By: Mercer, Samuel A. B.
Be aware that this text is exactly what its title says it is: a grammar. The text
is terse and to the point - out of the book's 184 pages, only the first 86 actually
contain English text. The rest are the selection of Egyptian readings (or
"Chrestomathy" as he calls it) and the sign list.
Furthermore, the copies printed by
Ares are exact duplicates of the original edition (1926, London). When this was
written, it was still a fairly safe assumption that anyone reading it had already
studied Latin and probably Greek. As a result, you will find this rough going if
you're not already familiar with grammatical terms borrowed from Latin and Greek. I
had some Latin and Anglo-Saxon before I was assigned this book as an introductory
text. Most of my classmates did not have that background. I learned a good deal from
this book; they, mostly, did not.
In short, if you don't know what a "dual pronoun"
is, you need a newer, friendlier book. I have some recommendations.
comprehensive introductory textbook aimed at those with a serious interest in
mastering Middle Egyptian, try "Middle Egyptian: an introduction to the language and
culture of hieroglyphs" by James P. Allen. If your interest is more casual, you may
find "How To Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs" by Mark Collier and Bill Manley helpful.
Both base their examples on texts found in museum pieces.
Alan Gardiner's "Egyptian
Grammar" is still fairly comprehensive, but decidedly dated. Avoid anything by
E.A.W. Budge - he published prolifically, but also sloppily. There are a great many
errors in Budge's work, which will cause you no end of headaches if you try and use
his texts as study guides.
Lastly, for a good dictionary try "A Concise Dictionary
of Middle Egyptian" by Raymond Faulkner. Note that this book is handwritten lecture
notes in published form, so it can be hard to read. The English index was published
as a separate volume, the "English-Egyptian index of Faulkner's Concise dictionary
of Middle Egyptian" by David Shennum. These two are expensive; refer to them at a
library if you can.
Reviewer: Will Martin