Talk:Coptic language

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What does "Cop" mean? (talk) 03:38, 11 August 2018 (UTC)

Seemingly greener grounds?[edit]

Quoth the article:

The number of Christians declined due to persecution and forced conversion to Islam. This can probably be attributed to the decline in Coptic which represented a cultural barrier for the Copts from the Arabic-Muslim Culture. But now the increasing use of Arabic bridged that barrier and made it easier for the border-line Christians to cross to seemingly greener grounds!

"Seemingly greener grounds!" If this is not a non-neutral point of view I don't know what is.--Abdousi 18:02, 21 September 2005 (UTC)

Neutrality and Copyright Issues[edit]

I am adding the {{TotallyDisputed}} template to this page. There are a number of reasons for this.

  • The article is almost totally lifted from This is almost certainly in violation of copyright
  • The article is absolutely rife with pro-Coptic Church propaganda (in the older sense of wanting to propagate a religion; not in the political sense); e.g. referring to Mark the Evangelist as "Saint Mark", etc. This mainly derives from the page at
  • The article has numerous factual errors. Examples:
    • Alexander the Great invaded Egypt in 332 BC, not 313 BC; see History of Greek and Roman Egypt
    • The teaching of the Coptic language is not confined to the American University of Cairo and Coptic schools; it is also taught at Cairo University and some of the other Egyptian universities offering training in Egyptology (Zagazig University, etc.)
    • The Greeks did not learn to write from the Phoenicians anymore than the Phoenicians learnt to write from the Egyptians. This 19th century view is no longer held by historians of the alphabet. It is a question of cultural influence, to be sure, but not direct learning
    • The article refers to Ptolemeus, which then redirects to Ptolemy; the intended target is Ptolemy I of Egypt
    • etc., etc., etc.
  • The article seems to be more concerned with the cultural aspects of the Coptic language (no problem with that, if it is accurate; I have my doubts), but very little to do with the language itself.
  • Much effort is expended writing about the "script" (why not just link to Coptic alphabet?). However it is primarily a romantic folk history, rather than anything scholarly or based on fact.

It is my view that this topic deserves a much more thorough and balanced treatment about the language itself and not about Coptic literature (that would, however, be an interesting article itself). —Nefertum17 10:55, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I agree with all of the above, and would like to add to the final point Nefertum17 mentioned: The Coptic language is another name for the Egyptian langauge, in a Greek-based script. Of course by the time of Ptolmies and early Christians it was influenced by different sources which caused the natural evolution expected in a language in its place, but doesn't make it distnict from Egyptian language. Arabic script would have been as suitable (or more) than greek to write the language --Alif 13:51, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Would you argue, then, that French shouldn't be called French, because it's just Latin that's evolved? The number of Greek loanwords in Coptic along with grammatical differences from older stages of Egyptian mean that Coptic can be treated as a distinct language from Egyptian proper. Two languages are distinct if speakers of each cannot understand one another, and that's definitely the case with Coptic and the older stages of Egyptian. And no, the Arabic script is actually less suitable for Coptic than the Greek script is; the Arabic script typically obscures vowels, and Coptic has at least five vowels. It wouldn't be any more successful than the past efforts at writing Turkish or Spanish in the Arabic alphabet. Also, the Greek script was what was used at the time: don't forget that Egypt was held by the Ptolemies (who were Greek) for an entire dynasty. Anyway, extra characters were added to the Greek script form so that it could represent Coptic, and the Coptic and Greek scripts are very distinct from one another, even though they have many similarities. thefamouseccles 01:34, 02 Mar 2005 (UTC)
The comparison between Latin/French can not be applied to ancient Egyptian/Coptic in my opinion. I'm not an expert in either old Egyptian nor Coptic, and hence cannot assert how much difference exists between the two, however when I said Coptic is another name for Egyptian I was referring more to the meaning of 'Coptic' itself. But while the Latin base of French came to France with Roman soldiers and was affected by other already existing languages and the languages of later invaders, Coptic evolved from Egyptian in Egypt under different evolutionary factors, not withholding Greek influence.
As for the suitability of Arabic script, I still believe it would not have been less suitable for writing Coptic. In all cases I was not necessarily referring to the base set of Arabic characters, but rather to an extended character set in which extra symbols and diacritics are added to suit the peculiar aspects of Coptic sounds. Much the same as the additions made to the Greek alphabet to write Coptic, or the Arabic based scripts that are used to write Farsi and many other African and Turkic languages, with the exception that there is much more common sound base between Arabic and Coptic than there's between Coptic and Greek, and hence an alphabet that was designed to write Arabic would suit writing Coptic more.
Saying that Arabic typically obscures vowels is either referring to the pre-diacritics phase or to the 'colloquial' writing in modern times, both of which do not represent the complete Arabic writing system. In the first case you might also like to refer to a time when there were no dots on Arabic letters, effectively reducing the symbols to less than half!
The conversion to writing Turkish in a Latin based script was not due to the unsuitability of Arabic script as you propose, but merely a political one, I thought this was a widely known fact. The same goes for writing many of the languages of the former Soviet Union: they were first forced to use Cyrillic, and now are pushed to accept Latin.
As for writing Spanish in Arabic, I don't see how this is much different than abandoning Anglo-Saxon for the favour of Latin in writing English!

-- 15:44, 4 Mar 2005 (UTC) (that was my non-logged-in incarnation :-) --Alif 18:12, 6 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I'm very concerned that the history paragraph tries to present the case that the Coptic alphabet, and by extension Greek, was derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs. This is not at all a widely held idea, and Wiki's own article on the Phoenician alphabet disagrees (and does not even present this option as a common alternative).
Actually, "Wiki's own article on the Phoenician alphabet" refers to the Proto-Canaanite alphabet, and if you consult that article, you will see: "While a descendant script from the Egyptian hieroglyphs, it is also the parent script of Phoenician". "This is not at all a widely held idea" may be true, but only in reference to your garbled presentation of the facts. More simply put, the facts are: 1) Simplified versions of a small number of ancient Egyptian graphs were in use as alphabetic symbols as early as 1900 BCE. 2) That first stage was either the Proto-Canaanite Alphabet or developed directly into it. 3) the Phoenecian alphabet derived from the Proto-Canaanite Alphabet. 4) The Greek alphabet derives from the Phoenecian alphabet, with some major modifications in order to depict vowels. 5) The Coptic alphabet derives mostly from the Greek alphabet, but also includes a few letters derived from Demotic Egyptian script.Jakob37 (talk) 11:30, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
For the other argument going on here- I feel Arabic is a much more natural script for writing Egyptian than Greek is. In order to accurately represent the older stage of the Egyptian language in a Greek-based script, many more new signs would be necessary (Loprieno holds that the different "dialects" of Coptic were not geographical variants on the language, but rather different systems for trying to recreate sounds that don't fit well into the script). Most common romanizations of Egyptian add up to 8 modified Roman letters, as well as differentiating between k and q (which the Coptic alphabet does not do). The Arabic alphabet, as it exists today at least, would only need minor modifications (such as p and g sounds added by Farsi, as well as a character for the sound commonly romanized as ç or h).
A lack of vowels would pose no problem for the Egyptian language-- hieroglyphs don't record vowels either.
There's no good answer to whether Coptic is a dialect of an older language or a separate language in its own right. The language of Egypt has changed so much that its scope dwarves the difference between Beowulf and Hemmingway. It seems to me more like a dialect continuum than a single language, although spread out temporally instead of geographically. Drawing the line in these cases is always subjective, but a change in writing system seems a good a place as any to separate it. AndrewT 07:25, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

Proposed Changes[edit]

I would like to propose that much of this article be rewritten with the aim of removing copyrighted material and also to focus more on the language.

  • The section on the alphabet should, at most, give a very brief overview and then refer to Coptic alphabet
  • The historical information consolidated into one section and bias removed
  • Sections on phonology, grammar, and dialects

I have added some basic bibliography in the meantime. —Nefertum17 17:44, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I don't see anyone here more qualified than you are to do the job :-)
By the way: Do you write in Arabic? Arabic Wikipedia is in need for someone like you. --Alif 22:19, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I can read it (slowly) and speak a bit, but no writing. (Nefertum17)

I have added the basic info box for the language and will start a rewrite using the system at Wikipedia:WikiProject Languages. Comments and suggestions are welcome. —Nefertum17 11:34, 2 Feb 2005 (UTC)

The phonological and grammatical sections are still wanting, as well as a reworking of the historical information. I will try to get to this in the next week or so. —Nefertum17 12:03, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)

The following sections still need to be added:

  • Phonology
  • Grammar
  • Examples
  • Total rewrite of the history section

However, as I have not had a chance to do this in a timely manner, I have removed the rewrite notice. Perhaps "soon" :-) —Nefertum17 22:01, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Alas, Nefertum17 (who seems to know what he's talking about) has left Wikipedia. A-giau 21:59, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

Page move[edit]

(from WP:RM)

Coptic LanguageCoptic language[edit]

Justification: not only were Wikipedia:Naming conventions violated when Coptic language was moved for some unjustified reason to Coptic Language, the vast majority of links point to the old location at Coptic language ?Nefertum17 21:43, 30 Jan 2005 (UTC)

  • Support: Nefertum17 21:43, 30 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • Support. The article pretty much seals its own fate as it's covered with links to Ancient Egyptian language, Egyptian language, Greek language, etc. What makes "Coptic Language" so special that it gets the exception? I'm not sure. It should be moved. --Sketchee 23:00, Jan 30, 2005 (UTC)
  • As much as I hate the naming convention rendering second and subsequent words as uncapitalized, I'll support while waiting for someone to come through and recapitalize things. —ExplorerCDT 00:14, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • It's worse than all that. It's User:Afanous munging things up. Look at the histories. I've reverted a little and added merge tags. - UtherSRG 00:48, Jan 31, 2005 (UTC)
    • It appears he has actually written most of the present article, or are the page histories fooling me? In any case, I moved the oddly-named Coptic Adj to Coptic (disambiguation). I hope I didn't do anything wrong in that. / up land 07:41, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Coptic Adj should be deleted. --Alif 00:31, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)

The point is mute now. User:Afanous took it upon himself to fix his error and moved everything back to Coptic language where it started in the first place. The only history being lost are his extensive edits at Coptic Language ?Nefertum17 08:06, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)

To merge the edit histories, delete Coptic language, move Coptic Language over it, and undelete - but you'll need to wait for the compression bug to be sorted out first. -- ALoan (Talk) 14:16, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)

"Coptic" refers only to the language[edit]

Please move this article back to Coptic and move the current dabpage to Coptic (disambiguation) and link it from the top of the page. See Wikipedia:WikiProject Languages#Structure for guidelines on naming of language articles. For similar examples, see Latin, Hindi, Urdu and many others. None of these use the "language" disambiguator and neither should this.

There's been consistent consensus for this method of naming for quite some time, so I don't feel there's a need to go through a formal RM process.

Peter Isotalo 13:16, 25 December 2005 (UTC)

  • Just let it stay. In my opinion, keeping as much language articles as possible at the standard X language location is a good idea. — mark 13:28, 25 December 2005 (UTC)
    • Not with the current disambiguation. Anyone typing in "Coptic" should wind up here, not at the dab page. And people seem to have a tendency to think that "XXX language" is actually how the term should be used in prose, not that it's there just for the disambiguation. / Peter Isotalo 23:09, 25 December 2005 (UTC)


I have removed this from the list of Coptic words in Standard Arabic:

  • sabeii سَبِيّ "captive" (sebi)

The reason is that سبى sabā "to capture" is found not only in Arabic but general Semitic, including Hebrew, Ugaritic, Aramaic, Syriac, Sabaic (Old South Arabian), etc. If related at all, it would likely be on the level of common Afro-Asiatic, but this needs checking. In any event, it is not a loan from Coptic into Arabic. —Nefertum17 09:43, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)

You convinced me. --Alif 22:47, 16 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I have modified an earlier discussion regarding "ebony". The Coptic actually borrows it from Greek, though the Greek is of Egyptian origin. —Nefertum17 09:56, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I have removed τ̀.μετ ρεμ.ν̀.κημε from the "language box" for 2 reasons.

  • It uses the Greek, not Coptic, alphabet. Once Coptic is added to unicode later in 2005 and fonts such as Lucidia Grande support it, I agree it should be added back in, though in Coptic.
  • It uses Bohairic orthography for a Sahidic phrase (the Bohairic is slightly different).

I have also broken up the translitation of the phrase to reflect actual words. While it would be written as one big word in the Coptic alphabet, in transliteration it is not. —Nefertum17 10:08, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)

So do we have the Coptic scripts available now? Let's go check and see if there's an entire Wikipedia in Coptic yet.

Coptic letters[edit]

I have Coptic fonts installed and have no trouble viewing web pages in Coptic, but am still unable to display Coptic writing on Wikipedia. It shows up as the Unicode square typeface, not as Coptic. Does anyone know if I need to install something additional? Thanks in advance! - Zerida 22:59, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

Full support for Coptic in Unicode is still quite new. It maybe that your Coptic fonts simply apply Coptic letters to the usual Latin codepoints, the old way of doing it. If so they are not much good for reading Unicode Coptic. Some 'Unicode' fonts don't yet support the Coptic codeblock. I think Code2001 has support for it. On the other hand, if you're using Internet Explorer, you will have dificulty anyway. — Gareth Hughes 23:09, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
I downloaded a new Unicode Coptic set that's working with Netscape. Thanks for the tip! - Zerida 23:41, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

I may have accidently deleted the Unicode Coptic characters. I assumed that since they did not correctly display in Firefox, that there was a problem. When I saw this message I attempted to restore the text, but since I evidently don't have the font on this machine, that may not be possible. --Blainster 12:43, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

I don't think it's reasonable to expect people to have a coptic-enabled font installed right at the moment. The coptic letters certainly aren't displayed as such on my system, which has a fairly mainstream Linux (Ubuntu) installed. In any case, the kind of person who would need to look up a very basic encyclopedia article on Coptic is most unlikely to need a Coptic font for any other reason. Would anyone be able to put an image or two here for the benefit of the fontless? Ireneshusband 08:16, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

In my own case, they're all boxed out except for the letters which are in the Coptic but not the Greek alphabet. I just don't understand why we can't just use the Greek alphabet, since the Coptic alphabet is in fact the Greek alphabet with a few letters added at the end, just simply written or printed in a distinct style (much like traditional German Fraktur). I mean, we don't use a whole separate set of glyphs to write Icelandic just because it uses a couple of letters the standard Latin alphabet doesn't have (such as thorn). I think we should use Greek letters. BGManofID (talk) 16:39, 18 February 2009 (UTC)

I have Internet Explorer 9 browser, but it displays block. How do I use the Segoe UI Symbol font to the said browser? Rjluna2 (talk) 02:04, 21 May 2015 (UTC)

Coptic Wikipedia[edit]

Has anyone thought of starting up a Coptic language Wikipedia? I don't speak Coptic, but I wouldn't mind helping with whatever I can. --Agari 10:39, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

Coptic Grammar?[edit]

If the main article has information on coptic grammar, I must have missed it. When I go to an encyclopedia to learn about a language, I most certainly expect some discussion about its grammatical features, like nouns and verbs, or substantives and participles, adverbs and adjectives, that sort of a thing. What kind of a language is the Coptic Language? I don't have the slightest clue from the main article. Does it care about word order? Are there prefixes, infixes, and suffixes? Prepositions or postpositions? Are there definite articles? Is the language rich in pronouns or is it poor in pronouns?

Maybe a knowledgeable individual could address these matters and improve the main article.

Somebody less knowledgeable posted some references under a paragraph titled "gammar" but that's a royal cop out.

It's clear that languages and alphabets are not the same thing. So why the emphasis on the Greek and Coptic alphabets in isolation of the grammatical features that make the Coptic language what it was - a vehicle for the transfer of information from individual to individual?

Not v. knowledgeable and have little time at the moment, least of all for editing wiki, but good places to start would be T.O. Lambdin, and Bentley-Leighton. Hope that helps. (talk) 18:16, 13 May 2009 (UTC)Usermaatre-Setepenre

Problem with IPA[edit]

My computer does not display the IPA characters on this page, which is strange, since it displays them on every other Wikipedia page with IPA characters (and in general). Furthermore, they appear as boxes, despite the fact that my operating system (Mac OS X Tiger) shows unknown characters as diamonds with question marks, not as boxes. Does this page use some non UTF-8 form of Unicode, or perhaps IPA characters from a different set of codepoints than those typically used? --HunterX 05:32, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

The Coptic Unicode range is quite new.
That's not enough reason to advocate it.
It is new enough so that you could probably be able to see all other Unicode ranges but this one. Details of the change can be seen at To view the new code points, you need a font that is compatible with Unicode 4.1.0. I believe that Code2001 should do the trick. — Gareth Hughes 10:51, 12 April 2006 (UTC)
I can't get to that website. Why not just post a bunch of jpegs for the new characters, and let it go at that?

Somebody should go through the page and remove all instances of unicodes.


Removed this: "There is a group of over 130 members in favour of the revival of the Coptic language; for details, see Remenkimi: [1]."

130 members of a website doesn't exactly make for a revival, and the link doesn't really support this statement much beyond taking the reader to the group's homepage. However, more information on revival attempts would be interesting

As an informal observer, I would suggest 300 Coptic speakers to be a massive underestimate - Egyptian expatriates in the UK now say they now feel like foreigners in their own services - since many of their young learn and pray in Coptic. The older generation still don't know it well, with Arabic as the first and English second languages, whereas the young speak only English first and Coptic. The true number of Coptic speakers worldwide now must be in many thousands.Cpsoper (talk) 07:17, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

The tradition of Spoken Coptic had once extincted or not!?[edit]

The article of The Daily Star of Egypt shows us that the existance of Coptic-speaking people is not the result of Coptic revival movement,but the result of a few people keeped using this language as their first language in the home.

The article shows that the Coptic-speaking woman named Mona Zaki learned this language from her mother.In her speach, she said "My parents passed the language down to me like their parents did before them".How is it possible if Coptic language in its spoken form had completely died in 17c!?

The article even says“Her dialect, however, differs slightly from the standard Coptic that is used for study and church services”,it means that her Coptic is not completely equal to standard,liturgical Coptic that are tried to revival,but a real survived Coptic in its Spoken form.

Please see the evidence! [[2]]YODAFON 13:09, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

I believe that this source is flimsy: it offers no proof. Read Ethnologue, or anything else remotely academic. This article does not give sufficient proof that Coptic is not an extinct language — it does not show the Coptic spoken as the first language of those speakers. I believe that YODAFON's edits have over-emphasized the weight of a newspaper article. — Gareth Hughes 13:17, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
Coptic is extinct as a native language. There is no reputable scientific evidence to the contrary. (Taivo (talk) 00:05, 7 June 2008 (UTC))
There are multiple sources on the internet that show that Coptic is not a completely extinct language, and that a few hundred native speakers still exist around the world. I come from Alexandria, and I personally know 2 families there who speak Coptic at home as a first language. In addition, I also know - firsthand- the family of Father Pigol Bassily (priest of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Frankfurt, Germany) who speaks Coptic at home with his wife and 3 children. Fr. Pigol is the brother of Bishop Dimetrious, the bishop of the Coptic Orthodox parish of Mallawi, who also speaks Coptic as a first language. While these are the only Copts I know who speak Coptic as their native language, I also heard many conversations on the paltalk program where Copts from North America, Australia, Europe and Egypt would come together to chat in Coptic. I think all of this is pretty strong evidence that Coptic is not extinct, yet. I think the reason why we don't hear about those people is that they try to keep it low key - especially inside Egypt - because radical Muslims may perceive this as a threat to the Arabism of Egypt, which may endanger these Coptic speakers. It should be remembered, to begin with, why the Coptic language became extinct. --Lanternix (talk) 02:11, 7 June 2008 (UTC)
I agree 100% with Lanternix. The Copts formed the majority of Egyptians for centuries after the Arab invasion. One could even say that the Coptic Orthodox Church is a very strong Church considering what they've gone through (remember, there are very few Greeks in Turkey after what happened and the Armenian Genocide didn't end too well—just to name a few incidents). The Coptic language suffered, but the Coptic Monasteries kept it alive and now you see extremists who attack these Monasteries in retaliation—even recently! (See "Monastery of Saint Fana"). We should acknowledge how amazing it is that the Egyptian language has closely related descendants that survive to this day. Pope Cyril IV truly is a great leader in terms of the revival of the Coptic language in modern times (the post-Islamic period in Egypt). [3] ~ Troy (talk) 02:28, 7 June 2008 (UTC)
How inspiring. But I'm still waiting for a reliable source.--Yolgnu (talk) 04:35, 7 June 2008 (UTC)
Yolgnu, please contribute to Wikipedia instead of inquiring others to do all of your own work. You should have noticed the source I put at the end of my previous edit. See these: [4] [5] ~ Troy (talk) 04:43, 7 June 2008 (UTC)
Could you please quote the relevant sections of those sources?--Yolgnu (talk) 09:50, 7 June 2008 (UTC)
There is no reliable SCIENTIFIC source to your claims that Coptic still exists as a native language. Mass media sources and sources with a political POV are notoriously unskilled at making linguistic determinations. Personal experience is also against Wikipedia policy which bans original research. Show me a reference to a scientific linguistic publication that says that Coptic is not extinct as a native language. The burden of scientific, scholarly proof is on you, not on me. (Taivo (talk) 12:46, 7 June 2008 (UTC))
The fact that all of Troy's sources say that reviving Coptic is fulfilling God's will, etc. doesn't exactly increase their reliability.--Yolgnu (talk) 13:23, 7 June 2008 (UTC)
Ahem. (As I clear my throat). Since the only time I ever thought I heard a voice it was speaking English.... (Taivo (talk) 14:45, 7 June 2008 (UTC))
The sources provided by Troy and myself are not talking about linguistics. They are interviews with more than one family that speak Coptic as their native languages. I don't think so many different newspapers and magazines, some of which are very well known inside Egypt, can make up interviews. --Lanternix (talk) 18:58, 7 June 2008 (UTC)
Yolgnu and Taivo haven't done anything to prove the sources wrong other than to criticize all of them. If you do not bother to read the sources fully, than you cannot say that there are no "relevant" sections. The burden IS on you both if you charge us of making mistakes. Does Wikipedia need any "scientific" source to prove Coptic (or any language) to be alive? There is apparently no "scientific" source to prove Coptic (or any other language) to be extinct. Yolgnu & Taivo, you both have shown no evidence and, thus, have contributed ZILCH to this discussion. Don't bother if you don't have anything useful to contribute to Wikipedia. ~ Troy (talk) 00:15, 8 June 2008 (UTC)
WP:AGF, Troy. I was not being sarcastic when I asked you to quote the relevant sections; if you want to include them in the article, you'll need to include the relevant quote in the cite.--Yolgnu (talk) 06:48, 8 June 2008 (UTC)
Troy. The vast majority of scholarly, scientific evidence states that Coptic is long extinct as a native language. Ethnologue, Linguasphere, sources specifically on Coptic and Egyptian, etc. Every single item in the bibliography of this article. All state unequivocally that Coptic is extinct as a native language. A newspaper reporter is not a trained linguist. Here is just one example (among thousands I could cite) of native speaker ignorance about linguistics: There is a language spoken in Death Valley, California called by linguists "Timbisha". It is a different language than Shoshoni and the two cannot understand one another. But the Timbisha call their language "Shoshoni". They think it is the same as Shoshoni. It's related, but not the same language--speakers of Timbisha and Shoshoni cannot understand one another. But the Timbisha say they speak "Shoshoni" and journalists writing about the Timbisha always say that they speak Shoshoni (except for the one or two who bother to contact an actual linguist to ask about accuracy). Who really knows what the "Coptic" speakers actually speak? They may SAY that they speak Coptic, but without a recorded utterance from them that shows incontrovertibally that they are speaking Coptic, they could be speaking just a different dialect of Egyptian Arabic that they call "Coptic". The newspapermen would not know the difference. Indeed, if the newspapermen had a political or religious goal in mind, they could be thinking that they heard Coptic. Or the people could very well be speaking the Coptic liturgical language they they learned as part of their religion and not as their first language. Without a trained linguist to evaluate the actual evidence, scientific, scholarly works are to be preferred over newspaper articles with a POV or untrained journalists making linguistic evaluations. I could speak Hungarian to you and tell you that I was speaking Swahili. How would you know the difference if you were just a newspaperman? There have been many examples of Native Americans who said they spoke their extinct native language. Newspapermen believe them quite often. But when linguists evaluated their "language" they discovered it was just butchered French or another Native language or just gibberish. It happens all the time. (Taivo (talk) 08:40, 8 June 2008 (UTC))
So true (as someone living in Australia, the Noongar language comes to mind). Especially since "reviving Coptic is fulfilling God's will", it is easy to see why a patriotic Copt would consider their Egyptian-Arabic-with-a-large-Coptic-substrate to be "Coptic".--Yolgnu (talk) 15:11, 8 June 2008 (UTC)
Egyptian Arabic is evidently heavily influenced by the Coptic language (it's noticeably different from Saudi Arabian Arabic). You can even ask someone who speaks that language, and usually they will say that there are several words which are derivatives of Coptic. Also, you COMPLETELY ignored all of the sources I gave you just because you're obsessed with the statement "reviving Coptic is fulfilling God's will". Egyptian Arabic already has a lot of Coptic origins, however, if you saw Coptic writing and Egyptian Arabic writng together, then you could tell that they still have major differences. When we say "Coptic" we mean "Coptic", not "Egyptian Arabic". And if you like to constantly revert our edits while disregarding all of our sources, then you will have done worse than what I did, because may be you should wake up and smell the cappuchino! Your sources are nowhere near "scholarly". All you say is "the vast majority of scholarly, scientific evidence states that Coptic is long extinct as a native language" without giving any apparently "scholarly" sources. If you continue to do this or be disruptive without giving our views a fair chance, then I will seek for page protection. Wikipedia is not a battleground for any of your edit wars. ~ Troy (talk) 18:01, 8 June 2008 (UTC)
  • I think Coptic language enjoys the same status as Latin ; meaning it is not anyone's mother tongue yet it is still read , spoken and used in many activities , this makes me think that Coptic is not extinct. --Ghaly (talk) 19:11, 8 June 2008 (UTC)
    • The mass media may be wrong about linguistics, according to you. But these sources I put are NOT mass media (they are the websites of well-respected organizations) AND they are not even talking about linguistics!!! They are talking to people who speak Coptic as a first language. As simple as that. They didn't talk about palatization or defeinite articles or anything. Simply different interviews showing that yes, there are still people speaking Coptic as a first language. I don't see why this is so hard to understand. Maybe your sources consider that if a language is spoken by 300 people then it's extinct (in which case it would be more accurate to mention the exact number of those who speak it). Or maybe your sources did not know about the existence of those people, just like many Egyptians don't know either that those people exist. But once you show they do actually exist, then this must be taken into consideration. --Lanternix (talk) 19:34, 8 June 2008 (UTC)
Here is the scientific bibliography that says Coptic is extinct as a native language. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE SOURCES says that Coptic is extinct as a native tongue.

Emmel, Stephen. 1992. "Languages (Coptic)". In The Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by David Noel Freedman. Vol. 4 of 6 vols. New York: Doubleday. 180–188. Gessman, A. M. (1976). "The Birth of the Coptic Script". University of South Florida Language Quarterly 14 2-3. Gignac, Francis Thomas. 1991. "Old Coptic". In The Coptic Encyclopedia, edited by Aziz Suryal Atiya. Vol. 8 of 8 vols. New York and Toronto: Macmillian Publishing Company and Collier Macmillian Canada. 169—188. Kasser, Radolphe. 1991. "Dialects". In The Coptic Encyclopedia, edited by Aziz Suryal Atiya. Vol. 8 of 8 vols. New York and Toronto: Macmillian Publishing Company and Collier Macmillian Canada. 87—96. Loprieno, Antonio. 1995. Ancient Egyptian: A Linguistic Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Polotsky, Hans Jakob. 1971. "Coptic". In Afroasiatic: A Survey, edited by Carleton Taylor Hodge. (Jana Linguarum: Series Practica; 163). 's Gravenhage and Paris: Mouton. 67–79. Chaîne, Marius. 1933. Éléments de grammaire dialectale copte: bohairique, sahidique, achmimique, fayoumique. Paris: Paul Geuthner. Eberle, Andrea, & Regine Schulz. 2004. Koptisch - Ein Leitfaden durch das Saïdische. LINCOM Languages of the World/Materials 07. Munich: LINCOM Europa. Lambdin, Thomas Oden. 1983. Introduction to Sahidic Coptic. Macon: Mercer University Press. Layton, Bentley. 2000. A Coptic Grammar (Sahidic Dialect): With a Chrestomathy and Glossary. (Porta linguarum orientalium; N.S., 20). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. Mallon, Alexis. 1956. Grammaire copte: bibliographie, chrestomathie et vocabulaire. 4th edition. Beyrouth. Mattar, Nabil. 1990. A Study in Bohairic Coptic. Pasadena: Hope Publishing House. Polotsky, Hans Jakob. 1987. Grundlagen des koptischen Satzbaus. American Studies in Papyrology 28. Decatur, Ga.: Scholars Press. Plumley, J. Martin. 1948. An Introductory Coptic Grammar (Sahidic Dialect). London: Home & van Thal. Shisha-Halevy, Ariel. 1988. Coptic Grammatical Chrestomathy: a course for academic and private study. Orientalia lovaniensia analecta 30. Leuven: Peeters. Shisha-Halevy, Ariel. 1986. Coptic Grammatical Categories: Structural Studies in the Syntax of Shenoutean Sahidic. Analecta Orientalia 53. Roma: Pontificium Institutum Biblicum. ISBN 88-7653-255-2. Till, Walter C. 1994. Koptische Dialektgrammatik. Berlin: Walter De Gruyter. Vergote, Jozef. 1973–1983. Grammaire copte. Leuven: Peeters. Younan, Sameh. 2005. So, you want to learn Coptic? A guide to Bohairic Grammar. Sydney: St.Mary, St.Bakhomious and St.Shenouda Coptic Orthodox Church. Černý, Jaroslav. 1976. Coptic Etymological Dictionary. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. Crum, Walter Ewing. 1939. A Coptic Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Vycichl, Werner. 1983. Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue copte. Leuven: Éditions Peeters. Westendorf, Wolfhart. 1965/1977. Koptisches Handwörterbuch. Heidelberg: Carl Winter. Depuydt, Leo. 1993. "On Coptic Sounds." Orientalia 62 (new series): 338–375. Loprieno, Antonio. 1997. "Egyptian and Coptic Phonology". In Phonologies of Asia and Africa (Including the Caucasus), edited by Alan S. Kaye. Vol. 1 of 2 vols. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns. 431–460. Peust, Carsten. 1999. Egyptian Phonology: An Introduction to the Phonology of a Dead Language. (Monographien zur ägyptischen Sprache; 2). Göttingen: Peust & Gutschmidt. Kammerer, Winifred (compiler), A Coptic Bibliography, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1950. (Reprint New York: Kraus Reprint Co., 1969)

Need more? Coptic is not a living language. The websites you quote are not neutral--they are heavily POV. There is a strong political motivation to try to prove that Coptic is not extinct. It's no secret. They are not neutral, scientific websites. Coptic is extinct as a first language. You have given no reliable scientific evidence otherwise. (Taivo (talk) 21:45, 8 June 2008 (UTC))
There is a fundamental difference in authority between hundreds of scientific and scholarly works over the last 200 years that all say Coptic is extinct as a mother tongue and a couple of POV websites that say "The restoration of Coptic is God's Will". You can threaten a block all you want, but Wikipedia is not a forum for a political or religious agenda. Science, scholarship, and refereed publications will win out over a POV website every day. I could put up a great website on any topic tomorrow and tell people that it is a "well-respected" site. There is absolutely NO control over content on the web. (Taivo (talk) 22:04, 8 June 2008 (UTC))
I added a factual sentence in the article to include your unscientific and unconfirmed website reports. (Taivo (talk) 22:13, 8 June 2008 (UTC))
You have completely disregarded all of our views. I could cut-and-paste sources like that—it wouldn't make it accurate. If it says "300 speakers" instead of "extinct", then even an idiot would be able to judge for himself. It's simple: "300 speakers" to you means "extinct", to others it doesn't. If it just says "extinct", then no one could tell if there's another view-point. Also, one of your sources said that it was extinct, but it was only talking about Sahidic Coptic. There are different dialects of this language. Try NOT to be rude, disruptive, or inpatient. I will assume good faith, but even still, your constant reverts force me to explain again and again. Wikipedia has no room for any of your edit warring, or ad homimem criticism. So far, you have reached NO consensus with either Ghaly, Lanternix or me. Until you do so, you cannot just throw in sources and label them as all better evidence than our sources, nor can you constantly revert the work of others without proper consultation. ~ Troy (talk) 00:44, 9 June 2008 (UTC)
You have offered no SCIENTIFICALLY VERIFIED source for your "300 speakers". NONE. You have offered a POV website. I am not edit warring. I am presenting scientific and scholarly information. Show me a scientific scholarly source which has verified your "300 speakers". You cannot since there are none. Wikipedia has no place for unverified opinion or political POV. I assume good faith, but you are not assuming good faith either. You assume that I don't know what I am doing. I am a linguist by trade. I know my business. I know the field and the bibliography. I know the history of "web linguistics" and "media linguistics". And I know that they are notoriously inaccurate. You have offered websites, I have offered the great weight of scholarship and science from the leading Coptic scholars in the world for the last 200 years. Coptic is not a language that has been ignored by science (try any of 500 New Guinea languages to see languages that have been ignored). If there had been speakers of Coptic in 1920, before there was an increasing powerful political agenda to recognize it, they would have been located, labelled, studied and described long before now. Edit warring is when you push a non-scientific, minority, POV point-of-view continually in the face of the weight of the evidence. If you want a "vote", then ask the Wikipedia people to set one up and we will see the results. Otherwise I will revert your "web sites" to verified science. (Taivo (talk) 02:53, 9 June 2008 (UTC))
Actually even your sources don't even talk about the non-extinction of Coptic, but about its revival from extinction. I'll change the wording to reflect the attempt at a revival (Taivo (talk) 02:57, 9 June 2008 (UTC))
Taivo, our sources are not POV. You can't just label them POV because you don't like them! And it's not like we offered you one single source! We offered many sources. And I explained earlier that very few people have heared that native Coptic speakers, and this is simply because they keep a low key for the reasons I mentioned earlier. It's like saying: "ok, polar bears don't exist in Egypt". Fine. Then one day they discover a polar bear in the Egyptian desert, and people like you still insist that "scientific sources" say no! I'm sorry but your scientific sources didn't know about it! You scientific sources didn't visit every single Coptic family to ask them what their native language is! Please think again about what you're doing. You're just denying facts because they contradict with your books, even though these facts have been lately documented by names and infomation. You remind me of the Catholic Church during the time of Galileo! --Lanternix (talk) 04:37, 9 June 2008 (UTC)
Your sources are not verified scientific sources. They are websites without scholarly control or verification. How much plainer can I get? A website is not science unless it is backed by published work. Even Wikipedia policy states that published sources are superior to websites and that unpublished work is virtually worthless for verification purposes. (Taivo (talk) 09:38, 9 June 2008 (UTC))
If you think "300" speakers means "extinct", then it can still say that there's 300 because then it's more specific. Also, articles on languages such as this one say as low as even "70 speakers". Remember, when it says "300 speakers" it doesn't explicitly say that it isn't extinct for those who see it as such—in fact, it's even closer to being neutral as I see it because it's being more specific at least. Also, while I should assume good faith in regards to your edits, I can't deny that we haven't reached a consensus before going ahead with making tic tac toe edits (see Wikipedia:Consensus). Having said that, you can't deny that your not edit warring with us. We seriously need to take deep breaths and avoid getting into edit wars—they don't solve anything. ~ Troy (talk) 01:11, 10 June 2008 (UTC)
The problem with "300" is that is not verified in published, reliable sources. It's just on (a) website(s). There is no reliable published source for how many people have begun using Coptic as a first language again. There are Wikipedia articles that list 1 speaker remaining, but that number is a verified, published number in a reliable source. It's not the number, it's the reliability of the source. Yes, I have moved on to working on wording with the administrator who locked this page. (See below) (Taivo (talk) 03:21, 10 June 2008 (UTC))
There is quite a difference between being extinct as a primary language, and being extinct.Mk5384 (talk) 09:46, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
If coptic is extinct, then why does this egyptian article from 2005 mention a mother that speaks the language natively (it's her native language) and she regrets not passing it to her children in fear of discrimination: It seems to be on the verge of going extinct, since it mentions two families that still natively speak the language. Almost extinct, but not extinct as a native language. Now, you want evidence go find it yourself, because the egyptian government, and the arab world in general are very disorganized (talk) 22:01, 5 April 2021 (UTC)


Could someone who reads Coptic tell me if the jinkim is properly displayed in the article? For example, in the word ⲙⲉⲧⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ it should be positioned directly above the letter like an accent grave. For some reason it doesn't appear properly on my screen, but rather on the next letter or barely noticeable, even though it looks fine when I type it in the edit box. — Zerida 02:24, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

Wow, never answered. No, on my browser (FF) it's closer to the , though at the left edge. — kwami (talk) 02:23, 6 May 2014 (UTC)

Corrected Proposal for Wording on "Extinction" Issue[edit]

The following conversation took place on my talk page between the admin who is in charge of "locking" this article and myself. It has reached an appropriate wording for the article.

Well, if I understand correctly, perhaps a phrase like this might work: "Though most scholars agree that the Coptic language is extinct,<several reliable sources here> there are some who dispute this.More reliable sources. · AndonicO Engage. 10:00, 9 June 2008 (UTC)
That would definitely be an improvement, although it's not "scholars" who dispute this. Perhaps: "Though scholars agree that the Coptic language is extinct, there are sources that dispute this." I've never read a scholar who disputed the extinction of Coptic, only these various journalistic sources offered by Troy et al. There have been attempts to revive Coptic, so there may be modern speakers of the language although this has not been confirmed by scholars. What scholars agree on is that there is no continuation from the past even if there are modern speakers. The situation mirrors somewhat the case with Cornish. There are speakers (although the "nativeness" of the speech is debatable) of Cornish, but no one disputes that the language went extinct. I just noticed that there is a speaker number on the Cornish page, but I have the same doubts about putting a number there as I have about putting a number here--verification. At least with Cornish there is a more public degree of verification and analysis than there is with Coptic revival. (Taivo (talk) 10:59, 9 June 2008 (UTC))
Then it would probably be best as: "Though scholars agree that the Coptic language is extinct, there are some who dispute this." Putting "sources" in there sounds a bit awkward. · AndonicO Engage.
Sounds good to me. What's the next step? (Taivo (talk) 20:40, 9 June 2008 (UTC))

This should be inserted into the article as an accurate assessment. The problem is now in the template. The language became extinct in the 17th century. It may have some "native" speakers, but the number is unverified by reliable published sources. Therefore, the template statement should read "extinct in the 17th century.<several reliable sources here> A small number of people may speak the revived language<several reliable sources here>" (Taivo (talk) 01:04, 10 June 2008 (UTC))

  • I'm glad we're getting closer to reaching a consenusus. Just one remark that must be taken into account when the re-wording is done: the sources we provided say that those people who were interviewed and who speak Coptic today say that it's a continuation of the language that has been always spoken in Egypt. In other words, the sources say that Coptic actually never went extinct completely and there were always people who continued to speak it natively at home and in secret, as opposed to just revived it on their own. Also off-topic, I remember reading history books about a number of different foriegn travelers to Egypt in the 19th and 20th centuries, who would occasionally come across a number of Copts in isolated Coptic villages of Upper Egypt who were still speaking Coptic. I can't remember the names of the books now, but I will add the appropriate references to Wiki once I find them. Thanks again. --Lanternix (talk) 03:57, 10 June 2008 (UTC)
The problem is that all these "sources" are unverified by the scientific world. They "say" they have continued the language, but there's no reliable evidence--they may speak Coptic NOW, but there's no evidence that anyone was speaking Coptic (other than liturgically) 100 years ago. It's nothing but unverified (and unverifiable) rumor. Timbisha people also say that they speak "Shoshoni", but they don't. Native American informants at various times have said that they preserved some language, but they haven't. The Veddah people of Sri Lanka have said they preserved the ancient Veddah language, but they haven't. So we are talking about two places in the article now--
The template statement needs to be scientifically accurate and verifiable--no rumor: "Extinct in the 17th century.<reliable sources here>. A small number of people may speak the revived language<reliable sources here>
The text in the article may be a little more "unreliable": "Though scholars agree that Coptic became extinct in the 17th century,<reliable sources here> there are some who dispute this.<reliable sources here>"
(Taivo (talk) 11:28, 10 June 2008 (UTC))
About this section's ideas, I think we're heading towards a closer agreement on this. However, I feel a little doubtful on saying that Coptic language was 100% extinct at some point earlier on (about 100 years ago, apparently), as languages usually don't survive after being entirely extinct. Taivo, do any other your sources (preferably ones that we can access; ie: online) explicitly say that Coptic was entirely dead at that point in time? Thanks, ~ Troy (talk) 00:34, 11 June 2008 (UTC)
Not "100 years ago", but about 400 years ago (17th century). Every single scholarly source cited in the article will tell you that Coptic is extinct as a native language. They don't all have exactly the same words. But the end result is the same--scholars universally agree that Coptic went extinct and the most common date range given is sometime in the 17th century or thereabouts. There is zero reliable, verified, published scholarly evidence that Coptic survived past the end of the 17th century as anything other than a liturgical language. Your "entirely dead" is not a correct appraisal of the situation with Coptic at all and scholars would not agree with that characterization. Coptic survived as a liturgical language, just as Hebrew survived as a liturgical language after it went extinct as a native language by 100 CE. And, just as Hebrew was revived as a native language by using the liturgical language as a base, it seems that Coptic may have been revived as a native language by using the liturgical language as a base. Cornish was totally extinct (not even as a liturgical language) and it is being revived to some extent as a native language by some. (If nationalist Cornish sources are to be believed, then more successfully than Coptic has been revived). There are even children who are taught Sanskrit and Latin as their first languages. The issue from the point-of-view of verified, published scholarship is not whether or not Coptic went extinct as a native language (it did), but whether it has been revived as a native language by a few (reported, but not verified). Native speaker assessments of the history of their language are notoriously unreliable and nearly always completely wrong. I could cite hundreds of examples, so that is not an issue for linguistic scholarship, but an issue of study for folklorists--language origin myths. I can't tell you how many times I've had to revert the Mehri language article, for example, because some nationalist wants to assert that it is just ancient Akkadian preserved in south Arabia. Language origin myths are especially entrenched when it comes to liturgical languages such as Coptic, Hebrew, Arabic, Latin, Greek, Old Church Slavonic, Sanskrit, etc. I have heard honest, serious people say that if the language of the King James Bible was good enough for Jesus, then it's good enough for them. So, in the end, we are left with the fact that Coptic ceased to be anyone's native language in the 17th century or so. That is the only published, verified fact. We have unpublished, unverified indications that it may have been revived. (Taivo (talk) 01:54, 11 June 2008 (UTC))
I am entirely aware of your views & sourcing on that. The thing is, you said: "but there's no evidence that anyone was speaking Coptic (other than liturgically) 100 years ago". ~ Troy (talk) 02:05, 11 June 2008 (UTC)
Ah, I made that comment in reference to your statements about unverified travellers reports, etc. from the 19th century. Since I grew up in the 20th century, the 19th century is "100 years ago". I did not state that Coptic went extinct 100 years ago, I said that there was no verified evidence that it was alive 100 years ago. I could just as easily, and just as accurately, have said there is no evidence that anyone was speaking Akkadian 100 years ago, even though Akkadian went extinct at least two millennia ago. I could also have said that there is no evidence that anyone was speaking Coptic other than liturgically 200 or 300 years ago. The 100 years was just as a reference to the "traveller's reports" since I tend to associate most Egyptian travelogues with the 19th century and the British administration of Egypt. (Taivo (talk) 02:20, 11 June 2008 (UTC))
Just to be 100% clear, all the following statements are true: "There is no evidence that Coptic was spoken as a native language 100 years ago", "There is no evidence that Julius Caesar was alive 100 years ago", "There is no evidence that dinosaurs lived in England 100 years ago". None of the statements are about WHEN the language/person/animal went out of existence, just that at a given point in time none of them were in existence. (Taivo (talk) 03:30, 11 June 2008 (UTC))
I see your point on that, quite frankly, although I would like to know what Lanternix thinks about the idea for the consensus. ~ Troy (talk) 03:07, 12 June 2008 (UTC)
How long are we supposed to wait to insert the corrected text into the article? (Taivo (talk) 19:54, 16 June 2008 (UTC))
Well, since I agree with your revised text, I wouldn't want to wait too long. Ask AdonicO—may be he can help. If you really want to finish this off you can instead request for unprotection on Wikipedia. It's your call. ~ Troy (talk) 20:47, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
I think you guys did a good job reaching a compromise. But the way it stands now sounds a little biased towards the opinion that the language did in fact go extinct in the 17th century. So I suggesting using the verb "may" in both cases (may have gone extinct, and maybe some people speak it today", or removing it from both sentences (went extinct but some people do speak it today). Also, I'm against writing that people speak the "revived" language, and this should be clearly stated in the table that some believe it never went totally extinct. Thanks. --Lanternix (talk) 01:55, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
There are two places here under discussion. (1) The template. The template must be verified, referenced information. ALL scientific sources say that this language went extinct. That is the accurate statement of the facts. There is ZERO verified evidence that it did not. The template must be the tightest possible statement of the verified facts. (2) The wording of the text. That can be looser than the tight wording of the template. That's why we have stated that some believe that the language never went extinct. HOWEVER, the ONLY reliable, verified, scientific statements are that the language went extinct. We have stated that some believe the language never went extinct and included those references. But the scientific fact is that it did go extinct. The other is unverified (and almost always unreliable) folk belief and legend. (Taivo (talk) 10:53, 19 June 2008 (UTC))


Somebody please note somewhere which Coptic fonts you are using here. I have a plythera of Coptic fonts on my computer but whatever you are using here it does not recognize. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:19, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

This selection of unicode fonts is what you're looking for. New Athena Unicode should work fine, but you could try another of the compliant ones, it works fine usually. ~ Troy (talk) 01:33, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
The link which Troy supplies requires a username and password to access. Is there a public-access solution to this problem? (Taivo (talk) 23:04, 21 February 2009 (UTC))
Actually, it wasn't like that before. The web site appears to be outdated now. Try this updated version instead. ~ Troy (talk) 22:05, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
Why can't we just have a simple image giving a clear example of what some Coptic sample text may look like without needing the font installed, for those of us who either can't install, or don't want to go the bother of installing it just for a quick ID of the script? The scans of ancient versions are all well and good, but presumably there's a more modern flavour which is used in the fonts?
I've got decently rendering unicode support on here but I still just see boxes. (talk) 08:43, 10 October 2012 (UTC)


I have changed a few transcriptions in the "Name" section. If the final -e in Sahidic is to be interpreted as a schwa, that would also be true of the final -i in the Bohairic (following Hintze's well-known Enchoria v.10 article and/or Loprieno 1995). To avoid this issue, I have simply returned the Sahidic final epsilon to be transcribed as "e". If someone wants to carry through an entire pan-Coptic phonemization, then both final vowels in Bohairic and Sahidic should be a schwa, and of course other changes would need to be made too.Jakob37 (talk) 15:20, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

Opening line[edit]

I've tweaked the first line of this article upon coming across it, since it's a shame that an otherwise thoroughly written article starts with a strange assertion like: "[Coptic] is the final form of the Egyptian language," especially given its continued existence as a liturgical language and (as seen in the conversations above) possibly as a living language along the lines of Hebrew. I've tentatively changed it to "a modern form of the Egyptian language," since this eliminates the need to consider the history of the language as a dead-end (and the language itself as definitely extinct) upon reading that line. I will leave a more precise statement to the people who actually know more about this language; I just felt I'd try to get the ball rolling. Vaaarr (talk) 08:18, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

Development from Middle Egyptian[edit]

There should be more about the wide variety of phonological and grammatical changes from Middle Egyptian. For example, Rmṯ-n-Kmt was originally pronounced something like Remetch-en-Kemet, but came to be pronounced Remenkimi or Remekimi. Coptic has changed as much from Middle Egyptian as French did from Latin, maybe more. Compare how Latin digitus came to be pronounced dwa in French (doigt). The verb suffixes were also lost, as in English and French, which is why the "suffix conjugation" of Ancient Egyptian had to be fortified with an additional prefixed pronoun, like I have instead of hæbbe, where the pronoun is determined from conjugation. The article uses the example of "I I'have'it the ball" which is pretty accurate because the English word "have" exhibited the same loss of inflection. Even the "suffix conjugation" itself is believed to be from the formation of a verb with a pronoun, like parlez-vous in French. It might be like a hypothetical je j'ai-je-elle la balle, where the pronoun is used three times in additional to the inflected verb. The Coptic pronouns themselves resemble French in how they have lost consonants or vowels from the older Egyptian, and attach directly to the verb as one word. (talk) 05:51, 26 October 2010 (UTC)

'300 speakers'[edit]

We need to either verify this supposed fact about Coptic having 300 speakers, or simply get rid of it. All three of the sources sited as saying Coptic has only 300 speakers worldwide are unverified and have been so for years. Moreover, all three of these sources are the exact same article--the only difference is that the first one is translated into English, and the second one has a different title on the page, but all three site the exact same interview and give us no new information. I suggest at the very least we delete two of these repeated sources so that at least this fact looks as unreliable on the page as it truly is: having only one completely unverified source. Another thing that concerns me is that I have read these (this) article, and know personally that at least part of the information it cites is completely false: the article's pull is that they got an interview with the "only Egyptian family that still speaks the Coptic language inside Egypt", but I personally know at least one other family in Egypt that speaks Coptic as their primary language. Now I know that one cannot site personal knowledge or experience on Wikipedia, and I am not suggesting that we do so. The point I would like to make is that I know for a fact that this article cited is false in its premise--it exaggerates the truth for the purposes of making a catchy article, and so I fear that it may also be exaggerating or perhaps completely making up this '300 Coptic speakers' fact that it claims. Furthermore, I believe that, if this fact is false, that the true statistics are out there somewhere and need to be found. One way or another, we absolutely need to do some housecleaning and get this fact verified as soon as possible. -3loodlust (talk) 05:58, 21 May 2011 (UTC)

Deleted. I'm surprised it's been accepted this long. If true, it would have gotten a lot of press in linguistic and egyptological circles. — kwami (talk) 06:19, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

Beta is not a labio-dental fricative.[edit]

In the consonant inventory, the voiceless and voiced labio-dental fricatives are both purported to be part of the language. However, beta (the lowercase Greek character used in IPA for the sound that b or v make in medial positions in Spanish, for example) is put as the voiced pair of /f/. This is not the case. The voiced pair of /f/ is /v/.

I do not know anything about Semitic languages or more specifically Coptic, so I cannot say whether it should be beta or /v/. (talk) 01:46, 27 July 2011 (UTC)Tom in Florida.

Fonts again[edit]

I can't read the Coptic in iOS Safari (that is, Safari for iPad) on an iPad 3. Is this what we're talking about? Could someone recruit some help to fix the problem?CecilWard (talk) 01:36, 8 August 2012 (UTC)

Extinct and Runic[edit]

The term 'extinct' is weird and really does not apply to languages in the same that it does to animal species. None of the works cited to support the use of this word could possibly be understood to mean that the language no longer exists, merely that it is not used by people in ordinary social intercourse. The comparison with Icelandic: if the runic 'thorn' reflects a sound that the 'Latin' alphabet is unable to indicate, then the comparison is legitimate; if, however, the letter is there for purely decorative reasons, the the comparison is not legitimate (Pamour (talk) 16:46, 25 September 2012 (UTC)).

Wrong! Leave this to the linguists. HammerFilmFan (talk) 15:38, 25 August 2013 (UTC)

Can somebody translate the following article into English[edit]

German Wikipedia: Liste koptischer Ortsnamen (list of coptic Placenames) -- (talk) 17:42, 29 September 2012 (UTC)

Bibliography by Wolfgang Kosack[edit]

An IP user (Contributions) is adding below Bibliography to the versions of article "coptic language" in other languages (but not to the article in english wikipedia). Is this vandalism? Apparently this IP is blocked in Swedish wikipedia

== Bibliography == *[[Wolfgang Kosack]] Lehrbuch des Koptischen.Teil I:Koptische Grammatik.Teil II:Koptische Lesestücke, Graz 1974.

--Jacob.jose (talk) 01:45, 1 December 2012 (UTC)

Writing System...Typesetting Guidelines[edit]

In the spirit of the Unicode proposals, when the following should be used:

  • combining overstroke: U+0305 (=supralinear stroke)
  • combining character-joining overstroke (from middle of one character to middle of the next): U+035E

Sahidic supralinear stroke

And which should be used for abbreviations. Most important, what is the intended codepoint fot the dear old jinkim.

--Connection (talk) 13:48, 3 December 2013 (UTC)

Old books of historical interest[edit]

Grammaire copte : avec bibliographie, chrestomathie et vocabulaire (1904)

Rajmaan (talk) 08:13, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

The Verbal State Grade and Grammatical Case[edit]

The part about the verbal grade system is too confusing. I can't even figure out the difference between absolute state and nominal state nor can I understand the reason why the distinction between the two is needed because the translation given for both samples is exactly the same. The article also almost never mentions anything about grammatical cases. Is the so-called "state grades" some kind of grammatical case system? Does Coptic verbs inflict for case, or does this language use grammatical case some other way? And if so, how? I notice it mentions something about specific preposition(s), but it doesn't go into further detail, and it doesn't seem to be indicated by word order either because it explains that the language has at least two optional word orders, which implies that the word order is rather free. Can someone please clarify what this article is saying? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:37, 13 January 2017 (UTC)

I don't know any more about Coptic than you, but from looking at this part near the top of the "Verbs" section:

The absolute, nominal, and pronominal state grades are used in different syntactic contexts. The absolute state grade of a transitive verb is used before a direct object with the accusative preposition /ən, əm/, and the nominal state grade is used before a direct object with no case-marking. The pronominal state grade is used before a pronominal direct object enclitic. In addition, many verbs also have a neutral state grade, used to express a state resulting from the action of the verb. Compare the following forms:[1]

Absolute state grade







ⲁⲓϫⲓⲙⲓ ⲙ̀ⲡⲁⲓⲱⲧ

a-i-jimi əm-p-a-iōt


'I found my father.'

Nominal state grade







ⲁⲓϫⲉⲙ ⲙ̀ⲡⲁⲓⲱⲧ

a-i-jem əm-p-a-iōt

PFV-1SG-find.NOM DEF:MASC:SG-1SG-father

'I found my father.'

and this section under "Sentential Syntax":







Ⲁⲓϭⲓⲛⲉ ⲙ̀ⲡⲁⲉⲓⲱⲧ

A-i-cine əm-p-a-eiōt

PFV-1sg-find.ABS PREP-DEF:MASC:SG-1SG-father

'I found my father.'

The verbs in these sentences are in the absolute state grade,[2] which requires that its direct object be introduced with the preposition /ən, əm/. This preposition functions like accusative case.

There is also an alternative nominal state grade of the verb in which the direct object of the verb follows with no preposition:







Ⲁⲓϭⲉⲛ ⲡⲁⲉⲓⲱⲧ

a-i-cen p-a-eiōt

PFV-1SG-find.NOM DEF:M:SG-1SG-father

'I found my father.'

I have deduced that, in the first block quote, the "əm-" prefix/preposition on "əm-p-a-iōt" is probably only supposed to be there in the Absolute State Grade example, and not in the Nominal State Grade example. That is, I'm guessing this is a mistake in the article.2600:1700:8C10:8770:194D:8A25:7E94:E3B9 (talk) 22:46, 6 September 2019 (UTC)

Major Problem[edit]

Almost all of the Coptic "examples" in this article are more or less nonexistent. There's an awful lot of blank spaces where this is happening: {{Coptic|}} (yes, with nothing after the | ). Since the actual Coptic text has not been supplied, the article is a mess, reads poorly, and looks stupid. Someone needs to either put the Coptic text in or remove all of this junk that's making the article virtually unreadable. LacrimosaDiesIlla (talk) 19:31, 1 July 2017 (UTC)

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Did Coptic language vanish due to Islamic persecution?[edit]

Hello everyone,

The author "the user" who created this article has mentioned (without any references) that Coptic language is no longer in use or disappeared because of "Islamic" persecuation, saying:

"Persecutions under the Mamluk Sultanate (1250–1517) led to the further decline of Coptic[citation needed] until it completely gave way to Egyptian Arabic around the 17th century[citation needed], though it may have survived in isolated pockets for a little longer."

There're three ways that countries dealt with Islamic conquests, after their defeat and became under Islamic rule: 1- The total rejection of Muslims rule, their religion, and their language (Arabic/Turkish or culture) like Spain, Sicily, Greek, and some countries of Balcans which were part of Ottoman emipre, these countries kept their religions, languages and kept fighting Muslims until they got their independence.

2- To accept Muslims religion but not their culture (language) like; Iran, Turkey, Central Asia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, western Africa, Horn of Africa and others.

3- To accept Muslims religion and their language (culture) like most of countries in North of Africa and Middle East.

So, when Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan decreed that Arabic replace other languages in the whole Islamic caliphate as the sole administrative language, not only replacing Coptic or Greek and not only in Egypt, but look at the difference between Egypt and Iran (Persia) and Khorasan and other countries which accepted Islam as a religion but didn't accept Arab rule or Arab cultures and kept their own languages till today, but many of Copts in Egypt converted to Islam, replaced their language and accepted the Arab rule, there were no rebellions against Arab rule during Umayyad Caliphate, the only rebellion I know about it was during the Abbasid Caliphate led by both Muslims and Christians.

Greeks, Armenians, Serbs..etc are speaking about Islamic persecuation against them, but they fought back and kept their cultures, why Copts didn't fight back if they felt persecuted, why didn't defend themselves against those who spread their religion by sword, huh, why?

Jewes in Israel kept their languages till today after long centuries of persecuation, massacres, holocaust and disapora through their history, so why Copts didn't do the same or don't do the same? Hebrew now is spoken by 5-7 million people and Israel was created in 1948 after 56 year now Hebrew is an official language of a state, back to Copts, was Egypt under Islamic persecuation in 1800s during Mohamed Ali dynasty? or under the British occupation in 1882? why they didn't try to restore their language during British occupation that lasted 72 year?

The funny thing there are other languages still used in Egypt like Nubian languages and Siwi beside Arabic, why Arabs or Mamlukes (who were not Arabs and many of them were not speaking Arabic), why they didn't oppress Nubians or Siwa people because they speak their own languages which they kept in use till now unlike Copts, and another thing the french campaign of Egypt and Syria noted about Coptic families that still speak Coptic language, where was the Mamlukes persecuation? I believe that Copts gave away their languages by their own well, you can speak about their religious oppression because of their doctrine, but I guess Mumlukes who didn't speak Arabic well (they were slaves from not speaking Arabic nations) could be more interested to change Copts religion not their language.

so please, I speak about facts, do you have facts that Copts were forced to speak Arabic or it just your opinion or something you heard from Copts because I heard a lot of things with no evidence too about this matter, thank you. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Amr F.Nagy (talkcontribs) 13:54, 4 January 2019 (UTC)

Creation of articles about each Coptic dialect[edit]

In Wikimedia Incubator, the Coptic version of Wikipedia contains articles about the dialects. Moreover, since the pages are written in Coptic, so the native names are ready to be included. (talk) 17:30, 16 April 2020 (UTC)

Consonant Phonology[edit]

@Fdom5997: Unfortunately you misunderstand your own source. Ishak's thesis aims to describe the pre-1850 pronunciation of liturgical Bohairic Coptic as used by the Egyptian Orthodox Church. It is not meant to represent Bohairic as it was spoken during its natural lifetime, nor is it meant to be representative of any Coptic dialect other than Bohairic. During the period Maher describes, all Bohairic phonemes which were not present in Egyptian Arabic were substituted by their nearest equivalents. This included ϭ /t͡ʃʰ/, which was substituted by /ʃ/ (the value of EgAr. ش), and ϫ /t͡ʃ/, which was substituted by /ɟ/ (the contemporary value of EgAr. ج). This /ɟ/ is the "palatal plosive" you refer to. The native value of ϫ, on the other hand, is uncontroversially recognized as the affricate [t͡ʃ] across all Coptic dialects, while Bohairic ϭ is similarly recognized as possessing the original value [t͡ʃʰ], being the aspirated equivalent of ϫ. In fact, our ability to confidently identify these phonemes as affricates is not limited to Coptic period, but rather extends approximately 2000 years back when transcriptions of Semitic names first begin to appear in Middle Egyptian texts. Middle and Late Egyptian ṯ and ḏ are always used to transcibe Semitic affricates and never Semitic stops or fricatives. If this were not enough, ϫ can be used to denote not only the single phoneme /t͡ʃ/, but also clusters of t+ʃ. What you are saying is equivalent to arguing that /ts/ should be indicated as the value of Proto-Italic k because that was how native German speakers pronounced Latin c when praying before the year 1917, when Pope Pius X standardized Ecclastical Latin according to how Italians pronounced their mass. It makes no sense at all. It is clear from your talk page that you have a history of disruptive editing and edit warring in which you habitually alter well-sourced phonology sections based on misrepresentations of sources that were inppropriate in the first place. Please refrain from making these kinds of changes to phonology sections without a thorough understanding of the material you're dealing with, especially when the content you're changing is well sourced and represents the consensus. If this kind of behavior continues I will have no choice but to report it. Rhemmiel (talk) 05:48, 18 July 2020 (UTC)

@Rhemmiel thanks for letting me know. Although it is quite interesting because I’ve read that in Old Egyptian, it had the palatal stops [c cʰ]. Could they have possibly evolved into palato-alveolar consonants like [tʃ tʃʰ], by the time that Middle Egyptian came along? Fdom5997 (talk) 01:31, 8 August 2020 (UTC)
We really don’t know the precise values of Old Egyptian ṯ and ḏ, only that they are the result of a widespread palatalization process affecting k and q that was completed by the Second Dynasty. The absolute earliest indication of their pronunciation is their use in transcribing the Semitic alveolar affricate series during the Middle Kingdom. Rhemmiel (talk) 14:16, 8 August 2020 (UTC)
@Rhemmiel thank you for correcting me. I did not know whether that contribution was accurate or not. Fdom5997 (talk) 18:13, 9 September 2020 (UTC)
  1. ^ Lambdin 1983, p. 39.
  2. ^ Reintges 2010, p. 208.