'Egyptian Hieroglyphs for Everyone', by Joseph and Lenore Scott, is perhaps the perfect book for the basic amateur who wants a fast introduction to this ancient language. A great deal is covered in an interesting and systematic way. This small book contains basic vocabulary and grammar, interestingly arranged by theme as well as grammar principle (chapters on calendar and time-language, cartouches, the gods, etc.). They do not use the transliteration system much (save for basic pronunciation).
The authors introduce the basic steps to study, which include the following:
- learning the basic alphabet
- recognising the direction of writing
- learning special linguistic items (bilaterals, determinatives)
- basic vocabulary
- beginning grammar and basic sentences
One note about pronunciation -- ancient Egyptian languages are 'dead' languages, and have been for thousands of years. Hence, no one really knows how words were pronounced. The best guesses scholars have are introduced here, but don't expect to be easily understood if you travel back in a time machine!
There are pictures of sites and artifacts in this book that show hieroglyphs in their original settings and forms.
This book is intended to whet the appetite, rather than provide a thorough education. The purpose the authors have is to motivate the reader on to more study, and for most, that will probably prove to be the case. To this end, they mention several sources, including the great 'Egyptian Grammar' by Gardiner, used in university courses in Egyptology.