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Author Topic: Old / Arabicized versus the New / Grecized pronounciation of Bohairic  (Read 16985 times)

08 August , 2009, 09:56:04 pm
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Offline Andrew

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There is a great deal of discussion about the Old / Arabicized versus the New / Grecized pronounciation of Bohairic.  But the more I read about about the subject, I more I think that Bohairic itself is an artificial / church dialect that spread after the decline of Sahidic under the Fatimid rule of Egypt.

Most Coptic manuscripts, both pre-Christian and post-Chrisitan are in Sahidic.  The Nag Hammadi manuscripts and the writings of Shenouda the Archimandrite are in Sahidic.

"While texts in other Coptic dialects are primarily translations of Greek literary and religious texts, Sahidic is the only dialect with a considerable body of original literature and non-literary texts.

"Because Sahidic shares most of its features with other dialects of Coptic with few peculiarities specific to itself, and has an extensive corpus of known texts, it is generally the dialect studied by learners of Coptic, particularly by scholars outside of the Coptic Church."

Should we be studying Sahidic, instead of arguing about the pronounciation of an artificial language?   

Andrew

09 August , 2009, 01:43:53 am
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Old / Arabicized versus the New / Grecized pronounciation of Bohairic
« Reply #1 on: 09 August , 2009, 01:43:53 am »
I can't think of any reason for why the church would invent a new dialect?
Sahidic was the most wide spread dialect starting from cairo to the edges of upper Egypt
so if you want to write a book that most Egyptians will understand at that time, you should either write it in Sahidic or Greek
also the weather in lower Egypt is very moist (hence bohairic means related to the sea)  that made is very hard (if not impossible) for any manuscript to survive for a long time

speaking Sahidic is not very easy though, do we have any phonetic transcription of any Sahidic text?
even in that case Sahidic is easy for people who speak the Sahidic dialect of Arabic
Bohairic in the other hand is easier for the people who speak the Bohairic dialect of Arabic (which is the most common one now a days and the one I speak)

10 August , 2009, 06:26:52 am
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Offline Andrew

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Old / Arabicized versus the New / Grecized pronounciation of Bohairic
« Reply #2 on: 10 August , 2009, 06:26:52 am »
> I can't think of any reason for why the church would invent a new dialect? <

I grew up and served in the Coptic Church.  I attended thousands of liturgies, sermons, and studies.  And I “knew” that prayers and hymns were in 2 languages: Arabic and Coptic.  Then I moved to an area with no Coptic church and attended a Greek church for several months.  I was overjoyed to find that they prayed similar prayers.  

But my joy was mixed with anger because nobody in the Coptic Church ever told me that they actually used 3 languages: Arabic, Bohairic, and Greek.  Nothing is wrong with using Greek in the liturgy.  Indeed, it is beautiful.  But to claim that Greek prayers and hymns are in Coptic language borders on plagiarism.

Since a significant proportion of Coptic liturgy is in Greek, and since the correct pronounciation of these prayers had been lost during the Arab rule, it made sense for the Coptic Church in the 19th century to learn from the Greeks how they pronounced their prayers and hymns.  This seems like a worthy cause.

However, in the process, and this is my own understanding, the Bohairic portions of the liturgy also got Grecized, resulting in a backlash from adherents of the “old” pronunciation.  I hope that the dispute involves only Bohairic prayers and not Greek prayers, as well.  It would be a silly attempt and further plagiarism to use the “old” pronounciation for the Greek prayers.  

> Sahidic was the most wide spread dialect starting from cairo to the edges of upper Egypt so if you want to write a book that most Egyptians will understand at that time, you should either write it in Sahidic or Greek <

Quite true.  The New Testament was translated first to Sahidic.  And, my understanding is that the Bohairic version uses Greek too often.  Sahidic is the ancient Egyptian language.  It is Sahidic that is taught in universities all over the world because there are many important documents written in it.

> speaking Sahidic is not very easy though, do we have any phonetic transcription of any Sahidic text? even in that case Sahidic is easy for people who speak the Sahidic dialect of Arabic <

I don’t speak Sahidic Arabic, and neither do all the scholars worldwide who study Sahidic Coptic.  It may be impossible to know how exactly it was pronounced.  But, in my humble opinion, we should do our best.  The main step would be for Copts to realize the importance of Sahidic Coptic.

God bless you.

Andrew  
« Last Edit: 10 August , 2009, 04:44:01 pm by Andrew »

12 August , 2009, 09:22:11 pm
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Old / Arabicized versus the New / Grecized pronounciation of Bohairic
« Reply #3 on: 12 August , 2009, 09:22:11 pm »
I hope that the dispute involves only Bohairic prayers and not Greek prayers, as well.  It would be a silly attempt and further plagiarism to use the “old” pronounciation for the Greek prayers.
of course the main focus is on the Bohairic pronunciation, but pronouncing Greek that way is also important esp. in the names for example we say dawid instead of david which is the most accurate pronunciation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David
Point is Greeks themselves pronounced their letters that way 2000 years ago, so pronouncing ancient Greek text in its ancient pronunciation is not totally wrong
plus, it will confuse the student if you told him pronounce this letter that way in Greek words and that way in Coptic words

I don’t speak Sahidic Arabic, and neither do all the scholars worldwide who study Sahidic Coptic.  It may be impossible to know how exactly it was pronounced.  But, in my humble opinion, we should do our best.  The main step would be for Copts to realize the importance of Sahidic Coptic.
Most scholars and universities don't actually care about how to read Coptic text (nor hieroglyphics for that matter) they only care about how to understand the text
that's why a small effort have been made to figure out the correct pronunciation

God bless you too.

13 August , 2009, 04:37:04 am
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Offline Andrew

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Old / Arabicized versus the New / Grecized pronounciation of Bohairic
« Reply #4 on: 13 August , 2009, 04:37:04 am »
> of course the main focus is on the Bohairic pronunciation, but pronouncing Greek that way is also important esp. in the names for example we say dawid instead of david which is the most accurate pronunciation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David <

The argument about Old Testament names can go 2 ways:  1) OT names like “Dawid” are clearly Semitic and should be pronounced in a Semitic manner; or 2) Christians in the early centuries came to know OT personalities through the New Testament and the Septuagint.  Subsequently, it is the form of the names in these Greek documents that counts to us.  Personally, I prefer the second argument.  But this is a minor issue.  I would not disagree with someone who makes the first choice. 

> Point is Greeks themselves pronounced their letters that way 2000 years ago, so pronouncing ancient Greek text in its ancient pronunciation is not totally wrong <

I’m neither for pronouncing Coptic like Greek nor for pronouncing Greek like Coptic.  Pronouncing liturgical Greek like Old Coptic is _very_ wrong.  Pronouncing liturgical Greek as Old / Koine Greek is not wrong.  Even the Greek Church continues to use Koine pronunciation in the liturgy and has rejected the Modern Greek pronunciation.  http://www.monachos.net/forum/showthread.php?t=2521

> plus, it will confuse the student if you told him pronounce this letter that way in Greek words and that way in Coptic words <

In the American movie, “A Few Good Men,” there is a very famous line.  When asked in court to tell the truth, Colonel Jessep responds, “You can't handle the truth! Son.”  It’s a very sad case when teachers think their students are stupid.  You can’t really impart knowledge until you first gain respect for your students.  Students will not be confused at all if you tell them that Greek pronunciation is different from Coptic (or that French pronunciation is different English, even though they use the same letters).  This would be much more honest than my teachers leading me to believe that all non-Arabic prayers in the liturgy were in Coptic.  Believe me, honesty pays in the end, and the opposite will lead many students to stumble until the grace of God shows them the truth, and He will (Mt 18:6; Ja 3:1).  We all want to be proud of our parents, and of our teachers.  It is very sad when they mislead us.

May God bless you abundantly,

Andrew
 
« Last Edit: 13 August , 2009, 07:38:07 am by Andrew »

13 August , 2009, 04:14:30 pm
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Re: Old / Arabicized versus the New / Grecized pronounciation of Bohairic
« Reply #5 on: 13 August , 2009, 04:14:30 pm »
I totally I agree, and I keep telling my students this is a Greek word, this is a Coptic word
but what if a student wants to read Coptic text himself? they might not be able to tell what words are of Greek origin to pronounce them differently
I can't tell them in order to read Coptic text check every word in the dictionary to know its origin if Greek pronounce it in Greek way otherwise pronounce it in Coptic way

plus, I (personally) don't care about how do we pronounce Greek at all
I wish if we can even "clean" our Coptic books from Greek words entirely
this is of course just my opinion

14 August , 2009, 05:05:09 am
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Re: Old / Arabicized versus the New / Grecized pronounciation of Bohairic
« Reply #6 on: 14 August , 2009, 05:05:09 am »
> I totally I agree, and I keep telling my students this is a Greek word, this is a Coptic word <

Thank you very much for listening to my humble opinion.  I don’t know who you are.  But you come across in your messages as a decent and intelligent person whom I would be honored to meet in real life.  I appreciate your answers.

> plus, I (personally) don't care about how do we pronounce Greek at all. I wish if we can even "clean" our Coptic books from Greek words entirely. this is of course just my opinion. <

I thank you again for expressing your opinion.  I certainly, respect differing opinions. 

> Most scholars and universities don't actually care about how to read Coptic text (nor hieroglyphics for that matter) they only care about how to understand the text. that's why a small effort have been made to figure out the correct pronunciation <

I haven’t done a careful study of the pronunciation of Ancient Egyptian nor of Sahidic Coptic.  But it seems that some scholars have:
 
http://www.friesian.com/egypt.htm
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahidisch

I sincerely wish that scholars in Egypt would realize the importance of Sahidic Coptic as the real Coptic language and that they would make use of the worldwide interest in this dialect in order to revive what is most likely our true language.   

God bless you,

Andrew   

15 August , 2009, 08:37:18 pm
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Re: Old / Arabicized versus the New / Grecized pronounciation of Bohairic
« Reply #7 on: 15 August , 2009, 08:37:18 pm »
I know about the frisan link, it was so nice
I don't know much about Dutch so I am not aware of how good this wiki page is
however problem remains, they hardly site references (I don't know about the Dutch one)
they tell u this letter is pronounced that way, ok fine but how did u know that?? no answer most of the time
also the idea of having one sound for every letter although it can make reading easier it might not be the truth
there is evidences that some letters had more than one sound
if that is not enough already, there is also the way of pronouncing certain letters when they come in certain sequence like for instance ⲱⲟⲩ
also in Sahidic there is many types of jenkems each have different meaning
bottom line is, knowing the "real" pronunciation is not as simple as giving sound for each letter

17 August , 2009, 09:01:53 am
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Re: Old / Arabicized versus the New / Grecized pronounciation of Bohairic
« Reply #8 on: 17 August , 2009, 09:01:53 am »
> I don't know much about Dutch so I am not aware of how good this wiki page is. however problem remains, they hardly site references (I don't know about the Dutch one) <

The Dutch article mentions a reference.  This is the link for its English translation:

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=de&u=http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahidisch&ei=hLeIStOuAYfiMNzp2fIO&sa=X&oi=translate&resnum=1&ct=result&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dsahidisch%26hl%3Den%26rlz%3D1T4GGIK_enUS285US285

> also the idea of having one sound for every letter although it can make reading easier it might not be the truth. there is evidences that some letters had more than one sound <

True.  But we may be able to come close to the "real" pronunciation of consonants by comparing their sounds in languages that incorporate the Greek Alphabet, which is probably what foreign scholars have done.  One thing that we should not do, is take the way Coptic came to be written in Arabic letters as evidence.  This morning, I was reading an Egyptian newspaper when I came accross the English word "garage" written "garash."  This represents not only ignorance of English, but ignorance of the Arabic language as well which clearly contains the sound "dj".    

> if that is not enough already, there is also the way of pronouncing certain letters when they come in certain sequence like for instance ⲱⲟⲩ. also in Sahidic there is many types of jenkems each have different meaning. <

I previously wrote, “in many languages the correct pronunciation of vowels is only in the eyes of the beholder.”  Examples are numerous, but one in recent memory in regards to the word “Iraq” which should be pronounced “Eraq.”  But President Bush used to pronounce it “I-rack.”  

> bottom line is, knowing the "real" pronunciation is not as simple as giving sound for each letter <

This is precisely why one should not be dogmatic in choosing a pronunciation system.  

God bless you,

Andrew
« Last Edit: 17 August , 2009, 09:48:34 am by Andrew »

17 August , 2009, 10:47:26 pm
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Re: Old / Arabicized versus the New / Grecized pronounciation of Bohairic
« Reply #9 on: 17 August , 2009, 10:47:26 pm »
if you are saying that we can recover the lost  (original) pronunciation with a high percentage of accuracy, I also believe that it can be done
but if you are saying there is a team somewhere that is actually trying to do that, i am not sure if such team exists

18 August , 2009, 06:05:12 am
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Re: Old / Arabicized versus the New / Grecized pronounciation of Bohairic
« Reply #10 on: 18 August , 2009, 06:05:12 am »
1> if you are saying that we can recover the lost  (original) pronunciation with a high percentage of accuracy, I also believe that it can be done. <
2> but if you are saying there is a team somewhere that is actually trying to do that, i am not sure if such team exists <

My position depends on which Coptic language we're talking about:

1) From my reading, superficial as it is, it seems that a lot of work have been done in academic institutions worldwide regarding Sahidic.  Here is a one more link:

http://www.rostau.org.uk/aegyptian-l/coptic/introduction.html

2) On the other hand, it seems that only Copts are concerned with Bohairic, and that a virtual stalemate has been reached between advocates of 2 different pronounciation systems that threatens to split the Coptic Church.

3) The third player is the Greek language itself which is also used in Coptic liturgy and I think it should be pronounced in old / Koine Greek.

God bless you,

Andrew 

18 August , 2009, 05:42:59 pm
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Re: Old / Arabicized versus the New / Grecized pronounciation of Bohairic
« Reply #11 on: 18 August , 2009, 05:42:59 pm »
Yes, the sites you mentioned are great
but those sites gives you information but they don't say how did they get it
I don't want a website that tell me this letter is pronounced that way, I want a website that "convince" me
for example in Dr.Emile Maher's books you will find many proves, he told me how to pronounce the letters and convinced me with proves and evidences
the reset of websites doesn't try to convince u
they just give you the info (take it or leave it)

19 August , 2009, 06:03:58 am
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Re: Old / Arabicized versus the New / Grecized pronounciation of Bohairic
« Reply #12 on: 19 August , 2009, 06:03:58 am »
> Yes, the sites you mentioned are great. but those sites gives you information but they don't say how did they get it. I don't want a website that tell me this letter is pronounced that way, I want a website that "convince" me. for example in Dr.Emile Maher's books you will find many proves, he told me how to pronounce the letters and convinced me with proves and evidences. the reset of websites doesn't try to convince u. they just give you the info (take it or leave it) <

You're right.  But we're comparing books to websites, sort of like apples to oranges.  What I need to do is to shift my attention from websites to books.  Would you, please, recommend a book to convince me of the old pronunciation of Bohairic?  At the same time, I'll be looking for a book about the pronunciation of Sahidic.

Also, I haven't found detailed information about the effort done in the 19th century for unification with the Greek / Eastern Orthodox and the reasons for its failure.  Would you explain this to me?  I know that in the west the Greeks accept us as equals, sharers in the true Orthodox faith, and admit us to their sacraments.  But I hear that in Jerusalem the Greeks mistreat the Copts.

God bless you,

Andrew       

19 August , 2009, 09:03:04 pm
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Re: Old / Arabicized versus the New / Grecized pronounciation of Bohairic
« Reply #13 on: 19 August , 2009, 09:03:04 pm »
this book http://kame.danacbe.com/index.php/topic,21.0.html is the one that includes all evidences to the old pronunciation as well as some historical background
this is one of Dr. Emile maher's books

19 August , 2009, 09:04:13 pm
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Re: Old / Arabicized versus the New / Grecized pronounciation of Bohairic
« Reply #14 on: 19 August , 2009, 09:04:13 pm »
if you are going for books there is a book called "Coptic Sounds" for someone called Worell
I could find this book anywhere, and its out of print in amazon
if you couldn't find this book, could u please publish it?