Meroitic



The Meroitic language was spoken in Meroe and the Sudan during the Meroitic period (attested from 300 BCE) and went extinct about 400 CE. It was written in two forms of the Meroitic alphabet: Meroitic Cursive, which was written with a stylus and was used for general record-keeping; and Meroitic Hieroglyphic, which was carved in stone or used for royal or religious documents. It is poorly understood owing to the scarcity of bilingual texts.

The classification of Meroitic has long been uncertain due to the scarcity of data. It is much easier to ascertain which of the language groups of Sudan ancient and modern it is certainly not related to. For instance, there seems to be little sign of the complex prefixing and suffixing which make up most of the grammar of Coptic. Greek and other ancient languages of the Mediterranean region are well known, and Meroitic seems to bear little resemblance to these. A Semitic origin would, one suppose, have produced numerous words with three-consonant roots.

This leaves us with the numerous language groups of the "interior" - Nubian, etc. These of course are very poorly documented: in the Nuba Mountains in Kordofan the numerous groups and classifications were spelt out by R.C.Stevenson, who opines that Nyimang may be distantly related to both the Nubian-type languages and to the Nilotic, etc. languages such as Dinka and Acooli (Acholi) - the latter in Uganda - and the Kalenjin languages of Kenya. Claude Rilly (French pronunciation: in 2007 convinced the annual Nilo-Saharan Conference that Meroitic is an Eastern Sudanic language, closest to Nubian and other similar languages.


Meroitic Language Wikipedia





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