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Author Topic: Classical Coptic Pronunciation  (Read 527 times)

05 March , 2018, 09:16:17 am
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Offline Canis Majoris

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Classical Coptic Pronunciation
« on: 05 March , 2018, 09:16:17 am »
Kemetic language script and pronunciation changed greatly throughout its long history, from beginning as simple logograms "🐈" and evolving into hieroglyphics that combine the same logograms' pronunciations. For the sake of saving time, a simplified cursive form called "hieratic" evolved and later further simplified into the Demotic script. Finally the language was written in Greek script during Roman times. At times, Coptic has been written in Arabic, and Arabic in Coptic.

Egyptians invented Demotic to write the Kemetic language in 700 BCE as a simpler form of the Hieroglyphics. Demotic became a fossil of Late Egyptian pronunciation and created diglossia between written and contemporary grammar, syntax, and pronunciation (a modern example is French). Many natives in Egypt remained illiterate- even with the implementation of the new Demotic script.

Later, Macedonians brought the Greek language and script to Egypt, and the Ptolemaic Empire made Greek its prestige language. Law, business, and administration were conducted primarily in Greek. The Demotic script and dialects sporadically were transliterated into Greek before the Roman annexation of Egypt; although hieroglyphics maintained a level of importance as the Classical language of Egypt and continued the Ancient Middle Egyptian tradition, Greek was becoming much more utilized.

During the Roman period, Egyptians added 7 new letters to the Greek script, all representing Kemetic sounds that Greek did not possess; its pronunciation was based on Egyptian Greek- Greek that had changed from Classical Greek. Regional dialect scripts like Bohairic, Faiyumic, and Sahidic formed around the 1st Century AD, and expressed exact dialectal pronunciations to contemporary native Egyptian ears based on Egyptian Greek spelling conventions. This created a melange of differing Coptic writings, all based on local dialects. The Eastern Roman Empire's ban of Pagan religions made Greek increasingly the only script used, contributing to the loss of Hieroglyphic and Demotic script knowledge.

We know what Egyptian Greek sounded like based on mispellings, and the Kemetic dialects reflected similar errors in their script. Egyptian Greek and Kemetic shared these features in Coptic script:

All of the examples below are from Bohairic.
Vowels/ Dipthongs:
The distinction of long and short vowels disappeared , and some vowels merged with dipthongs.

i: ⲓ/ⲩ*/ⲉⲓ*/ⲏ* ⲃⲁⲃⲩⲗⲱⲛ/ⲃⲁⲃⲓⲗⲱⲛ, ⲏⲥⲁⲓⲁⲥ/ⲏⲥⲁⲏⲁⲥ, ϩⲓⲏⲃ/ϩⲏⲓⲃ, Ⲇⲁⲩⲓⲇ/Sah.Ⲇⲁⲩⲉⲓⲇ. Babylon, Esaias/Esaeas(Isaiah), Hieb/Heib, lamb, Dauid, David, compare Sahidic Ⲇⲁⲩⲉⲓⲇ, Daueid,  David. ⲩ could be written as ⲓ;  ⲉⲓ/ⲏ was sometimes confused with ⲓ, but not always.
ei(between e and i): ⲉⲓ/ⲏ/ⲟⲓ ⲟⲩⲉⲓⲛⲓⲛ/Sah.ⲟⲩⲁⲓⲛⲓⲛ, ⲣⲱⲙⲏ.  Ueinin, Ionian(Greek), compare Sahidic ⲟⲩⲁⲓⲛⲓⲛ, Uainin, Ionian(Greek), Romei, Rome.
e: ⲁⲓ/ⲉ ⲣⲱⲙⲉⲟⲥ/ⲣⲱⲙⲁⲓⲟⲥ. Romeos/Romaios, Rōmaeus/Roman
eu: ⲉⲩ ⲡⲛⲉⲩⲙⲁ. Pneuma, spirit
au: ⲁⲩ Ⲁⲩⲅⲟⲩⲥⲧⲟⲥ. Augustos, Augustus, a Roman name
u: ⲟⲩ ⲛⲟⲩϯ. Nuti, god.
o: ⲟ/ⲱ ⲡⲟⲡⲗⲓⲟⲥ/ⲡⲱⲡⲗⲓⲟⲥ, ⲟⲩϩⲟⲣ/ⲟⲩϩⲱⲣ, ϩⲑⲟ/ϩⲑⲱ. Poplios, Publius, a Roman name, Uhor, dog, Ht'or, horse
Rarely, o and ⲟⲩ u were interchanged.

Consonants:
Most dialects didn't use aspirated letters when writing, but those that did made a distinction between p'-p, ⲫ-ⲡ;t'-t, ⲑ-ⲧ; k'-k, ⲭ-ⲕ. Greek aspiration was not consistently applied, and in some cases words were over aspirated.

b: Ⲃⲁⲃⲩⲗⲱⲛ. Babylon compare Faiyumic Ⲡⲁⲃⲓⲗⲱⲛ Pabilon
d: ⲇⲣⲁⲡⲉⲧⲏⲥ, ⲧⲣⲁⲡⲉⲧⲏⲥ. drapetes/trapetes, fugitive
aspirates:
p'/ph: ⲫ ⲫⲓⲟⲙ. p'iom (Faiyum) compare Sahidic ⲡⲉⲓⲟⲙ peiom
t'/th: ⲑ ϣⲑⲟⲣⲑⲉⲣ. sht'ort'er (to disturb) compare Faiyumic ϣⲧⲁⲗⲧⲉⲗ shtaltel
k'/kh: ⲭ ⲭⲏⲙⲓ. k'emi(Egypt) compare Sahidic ⲕⲏⲙⲉ keme 
ϩ ϩⲓⲣⲏⲛⲏ, Ⲓⲣⲏⲛⲏ, Ⲉⲓⲣⲏⲛⲏ; Hirene, Irene, Eirene, from Ειρηνη, Peace; Ⲏⲣⲱⲇⲏⲥ, ϩⲏⲣⲱⲇⲏⲥ. Erodes, Herodes, Herod

The language based on these rules would be what a writer from nearly two thousand years ago would have heard. It is not what the most recent speakers would have sounded like, but in the same way that Classical Arabic is pronounced differently to Modern Arabic dialects, in such a way does Classical Coptic differ from the more recent Coptic pronunciations. Classical Coptic pronunciation is a fossil of earlier Coptic pronunciation.
« Last Edit: 19 June , 2018, 01:37:04 am by Canis Majoris »
𓇋𓏌𓎡𓂀Ανοκ 𓅯𓄿𓏭πε 𓉐𓉻𓁈πουρο 𓈖ν 𓆎𓅓𓏏𓊖Χημι

13 June , 2018, 09:14:23 am
Reply #1

Offline Peinaito

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Re: Classical Coptic Pronunciation
« Reply #1 on: 13 June , 2018, 09:14:23 am »
Very pleased to meet the good information I was looking for.

14 June , 2018, 02:54:50 am
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Offline Andrew

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Re: Classical Coptic Pronunciation
« Reply #2 on: 14 June , 2018, 02:54:50 am »

Some Demotic letters seem to be different in Bohairic vs Sahidic. In Sahidic, Ϧ is absent, Ϫ is pronounced like ch, and Ϭ is pronounced kj. Can you confirm and compare this to pronunciation of Demotic?

Ⲁⲛⲇⲣⲉⲁⲥ
 

14 June , 2018, 12:39:28 pm
Reply #3

Offline Canis Majoris

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Re: Classical Coptic Pronunciation
« Reply #3 on: 14 June , 2018, 12:39:28 pm »
For Bohairic words compared to hieroglyphs, we can see that ϫ correlates to a "dj" sound: 𓋴𓆓𓂧𓀁 cαϫιδ sadjid, compared to Coptic cαϫι sadji (word, to speak) 𓆓 = ϫ.
For ϭ we can see a correspondence to "k", such as in 𓂓𓅓 χαμ kam, ϭⲱⲙ qom (garden), 𓂓 = χα, the word for the "Ka" (Ancient Egyptian Religion). Ⲧhere is evidence that it could sound like "ch" in Coptic Egyptian. Take 𓅷𓄿𓂞 for example, it sounded like tji or chi, and became "ϭⲓ"(to take).

As for ϩ we can see that ϩ is an "h" sound such as in 𓎛𓏏𓂋𓃗 htor, ϩⲑⲟ hto (horse); 𓎛 = h.

Finally for ϧ we can see it makes a "kh" sound and comes from 𓐍, as in 𓐍𓂧𓊛 khed(northwards, down the nile), ϧⲏⲧ khet (north). Sometimes, 𓐍 becomes ϣ, such as in Khonsu 𓐍𓈖𓇓𓅱(the god), Coptic Ϣⲟⲛⲥ Shons, though this is not common.

I haven't studied Sahidic very much; I assume the pronunciation was similar to Bohairic.
« Last Edit: 19 June , 2018, 01:20:20 am by Canis Majoris »
𓇋𓏌𓎡𓂀Ανοκ 𓅯𓄿𓏭πε 𓉐𓉻𓁈πουρο 𓈖ν 𓆎𓅓𓏏𓊖Χημι

14 June , 2018, 07:34:37 pm
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Offline Andrew

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Re: Classical Coptic Pronunciation
« Reply #4 on: 14 June , 2018, 07:34:37 pm »
Hi Canis Majoris:

This is very interesting. How about the letter Ϯ? What does it correspond to? Why, do you think, it was added when Greek alphabet already had Ⲧ & Ⲇ?

The other thing we notice in Arabi-Bohairic pronunciation is absence of the sounds of v & p. Would you compare this situation to the ancient Egyptian language?

Андреас


« Last Edit: 14 June , 2018, 07:42:50 pm by Andrew »

15 June , 2018, 05:03:21 am
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Offline Canis Majoris

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Re: Classical Coptic Pronunciation
« Reply #5 on: 15 June , 2018, 05:03:21 am »
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".
« Last Edit: 19 June , 2018, 01:20:07 am by Canis Majoris »
𓇋𓏌𓎡𓂀Ανοκ 𓅯𓄿𓏭πε 𓉐𓉻𓁈πουρο 𓈖ν 𓆎𓅓𓏏𓊖Χημι

15 June , 2018, 05:49:43 am
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Offline Andrew

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Re: Classical Coptic Pronunciation
« Reply #6 on: 15 June , 2018, 05:49:43 am »
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!" :)

Ανδρεας


17 June , 2018, 03:32:05 am
Reply #7

Offline ophadece

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Re: Classical Coptic Pronunciation
« Reply #7 on: 17 June , 2018, 03:32:05 am »
Hi Andrew,
Sorry to surprise you and say that all Egypt pronounces it as /kombiuter/.. Sorry.. Hehe
Oujai khan ebshois
Ⲁⲣⲓϩ̀ⲙⲟⲧ ϣ̀ⲗⲏⲗ ⲉϩⲣⲏⲓ ⲉϫⲱⲛ ⲡⲓⲥⲛⲁⲩ

17 June , 2018, 05:35:40 pm
Reply #8

Offline Andrew

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Re: Classical Coptic Pronunciation
« Reply #8 on: 17 June , 2018, 05:35:40 pm »
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 with the sound P. Remember that significant portions of the liturgy are in Greek rather than Bohairic.

Ⲟⲩϫⲁⲓ ϧⲉⲛ Ⲡ̀ϭⲥ

Ⲁⲛⲇⲣⲉⲁⲥ
« Last Edit: 17 June , 2018, 05:46:11 pm by Andrew »

18 June , 2018, 03:22:56 am
Reply #9

Offline ophadece

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Re: Classical Coptic Pronunciation
« Reply #9 on: 18 June , 2018, 03:22:56 am »
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
Ⲁⲣⲓϩ̀ⲙⲟⲧ ϣ̀ⲗⲏⲗ ⲉϩⲣⲏⲓ ⲉϫⲱⲛ ⲡⲓⲥⲛⲁⲩ

18 June , 2018, 06:04:20 am
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Offline Andrew

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Re: Classical Coptic Pronunciation
« Reply #10 on: 18 June , 2018, 06:04:20 am »

> We are trying to revive a dialect lost as a spoken one as our forefathers said it. <


Hi Fady:


The question is which forefathers: those who lived in 200 AD or those who lived in 1600 AD?


In universities outside Egypt, they teach what is believed to be Coptic pronunciation from the Roman period. We can call this “old” pronunciation (OP). 


The followers of Dr Emile Maher Ishak believe that they figured out the pronunciation near the latest stages of spoken Coptic. We can call this Arabi-Bohairic (AB). They made no attempt to figure out how Greek language was pronounced in Egypt at that time.


For over 150 years, the Coptic liturgy has used so called Greko-Bohairic (GB) pronunciation.


It makes sense to me to continue using GB because: 1) It’s more compatible with the Greek sections in the liturgy. 2) It will be confusing to change traditions. 3) There are pitfalls of AB that contributors in this forum have already pointed out. 


If any change is attempted, one should seriously consider the OP, being taught all over the world.


What pronunciations are now taught in Egypt?


Ⲟⲩϫⲁⲓ ϧⲉⲛ Ⲡ̀ϭⲥ


Ⲁⲛⲇⲣⲉⲁⲥ 
« Last Edit: 18 June , 2018, 06:13:43 am by Andrew »

18 June , 2018, 12:07:36 pm
Reply #11

Offline ophadece

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Re: Classical Coptic Pronunciation
« Reply #11 on: 18 June , 2018, 12:07:36 pm »
Hi Andrew,
Reviving a language is the point where that language had been lost. It is not a priority exercise to revive an old pronunciation just because it is being studied abroad. This in itself is quite commendable but unnecessary. I am an Egyptian and I know the history of Egypt, people were not speaking Greek 200 years ago. Greek is not an Egyptian language, it just affected Coptic to an extent..
By the way the Italians are not consistent in pronouncing 'p' in their language either, it is also pronounced as 'b' in some cases.. Thanks for this wonderful conversation.
Ⲟⲩϫⲁⲓ ϧⲉⲛ Ⲡ̀ϭⲥ
Ⲁⲣⲓϩ̀ⲙⲟⲧ ϣ̀ⲗⲏⲗ ⲉϩⲣⲏⲓ ⲉϫⲱⲛ ⲡⲓⲥⲛⲁⲩ

19 June , 2018, 01:57:18 am
Reply #12

Offline Andrew

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Re: Classical Coptic Pronunciation
« Reply #12 on: 19 June , 2018, 01:57:18 am »
Hi Ophadece:

I appreciate the conversation with you, also. Studying any language is a major effort. I really admire your knowledge of the Coptic language and feel that studying it provides a connection with saints who have joined the victorious Church. 

Ⲟⲩϫⲁⲓ ϧⲉⲛ Ⲡ̀ϭⲥ

Ⲁⲛⲇⲣⲉⲁⲥ
« Last Edit: 19 June , 2018, 01:59:13 am by Andrew »

19 June , 2018, 03:00:27 am
Reply #13

Offline Canis Majoris

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Re: Classical Coptic Pronunciation
« Reply #13 on: 19 June , 2018, 03:00:27 am »
In reviving the Coptic language, the main purpose of having a pronunciation is to facilitate communication between people- and which people is the key.

  • Greco-Bohairic Pronunciation panders to the Orthodox Churches of the Mediterranean, Greek and Egyptian.
  • Arabo-Bohairic Pronunciation panders to Arabic Egyptians because it is the easiest to pronounce compared to their native language.
  • Classical Coptic Pronunciation panders to scholars and most foreign Egyptian language learners.

Greco-Bohairic:
Greco-Bohairic is most useful for continuation of the Orthodox Church's pronunciation of liturgy. Mostly priests, Coptic Christians, and clergy would learn this pronunciation.
See this Egyptian conversation talking about Christ, the afterlife, angels, etc.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S55dR7hRDrY. Note: although they speak with Greek pronunciation, you can hear that they speak with heavy Arabic emphasis, intonation, and vowel quality. Here is another video where a Coptic priest teaches an Arabic Egyptian congregation Greek pronunciation, but with heavy Arabic emphasis https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQvNeoqQ9DE

Arabo-Bohairic
As stated above, Arabo-Bohairic is the easiest to pronounce for Arabic Egyptians. The reason for this is because the most recent Coptic was very Arabicized in grammar, in phonology(pronunciation), and in vocabulary(most words in use would not be of Kemetic Egyptian nor Greek origin, but from Arabic). Though linguistic assimilation made Coptic extinct by the 1700's, it makes Arabo-Bohairic much more suited to modern Arabic Egyptians.

In terms of reviving the language- if there were a way to gain enough passion among Arabic Egyptians- including the Islamic Egyptians, this would be the best chance of natively reviving the language from being a passive Classical language only used in the Orthodox Church. It would allow Egyptians :^^^ to speak their native language again.

Classical Coptic
Classical Egyptian is the way that most Western speakers, scholars, hobbyists, and learners passionate about the Coptic/Kemetic dialects would pronounce Coptic- it is derived from the historical way to pronounce the ancient texts. Many Western speakers who learn Classical languages share the historical pronunciation approach whether in Classical Latin, Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, Sanskrit etc.

Compare the Classical approach to modern religious: Latin is pronounced like modern Italian in the modern Roman Catholic church, Greek is pronounced like modern Greek in the Greek Orthodox Church, Arabic is pronounced like the modern Bedouins of Saudi Arabia , Hebrew is pronounced like modern Hebrew, and Sanskrit is pronounced like Hindi.

The Classical approach would be the best way to revive Coptic outside of Egypt; I personally believe it is unlikely that there will be enough passion in the Western world for an external revival - there aren't many Coptic Egyptian learners, unlike in Greek, Latin, or Hebrew. It probably wouldn't happen unless Egypt received massive immigration and endorsed teaching Coptic rather than Arabic.

Revival of languages:
In terms of reviving languages, the usual way a revival to succeed is if there is a necessity(learning new languages takes a lot of dedication). Modern examples of successful revivals are Italian and Hebrew.

Modern Italian comes from a dialect of Italian from Tuscany spoken in the middle ages, circa 1200 A.D. It became a Classical language, and by the 1800's it was used only by around 100,000 scholars in Italy.  The unification of all of the Italian states necessitated a common language, as all of the former kingdoms spoke different languages (Venetian, Neapolitan, Sicilian, Etc.) A massive education reform occurred during the 1900's- now 70 million people worldwide speak Italian.

Hebrew as well was revived from a Classical language used by rabbis- after WW2 the massive exodus of European Jews to the newly created Israel caused the need for a common language. Attempts to revive the Hebrew language before WW2 were unsuccessful, but due to massive foreign immigration after the war from many different parts of Europe( Russia, Hungary, Italy, Germany, etc.), everyone needed a common language. Yiddish and other minority Jewish languages were forgotten and Hebrew became the native language of all the new generations of Israelis.

I hope that Egyptians :^^^ can reclaim their native language.
« Last Edit: 19 June , 2018, 03:34:17 am by Canis Majoris »
𓇋𓏌𓎡𓂀Ανοκ 𓅯𓄿𓏭πε 𓉐𓉻𓁈πουρο 𓈖ν 𓆎𓅓𓏏𓊖Χημι

20 June , 2018, 01:19:51 am
Reply #14

Offline ophadece

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Re: Classical Coptic Pronunciation
« Reply #14 on: 20 June , 2018, 01:19:51 am »
Hi Canis Majoris,
The Greco-Bohairic dialect, pronunciation, lingo or whatever it is called is an artificial one. I never heard of any language, dialect, pronunciation being revived based on an artificial premise, considering the nice examples you gave.. Thank you..
Ⲟⲩϫⲁⲓ ϧⲉⲛ Ⲡ̀ϭⲥ
Ⲁⲣⲓϩ̀ⲙⲟⲧ ϣ̀ⲗⲏⲗ ⲉϩⲣⲏⲓ ⲉϫⲱⲛ ⲡⲓⲥⲛⲁⲩ