The native writing systems of Ancient Egypt used to record the Egyptian language include both the Egyptian hieroglyphs and Hieratic from Protodynastic times, the 13th century BC cursive variants of the hieroglyphs which became popular, then the latest Demotic script developed from Hieratic, from 3500 BC onward.
Most surviving texts in the Egyptian language are primarily written in the hieroglyphic script. However, in antiquity, the majority of texts were written on perishable papyrus in hieratic and (later) demotic, which are now lost. There was also a form of cursive hieroglyphic script used for religious documents on papyrus, such as the multi-authored Books of the Dead in the Ramesside Period; this script was closer to the stone-carved hieroglyphs, but was not as cursive as hieratic, lacking the wide use of ligatures. Additionally, there was a variety of stone-cut hieratic known as lapidary hieratic. In the language's final stage of development, the Coptic alphabet replaced the older writing system. The native name for Egyptian hieroglyphic writing is sẖ3 n mdww nt̪r or "writing of the words of god." Hieroglyphs are employed in two ways in Egyptian texts: as ideograms that represent the idea depicted by the pictures; and more commonly as phonograms denoting their phonetic value.
Egyptian hieroglyphs (// HYR-o-GLIF) were a formal writing system used by the ancient Egyptians that combined logographic and alphabetic elements. Egyptians used cursive hieroglyphs for religious literature on papyrus and wood. Less formal variations of the script, called hieratic and demotic, are technically not hieroglyphs.
Egyptian is the oldest known language of Egypt and a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Written records of the Egyptian language have been dated from about 3400 BC, making it one of the oldest recorded languages known, outside of Sumerian.
Egyptian was spoken until the late 17th century AD in the form of Coptic. The national language of modern-day Egypt is Egyptian Arabic, which gradually replaced Coptic as the language of daily life in the centuries after the Muslim conquest of Egypt.
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