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THE DEMOTIC DICTIONARY PROJECT

1992-93 Annual Report

Janet H. Johnson

The job of the senior staff of the Demotic Dictionary Project this year has been checking first drafts of entries for accuracy and completeness. In every case, all citations are checked, all references to secondary literature verified, and examples of the word used in compounds or in combination with the name of specific deities or geographical locations are added. Even for a relatively simple word this procedure involves numerous steps: first it is verified that all citations of the word from specific columns and lines of specific texts are accurate. Both the normal spelling of the word and any unusual writings are noted. All discussions of the meaning of the word, whether by the original editor of the text, by any subsequent re-editor, or by any other scholar commenting on the word or the passage, are considered and care is taken to ensure that the meaning given in the Demotic Dictionary fits every passage in which the word occurs. An attempt is made to identify both the main meaning of the word and secondary or "extended" meanings, including literary or legal nuances and the like. The ancestor(s) of the word are checked in the Wörterbuch der Ägyptischen Sprache (edited by Adolf Erman and Hermann Grapow and published, by the German Academy between 1926 and 1931) and the descendant(s) of the word are checked in the four major Coptic dictionaries, three of which discuss the etymology of the Coptic word. Since the meaning of a word used as part of a compound may not be apparent, such compounds are being included in the Demotic Dictionary; the same procedure is followed in writing these entries. Examples of the word used in connection with a divine name, a geographical name, or in a string of titles associated with an individual may indicate special associations and thus are cited in transliteration and translation, all of which must be double checked.

As an example of the type of material included in an entry, and as an example of the kind of work involved in checking the entries for accuracy and completeness, I include here one entry which was completed this year. The word w is attested in hieroglyphic and hieratic inscriptions from the Old Kingdom through the Greco-Roman period. It may mean "district, territory" in general or have the more specialized meanings "country" vs. "city," "administrative district," or "arable land." Although the word was read by Griffith in P. Rylands 9 (a Persian period Demotic petition for redress of wrong suffered by a priest and his descendants), the word was not included in Erichsen's Glossar. (Note that full bibliographic references for these and all other publications cited in the sample entry and accompanying "Text Information" are given in the accompanying "Abbreviations and Bibliography.") We include the citation from P. Rylands with references to Griffith's discussion and the discussion of another scholar who has suggested a different reading and translation of the word in question. Because there is a geographical name attested in a papyrus preserved in Cologne which begins with a word that has been read either w or w|h≥ "establishment, settlement, region," we also include cross-references to w|h≥ and the very similarly written h≥r "side."

The Wörterbuch notes that the word w is frequently found in a genitival construction indicating the geographical location of the "district." It also cites examples of the compound w-pqr, the name of the sacred district in the town of Abydos. This compound is also found in Demotic texts and is cited in Erichsen's Glossar under the entry pk in the expression w(ª)-pk. We have examples of alternative spellings of this compound and cite three examples (spelled variously w-pq, w-pky, and w-pkr|) from Roman period religious texts. In the one case where the staff of the Demotic Dictionary Project has emended the reading and/or translation of the compound, we note what the original editor's readings were and where his discussion can be found. We cite the (Old) Coptic spelling of the compound and summarize the discussion of the etymology of the term pqr in the compound. Since the compound is a geographical name, we also provide a reference to Gauthier's geographical dictionary, in which are collected examples of the term from hieroglyphic texts of all periods accompanied by a discussion of the localization of the term. In the one example from these three texts in which the geographical term w-pq is found in conjunction with the name of a deity, the passage is cited in full, giving the name and epithets of the deity.

Demotic texts contain examples of the noun w in two other compounds. Ww-[Hu]r "district of (the god) Huorus" is written partly in Demotic, partly in hieratic. The Wörterbuch reference and references both to Gauthier and Gardiner's study of Egyptian geographical terms are given. The w (nt) h≥r-Èb Mn-nfr "district (which is) in the midst of the city of Memphis" is attested only in three Ptolemaic period documents. We provide references to discussions of the reading and meaning and localization of the compound. Because every example of the word w in our corpus is included in this entry, an infinity sign is added to the initial citation, in transliteration, of the word.

Figure 1a. Sample page of the Demotic Dictionary. Figure 1b. Sample page of associated appendices. Thus, by the time the Demotic Dictionary Project staff member has finished checking this entry, he has verified nine examples of the word w, checked each for variant spelling, consulted eight secondary discussions of the word, checked six dictionaries for meaning and etymology of the word, assured himself that the meaning of the word being suggested in the dictionary fits all Demotic attestations (alone, in compounds, and in phrases together with the mention of a specific deity or the like), and provided cross-references to all other entries in the dictionary where this word, or a related word, is discussed. The final step is insertion of the facsimiles of the individual citations. These facsimiles are prepared using the computer-produced gray-scale scans which I have discussed in the last couple of Annual Reports. If the scan itself is not clear in the printout, a black and white "lineart" copy derived from the gray-scale scan is used. Future users of the Demotic Dictionary who are working from a copy of the actual computer files (i.e., "on-line" rather than in printed form) will be able to copy these gray-scale scans of individual citations to a graphics program and do further enhancement of brightness and contrast as they check details of the writing of the word.

While this checking of entries in the dictionary was being done by senior staff, other members of the staff began checking all the non-Egyptian citations in the dictionary. Throughout the period when Demotic was written, there were important non-Egyptian speaking and writing communities in Egypt; during much of this period, the official language of government was either Aramaic (Persian period) or Greek (Hellenistic and Roman periods). Foreign vocabulary, transcribed into Demotic, appears occasionally in Demotic texts. Bilingual Greek/Demotic texts or archives occasionally allow us to identify the Greek equivalent of a Demotic term; especially frequently we have Greek equivalents for Demotic geographical names. We have attempted to identify and provide appropriate references for all such foreign words. Such entries require an extra level of checking to ensure that the foreign word is cited accurately and that the suggested equivalence is correct.

The rest of the staff has been completing two appendices that will be of fundamental value to people using the Demotic Dictionary: the "Bibliography of Texts Cited" (whether primary publications or secondary discussions) and "Text Information." The latter provides, for every text cited in the dictionary, the present location of the text, the publication history of the text, the date and provenience of the text, and whether or not the facsimiles we provide are based on photographs of the text or on a hand copy published by the editor of the text. What this entry for the word w, "region," will look like is shown in figure 1a which also shows relevant materials extracted from the "Bibliography of Texts Cited" and "Text Information" appendices (fig. 1b). The final dictionary will consist of thousands of such entries and vastly expanded appendices.

This year's staff included Joe Manning, John Nolan, and myself as senior staff ably assisted by Tom Dousa, Todd Hickey, and Alex O'Brien. We had a scare in January when John underwent emergency surgery, but we are delighted that he has recovered completely and is back at work "better than ever." We rejoiced with Joe when he was appointed Assistant Professor of Classics at Princeton. He begins in September and we shall miss him and his important contributions to the dictionary, but we wish him all luck in his new position. We hope that he, as Robert Ritner, will return occasionally available for questions and with bits of information for inclusion. The Demotic Dictionary Project has suffered one major loss this year; George Hughes, who from the beginning was our support and our reference, died in December. We miss him, we miss his knowledge, and we miss his encouragement. We aim to maintain the high standards that he set so that the final volume will be a fitting tribute to him and his work.

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