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Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hung.

Volume 64 (3), 357 362 (2011)


DOI: 10.1556/AOrient.64.2011.3.7

A WORDPLAY BETWEEN THE EGYPTIAN WORDS


WBN ARISE AND NBW GOLD?
STEFAN BOJOWALD
gyptologisches Seminar der Universitt Bonn
Regina Pacis-Weg 7, 53113 Bonn, Germany
e-mail: stefan.bojowald@t-online.de

In this short paper the possibility of a wordplay between the Egyptian words wbn arise, on the one
hand, and nbw gold, on the other, is examined. Finally, a few wordplays based on multiple metatheses are investigated.
Key words: Egyptian philology, Egyptian language, etymology, wordplay, wbn arise, nbw gold.

Among the Egyptian verbs with meaning related to the course of the sun, wbn arise
may well have a paradigmatic character. Beyond the content of WB (WB vol. I, pp.
292, 9293, 6),1 the use of wbn in a solar context becomes transparent in such places
as wbn Sw (Erman 1905, p. 108) someones sun arises, wbn Sw (Gardiner 1935,
pp. 5860; Borghouts 1980, p. 35; Guglielmi 1994, p. 56) Sw arises, wbn itn (KRI
vol. I, p. 207, 16; KRI vol. III, p. 174, 2; Herbin 2003, p. 108) itn arises, wbn (m) itn
(KRI vol. VII, p. 122, 4; Fischer-Elfert 1997, p. 67; Jansen-Winkeln 2007, p. 427)
arise as itn, wbn Ra n mAA=X (Jansen-Winkeln 2006, p. 236) sun arises in the view
of, wbn mAw.wt Ra Hr XA.t (Goyon 1999, p. 61) rays of Ra arise on corpse, wbn pA
Sw Hr pA Dw (Hovestreydt 1997, p. 108) the light arises over the mountain, and wbn
itn m c.t Dr.ti (Jansen-Winkeln 2001, p. 133) sun arises by the work of the hands.
What is enunciated in the following lines is a facet of wbn, which, to the best of my
knowledge, has not been discussed in the past decades.
Here, the crucial point is that wbn arise apparently builds wordplays with
nbw gold.2 The emergence of the wordplay involves two metatheses.

1
The meaning of wbn arise as an action of the sun has independently been emphasised by
Lacau (1971, pp. 1 ff.) and Cauville (2004, pp. 98 99).
2
For another wordplay with wbn arise and bnw Phoenix see Guglielmi, L VI, p. 1290.
However, the example just mentioned is not the only wordplay constructed with bnw Phoenix, the

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358

STEFAN BOJOWALD

The phenomenon can be illustrated in wbn m nbw (KRI vol. III, p. 560, 3)
arise in gold (about Amun in his role as sungod),3 wbn m nbw (Vandier n. d., p.
116; Faulkner 1933, p. 38) arise in gold (about Hathor in her role as sungoddess),
wbn m nbw (Stewart 1967, p. 36) arise in gold (about Re in his role as sungod), wbn
m nbw (Simpson 1963, p. 33) arise in gold (about Horus), wbn m nbw (Bierbrier
1982, Pl. 5) arise in gold (about Re-Harakhty in his role as sungod) and wbn in
(=m)4 nbw (Stewart 1971, p. 92) arise in gold (about Mut in her role as sungoddess), where it can already be reconstructed sporadically.
The first cycle of this formula, including that wordplay, seems to be extracted
from the epigraphical material of sepulchral architecture with Theban provenance.
While the agens can vary between the sungod or other gods with sungodlike aspects,
the phrase wbn m nbw arise in gold is engraved relatively often by the local honoratories of this city in their tombs (WB vol. I, p. 293, 6; Garris Davies 1913, Pl.
XIX; Assmann 1983, pp. 131, 144, 176, 177, 299)5. The phrase wbn m nbw arise in
gold (about Amun Ra-Horakhty in his role as sungod) can also be found on a stela
(Urk. IV, p. 937, 14) and a memorial-stone (Urk. IV, p. 1466, 6) from two further
private Theban tombs.
The vast majority of examples for the wordplay between wbn arise and nbw
gold can be gained from temple-inscriptions of Greco-Roman times. In this late
period the idiomatic expression wbn m nbw arise in gold was used in connection
with a great variety of gods. As for these gods, one should differentiate between Api
(Kurth 1998, p. 80), Isis (Junker 1958, p. 4; JunkerWinter 1965, p. 361), Harsomtus
(Lepsius 1904, p. 225), Hathor (Junker Winter 1965, p. 223; Waitkus 1997, pp. 115,
143; Cauville 2004, p. 98), and other ones (Chassinat 1984, p. 41; 1928, pp. 67, 164,
189, 200; 1933, p. 42; 1987, p. 463).
My concluding remarks are devoted to the fact that wordplays based on multiple metatheses were used more extensively than hitherto thought of. In addition to
the case discussed above, a few more can be enumerated. In the following I intend to
mention a couple of these examples.
First, we have the wordplay between Hapi Hapi and baH flood in Hapi baH tA
m nfr.w=f (Junker 1965, p. 191)6 Hapi floods the land with his beauty and ii.n Hapi
r baH tA.wi (Jansen-Winkeln 2007, p. 299) Hapi has come to flood the two lands.
Although in a syntactically different function, Hapi is also used in the sentences ii
Hapi, baH.n=f Ax.t (Zivie-Coche 2004, p. 264) Hapi has come, which floods the field
and cti Hapi Hr baH Ax.t (Junker 1965, p. 333) pour out Hapi and flood the field right

wordplay between bnw Phoenix and bnn jump in Goyon (1999, p. 86, col. 42 12/42 14), and the
wordplay between bnw Phoenix and bAn sleep in Assmann (2008, p. 378) being further ones.
3
For gold as colour of the sunlight, see WB vol. II, p. 239, 911; Grapow (1924, p. 58);
Gardiner (1935, p. 96); Assmann (1969, pp. 248, 328; 1983, p. 343); Edel (1987, p. 129).
4
For in as a writing of m in other situations, see Macadam (1949, p. 53 8/54 20).
5
The parallel to Assmann (1983, p. 177) is due to Dziobek (1994, pp. 66, 67).
6
Writing Hp instead of Hapi attested according to WB vol. III, p. 42, for the Old Kingdom is,
by the way, also confirmed in the 25th dynasty according to Gunn Engelbach (1931, p. 812). What
should be pointed out, is, that Hapi Nil builds a further wordplay with Abi long for in Posener
(1976, p. 41).
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A WORDPLAY BETWEEN THE EGYPTIAN WORDS WBN ARISE AND NBW GOLD?

359

next to baH. As for the wordplay between Hapi and baH, the loss of i as weak consonant at the end of the word is a plausible explanation.
Secondly, the wordplay between mrii.t shore and Imr (the land of) Amurru
in mrii.t m pA tA n pA imr (Gardiner 1947, p. 188*)7 shore in the land of Amurru
even goes one step further since all three radicals change position.
The third example is the wordplay between fAi carry and ATpw load in fAi
Atpw (Helck 1995, p. 1) carry the load (of the washerman), which also fits in here.
Disregarding the exceptionally common Lautwandel of f to p, it is clear, that
the wordplay is first and foremost influenced by the Lautwandel i to T (and
vice versa). As for this Lautwandel i to T (and vice versa) one should mention
that it occurs in several other cases as well.8
The fourth example regards the wordplay between wDA pectoral and sAw protection in wDA n sAw wDA pectoral of protection (Favard-Meeks 1991, p. 107),
which essentially draws profit from the Lautwandel D to s. The interchange between s and dentals is common in other cases,9 too.
The fifth example is the wordplay between aHA fight; contest and Hna with/together with in aHA Hna fight with (Fischer 1964, p. 70; Borghouts 1979, p. 18) /contest with (Goedicke 1962, p. 32x) /fight together with (Anthes 1964, p. 37), which
includes the known Lautwandel A to n. Evidently, all three radicals are rotated.
The wordplay between SiA Sia and nic call in nic in SiA to be called by Sia
(Urk. IV, p. 498, 4; Assmann 2005, p. 238), as the sixth example, is also founded on
the Lautwandel A to n.
The seventh example is the wordplay between Hna together with und dnH
wing, in DADA Hna dnH.wi (Wreszinski 1912, p. 37) head (of the scarab) together
with the wings, which is influenced by the Lautwandel a to d/d to a. The
7
The meaning of mrii.t n Imr shore of Amor denoting the Mediterranean coast of Southern Lebanon has been noticed correctly already by Breasted (1962, p. 139 n. i.). Writings of Amor
in the Egyptian language cover a spectrum reaching from Im(a)r(w) in Gardiner (1947, p. 187*),
through Im(a)r in Gardiner (1947, p. 140*); and Im(aw)r in Gardiner (1947, pp. 179*, 188*, 189*);
to Imrv (?) in Smith Tait (1983, p. 120). From this, the name of the the city Amwr in Sethe (1920,
p. 201), is certainly to be distinguished.The commonly used emendation of irm in pAnast. III, rs 5,
5 in Imr as the name of the region of Amor has been refuted by Edel Grg (2005, p. 123), who
prefer to read irm Aramean. In a different context, the word Imr Amor may have suggested a
wordplay with irp wine. The likelihood for this to be a wordplay would be significantly increased
if Gardiner (1947, p. 187*), is right with his conjecture that the Krugdeterminativ following Imr
was taken over from irp directly before. Regarding the Krugdeterminativ, however, also an influence from iinr bowl in Caminos (1954, p. 119), is conceivable. The third and at the same time
most speculative option would be a connection with semitic xmr/Hmr wine; for Ugaritic xmr, see
Gordon (1965, p. 402); for Hebraic Hmr, see Gesenius (1962, p. 242). The word Iimwarw in the
execration texts was combined by Quack (1992, pp. 75 ff.), with Yamkhad as name for the kingdom of Aleppo.
8
The best known case of a change from i to T is probably the wordplay between rmi/rmi.t
cry/ tear and rmT human being in Otto (1964, p. 58); Zandee (1992), p. 73); Assmann (1983, pp.
217, 229, 230); Klotz (2006, p. 143). Writing rmi cry could not be more different between rrm in
Gardiner (1932, p. 48a); Koenig (1997, Pl. 95 H 185, 1), rmAm in Posener (1938, Pl. 4 oDeM
1006, 4), ArmA in Thissen (1984, p. 41), and Tm in Gardiner (1932, p. 45a); Caminos (1977, p. 63).
9
For the change s to d, see Fecht (1981, p. 149).

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STEFAN BOJOWALD

Lautwandel a to d/d to a has been investigated in the past by other authors


(Verhoeven 1993, p. 353; Osing 1997, p. 229; Satzinger 1999, p. 374).
These examples will suffice for the time being, but future research would be
likely to uncover additional parallels for wordplays based on multiple metatheses.
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