Lexical Semantics in Ancient Egyptian.

Author:Depuydt, Leo
Position:Book review

Lexical Semantics in Ancient Egyptian. Edited by Eitan Grossman; Stephane Polis; and Jean Winand. Lingua Aegyptia Studia Monographica, vol. 9. Hamburg: Widmaier Verlag, 2012. Pp. vi + 486. 69 [euro].

This stout tome publishes the papers of a workshop held on December 10-12, 2009 at the University of Liege, thirteen contributions preceded by an introduction by the first two of the three editors listed above. The University of Liege is also home to a newly founded lexicographical project pertaining to Late Egyptian called "Ramses."

The meeting was the "first (ever) ... devoted specifically to the topic of lexical semantics in Ancient Egyptian" (p. 1). Then again, a second meeting on the same topic soon followed, convened on November 5-7, 2010 at the University of Munster. The results of this second workshop have already been published in 2011 in Aachen, even closer to Liege than Munster already is, by Anke Ilona Blobaum, Kathrin Butt, and Ines Kohler as Lexical Fields, Semantics, and Lexicography, volume 9 of the series Aegyptiaca Monasteriensia. This volume's date would seemingly make the Munster meeting the "first (ever)" devoted to Egyptian lexical semantics to publish its acts. But is it?

Every Egyptologist knows that the most significant development in Egyptian lexicography of the last two decades or so is the renewed Berlin dictionary project of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy. So far, all efforts of this project have gone--and will go for some time--into making a vast searchable database of most if not all Egyptian and Demotic texts. The ever expanding results are made available over the internet (http://aaew2.bbaw.de/Tla/login) and periodically updated. These results have found many grateful users, including the present writer. It is assumed that, some day, they will serve as the foundation upon which a new comprehensive Egyptian dictionary will be built.

One product of the Berlin project was a conference relating to the ancient Egyptian lexicon that took place in Berlin on September 22-26, 1997. Its acts were edited by S. Grunert and I. Hafemann as Textcorpus und Worterbuch: Aspekte zur agyptischen Lexikographie in 1999. I commented on it in JAOS 120 (2000): 662-64. Can this conference claim precedence?

Not so, say the editors of the volume at hand. And that is because the aims of the Liege workshop differ from those of the Berlin conference. They write as follows (p. 2):

The aim of the present volume is not to provide studies about complete corpora of texts that will ultimately be the foundation of a reference dictionary of Ancient Egyptian, as desirable as that might be, but rather to address methodological issues touching upon several domains of...

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