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Lesson IV : Basic signs (3)

1) Biliteral signs

Biliteral signs are signs that represent a combination of two consonants. The following list provides an overview of the most common signs.

04_a1w.gif (180 bytes) Aw
04_a1b.gif (117 bytes) Ab
04_iw.gif (167 bytes) iw
04_im.gif (100 bytes) im
04_in.gif (154 bytes) in
04_ir.gif (122 bytes) ir
04_iz.gif (126 bytes) is
04_a2a1.gif (112 bytes) aA
04_a2q.gif (160 bytes) aq
04_a2d2.gif (111 bytes) aD
04_wa1.gif (159 bytes) wA
04_wa2.gif (112 bytes) wa
04_wp.gif (153 bytes) wp
04_wn1.gif (166 bytes) wn
04_wn2.gif (122 bytes) wn
04_wr.gif (161 bytes) wr
04_wd2.gif (105 bytes) wD
04_ba1.gif (165 bytes) bA
04_bh2.gif (109 bytes) bH
04_pa1.gif (194 bytes) pA
04_pr.gif (117 bytes) pr
04_ph2.gif (131 bytes) pH
pics/hieroglyph_04_ma1.gif (155 bytes) mA
pics/hieroglyph_04_mi1.gif (127 bytes) mi
pics/hieroglyph_04_mi2.gif (138 bytes) mi
04_mw.gif (156 bytes) mw
04_mn.gif (119 bytes) mn
04_mr1.gif (132 bytes) mr
04_mr2.gif (118 bytes) mr
04_mh2.gif (137 bytes) mH
04_ms1.gif (184 bytes) ms
04_mt.gif (119 bytes) mt
04_mwt.gif (188 bytes) m(w)t
04_nw1.gif (109 bytes) nw
04_nw2.gif (140 bytes) nw
04_nb.gif (114 bytes) nb
04_nm.gif (111 bytes) nm
04_nn.gif (162 bytes) nn
04_nh2.gif (185 bytes) nH
04_ns1.gif (124 bytes) ns
04_nd2.gif (117 bytes) nD
04_rw.gif (148 bytes) rw
04_h2a1.gif (161 bytes) HA
04_h2w.gif (112 bytes) Hw
04_h2m.gif (113 bytes) Hm
04_h2n.gif (159 bytes) Hn
04_h2r.gif (117 bytes) Hr
04_h2s1.gif (116 bytes) Hs
04_h2d2.gif (103 bytes) HD
04_x1a1.gif (111 bytes) xA
04_x1a2.gif (114 bytes) xa
04_x1w.gif (144 bytes) xw
04_x1t1.gif (112 bytes) xt
04_x2a1.gif (153 bytes) XA
04_x2n1.gif (198 bytes) Xn
04_x2n2.gif (184 bytes) Xn
04_x2r.gif (130 bytes) Xr
04_za1.gif (169 bytes) sA
04_s1a11.gif (107 bytes) sA
04_s1a12.gif (133 bytes) sA
04_s1w.gif (116 bytes) sw
04_s1n.gif (124 bytes) sn
04_s1k.gif (130 bytes) sk
04_s1t11.gif (126 bytes) st
04_s1t12.gif (171 bytes) st
04_s2a1.gif (164 bytes) SA
04_s2w.gif (124 bytes) Sw
04_s2n.gif (105 bytes) Sn
04_s2s1.gif (94 bytes) Ss
04_s2d1.gif (152 bytes) Sd
04_qd1.gif (113 bytes) qd
04_ka1.gif (148 bytes) kA
04_kp.gif (116 bytes) kp
04_gm.gif (161 bytes) gm
04_gs1.gif (100 bytes) gs
04_t1a1.gif (109 bytes) tA
04_t1i.gif (115 bytes) ti
04_t1m.gif (129 bytes) tm
04_t2a1.gif (171 bytes) TA
04_d2a1.gif (123 bytes) DA
04_d2w.gif (126 bytes) Dw
04_d2r.gif (119 bytes) Dr
04_d2d1.gif (126 bytes) Dd


Some biliteral signs can also be used as ideograms. For instance, the sign 04_h2r.gif (117 bytes) can be used purely for its phonetic value in words such as 04_h2rjt.gif (398 bytes)  Hrj.t, "dread" and as an ideogram in the word 04_h2r-face.gif (109 bytes), Hr, meaning "face". Note the use of the determinative stroke in the latter example to indicate that the sign (Hr) is to be interpreted as an ideogram. Also note that the reading of 04_h2r-face.gif (109 bytes) still is Hr and that the sign 04_h2r.gif (117 bytes) thus could also be viewed as being a phonogram.
In fact, the phonetic value of the sign 04_h2r.gif (117 bytes) can be explained as being derived from the word "face" that consists of the consonants H+r.

2) Phonetic complement

Biliteral signs are often combined with one or exceptionally two uniliteral signs that have the same phonetic value as one of the consonants of the biliteral sign. Uniliterals used in this way complement the reading of the biliteral signs and are called "phonetic complements". They are not read separately but are part of the phonetic value of the biliteral sign.
For instance, the biliteral sign 04_mn.gif (119 bytes) is very often accompanied by the uniliteral 03_n.gif (114 bytes), but the combination of these two signs 04_mn-n.gif (135 bytes) is transcribed as mn and not as mnn. The added n only serves to complement the phonetic value of the biliteral sign 04_mn.gif (119 bytes).

In some cases, phonetic complements can help to distinguish between different values of the same sign. The sign 04_mr2.gif (118 bytes), for instance, can be read as Ab or mr. The combination 04_a1b-b.gif (172 bytes), however, must be read as Ab because the added b is a phonetic complement. Similarly, the combination 04_m-r-mr.gif (206 bytes) is read mr because the added m and r are phonetic complements.

An additional benefit, at least for the modern-day reader, is that phonetic complements betray at least part of the reading of the signs they accompany.
It must, however, be noted that none of the biliteral signs actually needs to have phonetic complements. Thus the signs 04_mn.gif (119 bytes) and 04_mr2.gif (118 bytes), for instance, can be written with or without any phonetic complements. This can cause some ambiguity in reading and in text interpretation, particularly for a sign such as 04_mr2.gif (118 bytes)that has more than one reading.
One of the conjugated forms of the verb iri, "to do, to make" is irr, which can be written both as 04_ir-r.gif (131 bytes) and as 04_ir-r-r.gif (148 bytes). In the latter case, the first r is a phonetic complement and the second r is part of the verb's conjugation. Another conjugated form of the same verb, however, is ir, which can be written as 04_ir.gif (122 bytes) and as 04_ir-r.gif (131 bytes). The group 04_ir-r.gif (131 bytes) can therefore be read as ir and as irr. Only a careful examination and a clear understanding of the context may help determining the intended reading.




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