An overview of the system
A temporal verbal system
Most scholars describe the Middle Egyptian verbal system as aspectual.
In contrast, Late Egyptian verbal constructions are temporal. For instance,
an independant middle egyptian sentence like *iw=i Hms=kw Xr nHt might mean
I am/was sat under the sycomore, the past or present reference depending
on context. In contrast, its Late Egyptian equivalent *tw=i Hms=kw Xt tA nht
describes a present condition.
An analytic system
Analytic vs. synthetic is a way of classifying languages.
A synthetic language has many different forms, and uses mainly morphology
to express grammatical features.
In contrast, ananalytic language usescompound contructs, and has typically
a simpler morphology. If you consider modern european languages,
for instance, English is more on the analytic side, and German on the synthetic one.
Late Egyptian is characterised by an increase of the use of analytic constructs,
like the pseudo-adverbial ones, and the disappearance of many synthetic constructs,
like the "circumstancial" sDm=f.
Also notable is the rise of periphrastic constructs. In the surviving morphological
constructs, the conjugated form is often replaced
by the conjugated form of , followed by the infinitive of the verb. This is systematic
with verbs of 4lits and more. For instance, the perfectivesDm=f (old iw sDm.n=f) of
would be : * iry=f ptpt xAs.wt nb.t : he has trampled the foreign countries.
Subordination and initiality
Late Egyptian forms subordinate forms are also quite clearly differentiated
from non-subordinate ones. Moreover, late egyptian has two forms which are specifically
used to continue a sentence. This forms are non-subordinate, but they can't stand
on their own : they are non-initial forms.
So it's possible to classify Late Egyptian forms along the two axis of subordination
A verbal form is subordinate if it fills the role of a circumstantial adjunct in a sentence.
A verbal form is initial if it can stand at the beginning of a text, or at the beginning of
a direct discourse.
These axis are independant, and we have the following classification :
|non initial||non initial main sentences||circumstantial forms|
- Autonomous forms
- they constitute a complete utterance on their own. Basically, they can stand alone.
- They are adverbial subordinates placed in front of a sentence. In LE, as in
ME, the normal place for a subordinate is after the main sentence. When it's not the case,
the presence of the subordinate is indicated by a specific marker like .
- Non Initial Main Sentences
- Also known as NIMS, these are forms specialised as continuative forms. In
Middle Egyptian, a number of forms could assume this function, but they where not
specialised. For instance, the ME sDm.n=f could act both as a subordinate and as
a continuative form, being translated either after he had heard (subordinate) or
and he heard (continuative).
In LE, two forms are available, the conjunctive mtw=f sDm and the sequential
iw=f (Hr) sDm. Note that Junge's grammar consider this last form as a
special use of the circumstantial iw, but that most other grammars consider
the sequential as a specific form.
These are adverbial subordinates put in front of the main sentence. Late Egyptian
has a number of explicit markers for these, the most usual being . An interesting
feature is that a protasis is an initial form, so the main sentence can be aNIMS.
e.g. Orbiney, 16, 8 :
xr ir sw Hr rmn nA n rmT : ir + first present
iw=f Hr ktkt m nHb.t=f : sequential (a NIMS form)
and when he was on the shoulder of these peoples, he had spasms of his neck.
- circumstantial forms
- normal adverbial subordinates may be formed with specific conjunctions,
but very often use the "circumstantial iw", , which converts any sentence into a