Transliteration is the phonetic representation of the glyphs, to aid a person in their pronunciation when reading glyphs.
Translation conveys the meaning of those sounds.
Of course, when you become proficient at transliterating you can make sense of the meaning by just reading the transliteration (you do not need to be able to see the glyphs themselves if they have been properly transliterated.) so, in this respect, your learned friend is correct.
Transliteration consists MOSTLY of letters from the Roman alphabet and so meaning can even be conveyed using a standard keyboard, with some creativity (eg. using the number 3 to represent the short vowel 'a').
If you are keen to learn Middle Egyptian, I'd recommend three books. I'd start with this one:
Very clearly explained, guiding you through and using high quality photographic images. A perfect starting point, imho. (Funnily enough, there is an offering formula on the front cover. When you have read the book, you will be able to read that as easily as you are reading this, I promise!)
Then, I'd take a crack at this one:
or this one, which moves at a very slightly quicker pace than Janice Kamrin's book above - but the great thing about both that and this one is the large number of exercises (and answers) in the books to support regular practice. In fact, Petty's book will teach you how to decode glyphs more easily and quickly while Kamrin's book focuses on developing vocabulary. All are fantastic value for money. Petty's book is here:
Both of these books touch on aspects of grammar but in gentle, user-friendly ways.
At the risk of sounding like I am advertising, I ought to add: "Other books are also available" :)
On a different note, the 5th glyph in the Mentuhotep stele I cited which acts as the determiner for the word mrht (oils) is not the ka glyph but the glyph immediately to its right, beneath the semi circular shaped glyph. The 'mr' is depicted by the hoe and the open mouth glyphs, the twisted flax is the 'h' and the semi circular glyph is the 't'. Together, they read the word 'mrht' and the precise meaning of this word is then clarified by the determiner. This is because the word mrht may have had other meanings, so the determiner is here provided by the scribe to remove any ambiguity from the utterance.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 20-Dec-16 08:20 by eyeofhorus33.