Egyptian language

The Egyptian language (Egyptian: 𓂋𓏺𓈖 𓆎𓅓𓏏𓊖, Middle Egyptian pronunciation: [ˈraʔ n̩ˈku.mat], Coptic: ϯⲙⲉⲧⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ)[1][8] is an Afro-Asiatic language which was spoken in ancient Egypt. Its attestation stretches over an extraordinarily long time, from the Old Egyptian stage (mid-4th millennium BC, Old Kingdom of Egypt). Its earliest known complete written sentence has been dated to about 2690 BC, which makes it one of the oldest recorded languages known, along with Sumerian.[9]


r n km.t[1]
ϯⲙⲉⲧⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ (Coptic)
RegionOriginally, throughout Ancient Egypt and parts of Nubia (especially during the times of the Nubian kingdoms)[2]
EthnicityAncient Egyptians, Copts
EraLate fourth millennium BC – 19th century AD[3] (with the extinction of Coptic); still used as the liturgical language of the Coptic Orthodox and Coptic Catholic churches
RevivalRevitalisation efforts have been taking place since the 19th century[4]
  • Egyptian
hieroglyphs, cursive hieroglyphs, hieratic, demotic and Coptic (later, occasionally, Arabic script in government translations and Latin script in scholars' transliterations and several hieroglyphic dictionaries[7])
Language codes
ISO 639-2egy (also cop for Coptic)
ISO 639-3egy (also cop for Coptic)
Ebers Papyrus detailing treatment of asthma

Its classical form is known as Middle Egyptian, the vernacular of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt which remained the literary language of Egypt until the Roman period. The spoken language had evolved into Demotic by the time of Classical Antiquity, and finally into Coptic by the time of Christianisation. Spoken Coptic was almost extinct by the 17th century, but it remains in use as the liturgical language of the Coptic Orthodox Church.[3]