HOCH GLYPHSTUDY READING GROUP
Welcome to the GlyphStudy Learning to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs Program!
We're all in this boat together
Unless otherwise attributed, all pictures in the Study Guides are my own and were taken of artifacts located at either the
Field Museum or the Oriental Institute, both in Chicago.
This is a group learning program, overall moderator is Karen McCollam, the study group using
James E. Hoch's Middle Egyptian Grammar is moderated by Bob Manske.
You must purchase the book to participate. You can buy it from anywhere but a special discount is
available at David Brown Booksellers http://www.oxbowbooks.com/. Tell them you're a member of
the AEL group and they'll take 20% off the price. Instead of $50 it's $40. But shop where it's
convenient for you.
You will need to join Glyphstudy at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GlyphStudy/.
• http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GlyphStudy/ is the home page of all
Glyphstudy Projects and one you will need to access frequently. It contains
study guides, collations, a calendar, and discussions for all Glyphstudy
• http://bobmanske.com is where you will find pages dedicated to the study of
Hoch's grammar. You will find copies of the study guides, collations, and
calendar but also vocabulary pages which are easier to use than the lists in the
back of the book because you can search via your web browser, and reference
grammar material and forms paradigms which are updated regularly as we
progress through Hoch's grammar. Another goal of the website is to produce a
comparative grammar, synthesizing the material found in Hoch, Allen,
Gardiner, and others. You won't need to know that stuff for this course, and
you might want to wait until you've completed the course before you look at it,
but it'll be there. You can look at the astronomy stuff on that website, too, if
you want. That won't help you in this course either, but it's fun.
The Hoch group will proceed as follows:
• We are learning as a group but not exactly at our own pace. The group will adhere
to a schedule posted in the calendar. There is a calendar section at Glyphstudy and
a .pdf based calendar will be available at bobmanske.com/hoch.shtml at the bottom
of the page. The calendars will contain the assignments for the current chapter and
the next one, at least.
• Hoch's book has 16 rather large chapters. A university class could reasonably be
expected to complete each chapter and all the exercises, in two weeks. Since we
aren't full time students and we have other things to do in our lives, we'll go at a
slower pace. Provisionally, we'll take about three weeks just to do the reading. You
should use that time to post any questions or discussion you want to Glyphstudy.
Answer each other's posts. Even if your response is wrong it's OK because:
a) it'll get straightened out pretty quickly (myself or one of the other more
experienced members will lend a hand if things go badly wrong), and
b) we'll be able to tell which areas are giving people the most problems.
• A special note to those who have been through the Kamrin course. I won't be
answering questions in the homework. Questions should be asked prior to the
homework and posted on the Glyphstudy site.
• Once the reading is done, the homework begins. Generally, each of the exercise
sections at the end of the chapter will be due in separate weeks That will normally
mean about three weeks to complete the exercises for each chapter.
• You do not have to wait until the homework period has started to begin working on
the homework yourself. You probably won't need three weeks to read and absorb
the material in the chapter, so you should be able to get started earlier. If you wait
until the homework period, you will probably find yourself pressed for time,
especially in the later chapters.
• This proposed schedule is provisional. It will be adjusted as needed.
• Homework will be due on Sundays. So about half the Sundays will be a homework
Post your homework to GlyphStudyHOCHHMWKVolunteers. Only homework
should go there.
Post your questions/comments to GlyphStudy.
I suggest that you don't start working way ahead of the class. Some of the material
might be fairly easy for you and tempt you to start working fast, but if you have
questions or misunderstand some of the material, it might take weeks to get
straightened out. In addition, I might overlook your posts, especially because the
Yahoo search facility is broken.
• The Study Guides will tell you what the titles should be for your homework posts.
You will post your homework by e-mail to GlyphStudyHOCHHMWKVolunteers,
and you'll just type in some prearranged code as a title in the subject line of your e-
mail. Follow the Study Guides exactly on this. Here are the rules:
The homework assignment is located at the bottom of each Study Guide. The subject line
also appears there. Copy it exactly like that into the subject line of your post. All subject
lines must be completely in upper case (capital letters), only one space between words,
and no extra spaces at the beginning or end of the title. Numerals must appear exactly as
shown in the Study Guides, no quote marks or other diacriticals. The reason I'm being
such a stickler about this is that the Yahoo search facility no longer works, so it is very
easy for me to miss posts that don't have the exact correct titles.
• Once the due date has passed, I'll collect all the posts for the homework and put
them all in a single large file called a collation. The individual posts will not
contain your names. I might add some comments in red. Then I'll post them to the
files section on Yahoo Glyphstudy and to the collation section at the bottom of
• Very Important - Read ALL of the entries in the collations. Compare your work
with that of the other people in the group. Ask questions if you don't understand
the material or the responses - or you're not going to learn very much.
• You can do the math. Six weeks per chapter, 16 chapters. OK, I'll do the math.
About 24 months, more or less.
• Learning to read Egyptian hieroglyphs is not the easiest task you will ever have in
your life. Even a noted Egyptologist who has written a grammar on the subject,
Leo Depuydt, admits that no one reads this stuff off fluently. Yes, there are stock
formulae you can scan quickly when you look at some stelae or coffins in a
museum, but extended texts are hard. You will be dealing with a writing system
that doesn't give you any spaces between words, sometimes deliberately misspells
words, sometime deliberately puts words out of their normal sequence, doesn't give
you any of the vowels, and reflects the views and understandings of a completely
foreign culture, foreign even to modern Egyptians. You might translate a sentence
correctly and then wonder what the significance of "the falcon flew away to
heaven" might have. It means that the king (the falcon) just died (and his afterlife
has begun among the stars). We'll help you out with that kind of stuff as much as
There will be times when you get frustrated. It happens to me quite frequently.
Don't worry about it. Like gas, it'll pass. The rewards are fabulous. It won't make
you rich, but it will give you a sense of great accomplishment and it will make you
And if you're not very careful, you'll learn something.
• The people on Glyphstudy are all amateurs. We are almost all self-taught. Some of
us have taken courses but the majority have not. That being said, there are some
very knowledgeable people on Glyphstudy, and they will help if you give them a
chance. Take advantage of the experience that is being offered to you.
• Some of the people in this course have studied hieroglyphs before.
Glyphstudy began in 2005 with a course reading James P. Allen's grammar. That
group completed its work in 2007. Some of its members, myself included, are
currently in a translation group that GlyphStudy is running.
Another study group started up in 2007, also reading Allen's grammar. As of this
writing in mid-2009 they have not yet completed the book.
A third group started in 2008. They worked in Janice Kamrin's Ancient Egyptian
Hieroglyphs. Unlike Hoch and Allen which are complete grammars, Kamrin's book
is introductory only. We used her book to give students a softer, gentler,
introduction to hieroglyphs.
Some people from all three of these previous study groups will be in the Hoch
group. Some of them are in this course to review the grammar and some want to
see how Hoch's approach differs from Allen's. The two authors do have different
views on aspects of ancient Egyptian grammar, as do all Egyptologists. No matter.
You will not be at a disadvantage, I can guarantee that. Some of the earlier
material will be easier for those who have some experience, but once we get in to
chapter 2 and beyond, it will be rather new to them, too. Everyone is a beginner.