What are different types of hieroglyphics and how do you make English words with them?

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larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hieroglyphs in ancient Egypt by their very definition were sacred writing, and only used for sacred events. This is why they are typically found inscribed in tombs, pyramids, etc. They were not used for everyday script. They do not translate literally into English, because they are ideographs, each based on an individual thought; whereas English is a phonetic language based on sound. As the name "phonetic" implies, the English language system was developed from the Phoenician people.

Many scholars spent a lifetime attempting to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs without success; however when Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt and ordered his soldiers to build a fort at Rosetta, they uncovered the remains of an ancient monument containing writing in demotic, Greek, and Hieroglyphs. This was the famous Rosetta Stone. Even then, scholars spent some twenty years deciphering the hieroglyphs. The first word which they were able to decipher was the word "Ptolemy," the name of the then ruler of Egypt to whom the monument was erected. With this key, scholars determined the meaning of individual glyphs and have since translated the whole. In order to make words of them, you must know the meaning of the individual glyph, very similar to characters in the Chinese alphabet.

hannaog | Student

When Mesopotamians started using the wedge-shaped signs, the Egyptians created hieroglyphs; they had over 500 different ones. The Ancient Egyptians used three kinds of writings to write religious and secular texts: hieroglyphic, hieratic and, from the 25th Dynasty on, demotic.They could represent an object or an idea but could also represent a sound. Often, the signs would be painted in many different colors. The quality of the writing would vary from highly detailed signs to mere outlines. It was used in monumental inscriptions on walls of temples and tombs, but also on furniture, sarcophagi and coffins, and even on sheets of papyrus.