why the Medu-Netchher- Hieroglyphics have never been deciphered

I am no student of ancient writings or symbols of Egypt.

Walter Williams makes the above claim and gives the following as his reasons

  • in order for the Medu-Netcher or hieroglyphs to have been deciphered, one would have had to ask the ancient Egyptians who drew the symbols what he/she meant for them to be
  • no one can put a phonetic alphabetical value to symbols
  • you cannot apply a language or languages to symbols that one does not know the meaning of
  • it is impossible to reduce the 400 or more symbols of the hieroglyphs to 26 letters of the alphabetical system

HE argues further that pioneers in Egyptology (sic) as Barthelemy, Count Silvestre de Sacy and Champillion arbitrarily assigned letters to symbols and these were then accepted by Western academia.

Quoting Carol Andrews writing for the British Museum on the Rosetta Stone who wrote

it is not possible, strictly speaking, to compile an alphabet of hieroglyphic signs. For practical purposes, however, certain unilateral hieroglyphics have been selected to form a kind of alphabet which is universally used for the organization of dictionaries, word lists, index and for general reference purposes,

he makes the point that one can not use the Rosetta Stone to decipher the Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Historians and linguists, what say you?

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

23 thoughts on “why the Medu-Netchher- Hieroglyphics have never been deciphered

  1. Its all Greek to me, or in this case, Egyptian…..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Where do you find these people, Mak?

    Hieroglyphics were used to describe phonetic sounds (abjad writing), logographs, and ideographs. Not every language uses an alphabet, let alone a writing system that matches up with modern speakers. You can even use different writing systems to write in different languages if they can convey the right meanings.

    The main reason we know that translations work for Egyptian hieroglyphics is that we’re constantly finding new texts to translate. If modern understanding wasn’t correct, then new translations would come out as pure gibberish. But they’re not, so linguists have to be onto something.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. shelldigger says:

    I think Mr. Williams highly underestimates the dedication of some people to figure shit out.

    Has he never heard of the breaking of the Mayan code?

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      It is his view that those are bullshitters.
      He says if you didn’t know what (?) meant, as there is no corresponding letter in the Alphabet with which to denote it, you couldn’t decipher its meaning.

      Liked by 1 person

      • shelldigger says:

        I was trying to be nice Mak, this person is obviously a pompous shithead. 🙂 Now see what you went and did? 😉


        • makagutu says:

          Walter may sound a pompous ass, but he may have a point. Think of it this way, without having learnt of the signs at DMV, would you make sense of them at a driving test? What if no one in the population ever met anyone who could at least give an inkling as to what the signs meant, would the meanings we come up with be the authentic ones or make believe?


          • shelldigger says:

            Theer might be a few signs that I’d have trouble with, but many of them are pretty easy to figure out, of course I am a part of that culture.

            I see the point you make. And must admit all I saw of Williams writing was what you had up in the post here. But I think if we encounter some unknown archaic symbol based writings that we might be able to infer some of the meanings. Perhaps we would see what we want to see in some cases. But edumacated inference should not be thrown out with the bath water entirely.

            Codes are broken all the time.


            • makagutu says:

              Codes, say military codes for example, are broken all the time not because they belong to an earlier time but because they are part of the cultural milieu in which they are used. This is unlike the symbols in question.


              • shelldigger says:

                The thing about a well laid trap, is the prey, doesn’t really know it’s a trap until they step their foot in it 😉

                I still don’t think we can entirely discount the humans ability to reason through an archaic symbolized language, given enough time for study, and preferably by someone with a background in sign interpretation. It does depend on the person doing the interpreting. (Billy Bob from Swampville may not be the best guy for the job) I will contend that it can be done, but perhaps not always 100% reliably.

                So, on the other hand. you have convinced me that Mr. Williams, may have a good bit of ground to stand on. Whether I think he might be a pompous ass or not 🙂


                • makagutu says:

                  I still don’t think we can entirely discount the humans ability to reason through an archaic symbolized language, given enough time for study, and preferably by someone with a background in sign interpretation. It does depend on the person doing the interpreting

                  This is true, except for the part it would be difficult to show he/she is wrong. They are the experts and there is no way to falsify their claims.


          • Mr. Williams’s point with regards to phoneme-alphabet matching is completely without merit, though. Not all languages use alphabets. If he was right, then Chinese writing couldn’t be translated at all since it’s a logographic writing system.

            With regards to road signs, people can eventually guess their meaning given enough examples. Perhaps nobody might capture the nuance of a specific sign, but it’s possible to grasp the general meaning. One can take that meaning and apply it to future encounters to refine one’s understanding.


            • makagutu says:

              I think your example of the Chinese does not apply in this case. The Chinese mode of writing has been used consistently for so long and we have Chinese speakers who can help with the translation. The same can’t be said for the Mayan or Egyptian hieroglyphics.
              People can guess road signs because they form part of the cultural milieu in which these people live in. Or so I think.


              • What I was driving at with the example of Chinese was the mode of writing only. In your post, you stated two of his points as to why hieroglyphs couldn’t be translated:

                “no one can put a phonetic alphabetical value to symbols” and

                “it is impossible to reduce the 400 or more symbols of the hieroglyphs to 26 letters of the alphabetical system”

                If those assertions were true, then we couldn’t decipher any logogram anywhere, because logographic writing can’t be reduced to phonetic writing. It wouldn’t matter if the underlying language is known or not; without being able to put writing into an alphabet, it wouldn’t work.

                We do, though, have access to forms of Egyptian and even Mayan from languages that we do know (Greek and Latin, in Egyptian’s case, and Spanish for Mayan). And even for Ancient Chinese, we have texts in more recent Chinese which tell us how early Chinese scripts were supposed to have been read and sound.


  4. renudepride says:

    I think that historians and linguists have been trying to decipher the ancient writings for a very long time and have developed a pattern that somehow seems to work. However, the accuracy of the translations will always be questionable. We go with what we think that we know – after all, it is all that we have. Will we ever know the truth? Perhaps not. But it did represent a challenging puzzle. Besides, what else would be be contemplating here today? Nice work, my Kenyan brother! Naked hugs!


  5. Hieroglyphics all, when translated, say one thing: “Hey! You! WTF are you lookin’ at?! Git outta here, ya’ grease ball, ya’!”


  6. basenjibrian says:

    It’s all part of a conspiracy to hide TEH TROOF that the Egyptians were immortal space lizards from Procycon V!


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