Daniel A. Werning, "Ancient Egyptian prepositions for the expression of spatial relations and their translations. A typological approach", in: Eitan Grossmann, Jean Winand and Stéphane Polis (Eds.), Lexical Semantics in Ancient Egyptian, Hamburg: Widmaier, 2012, 293—346

Abstract

The article explores the static spatial meaning of basic prepositions in Hieroglyphic Ancient Egyptian, as compared to eight modern target languages. The tertium comparationis is the typological-linguistic tool of the Topological Relations Picture Series. The author identifies as the basic meanings of some Egyptian prepositions: m IN and FROM; r ATTACHED, CLOSE_TO, and TO; ḥr SUPERIOR (i.e. VERT_ON + ABOVE) and AT; and ẖr INFERIOR (i.e. UNDER + BELOW); as well as m ẖnw INSIDE and WITHIN, and IN_THE_MIDDLE; dp (trad. tp) head.LOC, AT_TOP, and AHEAD; ḥr dp ON_TOP and ABOVE. Further, he highlights the case of the conflation of the meanings BEHIND and AROUND in ḥꜢ, as well as the phenomenon of a “Paradoxical Figure–Ground Reversal’ as exemplified by Egyptian wrrt m dp (lit. great_crown IN head) “the Great Crown on the head’. Finally, the author suggests decomposing the dynamic meanings of prepositions as well as the dynamic meanings of verbs. He supports the analysis that, in contrast to e.g. English, in dynamic contexts, Egyptian prepositions often only encode the static source or goal configuration, but not the path proper.

Published In

Eitan Grossmann, Jean Winand and Stéphane Polis (Eds.), Lexical Semantics in Ancient Egyptian, Hamburg: Widmaier, 2012