Our Coptic language > Old pronunciation vs new debate

Classical Coptic Pronunciation

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Canis Majoris:
Ϯ itself corresponds to "ti", and its sound derives from the verb ϯ(to give). In Ancient Egyptian, the sound changed from 𓂋𓂞 rdi to 𓂋𓏏𓂞 rti, and finally to 𓏏𓂞 ti. The usage of ϯ appears to be based off of orthographical preference, though we can see in other dialects that it was sometimes written as θι (Sahidic θι ιcτορια - the history) or τι.

We cannot find the sound "v" in Ancient Egyptian, it is a foreign sound. Only "u" or "w" sounds exist.

As for the absence of p in Arabic-Egyptian, it is simply because Arabic doesn't have the sound "p". Ancient Egyptian made distinctions between p 𓊪 and b 𓃀, but as Arabic became the dominant language of Egypt, its features also entered into Coptic Egyptian.

We can see a similar influence of Arabic on Persian, as the name of the language comes from the Pars province in Persia, renamed and pronounced Fars because of Arabic's lack of a p sound, and the name of the language changed from Parsi to Farsi. A more modern example of the change is that in Arabic Egyptian, the word Computer is pronounced "combiuter".

Hi Canis Majoris:

Thank you for the fascinating information.

It is interesting that both v and f sounds were also absent in Classical Greek and appeared in the first 2 centuries AD. In Modern Greek, β is pronounced like v, υ in ευ & αυ is pronounced like v, and φ is pronounced like f. I wonder why. It's amazing how these linguistic changes take place.

I hope that only a minority of Egyptians would mispronounce "combiuter!" :)


Hi Andrew,
Sorry to surprise you and say that all Egypt pronounces it as /kombiuter/.. Sorry.. Hehe
Oujai khan ebshois

Hi Fady:

As we agreed before, loan words are pronounced differently in different languages. The French words “Paris”, “Eiffel”, and “buffet” are pronounced differently in English and there are numerous examples. There are also big differences between different dialects of English. I didn’t intend to offend anybody.

OTOH, if someone is attempting to speak whole sentences in a foreign language, they should try to pronounce words as closely as possible to native speakers. So, in the Coptic liturgy, I think they should pronounce Ⲡ with the sound P. Remember that significant portions of the liturgy are in Greek rather than Bohairic.

Ⲟⲩϫⲁⲓ ϧⲉⲛ Ⲡ̀ϭⲥ


Hi Andrew,
First of all I am sorry that I let you believe that I was for any reason offended by what you said. Not at all. I agree with you more than 100% that computer should be pronounced as the English pronounce because essentially that is not a loan word, but Egyptians don't care too much about that..
Now for the issue of ⲡ in the liturgy that is totally different and I don't agree with you, nor with pronouncing Greek sections of the liturgy as the Greek do. This would be artificial and arbitrary. We are trying to revive a dialect lost as a spoken one as our forefathers said it. It was once a living language going through stages of development and evolution and part of this was how it was affected by the Arabic language and lost the 'p' sound, so it would be unwise to undo that! We are not speaking pharaonic or Greek, we are speaking Coptic Bohairic, Sa'idic, Akhmimic, etc.. I hope I am being clear but it's quite late here and I won't be surprised if I am not making sense.. Hehe..
Ⲟⲩϫⲁⲓ ϧⲉⲛ Ⲡ̀ϭⲥ


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