Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Determinatives

Determinatives

Determinatives don't represent sounds, instead they imply meanings to phonetic (sound) characters and help eliminate confusion by putting the writings in proper context. These special characters clarify a statement by imparting a distinct meaning with their presence. The appearance of a determinative puts other writings in context.

Remember this puzzle?

eye-heart-u-puzzle_600x114

It could have several possible meanings:

I Heart You
Eye Heart University
I Love You

The addition of another image might add some clarity. The determinative doesn't represent sound, but adds meaning. Take a look at the same puzzle with the addition of another character.

eye-heart-u-cupid-puzzle_600x190

cupid_188x142The baby cherub shooting an arrow is one depiction of Cupid, the Roman god of love. By shooting someone with his arrow, Cupid caused them to fall in love. Using of this symbol in this context might imply that the statement relates to matters of love and emotion, which would make “I Love You” the only choice.

In this case, the cupid character implies meaning but has no spoken sound. Hieroglyphs worked the same way. The hieroglyph could add meaning but was not spoken.

Here are some examples of hieroglyphic determinatives:

Hieroglyph Represents Meaning
rain_100h rain from sky rain, dew, storm
papyrus-roll_100h papyrus scroll writing, teach, to know
 star_100h  star to teach
sun_100h sun sun, day, time
 scribe-tools_100h scribe’s tools scribe
man_100h man - seated man and his work
 woman_100h woman - seat woman
man-mouth_100h man - hand to mouth eating, speaking
man-slumped_100h man - slumped tired, weak
open-arms_100h arms shrugging not

All hieroglyphs that appear are included in the Horus-Advanced hieroglyphic font.

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