The ancient Egyptians gave us many great gifts. Papyrus. The pyramids. Bea Arthur. All of them products of that great and noble civilization thousands of years ago.

Much of their culture and knowledge are lost to us. How did they build their great and terrible sphinx, whose eyes always flit towards the sunrise, who will mysteriously consume saucers of milk left between his giant stone paws overnight? How did the pharaoh Akhenaton shape his skull to so closely resemble a butt plug? And, perhaps most of all, how can we decipher the enigmatic pictograms they used to communicate everything from the holiest secrets of the realm to directions to the nearest harem?

We may never know the answers to the first questions, but the last is finally here. A great and intelligent scholar condescended to bestow his wisdom upon the forums by translating their requests into hieroglyphs. I also personally recommend his blossoming hieroglyph translation Internet business, where I have ordered several tattoo designs that all roughly translate to a request for Ra to suck my balls. Read on for great wisdom and more hieroglyphic catchphrases than you could ever desire!

A Nation of Laws

One of the best things about going to college is that you get to take courses in subjects you never would have otherwise considered. Schools often make students pick concentrations within majors in order to focus the student's study. I'm a Literature major, but I also have a concentration in ancient literatures, and a language emphasis in Middle Egyptian Hieroglyphs. Before this year, I would have never considered it a language that I could learn.


Ok, so here's some cool background information. After all, you can't just jump into the second tense form and triliterals without knowing something about the history and language.

Egyptian history is divided into several eras. There are about two millennia of dynasties, and these dynasties are further divided into periods separated by intermediate periods. Chronologically, Egyptologists refer to the Archaic period (starting about 3150 BCE), the Old Kingdom, the First Intermediate period, the Middle Kingdom, the Second Intermediate period, the New Kingdom, the Third Intermediate period, and the Late period. Following the dynasties are the Ptolemaic period, the Roman period, the Byzantine period, and, finally, the Arab conquest of Egypt in 642 AD.

The language spoken in Egypt evolved, as languages do, into several variants. Late Egyptian hieroglyphs are very different from hieroglyphs from the Old Kingdom. I study Middle Egyptian hieroglyphs, which is what the standard theory of hieroglyphs is based on.

Fun Fact: hieroglyph means "holy carving," as the glyphs were mostly used in inscriptions on monuments.

Remember the Rosetta Stone? Around sixth grade, you learn that the Rosetta Stone was discovered and unlocked the key to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, but that's not exactly the case. It turns out that our knowledge of the language is severely limited. Much work is still being done to create and modify a theory for the language. The Rosetta Stone was crucial in helping linguists formulate what we do know about the language. The Rosetta Stone contains the same inscription in three languages: hieroglyphs, Demotic, and Greek. (Demotic is a language that was widely spoken in the later periods of Egyptian history. In fact, the name means "language of the people" because the common person could read and write it.) Linguists were able to translate between the languages on the stone, and the study of hieroglyphs took on a new ally.

A guy named Hans J. Polotsky proposed the first widely accepted and comprehensive theories of hieroglyphs. Later, a guy named Alan Gardiner brought a lot to the discussion. Now, Egyptologists refer to the standard theory of hieroglyphs, which forms the basis of our study, and is usually the first thing that students learn.


I will translate up to one sentence per person from English into Middle Egyptian. Keep in mind, however, that most things will not translate exactly. I can't produce a translation of "Linux fanboys suck" or "Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player who ever lived" without inventing new words in the language, and I barely have grasp of the words I do know, so try to make your suggestions reasonable. I reserve the right to not spend the rest of my life translating into middle Egyptian for you, but I will try to accommodate most people.

Here is an example of my work. Forum user Waffle Zone wanted a Valentine's phrase translated into as many languages as possible for a card he was giving someone, and here's what he got:

It reads, "There is a fire in my pants and it's burning for you." Not exactly, but the semantic meaning is preserved: there is a fire in his clothes, and it is burning for the reader of the sentence.

Let the games begin!

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