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Lesson 1) Introduction and Parts of Speech

Introductions and Instructions

Hello and welcome to your O.W.L. year of Ancient Runes, students. I certainly hope you are ready. In the short interim between now and your year-end examinations, we shall be delving further into the world of ancient Egypt along with its script and, to a lesser extent, its language. This year will include some of the most in-depth consideration that you will encounter in this class, as your Fifth Year is unique in many ways. In addition to this being your O.W.L. year, this is the longest that we will ever be studying one specific script-- as well as its corresponding language(s).  Therefore we will be venturing far beyond the simple alphabet and basic ideographic meanings.

Beore we begin, there will be a few additional rules this year. As you are aware, the books, scrolls, and fragments in this room are very fragile, hence the obvious lack of sunlight or fires in this room. However, starting this year, there will be a significant amount of priceless, authentic texts that are on loan, either from friends of family, world-famous museums, or from my own travels. You will be held to a more extreme level of care in this class from now on, as I will not risk damage to these artifacts due to student shenanigans. Additionally, you know well I do not lightly bear interruptions; particularly when you are wasting the time of a fellow classmate or myself. This is all the more true in your O.W.L. year. While you may have questions, take a moment to consider if the answer is obvious, or if the question has been answered previously. I will not lightly bear foolish diversions or expenditures of time when we have so little of it before year’s end. Therefore, in order to assure the tomes remain unharmed and the class proceeds smoothly, there are three added rules:

  1. There is to be absolutely no food or drink in the classroom.
  2. Students are not to handle books or artifacts without first informing me. Even a text that appears sturdy can crumble under your hands with no warning unless I am there to assist.
  3. When the professor is speaking there will be no interruptions unless absolutely necessary.  Questions that are obvious or repeated can be posed after normal class hours.

Overview of O.W.L. Year
Now, while the subject of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics might be best served by years of study completely devoted to the topic, I shall try to cover all of the information in two years. We will, of course, be unable to cover every facet of hieroglyphic grammar; we simply do not have time to absorb the rules for an entire script in one year. Due to this, there are a number of subjects that will only be given cursory mention while they could be discussed at length were this a more formal setting. However, the very basic “crash course” this class will provide you with will serve as a satisfactory foundation for your knowledge. With that in mind, let me introduce you to the general overview of your class this year.

Firstly, we will be discussing the basics of hieroglyphic grammar in order to be able to read, understand, and even create our own hieroglyphic enchantments. Secondly, we will take a more in-depth look at the culture and interwoven magical practices of the land and times in order to more completely understand the nuances of ancient Egyptian magic. Also, we will be reviewing information about the various Futharks in order to compare these magical scripts with Egyptian hieroglyphics and also to study for your O.W.L.s.

The professor waves her wand to make the movement of the Text Revealing Charm, and suddenly the board is filled with notes, more specifically an outline for the class, in an elegant, neat hand.

Lesson One: Introduction and Parts of Speech
Lesson Two: This Seems Familiar...
Lesson Three: ...Or Perhaps Not
Lesson Four: Gardiner and the Brothers Baldric
Lesson Five: Magic of the Scribes and Midterm
Lesson Six: Magical Amulets
Lesson Seven: Magic of the Priests
Lesson Eight: Sacred Texts and Spells
Lesson Nine: Across the Empire

If this seems like a large amount of ground to cover, you are correct. However, it all becomes very manageable if you pay attention and link all the work in the previous lesson(s) to the next. This year, we will be moving on from simply transcribing single words and graduating up to phrases and full sentences. After all, ancient Egyptians did not communicate in simple, one word interactions, and if you harbor hopes to use the skills you have acquired here in real life or a profession, you will find it immensely helpful to recognize word patterns, sentence structure, common phrases, and trends in hieroglyphics.

In addition to your normal studies, after each lesson, there will be an assignment meant to prepare you for your O.W.L.s at the end of this year. As you well know, your O.W.L.s will consist of not only the material from this year, but of the entire field of study of ancient runes. This means scripts like the Anglo-Saxon Futhork, Elder, and Younger Futhark will be included as well as knowledge about the culture which spawned them. These review assignments will not be mandatory, however. They will simply be available to you should you wish to re-familiarize yourself with the content and test yourself to assure that you are on the right track. If you choose not to avail yourself of this resource for revision, the results are on your shoulders.

Now, without any further ado, let us go on to the first bits of new material for the year.

 Building Blocks
The foundation of any sound education involves a thorough grounding in the basics, which is the reason why in your first year of study of ancient hieroglyphics you have familiarized yourselves with the alphabet and the basics of reading the symbols. However, these are not the only theoretical topics you will need to know to succeed this year.

Our topic today consists of a summary of parts of speech, as we can hardly start trying to piece sentences together if you are unaware of what each part of the sentence is and how it functions. These definitions are basic, but will serve you well.

Adjective- A word that describes a noun (or pronoun). Examples include: gloomy, ancient, indigo and sharp.

Adverb- A word that most often qualifies/describes a verb, though it can perform the same function with an adjective, or even another adverb. Examples in English include: furiously, often, underground, and rather. There is also such a thing as an adverbial phrase, such as “with a wand”, or “every full moon”.

Article- A word used before a noun. In English, these are typically words like “the”, “an” or “some”, though also reaching to include “this” and “that” as well as others.

Noun- A person, place, thing, or idea. Examples include: liberation, cloak, graveyard, and Merlin.

Subject- Simply the person, place, thing, or idea that performs the action. In the sentence “The professor hexed the class into silence.”, the word “professor” is the subject. Most often, subjects come at the beginning of a sentence, but this is not always true.

Object- The counterpoint of the subject. It is the person, place, thing, or idea that receives the action. In the previous example sentence, “The professor hexed the class into silence”, the word “class” would be the object. Most frequently, objects come after the verb, but this is not guaranteed.

Verb- Most simply put, an action word. Examples include enchant, brew, duel, and fly.

Why Do I Care?
If you’re the sort of student who twirls their quill, staring aimlessly off into space, you may be wondering what in the name of Merlin is so important about if a word is a noun or an adverb. The answer, without exaggerating, is everything.

As you well know, magic has developed over time to be triggered by specific words -- in addition to other factors-- in order to avoid the nasty surprise of accidentally causing magical effects every time you speak. Obviously, little present-day magic uses all of these parts of speech together, but ancient Egyptian magic (along with ancient magic from a fair few other ancient cultures) is a different story. We will be touching more on this difference and why it occurred in later weeks, but the same principles are true even with modern magic, although to a lesser extent.

For example, many spells we use today are verbs, like Accio or Confringo, respectively "I summon" and "I smash or ruin". These spells indicate an action that the speaker wishes to enact. There are a fair number of examples of nouns used as spells as well, such as Avis, meaning “bird”, or Nox, meaning “night”. Again, both of these spells 'do what they say' in that Avis conjures a flock of birds and Nox causes darkness to return.

Parts of speech become more important when speaking of compound word spells. Densaugeo is a prime example of this. Two words, morphed together over time, specify the desired effect of the spell more clearly than any one word on its own could. “Dens”, the first portion of the spell and Latin word for teeth, indicates the object of the sentence --and therefore the target of the spell -- and “augeo”, a verb meaning grow, tells what exactly the spell ought to do to these aforementioned teeth. Leaving off one part or the other of the spell would give the caster a completely ineffectual result.

Other two-word spells use adjectives to further hone or specific their effects. Lumos Maxima, for example, contains the Latin adjective "maxima", meaning 'great', 'large', or 'vast’ in order to modify the noun it follows. One word tweaks the standard Wand-Lighting Charm and fashions it into something more.



As it falls under the category of “ancient magic,” hieroglyphic spells much more commonly include more than one part of speech to create a spell. In fact, finding a hieroglyphic spell composed of only one word is quite rare. You will see exactly what I mean by this in Lesson Three when we get a chance to see our first example of a hieroglyphic spell. Because of this, being able to identify which parts of the spell are verbs or nouns, or even discovering the object -- which is most often the target of the spell -- is incredibly useful.

Additionally, while this is not a curse-breaking course, nor will I attempt to teach you such an intricate and dangerous skill on top of the curriculum we have to cover, the skills you learn in this course overlap significantly.  For starters, being able to recognize parts of speech and grammatical patterns in hieroglyphic spells can prove the difference between having a normal life and not having one at all. Often enough, casting a diagnostic spell on an enchanted object can trigger magical reactions with pre-existing spells, or set off a trap in the area. In addition to having a modicum of common sense, there are plenty of ways in which you can protect yourself and prevent accidents like this, but these are to be covered in later years in more specific classes. At the very least, however, if you pay attention in your Ancient Runes classes, you will be able to get a basic idea of what unique misfortune awaits you by examining the hieroglyphs.


For now, we will draw an end to your first lesson of the year. However, before you leave, it may behoove those of you that are still as unorganized as First Years to pick up extra copies of handouts you received last year. The first includes a list of basic hieroglyphs and their corresponding sounds. The second is a list of determinatives as well as numerical hieroglyphs. As I instructed last year and emphasized earlier in the lesson, none of these lists are exhaustive. There is far more to the world of ancient Egypt and hieroglyphics than is listed here. These documents are merely a start and a reference.

Lastly, there are a number of assignments that follow this lesson. Should you have trouble with attempting any of them, or encounter any questions, I suggest you forward your questions to my Head Girl, Isabel Rhodesse, or myself. You may use this reference to help you with one or two questions on your quiz.

Original lesson written by Professor Venita Wessex
Image credits to Venita Wessex

Delve deeper into the world of Egyptian hieroglyphs! This year, we will unravel the complex layers of meaning in hieroglyphic inscriptions as well as study their use in powerful magical enchantments.
Course Prerequisites:
  • ANCR-401

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