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Protatic ||r=f sDm in the Report of Wenamun: a proto-demotic feature?

1. In some translations and grammatical discussions of Wenamun, one finds

the following passage

(1) ||r p#y=k |t ||r p#-|t n p#y=k |t |w=k |r=f m-r-o (Wenamun 2,4-5)

translated as What your father did, (and) what your fathers father did, you
will do it also or some variation thereof.
In other words, the ||r- marked
constructions are construed as topicalized nominal syntagms.

However, this analysis is unlikely. In Late Egyptian, ||r p#y=k |t is not
an especially credible candidate for substantival status: while in Middle
Egyptian, participles, relative forms, and adjectives are syntactic complexes
comprising a pronominal nucleus:

nfr! a good one
, ein guter
nfr.t a good one
, eine gute (and so on)

the same analysis applying to nty- and |wty-headed clauses, to the participles,
and to the relative forms, in LE these constructions are for the most part

I would like to thank O. Goldwasser, A. Shisha-Halevy, and J. Winand for their helpful
comments on the analysis presented here.
See, for example, the translation found in The Literature of Ancient Egypt, eds. W.K.
Simpson, R.K. Ritner, V.A. Tobin, and E.F. Wente (2003) p. 120. For an in-depth analysis of
this construction, see S.I. Groll Negative Verbal System of Late Egyptian (1970) 202-223, esp.
211-216. See also F. Junge Late Egyptian Grammar: an Introduction, trans. D. Warburton
(2001) p. 98.
This is explicitly stated in B.U. Schipper, who takes ||r p#y-k |t as a substantivized relative
form, translating it as die (Sache), die (schon) getan hat ... Die Erzhlung des Wenamun:
ein Literaturwerk im Spannungsfeld von Politik, Geschichte und Religion (2005) p. 66 n.
153. However, Schippers comments are generally innocent of any real grammatical
contribution, since they primarily provide references to standard grammars and dictionaries,
and little weight can be given them.
This was made clear as early as B. Gunns Studies in Egyptian Syntax, (1924) 142 n. 4: This
is not the place to do more than allude to the fact that the category adjective is, in Egn. as in
many other languages, chiefly a syntactic one. Qn, HD and nearly all the Egn. adjectives
(including the nisbehs) may be regarded as substantives which are easily and commonly
used in apposition to another substantive, with concord of gender and number: s| nfr [...] vir
bonus, a man a good one. While I disagree with Gunn regarding the absence of an
adjective category (in older Egyptian, it is distinguished from the substantive precisely by its
pronominal nucleus, the possessor of an attribute, which is realized by the motio
morpheme; the other syntactic constituents of the adjective are the attribute itself and the
syntactic relation between them, viz., junction), his point is entirely valid: the adjective, where
it exists, stands in apposition to the substantive with which it is in syntagmatic association.
For the definitive statement of this analysis for Semitic languages, see G. Goldenberg
Attribution in the Semitic languages, Langues Orientales Anciennes: Philologie et
Linguistique 5-6 (1995) 1-20 (= G. Goldenberg Studies in Semitic Linguistics: Selected
Writings (1998) 46-65.
absent an internal pronominal nucleus.
In LE, these constructions are
expansions of nuclei, whether pronominal (e.g., {p#-}) or a preceding nominal

In any event, topicalized concrete relatives in LE are most commonly
marked by #|r + [{p#-} + relative form, participle, or nty-marked clause]#.
one wishes to interpret the above example as a topicalized concrete relative,
more definite evidence in favor of a substantival ||r=f sDm in other
environments is needed.

It seems preferable to view the construction found in example 1 as an
early instance of the emphatic ||r=f sDm in a non-focalizing, protatic role; this
construction is attested from Demotic through Coptic.
In this instance, a
more appropriate translation would be: If your father did (it), if your fathers
father did (it), you shall do it too. It will be noted that while this is clearly a
protatic construction, it is a highly topicalizing, given that... pattern;
alternatively, it could be seen as a closed conditional.
In any event, the
topicalizing nature of this protasis is further borne out by the lexical
resumption of |r to do in the three clauses, as well as by the cohesive zeroing
of the object of |r in the protatic clauses.
Another example from Wenamun:

(2) Xr ||r |mn grg n n#-t#.w Dr=w ||r=f grg=w |w grg=f p#-t# n Kmt p#-|w=k n-|m xr-
H#t (Wenamun 2, 20-21).

Rather than viewing this as two successive emphatic forms (Now it is all
the lands that Amon has founded, (but) it is only after he first founded the

Other than in cleft sentence patterns in which the glose is a participle or relative form; these
patterns continue through to Coptic in the form of #anok etstm# and #anok erstm#
While this is probably something of an overgeneralization, it represents a definite trend in
Late Egyptian.
See for example LES 3:8 (Doomed Prince 5, 6): |r p#-nty-|w-f r pH p#-sSd n t#y=| Sr|.t... As for
the one who reaches the window of my daughter ... See Satzinger Neugyptische Studien.
Das Partikel ir. Das Tempussystem (1970) for |r-topicalization (Segmentation) in LE.
Groll op. cit. problematizes the identification of emphatic ||r=f sDm with the relative form,
but explicitly states that ... when a relative form is not preceded by an antecedent and it
occupies an initial syntactic position, it is a noun equivalent, citing our example 1. The
second example cited is from the Tomb Robberies, which are quite different from the Report
of Wenamun, linguistically speaking; moreover, the example is a participle headed by nuclear
nb (|.Dd nb), and is therefore not directly comparable to the present example.
See A. Shisha-Halevy Protatic efstm: a hitherto unnoticed Coptic tripartite conjugation-
form and its diachronic connections, Or 43 (1974) 369-381 and Protatic efstm: additional
materials Or 46 (1977) 127-128, and most recently, Simpson Demotic Grammar in the
Sacerdotal Decrees (1996) 172-174, with additional bibliography. For other views, see J.
Johnson Conditional Clauses in Onchsheshonqy Serapis 2 (1970) 22-29 and J. Johnson
Demotic Verbal System (1976) 244-246.
For the open-closed conditional opposition, see W.-P. Funk, On a semantic typology of
conditional sentences Folia Linguistica 19 (1985) 365-413.
land of Egypt whence you have come that he founded them
), I suggest it be
understood according to the foregoing analysis:

For if Amon founded all the lands, it is only after first founding the land of
Egypt whence you have come that he founded them (viz., all the lands other
than Egypt)...

As in the previous example, one finds lexical resumption (grg to found), and
the topicalizing given that... or closed condition effect. Curious is n
mediating between ||r |mn grg and n#-t#.w Dr=w, as if the Stern-Jernstedt rule
were already in force, and not a development of later Demotic and restricted
anyway to the durative tenses.

In both of the examples discussed here, one must carefully distinguish
between ||r=f sDm in protasi a focalizing construction marked as protatic by
an additional morpheme (|r, wnn, |nn, Xr |nn, Xr |w)
and ||r=f sDm as
protasis. In the former environment, focalizing constructions (#emphatic
||r=f sDm + adverbial/circumstantial focus#) commute with unmarked
while in the latter, the form itself is protatic, and therefore
non-focalizing. Incidentally, these examples might shed some light on the
example discussed at some length and with much ingenuity by Cassonnet:

(3) |r |r|.[[tw]].w om <r>-Dd m#o !/ |w.tn (r) d|t se (m) mst| 2 (P. Berlin 10487, rt
6-7 = LRL 36, 9-10). Sils dcouvrent que cest vridique, vous les placerez
dans deux panniers (transliteration and translation as cited op. cit.).

Cassonnet gives four possibilities: (a) a prothetic yod is to be restored, as
!ern" suggested in his edition of the LRL; (b) the form is not emphatic at all,
as no adverbial focus can be identified; (c) |r|.[[tw]].w om is a periphrastic
prospective sDm=f; (d) it is actually a writing for |r |w.w (Hr) om. The last is the
solution preferred by the author. However, I find it an unnecessary
emendation. I would suggest that |r |r| is either (a) a writing for ||r=, a
possibility which is clearly demonstrated by a good number of examples with
r as a writing for the prothetic yod
or (b) a case of |r compatible with
protatic ||r=f sDm, not unlike #e!je + ef!anstm# in Coptic. In any event, I

See, for example, W.K. Simpson et alii (ibid.). A similar translation is found in J. !ern" &
S.I. Groll Late Egyptian Grammar (1993) 375. Schipper op. cit. p. 72 n. 193 adds nothing,
despite making a point of observing that there are a few emphatic forms here. It is interesting
that translators do not employ a marked focalizing construction to translate the first clause.
Current analyses and translations treat this n as a marker of adverbial status of the direct
object; if accepted, this would bring this example very close to an emploi abusif reading; this
in itself is a highly innovative and late feature of the Second Tenses, and is less likely than a
protatic ||r=f sDm analysis.
See most recently P. Cassonnet tudes de no-gyptien: les temps seconds |.sDm.f et |-|r|.f
sDm (2000) 97-103.
For |r-conditionals, see Junge op. cit. p. 261-265.
For such examples, see J. Winand tudes de no-gyptien, 1: la morphologie verbale (1992)
chapter 6 passim.
agree with Cassonnet that this is not a focalizing ||r=f sDm form; it seems to
me, however, that it might be better treated as an instance of the protatic ||r=f
sDm in a late LE text.
A final relevant example has already been discussed by Junge
connection with protatic ||r=f sDm:

(4) ||r=tw grg n dm| nb ||r=tw m#o.t n p#-t# n |-r-s (Wenamun 2, 78-79, as cited in
Junge op. cit.)
Even if evil is done in every city, justice is done in the land of Cyprus

I would suggest that this example is parallel in its structure to example 2
above. The protatic status of ||r=tw grg is quite clear; the question of the
apodosis, however, is open to interpretation. While it is possible to analyze
this example as a LE Wechselsatz, it is also possible to interpret it as #protatic
||r=f sDm + apodotic focalizing construction#: Even if evil is done in every
city, it is in the land of Cyrprus that justice is done. The contrastive focus in
the apodosis of both examples would seem to serve as a counter-indication of
merely apodotic status. Moreover, patterns constructed with initial topic or
protasis followed by a focalizing pattern with some form of cohesive
resumption are well known in and typical of Egyptian.

To my mind, the question is whether ||r=f sDm is a protatic construction
only by virtue of its presence in Wechselsatz patterns, or whether it is
already in late Late Egyptian an established protatic form, compatible with
other apodoses. It would seem, if the other examples discussed here are
accepted as instances of the protatic ||r=f sDm, that the latter is the case.

2. The problem of emphatic forms in non-emphasizing protatic roles is well
known, and much discussion has been devoted to the origin of these
constructions. The most cogent arguments have linked the analogous Middle
Egyptian constructions to Wechselsatz patterns. This argument, made by
accepted and developed by Simpson
for Demotic, has much to
recommend it.
However, much remains unclear in the syntactic analysis of such
constructions. The relationship between topical and protatic status, the near-
neutralization of the distinction between concrete and abstract relatives

Junge op. cit. p. 160-161, 270-271.
For example, Shenoute (Leipoldt IV 19): nfnajoos an kan efjoos efnajoos nkesmot He
wont say it, or if even if he will say it, its in a different way that he will say it. Examples
from Coptic are rife, but similar constructions are prevalent in all phases of pre-Coptic
P. Vernus, Formes emphatiques en fonction non emphatiques dans la protase dun
systeme correlatif, GM 43 (1981) 73-88.
R. Simpson op. cit. p. 174.
This terminology is used with serious reservations. There are several matters of
consequence here: foremost are the distinctions made between different forms of
nominalization, and between relatives comprising internal pronominal nuclei (as in ME) and
relatives without such pronominal nuclei (as in LE onward). In the former case,
this environment, and the relationship between nominal status and topical
status are all obscure.
To mind, the first cannot be solved simply by a conditionals are
topics approach, such as the one advocated by Haiman.
Like the languages
discussed by Haiman, in Late Egyptian it is well known that some topics and
some protases are marked by the same means (|r); this is further extended by
the analysis suggested in this paper, namely, that a verb-thematization form
(||r=f sDm) is found in another topical role the protasis. However, not all
protases are marked by these means, and not all protases are topical to the
same degree; some are not topical in any demonstrable sense, as the rich
literature on conditionals clearly shows. However, it does seem that the
relationship between protasis and apodosis is indeed one of nexus, in the
sense of a mutual interdependence between the two clauses. Nevertheless, in
order to avoid inflation of the notion topic in syntactic analysis, it is best to
reserve judgment regarding the a priori topical status of protases.
The second problem, the near-neutralization of concrete and
abstract, is seen clearly here. In a superficial analysis, the first example is a
concrete relative, that which your father did..., while in the second, it
appears to be an abstract relative, (the fact) that Amon founded...
However, this quandary is void if the analysis proposed in this paper is
adopted. Protatic verb-thematizations are not synchronic relatives.
As for the third problem, Egyptian clearly demonstrates that there is no
necessary connection between topical status and nominal status. The existence
of circumstantial topics is well-established.
It is interesting to note that there
is also no necessary connection between protatic status and circumstantial or
adverbial status,
as ||r=f sDm protases show.
I do not find it instructive or important to seek out primary and
secondary functions in general or in this particular case; as function of forms
are dependent on environments, assigning primary or secondary functions is
tantamount to establishing hierarchies of environments, which seems to me
an impossibility. It is therefore of no consequence whether ||r=f sDm is

nominalizations are not of the verb phrase in its entirety but of one of its constituents, viz.,
the personal marker, the verbal lexeme, or of the nexus itself (corresponding to the participle
or nomen agentis, to the infinitive or nomen actionis, and to conjunctional constructions
such as those discussed by Polotsky in tudes de syntaxe copte (1944) p. 54-55). In the latter
case, it is best to distinguish between adjectival clauses (those with internal nuclei, and which
are therefore appositive to a preceding nominal syntagm) and adnominal clauses (those
without pronominal nuclei, and which are therefore attributive to a preceding nominal
syntagm). In any event, the classification of relatives as either attributive or free tends to
obscure important grammatical distinctions and introduce unnecessary complications.
J. Haiman Conditionals are topics Language 54/3 (1978) 565-589.
A. Shisha-Halevy Quelques thmatisations marginales du verbe en no-gyptien OLP 9
(1978) 51-67.
For an instance of this common view, cf., Cassonet op. cit. p. 97: En no-gyptien, la
protase est constitue dune forme autonome qui, transforme en forme non-autonome par
lintermdiaire dune morpheme comme |r, wnn, |nn, etc., assume une fonction
primarily a protasis and secondarily an emphatic or nominal form, or vice
versa. I consider both roles to be part and parcel of the verb-thematization
profile of ||r=f sDm.

3. It is perhaps unsurprising that this construction is attested in the Report of
Wenamun. Many scholars have observed the peculiar linguistic character of
this text within the LE corpus. For example, H. Satzinger has suggested that
Tjeker-bals speech is characterized by grammatical mistakes that evoke a
Canaanites Egyptian.
Another matter is this texts late date, now considered
to be lower than previously assumed, on both linguistic and historical
Finally, the Report of Wenamun, as a fringe literary text, is a viable
channel for the introduction and representation of innovative forms.
All of
these considerations fit well with the general linguistic profile of the Report of
Wenamun, which abounds in features not shared with earlier LE.

If the examples adduced here are accepted as early evidence for an ||r=f sDm
protasis, then this would indicate a late or proto-demotic (in the sense of
not found in earlier LE but well-attested in and distinctive of Demotic)

feature of this late LE text. This analysis is made more likely if the existence of
||r=f sDm as protasis outside of the Wechselsatz, a proto-demotic or no-

This applies equally to the question of the emphatic forms and Second Tenses of later
Egyptian. The rather strenuous acrobatics some linguists have performed in order to do away
with the Coptic Second Tenses and the circumstantial conversion, considering them both
secondary roles of the relative, seem to me misguided and of little theoretical or descriptive
profit, as well as unnecessarily cavalier with some basic morphological and syntactic facts.
H. Satzinger How Good Was Tjeker-Bals Egyptian? Mockery at Foreign Diction in the
Report of Wenamun LingAeg 5 (1997) 171-176; for a different view, see A. Egberts Double
Dutch in the Report of Wenamun, GM 172 (1999) 17-22.
See recently, Schippe op. cit., who argues that the text was composed during the reign of
Sheshonq I, at the transition period between the 21
and 22
dynasties; see also B. Sass
Wenamun and his Levant 1075 BC or 925 BC, Aegypten und Levante 12 (2002) 247-256,
who argues for a low date, ca. 925 BCE.
For a discussion of the role of genre in promoting Low variety forms, see O. Goldwasser
Low and High Dialects in Ramesside Egyptian, in: Textcorpus und Wrterbuch:
Aspekte zur gyptischen Lexikographie, eds. S. Grunert & I. Hafemann (1999) 311-328.
Regarding Wenamun, Goldwasser suggests that is one of a number of literary texts written
almost purely in the Low dialect. These examples reflect a final (even if very limited) triumph
of the Low variety in the literary arena of the Ramesside period. At the very end of the
Ramesside Period it hits a high in the linguistic market, a point which marks the final
legitimization to write literary works in the language of the people (op. cit. p. 327).
J. Winand has kindly informed me of his forthcoming paper on this topic, to be published
in Festschrift Kitchen.
The term early Demotic rather than proto-Demotic was used by Shisha-Halevy in
Papyrus Vandier recto: an early Demotic literary text? JAOS 109 (1989) 421-435, but the
latter has gained some currency due to J.F. Quacks application of this term to P. Vandier and
other texts with similar features. Vernus evocative term No-gyptien evolu is also used in
several publications, e.g., Entre No-gyptien et dmotique: la langue utilise dans la
traduction du Rituel de repousser lAgressif (tude sur la diglossie I) RdE 41 (1990) 153-208.
Incidentally, one observes that at least some features discussed in Vernus monograph are
found in the late LRL corpus as well (op. cit. 180).
gyptien evolu feature, is accepted. Moreover, it would provide further
support for Winands cautious rejection of LE |r |w=f Hr sDm as the
predecessor of Coptic protatic efstm, as well as extending back to late LE the
proposal made some three decades ago by Shisha-Halevy regarding the pre-
Coptic career of this form. One suspects that these examples are not unique in
the Late Egyptian corpus, and that re-examination of difficult instances would
reveal additional examples of protatic ||r=f sDm.

Eitan Grossman
Departments of Linguistics and ANE (Egyptology)
Hebrew University of Jerusalem