Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations

First Advisor

David B. O'Connor


This study is a thorough philological investigation of the ancient Egyptian word íc3w (usually transliterated c in Old and Middle Egyptian texts and 3 c c in Late Egyptian). The approach is diachronic, with consideration of the various manifestations of the word over more than three thousand years; all known occurrences are examined. The etymology is determined, its meaning is discussed, and its semantic development traced. Historical linguistic technique is employed to reconstruct the vocalization of the word and demonstrate its phonetic development. Evidence for differential development in the pre-Coptic dialectal forms is adduced. Phonetically similar words are introduced for comparative purposes, and much use is made of the vocabulary of Coptic. Lexicographical research is carried out on many ancient Egyptian terms. The methodology also requires the pursuit of questions of Egyptian phonology, orthography, and paleography. All the contexts of the word are presented, in order to ascertain the full range of its application and associations. Relevant non-linguistic factors—the associated artistic representations, and the distribution of the references—are introduced in conjunction with the textual material. In its literal meaning the word íc3w means “babbler” in reference to humans and “brayer” in reference to donkeys (the word normally transliterated c3). In its extended meaning, the word means “interpreter” when applied to Egyptians and “Egyptianized Nubian” (Nubian in Egyptian service) when applied to foreigners. In the conclusions, the historical and social implications of the usage of the term are reevaluated in the light of this new understanding of it.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."