Below you will find the character, the pronunciation and sound. Once you're done with this lesson, I recommend visiting the Egyptian keyboard to practice.
The Egyptian alphabet is written from right to left and has no capital letters. The Egyptian script is called a running script. While in Latin script there is the option to write the letters separate or attached to each other, In Egyptian however you are forced to write MOST of the letters attached.
Consonants are used more than vowels; in fact, only long vowels are used, short vowels are omitted. For example the color "indigo" is pronounced banafsaji but written as bnfsji بنفسجي . As you can see, the word bnfsji is missing three vowels, but that is not a bad thing, the word is still clear but also shorter. It is not hard to read without vowels. Imagine I ask you to read a phrase in English which doesn’t have many vowels, try to read this: My brthr hs tw chldrn, my sstr hs svn kds. I don’t think it will be hard for you to read it, even without vowels. My brother has two children, my sister has seven kids. So in Egyptian you don’t need to write vowels because people will understand what you mean without them.
Since the script is cursive, the appearance of a letter changes depending on its position: isolated, beginning (joined on the left), middle (joined on both sides), and end (joined on the right) of a word. This is only done because for esthetic reasons. Letters look more beautiful that way. This fact is not very different from the English way of writing in Cursive. Look at this word mmm:
The green m looks different than the red one, because it starts the word; the blue letter looks also different (shorter tail) because it ends the word. Same thing with Egyptian, the letter is slightly different depending on its position in a word. Here is an example, the letter m in Egyptian looks like this:
The first green m looks slightly different than the second red m, the last blue m has a longer tail because it doesn’t have to connect to any letter to the left.
One last thing, we mentioned before that Egyptian does not use short vowels that much. In most cases it’s true. It’s assumed you already know what is meant without thee vowels. Sometimes, however, they might be needed. For example, if I remove the vowels from the word "help" we get "hlp", you can still understand it means "help". But if we write "wnd", does it mean "wind" or "wound"? That’s why the context is very important. So if I say "The wnd blew my hat away", you would assume I meant "wind" not "wound" because the latter doesn’t make sense in the sentence, that’s how Egyptian deals with this situation. However, sometimes even the context is not helpful. What do we do? We actually use the short vowels sometimes, by adding small characters on top or below a letter, called "diacritics". Look at the example here.
Now let’s look at the Egyptian example, remember, with Egyptian we start from the right:
In short, you will not see these characters a lot, unless you’re reading the Qur'an or children’s books. You don’t really need them anyways.
Can you read the following words?
Remember that letters start from right to left, so to be able to decipher the words you need to start with the first letter on the right. For example the word تایلند, it starts from right with
I hope you enjoyed this lesson about the alphabet in Egyptian. I recommend visiting the Egyptian keyboard to practice. If you have any question about this lesson please contact me here. The next lesson is below.