James Hoch’s Middle Egyptian Grammar, starring The Rock.


On Thursdays from 8 AM-12 PM, the five undergraduates studying Egyptology at Johns Hopkins would gather in the Near Eastern Studies room—nicknamed “the Fish Bowl”—of Gilman Library’s basement for four rollicking hours of uninterrupted Middle Egyptian text reading. Presented here, in a fairly regular manner, will be some of my favorites from that class.


As a sophomore, I decided to enroll in Introduction to Middle Egyptian Hieroglyphs, a year-long, 600 level course that explored the grammar, morphology, and history of Dynasty XII and XIII Egyptian linguistics. However, at Johns Hopkins, the academic word on the street was to never take a course where the textbook looked like it had been assembled at Kinko’s. Chances were:

  • The subject was too esoteric for a normal human-being to study, leading to:
  • The professor having to write the textbook himself, leading to:
  • The professor teaching the course from his own textbook, which, through several steps of logic (omitted), nullified the taking of the course altogether.

Of course, Introduction to Middle Egyptian Hieroglyphs had a textbook that looked like it had been assembled at Kinko’s, namely, James Hoch’s Middle Egyptian Grammar. The body text seemed as though it had been written on a circa 1987 word processor (I would find out later that I was lucky the textbook wasn’t hand-written), with complementary 1980s pale blue cardstock on the front cover. Whenever we found something baffling and/or unexplained in this book, we used to joke with our professor that we should “borrow” one of the JHU vans, drive to Canada, and confront Prof. Hoch about it. So when the cover eventually disintegrated and I had to get the entire thing re-bound at Kinko’s, I thought it best to introduce an element of whimsy into my pursuit of all things Egyptological. Click above to see a larger image of my re-bound Hoch’s Middle Egyptian Grammar, which includes a hand-written guide to the Wörterbuch (more on that, soon) along the right side of the page.

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Filed under Matters Archeological &. Egyptological//

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