Language family: Afro-Asian

Language Group: Egyptian

Geographical use: (old) Egypt

Information: Extinct language. Egyptian history is usually split in five periods: Old Egyptian (from before 3000 BC to 2200 BC), Middle Egyptian (2200 BC to 1600 BC), Late Egyptian (1550 BC to 700 BC), Demotic Egyptian (700 BC to 400 AD) and Coptic (400-1400).

Old Egyptian was the written language of the Old Kingdom (1st-6th dynasty). Middle Egyptian corresponds to the Middle Kingdom (7th-17th dynasty).

Around 500 BC pharaoh Akhenaton introduced Late Egyptian. In this period the language experienced grammatical and phonetic changes. Just prior to the Persian rule Demotic Egyptian came up. It had an own writing (Demotic) and maintained its position during the various rules (Persians, Greek and Romans) until Coptic took over its role. Coptic was written in the Greek alphabet. After 700 AD Arabic slowly ousted Coptic until it disappeared completely around 1400. Coptic is still a liturgical language of the Coptic Church. (cfr Coptic)

As in Arabic and other Semitic languages, Egyptian is based on words of three consonants. The meaning of a word changes by adding various vowels. Spoken and written Egyptian were totally different. The only exception to this were the practical documents such as letters and business lists.