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Chicago Demotic Dictionary Refines Knowledge of Influential Language


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Posted 22 September 2012 - 01:19 AM

Chicago Demotic Dictionary Refines Knowledge of Influential Language

Completion of 37-year project benefits scholars of ancient Middle East

By William Harms

SEPTEMBER 17, 2012

"A dictionary of thousands of words chronicling the everyday lives of people in ancient Egypt — including what taxes they paid, what they expected in a marriage and how much work they had to do for the government — has been completed by scholars at the University of Chicago.

The ancient language is Demotic Egyptian, a name given by the Greeks to denote it was the tongue of the demos, or common people. It was written as a flowing script and was used in Egypt from about 500 B.C. to 500 A.D., when the land was occupied and usually dominated by foreigners, including Persians, Greeks and Romans.

The language lives on today in words such as adobe, which came from the Egyptian word for brick. The word moved through Demotic, on to Arabic and eventually to Spain during the time of Islamic domination there, explained Janet Johnson, editor of the Chicago Demotic Dictionary."

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