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Author Topic: Native Coptic speakers?  (Read 1949 times)

31 May , 2014, 07:23:57 am
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Offline Anok

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Native Coptic speakers?
« on: 31 May , 2014, 07:23:57 am »
Ⲛⲟϥⲣⲓ,

I have read that there are some Coptic speakers who speak Coptic as their mother tongue. Obviously this is wonderful and a very interesting subject. Does anyone have any links to these people? Interviews? Videos? Audio clips? Do they use the Old Bohairic pronunciation or the reformed one?

Also, I have heard of people in remote areas of Egypt that never stopped speaking Coptic. These people would have the most accurate pronunciation possible for us to know - and if they exist they would PROVE that Coptic never died as a language, not even by the conservative academic standards for a language being "dead."

I do not live in Egypt, but if any Egyptians here could find such people who have kept an unbroken lineage of Coptic alive, it would be a great service to the revitalization of the language, to publicize such findings.

Ⲁⲛⲟⲕ

31 May , 2014, 09:52:32 am
Reply #1

Offline ophadece

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Re: Native Coptic speakers?
« Reply #1 on: 31 May , 2014, 09:52:32 am »
Ekhrestos anesty
Dear Anok,
By any linguistic definition the Coptic language is not dead..
Oujai
ari`hmot `slyl e;byten anon pi`cnau

31 May , 2014, 10:43:07 am
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Offline Anok

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Re: Native Coptic speakers?
« Reply #2 on: 31 May , 2014, 10:43:07 am »
Ⲛⲟϥⲣⲓ,

I agree! But some claim that it did die, in the 17th century, saying that nobody learned it as their first language. It will be helpful to prove that this is wrong, to revitalize the language.

People keep saying that it is dead... I know you have heard this many times. And when people keep reading this, they will be less likely to learn. They will say "why should I learn a dead language?" Dead is a terrible word.

So it is good to gather evidence to say, "No, look; Coptic is alive. Come learn it." That is what I am looking for.
Ⲁⲛⲟⲕ

14 October , 2014, 12:50:19 pm
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Offline BaMheeMooDang

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Re: Native Coptic speakers?
« Reply #3 on: 14 October , 2014, 12:50:19 pm »
I'd love to hear more about what you're looking to do.

28 August , 2017, 02:42:24 am
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Online bashandy

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Re: Native Coptic speakers?
« Reply #4 on: 28 August , 2017, 02:42:24 am »
My understanding is that the traditional lineage of speaking Coptic had its last traces in Zeneya which is a village near Luxor, and Dabeyya. They use old bohairic pronunciation, which probably means that the heritage is related to church, and to the best of my knowledge it is few sentences, rather than a whole revival.

The other part which is more famous are two families, the family of Claudius Labib (1868-1918), who is a person who dedicated his life to Coptic language; he was one of the pioneer Egyptians to study ancient Egyptian. He published piakhomfat, brought the first coptic printer, published the first print version of Midnight Vespers and the mass, in addition to parts of Difnar in Coptic, and the first Coptic-arabic dictionary which he died before finishing the final 4 letters. His dictionary predated  W E Crum's dictionary (1939). His pronunciation was Greco-Bohairic following Iryan Moftah. With respect to syntax, the usage of coptic seemed to be more liberal than traditional bohairic dialect and different in syntax. With respect to vocabulary there were two directions that could be easily inferred from his language. The first is his aversion to the usage of Greek loan words in Coptic language. A glaring example is:
ϧⲉⲛ ⲫⲣⲁⲛ ⲙ̀ⲫⲓⲱⲧ ⲛⲉⲙ ⲡϣⲏⲣⲓ ⲛⲉⲙ ⲡⲓⲛⲓϥⲓ ⲉⲑⲟⲩⲁⲃ ⲟⲩⲛⲟⲩϯ ⲛ̀ⲟⲩⲱⲧ ⲉⲥⲉϣⲱⲡⲓ.
He worked hard to attempt to purify the language from the hellenistic influence on it; though he did not attempt to replace the Greek letters with demotic ones. The second is the establishment of coined words and new words to represent new inventions. His books focused on Coptic as a daily language. It was said that his family spoke Coptic at home. There were no clear explanation of how these words were coined and some established terms lacked etymology, which made the process of coining on his way difficult. The dictionary also mentioned words for which no clear etymology was mentioned.

The other important family is the family of Pisenti Rizkalla, who was said to have been taught by Claudius Labib. Pisenti taught his family coptic. It is said that even the in-laws of his family had to learn Coptic to speak it at home with them. He also publised books and taught Coptic in the same manner of Claudius Labib making use of some coined words, referring to the same dictionary and using a liberal form of bohairic and relying on Greco-bohairic pronunciation. The in-laws of the family were Maurice AbdelMessih, Abba Demetrios, Fr Pigol Bassili. All of them share passion and devotion to Coptic language, and they are critical of old bohairic pronunciation.

The existence of these families inspires hope and sends a powerful message that Coptic can be used as a daily language, however, the usage of Greco-Bohairic pronunciation, liberal grammatical structure, and an array of neologisms renders the whole language to be better classified as a distinct arbitary dialect in its own virtue. 

28 August , 2017, 05:31:07 pm
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Offline Canis Majoris

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Re: Native Coptic speakers?
« Reply #5 on: 28 August , 2017, 05:31:07 pm »
Bashandy, are Greco-Bohairic pronunciation, neologisms, and liberal grammatical structure a problem?
Desperatio causat innovationem; Innovatio autem causat chaos. Chaos enim causat reformationem.

30 August , 2017, 05:38:32 pm
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Offline Admin

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Re: Native Coptic speakers?
« Reply #6 on: 30 August , 2017, 05:38:32 pm »
It does cause many problems.

1. Some shortcuts become very hard to recognize
for example ⲁϥⲛⲁⲩ ⲉⲟⲩⲣⲱⲙⲓ [ af.naw e.ou.rwmi ] (he saw a man) can sometimes be found written like this ⲁϥⲛⲁⲩ ⲉⲩⲣⲱⲙⲓ [ af.naw ew.rwmi ]
It's ok because originally the ⲟⲩ and ⲩ sound very close but now ⲩ is pronounced V so the second sentence is pronounced differently from the first and become hard to recognize.

In the same way all kind of spelling mistakes for old manuscripts become very difficult to be recognized since letters that used to sound the same now sound very differently.

2. It's difficult language for Egyptians.
Throughout Egyptian history we have never pronounced the English "th" nor the "V" but suddenly these letters has been introduced making it harder for Egyptians to pronounce Egyptian language.

31 August , 2017, 02:41:15 am
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Offline Canis Majoris

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Re: Native Coptic speakers?
« Reply #7 on: 31 August , 2017, 02:41:15 am »
Is ⲉⲩⲣⲱⲙⲓ(eurōmi) Sahidic dialect?
Desperatio causat innovationem; Innovatio autem causat chaos. Chaos enim causat reformationem.

31 August , 2017, 02:45:55 am
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Offline Admin

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Re: Native Coptic speakers?
« Reply #8 on: 31 August , 2017, 02:45:55 am »
No, both examples are Bohairic.

31 August , 2017, 02:50:51 am
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Offline Canis Majoris

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Re: Native Coptic speakers?
« Reply #9 on: 31 August , 2017, 02:50:51 am »
Is the Sahidic dialect pronounced distinctly to the Bohairic dialect? Are they even intelligible?
Desperatio causat innovationem; Innovatio autem causat chaos. Chaos enim causat reformationem.

31 August , 2017, 02:56:44 am
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Offline Admin

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Re: Native Coptic speakers?
« Reply #10 on: 31 August , 2017, 02:56:44 am »
I honestly don't understand what does Sahidic dialect has to do with this topic. The whole topic is about Bohairic dialect and it's new pronunciation introduced by church.

31 August , 2017, 06:05:48 am
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Offline Canis Majoris

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Re: Native Coptic speakers?
« Reply #11 on: 31 August , 2017, 06:05:48 am »
I honestly don't understand what does Sahidic dialect has to do with this topic. The whole topic is about Bohairic dialect and it's new pronunciation introduced by church.

I understand that this topic is about native Coptic speakers and the most accurate pronunciation of Coptic.

I have not become acquainted with Sahidic Coptic, and I know that you with your great and profound Coptic wisdom can explain what differences exist between spoken Bohairic and Sahidic dialect.
« Last Edit: 31 August , 2017, 06:15:22 am by Canis Majoris »
Desperatio causat innovationem; Innovatio autem causat chaos. Chaos enim causat reformationem.

31 August , 2017, 04:10:36 pm
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Offline Admin

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Re: Native Coptic speakers?
« Reply #12 on: 31 August , 2017, 04:10:36 pm »
I first must state that I am only beginner in terms of learning Sahidic dialect so I can only answer simple questions like what's the difference between Sahidic and Bohairic.

At the bottom of this post you can see authentic Coptic text in Sahidic dialect (beginning of gospel of Thomas, nag hammadi library)

ⲛⲁⲉⲓ ⲛⲉ ⲛϣⲁϫⲉ ⲉⲑϩⲏⲡ ⲉⲛⲧⲁ ⲒⲤ ⲉⲧⲟⲛϩ  ϫⲟⲟⲩ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲁϥⲥϩⲁⲓⲥⲟⲩ Ⲛϭⲓ ⲇⲓⲇⲩⲙⲟⲥ

This is the very exact text translated to Bohairic dialect.

ⲛⲁⲓ ⲛⲉ ⲛⲓⲥⲁϫⲓ ⲉⲧϩⲏⲡ ⲉⲧⲁ ⲒⲤ ⲉⲧⲟⲛϧ ϫⲟⲥ ⲟⲩⲟϩ ⲁϥⲥϧⲏⲧⲟⲩ ⲛϫⲉ ⲇⲓⲇⲩⲙⲟⲥ

So you can see that different words are written differently, the difference is not just "how a letter is pronounced".
grammar also differ and some words only exist in one dialect but has not in the other.

As for whether Sahidic dialect pronounced certain letters differently from Bohairic dialect, I'll have to say I don't know.
« Last Edit: 31 August , 2017, 04:12:08 pm by Admin »

15 September , 2017, 11:39:43 am
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Online bashandy

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Re: Native Coptic speakers?
« Reply #13 on: 15 September , 2017, 11:39:43 am »
Bashandy, are Greco-Bohairic pronunciation, neologisms, and liberal grammatical structure a problem?
Apologies for the delay in my reply.
01. Greco-Bohairic pronunciation:
01.a. Greco-Bohairic pronunciation adopts the modern phonetic values to Coptic sounds, thus introducing sounds that are alient to native Egyptian tongue and are hard to pronounce unless someone is versed in another language since childhood. These voices do not exist in colloquial Egyptian despite the presence of some of them for over a thousand year in classical Arabic e.g. Th, Dh, and other sounds that are present in Germanic & Romance languages as P & V. In addition, Greco-Bohairic failed to recognise certain consononants as w switching them to a vowel; resulting in arbitary increase in the number of glottal stops per sentence, in addition to emphasis on pronouncing every single glottal stop; and switching most of the vowels to 'ee'. e.g.
ⲡⲓⲟⲩⲱⲓⲛⲓ ⲛ̀ⲧⲁⲫⲙⲏⲓ ⲫⲏⲉⲧⲉⲣⲟⲩⲱⲓⲛⲓ ⲉⲣⲱⲙⲓ ⲛⲓⲃⲉⲛ ⲉⲑⲛⲏⲟⲩ ⲉⲡⲓⲕⲟⲥⲙⲟⲥ
Old Bohairic (OB):     biwoini ndabmai beyadarwoini eromi niwan atnaw abikozmos
Greco-Bohairic (GB): Pi-ou-oini enta-efmee fi-et-er-ou-oini eromi niven ethneyoo epikosmos
01.b. Also, it made traditional names of people and places, even coptic loan words in colloquial Egyptain Arabic ununderstandable. e.g. ward, waddamon, warina, braswaya, samna, demiana, kani, mani, etc. in GB they are pronounced as vert, vatimon, verina, presveya, semni, timiany, keene, mini etc.
01.c. OB pronunciation makes it easier to understand other dialects, as pronunciation of the language becomes more in-line. With GB understanding Sahidic can be become an arduous task as it seems so remote from Bohairic.
e.g. and: Bohairic: ⲟⲩⲟϩ Sahidic: ⲁⲩⲱ OB: Bohairic: woh, Sahidic: awo  GB: ou-oh, Sahidic: avo   ; heavens;  Bohairic: ⲫⲏⲟⲩⲓ Sahidic: ⲡⲏⲩⲉ OB: Bohairic: fawi, Sahidic: bawa  GB: fi-o-wi, Sahidic: pive
01.d. GB has the potential to sever the connection with idiosyncratic use of words in the psalmody or other texts where different spellings for the same words can exist e.g.
In the acrostic psali of Sunday (annual psalmody):
ⲅⲉ ⲅⲁⲣ ⲁⲗⲓⲑⲱⲥ: ϫⲉ ⲅⲁⲣ ⲁⲗⲓⲑⲱⲥ
ⲇⲉⲕⲉⲙⲧⲁⲅⲁⲑⲟⲥ: ⲧⲉⲕⲙⲉⲧⲁⲅⲁⲑⲟⲥ
OB: both would be pronounced as je ghar alitos & dakmataghatos
GB: the psalmody ones would be pronounced as ge ghar & dhekmetaghathos, while the original pronunciation would be ge ghar, and tekmetaghathos
Acrostic psali of Saturday
ⲃⲟⲛ ⲛⲓⲃⲉⲛ: ⲟⲩⲟⲛ ⲛⲓⲃⲉⲛ
OB: both would be pronounced as 'won'
GB: the psalmody the psalmody version would be 'von' and the original version would be 'ou-on'
01.f. The consequence of this is much added stops and added 'ee' sound in Coptic hymns that made it more difficult to sing
01.g. GB has the potential to make Arabic written in Coptic letters in the 8th-10th century manuscripts ununderstandable as it makes Arabic sounds like an alient language.

02. Neologisms: neologisms are inevitable if we are to use a language that was declared dead 300-500 years ago. However, logic and a clear relationship with the language is mandatory to form a coherent lineage. These are some examples which a find to be sound neologisms by Fr Shenouda Maher (Dr Emile Maher formerly)
ⲟⲩⲱⲓⲕ ⲉϥⲙⲉϩ: literally bread filled; then you add the name of the filling
ⲡⲓⲡⲉⲧⲓⲱⲓ: lit. that washes: the washer
ⲡⲓⲡⲉⲧⲉⲣϫⲁϥ: that cools: the fridge
Or newer terminology from the community
ⲡⲓⲡⲉⲧⲱⲡ: that computes: the computer
ⲡⲓⲙⲁⲛⲛⲁⲧ: the website lit.
ⲡⲓⲫⲟϫⲓ ⲛ̀ϣⲟϣⲧ: the keyboard literal

In the families that spoke Coptic there words which no clear etymology was given or how it created or discovered:
ⲁⲡⲗⲏϫⲓ: fridge
ⲙⲁⲛⲭⲁ: spoon, the Greek term used in church is ⲙⲩⲥⲑⲏⲣ
ϯⲣⲉⲥⲓⲱⲓ: washer, it's based on the prefix ⲣⲉϥ: ⲣⲱⲙⲓ ⲉϥ, which is reserved to people doing something like sinner, it cannot be switched into feminine  ⲣⲱⲙⲓ ⲉⲥ
ⲃⲏⲗⲗⲁ: letter there are at least one word in Coptic for letter and one word in Greek for it. ⲥϧⲓ ⲛ̀ϫⲓϫ, ⲉⲡⲓⲥⲧⲟⲗⲏ
ⲃⲉⲣⲉϭⲉⲣⲁⲧ: bicycle, the origin is not clear while the closest word to it comes from  · ⲃⲉⲣⲉϭⲱⲟⲩⲧⲥ: means chariot,  which comes from ancient Egyptian and has Semitic etymology; (czerny 1976, p. 27) ⲣⲁⲧ⸗ means leg which should be coined to the subject e.g. my leg; your leg etc. There is no indication that the term for chariot is a combination of two words, hence chopping the first part and adding another suffix may not be a legitimate way to create a word. 

03. The liberal usage of grammar, can create difficulties in understanding or reflect influence of other languages on Coptic; hereby affecting the reason of caring for the language and the significance of its idiomatic expressions, e.g.
ⲛⲟϥⲣⲓ: was coined to express 'Hello' in Coptic it never existed on its own it was Ⲛⲟϥⲣⲓ ⲉϩⲟⲟⲩ good day, so, it does not mean a lot as a standalone word
ϣⲉⲡϩⲙⲟⲧ: accept grace, was used to 'Thanks' "Shukran"  "Merci" in Coptic it was used in a sentence ϯϣⲉⲡϩⲙⲟⲧ ⲛ̀ⲧⲟⲧⲕ ⲓⲉ ⲛ̀ⲧⲟⲧϯ ⲓⲉ ⲛ̀ⲧⲉⲛⲑⲏⲛⲟⲩ which meant I accept the grace of your hands. The word on its own lost its meaning became like 'thank' v.

To be fair, on the other hand, this is the only successful attempt at revival of Coptic, with all of the reservation regarding pronunciation, neologisms and syntax; it worked. The whole work is so inspirational, and can serve as a model to learn from and develop on. It is a successful model to be followed and studied. I guess Coptic language owes a lot to Claudius Labib & Pisenti Rizkalla for their passion, fervor and huge effort to revive a dead language in their families. We cannot underestimate the sheer magnitude of their dedication and work. Therefore, if the methodology was adopted and adapted to use sounds neologisms and pronunciation it will be great.

On reading their biographies, I learned that both were hard workers to learn and understand the language and to avoid recreating a creole hybrid Greek-Coptic language. I believe that if they had the access to resources that we have now, they would have done the revival in Old Bohairic pronunciation (just speculating) given their integrity and honesty in hard work.