home edit page issue tracker

This page pertains to UD version 2.

UD for Egyptian

This is an overview based on the works cited in the README bibliography. Please note that this is a work in progress. A detailed description of each stage of Egyptian is planned to be published.


Egyptian comprises two main stages, Earlier Egyptian, which includes Old Egyptian and Middle Egyptian, and Later Egyptian, which includes Late Egyptian, Demotic and Coptic (for the latter see the Language Page for Coptic in UD). Earlier Egyptian is characterized by a synthetic syntax and Later Egyptian by an analytic syntax. In general, hieroglyphic and hieratic script were used for Old Egyptian, Middle Egyptian and Late Egyptian, while Demotic was written in demotic. In these scripts no blanks were used between words.

Tokenization and Word Segmentation

Egyptian texts are annotated with transcription characters. The Egyptian-UJaen treebank uses the Tübingen transcription system (see README). Classifiers are not annotated in the transcription of Egyptian texts because they have no phonetic value or because they repeat sounds expressed in the word, as phonetic classifiers do.

Words are separated by a blank in the transcription of Egyptian texts. A dot is used to separate the ending of a word from its stem, cf: nb.t “mistress” and nb “lord”. Suffix pronouns are attached to the word they follow by means of a double oblique hyphen, for example: nb.t ⸗f “his mistress”.

Compounds and fixed multiword expressions are connected by a hyphen, for example titles such as ẖri҆-ḥꜣb.t “lector priest” and complex prepositions, for example m-ḫt “behind”. A hyphen is also used to separate the man-impersonal noun ti҆ / tw from a verb form, for example: pr-tw “one shall go”.

Brackets () enclose the omission of an element in the text, while square brackets [] enclose a restored text. Curly brackets {} enclose typographical errors in the text, while the angle brackets <> enclose an emendation.


Tags and Features

The 17 Universal POS categories are found in Egyptian.

  1. Adjective (ADJ):
    • Old Egyptian and Middle Egyptian: There were a few primary adjectives, for example nb “every”, “all”. Most of them were deverbal adjectives such as nfr “good” and nisba adjectives such as n.i҆ “belonging to”, derived from the preposition n “for”. In attributive use, adjectives usually agreed in gender and number with the noun they follow.
    • Late Egyptian: Primary adjectives increased, while nisba adjectives were less productive than in earlier stages. Late Egyptian adjectives were usually derived from verbs. In attributive use they no longer agreed with their antecedents.
    • Demotic: The number of adjectives was smaller than in earlier stages of Egyptian. They were often replaced by a genitive construction. Demotic adjectives usually had the same gender as the noun they followed. Agreement in number of nouns and adjectives was rare.
  2. Adverb (ADV):
    • Old Egyptian, Middle Egyptian and Late Egyptian: The use of adverbs such as i҆m “there” was rare. Instead, adpositions (ADPs) were usually used, consisting of a preposition and a noun phrase. Adverbs generally occurred at the end of a sentence.
    • Demotic: The use of adverbs was more common than in earlier stages of Egyptian. Demotic adverbs fell into three general categories: quality, place and time.
  3. Interjection (INTJ):
    • All stages of Egyptian: The number of interjections was small in Egyptian texts. The most used interjections in Earlier Egyptian were and hꜣ, which usually accompanied the vocative. In Demotic, was also used to introduce the vocative. In Late Egyptian, the interjection i҆ꜣ had the meaning “truly”.
  4. Noun (NOUN):
    • Old Egyptian and Middle Egyptian: Nouns had no cases. There were two genders, masculine and feminine. The ending t was used not only to mark the feminine gender but also to form the neuter gender, especially in participles and relative forms, for example nfr.t “that which is good” i.e. “(the) good”. In addition, there were three numbers, singular, plural, and dual.
    • Late Egyptian: As in Earlier Egyptian, the noun had two genders, masculine and feminine and the ending t was used to mark the feminine gender. Contrary to Earlier Egyptian, the neuter gender was expressed with the masculine form. The noun had only two numbers, singular and plural. The dual forms were rare and just like the plural.
    • Demotic: As in earlier stages of Egyptian, the noun had two genders, masculine and feminine. Although the ending t was usually used in feminine nouns, it was only a graphic convention for it was not pronounced. The neuter gender was usually expressed with the feminine form. The noun had only two numbers, singular and plural.
  5. Proper Noun (PROPN):
    • All stages of Egyptian: Names of deities, kings and place names are annotated as PROPN.
  6. Verb (VERB):
    • Old Egyptian and Middle Egyptian: There were two verb conjugations, the “suffix pronoun conjugation” (SPC) and the “Old Semitic suffix conjugation” (OSSC). The SPC needed a noun or a suffix pronoun as a subject in a similar way as non-pro-drop languages, such as English. Most of the exceptions to this rule were due to phonographic reasons. The OSSC consisted of personal endings added to the verb stem similar to the verbs of pro-drop languages, such as Spanish. The SPC was based on a system of tenses: the past I śč̣m ⸗f (Past-1), the past II śč̣m.n ⸗f (Past-2), the present śč̣m ⸗f (Pres), the future śč̣m ⸗f (Fut), the bireferent future śč̣m.t ⸗f (Bi-Fut) and the contingent tenses śč̣m.i҆n ⸗f, śč̣m.ḫr ⸗f and śč̣m.kꜣ ⸗f (Cont). The SPC also had the subjunctive mood śč̣m ⸗f (Sub). The impersonal construction (Man-Imp) corresponding to “one” in English was effected by adding the noun ti҆ / tw to the SPC verb form, for example śč̣m.n -ti҆. In addition, there were two passive verb forms in the SPC, the past passive śč̣m.w ⸗f (PastPass) and the future passive śč̣mm ⸗f (FutPass). The past II śč̣m.n ⸗f, the present śč̣m ⸗f, the future śč̣m ⸗f and the passive forms could be used as abstract relative verb forms (Abstrel), i.e. nominal finite verb forms used syntactically as nouns, especially in the emphatic construction, the Egyptian cleft sentence with an adverbial phrase as focus. The SPC also consisted of adjective finite verb forms labelled “relative verb forms” (Relform). The OSSC complemented the SPC tenses. There were syntactic rules for the use of the OSSC in relation to SPC tenses. Thus, the tense, aspect and mood of the OSSC varied according to its syntactic function. The Early Egyptian verb system had an imperative (Imp) and infinite verb forms, which were the infinitive (Inf) and participles (Part). The infinitive was used as a noun and in two periphrastic constructions consisting of the preposition m / ḥr + infinitive (progressive present) and the preposition r + infinitive (future).
    • Late Egyptian: The SPC and the OSSC evolved. The core tenses of the Late Egyptian SPC werw the past I śč̣m ⸗f (Past-1), the prospective śč̣m ⸗f (Pros) and the terminative śč̣m.t ⸗f (Term). Although the past passive śč̣m.w ⸗f (PastPass) was still used, the Egyptian impersonal construction consisting of tw (Man-Imp) tended to replace the passive. Periphrastic constructions became more productive than in earlier stages. The OSSC or Stative tended to lose its personal endings, and it was used in the First Present. The infinitive became the most common verb form in Late Egyptian, and it was used not only in the First Present, but also in the Third Future.
    • Demotic: The SPC consisted of a past śč̣m ⸗f, a present śč̣m ⸗f and a future śč̣m ⸗f. The Egyptian impersonal construction (Man-Imp) and the passive śč̣m.w ⸗f were lost in Demotic. They were replaced by an active construction using the third person plural pronoun ⸗w. The OSSC or Stative, which lost most of its endings, indicated the state resulting from an action. As in Late Egyptian, the Infinitive was used in the First Present and in the Third Future.
  7. Adposition (ADP):
    • All stages of Egyptian: Adpositions were usually prepositions for they were used before a noun phrase. Prepositions occasionally showed different forms in status pronominalis (Pron.st) and status constructus (Cons.st.). Complex prepositions (CPs) such as m-śꜣ “in the back” i.e. “behind” are considered multiword expressions (MWE) and they were common in Egyptian. On the contrary, the use of postpositions such as the Old Egyptian one i҆ś “like” was rare in Egyptian.
  8. Auxiliary (AUX):
    • Old Egyptian and Middle Egyptian: The verb wnn “exist” was an auxiliary when used to express the tense of an adverbial sentence. The particle i҆w was also considered an auxiliary as it was used to express the present perfect in combination with the past II śč̣m.n ⸗f.
    • Late Egyptian and Demotic: There were also auxiliary verbs in Late Egyptian and Demotic, for example the Late Egyptian verb ḫpr followed by the infinitive was used to express iterativity and the Demotic verb wꜣḥ ⸗f followed by the infinitive was used to express the perfective aspect.
  9. Coordinating conjunction (CCONJ):
    • Old Egyptian and Middle Egyptian: Coordinating conjunctions were exceptional in Earlier Egyptian, for example rʾ-pw “or”. It should be noted that the Old Egyptian particle i҆śč and the preposition ḥr were occasionally used as a coordinating conjunction in Old Egyptian.
    • Late Egyptian and Demotic: Coordinating conjunctions were also rare in later stages of Egyptian. The conjunction rʾ-pw “or” became m rʾ-pw in Late Egyptian. Particles were also used as coordinating conjunctions in Late Egyptian, for example ḫr. The Demotic preposition i҆rm was used as a coordinating conjunction meaning “and”.
  10. Determiner (DET):
    • Old Egyptian and Middle Egyptian: There were four types of demonstrative pro-adjectives (Dem) with three genders, masculine, feminine and neutral. No article was used in Old Egyptian. The definite article, derived from the demonstrative pꜣ, tꜣ, nꜣ, is first attested in Middle Egyptian documentary texts. The first occurrences of the possessive article pꜣy ⸗f, tꜣy ⸗f, nꜣy ⸗f are also found in those texts.
    • Late Egyptian: The definite article, the indefinite article and the possessive article were usual in Late Egyptian. Earlier Egyptian demonstrative pro-adjectives were used only in high registers and they were replaced by a new type of demonstratives.
    • Demotic: It knew the same determiners as Late Egyptian, the definite article, the indefinite article, the Late Egyptian type of demonstratives and the possessive article.
  11. Numeral (NUM):
    • Old Egyptian and Middle Egyptian: There were ordinal and cardinal numbers. While “1” and “2” were adjectives, the other cardinals were nouns. Ordinal numbers usually followed a noun as attributives.
    • Late Egyptian: The number one preceded the item counted, while the number two followed it. Other cardinals were considered to be nouns as they preceded the item counted in a genitive construction. Ordinal numbers were formed with the prefix mḥ before the cardinal number.
    • Demotic: As in Late Egyptian, cardinals preceded the item counted except the number two. Numbers from 1 to 10 and 20 also had a feminine form. Ordinals consisted of mḥ + the cardinal number and they followed the counted item.
  12. Particle (PART):
    • All stages of Egyptian: Particles were common in Egyptian. A list of particles can be found in Egyptian grammars.
  13. Pronouns (PRON):
    • Old Egyptian and Middle Egyptian: There were three types of personal pronouns, the independent pronouns (IndPron), dependent pronouns (DepPron) and suffix pronouns (SFP).
    • Late Egyptian: The three types of Earlier Egyptian personal pronouns were also found in Late Egyptian, although the forms of the independent pronouns were different. In addition, Late Egyptian had a new type of personal pronoun called the proclitic pronoun (ProcPron) used only in the First Present.
    • Demotic: The types of Late Egyptian pronouns were also used in Demotic, although usually in a different form.
  14. Subordinating conjunction (SCONJ):
    • Old Egyptian and Middle Egyptian: n.tt and wn.t are considered to be subordinating conjunctions as they were used to subordinate sentences.
    • Late Egyptian and Demotic: The converter i҆w was used as a subordinating conjunction because it circumstantially subordinated a sentence.
  15. Punctuation (PUNCT):
    • Old Egyptian and Middle Egyptian: The use of a red structuring point (“Gliederungspunkt”) to separate sentences first appeared in hieratic texts from the end of the Middle Kingdom (ca. 1700 BC).
    • Late Egyptian: The red structuring point was commonly used in New Kingdom hieratic texts.
  16. Symbol (SYM):
    • Old Egyptian and Middle Egyptian: Some signs were probably used as symbols, for example: path132 (śrḫ) could symbolize the king’s palace or his tomb.
  17. Other (X):
    • All stages of Egyptian: Some words of unclear meaning and grammatical function are annotated with the tag X.


The following universal syntactic relations were found in Egyptian:


There is 1 Egyptian UD treebank: