About Hieroglyph Smatter

Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs have had their charm on human civilization for thousands of years. While it is true that our understanding of the languages of ancient Egypt is by no means perfect, we know enough to be able to read and understand much of the writings of yore.

Names and Transliterations

A common usage of hieroglyphics is in “write-your-own-name” websites, and consequently in tattoos which contain the resulting inscriptions. We need to distinguish between several levels of plausibility for the Egyptian writing of a name:

  1. Egyptian Names (e.g. Ra, Ptah, Ramses). Easy, these names can and should by all means be written in Hieroglyphics.
  2. Foreign Names that have been written in Hieroglyphics by Egyptians. If your name is “Alexander”, you’re lucky – we have records of how this name was written in Hieroglyphics.
  3. Transliterated Names, according to well-known facts about Egyptian phonology. The Egyptians had a system for writing foreign words, and I see no reason why modern names should not be written like that.
  4. Silly Names, transliterated blindly from some western spelling using a chart. This is just plain silly. It could only mean something to people who know the original spelling AND the chart. Here is where creative liberty ends, in my opinion.

Cartouches

Originally, cartouches were used by the Egyptians when writing names of royalty, and in some rare cases names of deities. Modern “Egyptian-themed” designers use cartouches much more freely, not only with names but also with anything else.
In this case, I would agree that cartouches are just too cool to be left for the royalty. My only criticism is that in some cases designers do NOT use a cartouche where they SHOULD HAVE (e.g. Nefertiti).

10 Responses to About Hieroglyph Smatter

  1. Bex says:

    How would you do a cartouche for Lois Ann for example? I would love to do that on my back to honor my mother who passed when I was very small.

  2. Kammy says:

    I have been looking for someone who can help me translate a phrase I live by in ancient egyptian hieroglyphs. I have studied hieroglyphs and did the whole online translator, but i dont really trust it. The phrase is ” Do you want the truth or something beautiful.” If you could help me i would really appreciate it. This tattoo idea is something i have wanted for many years, I hope you can help.

    Best Wishes

    Kammy S.

  3. Alexis says:

    I was looking at your site and you are very knowledgable with egyptian hieroglyphics. I would love to get a tattoo, but i need a translator. Would you mind translating “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” I would love to get that done, and if you could give me the hieroglyphics for it, that would be very much appreciated. Thank yoU! :)

  4. jason says:

    hows it going .being looking at your website and i am getting some egyptian hieroglyphics tatttooed on me and dont trust them sites..could you help me please /???

  5. Sy says:

    how do you write “my light shines” in hieroglyphics?

  6. Marci says:

    I wanted to know how to write Faith correctly. i have a love of ancient egypt, and would prefer a more realistic translation that from the I have book that has the alphabet in english and u can translate…i dont know if you fulfill anyone’s request for translation, so if you don’t, i apologize for bothering you.

  7. em says:

    Hi, just wondering how to translate my full name correctly and was wondering if you could translate it for me (you seem to know a lot about hieoglyphics! And I don’t trust those sites) If you don’t do translations sorry to bother you! Thanks

  8. Fantastic stuff! My blog is fun series about how to write hieroglyphic greetings in birthday cards, etc, for your office colleagues, with a lot of Egyptian religion and culture thrown in. I started off with a series of posts called “Office Hieroglyphs”, taking readers through the standard Egyptian offering formula. I’m now part-way through a second series, entitled “What Kind of God Do You Think You Are?”, teaching readers how to vary the name of the god who appears in the formula and comparing them to stereotypical office types. Have a look – you may be interested…

  9. Jerome says:

    Hello,
    I, like so many others, was wondering if you could help me with translating my son’s name. I’d like to have it done in a cartouch denoting him as royalty. As I don’t have any tatoo’s curently, I would like the only one I get to really mean what I intend it to. My son’s name is Andrew Jerome. Again, as I’m sure either of those names were not used in the Egyptian culture, your best estimate would be greatly appriciated! Thank you for your time.
    Jerome.

  10. Nina says:

    Hi, I have just stumbled across your blog and am really impressed. You are incredibly knowledgable about hieroglyphics. I wish I were too, being part egyptian! I was wondering if you could help translate into hieroglyphics, some words I want to get for a tattoo. Please let me know if I am able to contact you with further details.

    Kind regards,
    Nina

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