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Sign list

Guidelines for orthographic annotation

This is a manual for annotation of occurrences of signs in a text with sign functions, using the tools for orthographic annotation in PhilologEg.


The basic principle is that one or more signs are tied to a function. A function can be "log" (logogram), "det" (determinative), "phon" (phonogram), "phondet" (phonetic determinative), "mult" (repeated signs for dual or plural), "typ" (typographical symbol), or "spurious". A determinative that is specific to one word is marked as "det(word)".

A function can also have a value. In the case of a logogram, it is the relevant word (lemma). In the case of a phonogram or phonetic determinative, it is the (historical) sound value (see further below). For a determinative that is specific to one word (lemma), it is that word, but for a determinative with a wider range of applications, it is a description of its meaning. For "mult" and "typ", see also the sections on duality and plurality and numbers.

Functions may also be linked to the relevant letters in the transliteration.


A text is broken up into words, roughly according to spaces in the transliteration (we follow Hannig's dictionaries). One exception is honorific transposition of a local nature. For example, we would treat dwA.n=f n=j nTr as one unit if R8 is moved to the front. For honorific transposition over longer distances, we reorder the hieroglyphs to match the linguistic order of words.

Another exception is if haplography occurs between two words, for example if a preposition shares a phonogram with the following noun. As unit we then taken the two words together. Dittography across lines is omitted from the encoding.

A name is generally considered to be one word. This may include one of the names of a king, possibly within a cartouche. The cartouche itself (or a pair of signs in hieratic indicating beginning and end of a cartouche) is excluded from the encoding.


Hieroglyphic encoding is linearized in the order of reading, except for deliberate transposition. For example, x*t:f, xft, is linearized as x-f-t, but we would preserve the graphical order in D56*[fit]D56-Z4*[fit]G43, rdwj, and nTr-Hm, Hm-nTr.

We strictly use Gardiner codes (no mnemonics). Signs are normalized by table signencoding.xml (except for those signs that are tagged as confirmed). For example, we use G36 (G36) instead of G36a (G36a), U7 (U7) instead of U6 (U6), Y3 (Y3) instead of Y4 (Y4), and three times Z1 (Z1) instead of Z2 (Z2) or Z2a (Z2a). Graphical variants are replaced by canonical representatives, using table signrelations.xml. For example, we use D19 (D19) instead of D20 (D20), and F31 (F31) instead of F31a (F31a).


All uppercase in the transliteration is converted to lowercase. A stative ending (.w) that is not written in hieroglyphs is written without the round brackets. Similarly for (.tj) and =f, etc.


Every sign is linked to precisely one function. Sometimes a sequence of signs is given a function. If no proper function can be found, the artificial function "spurious" is chosen. In the case of a mistaken sign, the function of the sign that was intended is used.

Linkage to transliteration

A logogram or determinative specific to a word (lemma) is linked to the letters in the transliteration that is has in common with the lemma. For example, consider Q6 (Q6), which is logogram or determinative for qrsw, "coffin". When used in qrs.tw=k, "you are buried", it is linked to the three letters qrs. The value of the sign function is the complete lemma qrsw.

Not every letter in the transliteration may be linked to a sign function. The = preceding suffix pronouns is not normally linked to, except in the case of A1 (A1). Spaces are not normally linked to, except for the space inside sp sn for O50:(Z1*Z1).

Logogram versus determinative

If a sign that can be both logogram and determinative follows phonograms representing only one letter from the stem, it is normally considered to be a logogram. For example, in V28*A25-A24, Hwj, "strike", A25 is a logogram, whereas in V28*V28-A25-A24 (written using a false dual) it is a determinative.

Semogram marker versus space filler

We tag Z1 (Z1) as semogram marker if what is depicted is close to what is meant. For example, Z1 (Z1) is tagged as semogram marker in F4-t:Z1, HAt, "front", as "front" is close enough to "front of lion". The same holds for signs that symbolize a fixed concept, as in R8*Z1, "god", and D28*Z1, "spirit". In most other cases, Z1 is a space filler. See further the section on special signs below.

Logogram versus phonogram

A number of prepositions are etymologically as well as semantically related to nouns depicted by hieroglyphs, and are written using the same hieroglyphs. We will regard these signs in both cases as logograms rather than phonograms. However, any occurrence of Z1 (Z1) in such prepositions will generally be classified as space filler rather than semogram marker.

For example, D2 (D2) is a logogram both in D2:Z1, "face", and in D2:Z1, "upon". In the latter case, Z1 (Z1) is a space filler rather than a semogram marker. Similarly, Aa18 (Aa18) in m-Aa18:Z1, m-sA, "after", is taken to be a logogram, with Z1 (Z1) acting as space filler.

Duality and plurality

Dual and plural strokes are taken to be typographical if used for reasons other than their phonetic value. For example, y is "typ" (with value: duality) in a:Z1-w-y, awj, "(two) arms". The function is linked to the j in the transliteration, but not to w as that is already accounted for by w.

Also the pair of strokes in sn-n:nw-w*A1-.*Z1*Z1*.:f, snnw, "fellow", is typographical. Here however the function is not linked to the transliteration. Similarly, the plural strokes are not linked to an occurrence of w in the transliteration if the (main) function is semantic in nature, as for example in iz*(w:t)-A1-Z1*Z1*Z1, jswt, "crew", or if the w has already been accounted for by a phonogram.

Where dual or plural strokes are used purely for their sound value, to write a word that is not in dual or plural form, then they are tagged as phonograms. This holds also for words that seem to have lost their conjectured original dual or plural meanings, such as pHwj, "behind", and pHtj, "strength".

Repeated signs (typically determinatives or logograms) used to indicate dual or plural are linked to the "mult" function, whose value is then say 2 for dual or 3 for plural. This function is also linked to corresponding letters in dual/plural endings, where applicable. This is done even for false duals/plurals. Only the repeated signs, not the initial signs, are linked to the function; for example, if a pair of signs is written three times to indicate plural, only the last two pairs are linked to the "mult" function, which has value 3.

For feminine words, dual and plural strokes (or repeated signs) are where applicable linked to the j or w in the transliteration, but not to the feminine t.


Sequences of numerals are tagged "typ(ographical)" and linked to the corresponding number in transliteration. The description is "number".

Sound change

The function values of phonograms are given as the historical phonemes, rather than the phonemes in word occurrences.

For example, the use of X1 for a word occurrence transliterated using T will be tagged as a phonogram with value t, linked to T in the transliteration. Similarly for D46 used for writing D, etc.

Similarly, for sSr written as z-x-r, x is tagged as phonogram with value x linked to S in the transliteration.

If two phonograms are used for one letter, one representing the earlier sound value and one representing the later sound value, both phonograms are linked to that letter, as in s-wr:r-i, swr.

Phonograms that do not reasonably correspond to any letter in the transliteration remain without links to the transliteration.

Special cases

Sign encoding

Sign functions


In the case of A17-A1*B1:Z1*Z1*Z1, Xrdw, one may argue that Z1*Z1*Z1 acts both as part of the determinative A1*B1:Z1*Z1*Z1, "people and their occupations", and as independent "typographical" plural marker. Instead of linking the three Z1 to two functions, only the determinative function is used, which is linked to the w in the transliteration. The same holds for certain writings of tpw, "people".