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Related to demotic: Demotic Greek


hieroglyphic (hīˌrəglĭfˈĭk, hīˌərə–) [Gr.,=priestly carving], type of writing used in ancient Egypt. Similar pictographic styles of Crete, Asia Minor, and Central America and Mexico are also called hieroglyphics (see Minoan civilization; Anatolian languages; Maya; Aztec). Interpretation of Egyptian hieroglyphics, begun by Jean-François Champollion, is virtually complete; the other hieroglyphics are not nearly as well understood. The distinguishing feature of hieroglyphics is that they are conventionalized pictures used chiefly to represent meanings that seem arbitrary and are seldom obvious. Egyptian hieroglyphics appear in several stages: the first dynasty (3110–2884 B.C.), when they were already perfected; the Old Kingdom; the Middle Kingdom, when they were beginning to go out of use; the New Empire, when they were no longer well understood by the scribes; and the late hieroglyphics (from 500 B.C.), when the use of them was a tour de force. With a basic number of 604 symbols, hieroglyphics were written in several directions, including top to bottom, but usually from right to left with the pictographs facing the beginning of the line.

There were in general three uses to which a given hieroglyphic might be put (though very few were used for all three purposes): as an ideogram, as when a sign resembling a man meant “man” or a closely connected idea (thus a man carrying something meant “carrying”); as a phonogram, as when an owl represented the sound m, because the word for owl had m for its principal consonant; or as a determinative, an unpronounced symbol placed after an ambiguous sign to indicate its classification (e.g., an eye to indicate that the preceding word has to do with looking or seeing). As hieroglyphic developed, most words came to require determinatives. The phonograms were, of course, the controlling factor in the progress of hieroglyphic writing, because of the fundamental convenience of an alphabet.

In the Middle Kingdom a developed cursive, the hieratic, was extensively used for private documents where writing speed was essential. In the last centuries B.C. a more developed style, the demotic, supplanted the hieratic. Where the origin of most hieratic characters could be plainly seen in the hieroglyphics, the demotics were too conventionalized to bear any resemblance to the hieroglyphics from which they had sprung.


See A. H. Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar (3d ed. 1957); N. Davies, Picture Writing in Ancient Egypt (1958); E. A. Budge, Egyptian Language (8th ed. 1966); H. G. Fischer, Ancient Egyptian Calligraphy (1983); W. V. Davies, Egyptian Hieroglyphics (1988).

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1. of or relating to a simplified form of hieroglyphics used in ancient Egypt by the ordinary literate class outside the priesthood
2. the demotic script of ancient Egypt
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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The terms Frye uses for the phases of language development are metaphoric, metonymic, and demotic; a fourth term, ricorso, marks a return to the beginning.
Whereas diplomatic Europe is about finding reconciliation, demotic Europe is about polarization.
Diplomacy tries to lower the temperature; the demotic paradigm raises it.
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He said that new airport has capacity to provide all facilities to the passengers of two international and two demotic flights simultaneously.
Recognizing the potential of the stone's trilingual inscriptions in Greek, Egyptian Demotic (cursive), and hieroglyphic, European scholars like the French baron Silvestre de Sacy [17581838]--a mentor and sometime nemesis of his pupil, Champollion--and the British scientist and all-around polymath Thomas Young [1773-1829] began to search for equivalents of the names of the Macedonian rulers of Egypt in the hieroglyphic section.
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Here, she is presented as an artist who exists within the two realms, (a) the poetic, demotic and auditory and (b) the plastic, visual and tangible, a self-professed anti-intellectual, an accomplished performance artist who brings poetry and storytelling to different communities, from early reviews in working men's clubs to theatre for children and young people, an adaptor and a visual artist.
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The thirteen contributions, all in their original languages, cover such topics as royal letters of Mesopotamia, the justice system in Mesopotamia, the letter and middle Assyrian judicial procedures, the use and abuse of letters in the speeches of the Attic orators, evidence of business agents in classical Greece, Greek letters on stone, the evolution and use of demotic contracts in letter form, and formalization of loan agreements in the later Ptolemaic period.