A couple weeks ago we discussed the languages and scripts use throughout Egypt’s history. Even though we are currently discussing predynastic and pre-historic Egypt, I read an interesting article this week that I would like to share.
As Ethan mentioned a couple weeks ago, the Demotic language was used by the general public in Egypt from approximately 650 B.C. to the last-known use in 452 A.D.. The language is also well-known to scholars because it’s presence on the Rosetta Stone.
In an article in ScienceDaily, the editor of the new Demotic Dictionary, Janet Johnson, stated that the Demotic language was used in a number of Ancient Egyptian contexts, such as business and legal documents, religious literature, and scientific texts such as medicine and astronomy. Although Demotic was widely used during Egypt’s history, it has only been within the last half-century that research and scholarship has really expanded on this ancient language.
The Chicago Demotic Dictionary contains thousands of words that will allow Demotic scholars to decode more Demotic materials to better explain life in Egypt 1500-2500 years ago.
After looking into this new dictionary, I was curious if there were any other dictionaries on ancient languages. I came across an Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic dictionary by Budge, but after looking at some reviews, it seems that a lot of Budge’s material is out-of-date. The big difference between these two reference materials is that the Demotic dictionary seems more reserved for scholars, while there are a number of Egyptian hierglyphic study books aimed for the general public.
Thus, I propose the following question: Why do publishers aim books on decoding Egyptian hieroglyphics towards the general public, while it is only this year that a Demotic dictionary is being published – but still aimed more for scholars? I’m not insinuating that there are no scholar-orientated hierglyphic dictionaries, or that the general public has no knowledge of the Demotic script, but I find this discrepancy in popularity very interesting, and I am curious to hear what you guys think.