know, I love eBay -- especially for books! I was searching
for a book on learning the basics about hieroglyphs,
and found someone offering this two-volume dictionary
set. It was an impulse purchase, but an interesting one.
This is another Dover reprint. The original books
were published by Budge in 1920.
Budge is Sir. E.A. Wallis Budge and the description
of the title page reads thus:
By Sir E. A. Wallis Budge, Knt., F.S.A.,
M.A. and Litt.D., Cambridge; M.A. and D.Litt., Oxford;
Sometime scholar of Christ's College, Cambridge, and
Tyrwhitt Hebrew Scholar;
Keeper of the Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities, British
As evidenced by his many titles Budge
was considered a foremost authority in Egyptian Antiquities.
However, Budge has been pretty much discarded as a
resource for serious egyptologists; many of his translations
and examples have been replaced by newer, more accurate
translations. For me, a complete novice, it's probably
good enough to get an idea, and his translations and
transcriptions of names are still fairly accurate.
However, if you are a serious scholar, there are a number of
later works that are considered more accurate.
Reading the introduction to this book is a good history of hieroglyphs,
early translations, and the vagaries of trying to
decipher the remnants of a language that hasn't been
used in millennia.
The dictionary, however, is of less use to the novice.
While the first part lists commonly used hieroglyphs
and their common definitions, is useful, the rest
of the dictionary is arranged in a confusing manner
that defies use. Words are ordered by their
transliteration in English, not by the actual signs
that are used. After awhile, it is obvious
how things are "alphabetized", but it is hard
to actually find things unless you know the English
transliteration of the word. Since the same sound
may be represented by more than one symbol, I haven't
been able to actually look things up in the dictionary
without knowing a lot more about hieroglyphs than
I originally thought.
More confusingly, the same transliteration can mean
be written in multiple ways, and each different "spelling"
means something else entirely. For example, mama (as
shown below) can mean 'to give light', 'to fan', 'the
drum palm' It all depends on the additions of determinatives,
or other non-sound symbols that alter the meaning
of the word.
Of course, Budge doesn't actually tell you that, or
tell you what signs in the word are not actually "sounds"
that are pronounced. This makes the dictionary harder
to use than it might be. That -- and the inability to
look things up the the symbol itself --makes this more
of a curiosity and interesting browsing book than
a usable dictionary (at least to someone who is not
actually able to read hieroglyphs already.)