Prounouncing Egyptian Names

I had an enquiry recently about how the names in my Ramose series should be pronounced. Amanda from black dog books thought it would be good to have a pronunciation guide like the one at the back of Dragonkeeper.

It’s not as easy as that though. No one knows what the language of the ancient Egyptians sounded like. The language is only known from written sources (which no one knew how to read until 18th century, but that’s another story). Also, when they wrote, the ancient Egyptians tended to leave out the vowels (a, e, i, o, u). So Ramose would have been written “rms”. The way we pronounce these ancient words today has come about through some clever guesswork.

I think the name most people have trouble with is Hatshepsut. They read it as they would read an English word, and think that the “tsh” should be pronounced together. It is in fact three separate syllables Hat-shep-sut. Easy.

Ramose should be pronounced Ra-mos-a, but lots of people tend to treat the “e” as a silent e.

I’m no expert on the pronunciation of ancient Egyptian words, so I could be saying them wrong too, but my advice is to split them up into syllables. So Tutankhamun is Tut-ankh-amun, Mutnofret is Mut-no-fret. I hope that helps.

7 responses to “Prounouncing Egyptian Names

  1. hi carole,

    always loved Egypt i now know most of the hierogliphics of by heart pronunciaton has never been a problam for me can you figure out this 1?

    Ankhenshepshesmet
    this was a real person name…
    Ank-hen-shep-shes-met

  2. Connor,
    I have no idea what it means. I know that ‘ankh’ is life. Shep is in the middle of Hatshepsut which means Foremost of noble women. So ‘shep’ could mean any of those words. Sorry I can’t help.

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