Talk:Coptic script

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Order of letters[edit]

What determined the order of the letters in the table? Specifically: why is ϥ 90 "Fai" not in between 80 and 100 ? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:19, 2 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm not sure what determined the order of this specific table but in most references I've seen, like The World's Writing Systems, letters derived from Demotic are placed after the letters derived from Greek. I don't know of any references that keep the letters in order by the numeric value they were assigned. For example, the Unicode Common Locale Data Repository (CLDR) entry for Coptic places Ϥ (90) well after Ⲣ (100). DRMcCreedy (talk) 20:36, 2 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


"The Coptic alphabet came into use during the 4th century AD after the Greeks conquered Egypt."

This looks very suspect.

I agree[edit]

I agree totally that this sentence is suspect. I believe it is historically inaccurate. The Coptic Alphabet is derived from the Greek alphabet with seven extra letters, which come from demotic, the last step of development of the Egyptian language. The Greeks concurred Egypt in the 3rd century C. Between the 3rd century BC and the 1st century AD, Egyptians still wrote in demotic letters. However, the ease of the Greek alphabet made it useful to translate the New Testament into Egyptian using Greek letters, in order to satisfy the need of the growing Egyptian Christian population at that time. The Egyptian language (1st century AD) written in Greek letters, became to be known as Coptic later when the Arabs invaded Egypt. I will do more research and modify the article. -User:afanous


This is not good. Firstly the image box is overlapping the wiki-table with the unicode characters. Secondly, the letters in the table are mismatched. First the majuscles are listed in pairs, then the minuscles are similarly listed in pairs, but instead the majuscle of each letter should be paired with the minuscle. --Pinnerup 16:17, 16 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The letters in the table are correct. The problem is that some fonts (e.g. "MPH 2B Damase") have a wrong layout. If you got that font installed, try to remove it. — Monedula 07:09, 17 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oh, my! You're totally right. Bad font! It's gone now. Thank you for the help. --Pinnerup 11:46, 22 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Guys, how come the unicodes don't appear on my computer? I added the capital and small letters, but people must have Coptic fonts installed (I used the CS New Athanasius) to be able to see them correctly. Any words about the unicodes? Thanks User:Lanternix

The Coptic Unicode range is fairly new, so browsers are still catching up. Internet Explorer users seem to be having the most trouble, but I think the latest version of IE supports Coptic. If you download New Athena Unicode now, you should be able to see the fonts. — [zɪʔɾɪdəʰ] · 07:47, 19 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Coptic Letter pronunciation[edit]

I have many problem with the table of letter pronunciation and names First the letter fai (Ϥ) is not in its correct place It should be after the letter Shai (Ϣ) and before the letter khai (Ϧ)

Second I want to know the pronunciation and names of the letter in this table came from where (Which Sources)? I am asking because we have many sources

I know only two source the first is the Coptic church's current teaching of the altered pronunciation And this one say *for example* that the letter Ⲩ is called Ebsilon and it say that it is ONLY pronounced V,O or I

The second source is the original pronunciation (crum is a good reference to it) and it says that the letter Ⲩ 's name is "Ha" and it is pronounced W or I or O

While in this table the letter Ⲩ's name is He and pronounced u, w, i, v

And Ⲩ was only an example , so can any one please explain to me from where did you get those pronunciations and letter names ?

Something else: The article talk about the fact that the Coptic letter's pronunciation was altered And it contain the following paragraph "For a phonetic table of approximate letter-equivalents in the Old Bohairic pronunciation, see Coptic alphabet."

so when the visitors visit the Coptic alphabet page, they are expecting to see the original (Old) Pronunciation in this page So it should be included

Ebson 23:36, 22 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Pure Greek only alphabet for Coptic[edit]

Greek Namepeople coptic name translit. (IPA)
the sun god
Beta bēta b, v, w
Gamma gamma g (/k/, /g, ŋ, ɣ/)
Delta dalda d (/d, ð/)
Epsilon ei e
Wau (digamma) fai f
Stigma ti ti (/ti, c/)
Zeta zēta z (/s/, /z/)
Eta ēta ē (/eː, ɛː, i/)
Heta hori h,
Theta tʰēta tʰ (/tʰ, θ/)
Iota iōta i (/i, j/)
Yot jōt j (/j/)
Kappa kappa k, q
Lambda laula l
Mu m
Nu n
Xi kˢi kˢ (/ks/)
Omicron ou o
Pi pi p, b
San ania (/ʤ, g, ɟ/)
Sho šai š (/ʃ/)
Qoppa čima č (/q, ʧ, gʲ, ʃ/)
Rho r
Sigma sēmma s
Tau tau t (/t, d/)
Upsilon he u (/u, w, i, v/)
Phi pʰi pʰ (/pʰ, f/)
Chi kʰi kʰ (/kʰ, χ, ʃ/)
Psi pˢi pˢ (/ps/)
Omega ō ō (/oː/)
Sampi (disigma) ai (/x/)

Sou as soundless derivative of soundful Stigma, and pˢis ənše as soundless derivative of soundful sampi can be discarded. As you see, Coptic language can be covered by native Greek letters only. Adding Demotic letters was nothing more than breaking open door. All images of all letters are here: (talk) 14:01, 27 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm unclear as to your point... Also, it would make reading Greek words really hard. em zilch (talk) 16:15, 27 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I wanted to proof, that adding Demotic part by Copts to main Greek corpus was totally unnecessary. Covering of Coptic phonology is possible to do by using exclusively native Greek letters, both modern and archaic. (talk) 17:04, 27 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oohhhhkay... so, uh, go back in time 2000+ years and tell them? em zilch (talk) 18:51, 27 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Better tell this to today Copts now too outside wikis. I did this already in their wiki here: They should reform their Greek script to follow this GREEK-ONLY based improvement. All additional purely Greek letters are already in Unicode. (talk) 20:01, 27 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Coptic letters are also already present in Unicode, so it's kind of silly. No offense, but... em zilch (talk) 20:22, 27 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
My GREEK-ONLY solution avoids weird script mixing between Greek and Demotic, while your compromise solution allows such script mixing. Ancient Copts simply knowed Greek alphabet only partially, thus they made such compromise. I wants only to make things more consistent and better. There: I too provided table with original Greek sound and numeric values of the same full maximal native Greek alphabet. (talk) 09:06, 28 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I will be honest with you all. I can not see any valid reason to tell Egyptians that they can't use native Egyptian characters, or that somehow European letters are better especially when the Greeks themselves don't use the letters. I would much sooner suggest that to the Greeks to adopt and use the six additional Coptic letters than to tell the Copts not to use them. If you understood the Coptic language at all you would understand why these letters are needed as they help to differentiate a lot of words. Coptic is based on root words that have three consanants but the vowel sounds change to change the meaning of a word. We need accurate consanants and accurate vowel letters to accuratly write Coptic language and the Greek only solution is not only racist but does not fullfill the needs of the language you are suggesting it for. I would sooner move to the Syriac script to write Coptic language than Greek only. That would actually make a lot more sense to me. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:09, 28 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think that many coptic things can be improved, thus abandoning of weird script mixing between demotic and greek must be done, to avoid weirdnesses for example represented by interleaved writing by using at once Greek, Cyrillic and Latin scripts at once in pattern of GCLGCLGCL. (talk) 19:30, 11 November 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Similar writing systems[edit]

Arvanitic alphabetic writing system mixes Greek and Cyrillic scripts. The Greeklish writing system mixes letters and digits, as does the Coptic writing system with Greek and Demotic. The Leetspeak mixes digits and letters analogously to Greeklish, that for example mimics Greek letter shapes such as Theta as 8/q and Omega as 3/w, what constitutes too semi-mixing of scripts. All such systems should have common Category:Mixed alphabet. (talk) 07:57, 26 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

One may easily argue that Arvanitic borrowed and naturalized the letters. I don't see a use in the category you propose. -- Evertype· 08:20, 26 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

On the other side, one may too easily argue that Arvanitic mixes symbols from separate Unicode Greek and Latin blocks. No Arvanitic block exists in Unicode. (talk) 08:23, 26 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Possible improvements[edit]

The entire article is on the alphabet so the Coptic Writing System section should not be titled as such. Instead, it can be titled Composition, or some other general term.

In addition, the lead to the article is not very specific. It seems as if the Coptic writing system is special because it is "the first writing system of Egypt that distinguished vowels from other parts of the writing system." This is an important characteristic of the writing system so it should be mentioned in the lead.

Liuyuan Chen 20:40, 19 November 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yes, I agree with this. (talk) 15:21, 29 November 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Heading changed to "Methods of Encoding Language" Scs237 (talk) 22:37, 3 December 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Also added to the first paragraph that Coptic is "the first Alphabetic Script used for the Egyptian Language". Scs237 (talk) 22:37, 3 December 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

More Possible Improvements[edit]

Thorough history section. You could incorporate examples of what you are talking about in the "Coptic Writing System" section to make it more clear.

Also, you could talk more about the status of the Coptic alphabet in the world today--where, how, or how widely it is used, etc. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jht74 (talkcontribs) 04:03, 20 November 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Article should too contain relations to other alphabets as well. (talk) 15:22, 29 November 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I connected the presence of Demotic Symbols to history of the writing system. I made it more clear that Coptic is really only used in the Coptic Church Today Scs237 (talk) 22:34, 3 December 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Why and where should it contain relations to other alphabets? Scs237 (talk) 22:34, 3 December 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Of course in article, and because Coptic script is hybrid script. (talk) 20:07, 18 February 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I'm particularly interested in the letter shai, which has an obvious affinity to both the Hebrew letter shin and the Cyrillic letter she. Yet the text implies that it was directly derived from a hieroglyph. It's an important point in trying to understand how the missionaries Cyril and Methodius went about creating an alphabet for Church Slav in the 10th century. Comments? (talk) 03:26, 16 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Love this article[edit]

I needed to learn the Bohairic Coptic alphabet today (don't ask), and how to enter it in unicode. This article gave me exactly what I needed with no unnecessary info. Well done everyone. Roger Pearse (talk) 08:16, 25 November 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Major Mistakes in the Alphabet Table[edit]

Thanks for your efforts on the Coptic Alphabet page but a lot of much needed improvement has to be done. I'm surprised to find some serious mistakes. A full review of that alphabet table would be highly recommended. If I don't get a discussion going on here within the next few weeks, then I have no option but correct the mistakes myself.

Here are my comments:

1. I'm very disappointed that this table on the Coptic alphabet has no mention whatsoever of the different dialects (e.g. Greco-Bohairic (reformed), Old Bohairic & Sahidic). Also I wondered to which version it conforms? One of the problems I noticed with this table is that it shows pronunciation (which is not wrong per se) but used by the various dialects, i.e. the table is not consistent.
2. Why for Gamma there is no mention under IPA of [ɣ] and [ŋ] in addition to [g]?
3. The IPA for letter "ei" should "[e] or [ɛ]", certainly not [i].
4. What source claims that Greek's obsolete Ϙ, ϙ (koppa) is the equivalent the Egyptian qima? It's common sense from basic Coptic language history that the Demotic letters (such as qima) would have no Greek equivalents or origin.

If you need assistance with the Coptic alphabet, I'm more than happy to assist. I'm a Coptic man who loves the Coptic language. I also completed a minor study on the Coptic alphabet based on several respected references/sources. Thanks a lot in advance. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Colorsontrial (talkcontribs) 11:59, 29 December 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


A symbol used in the coptic language not covered in the article. It's shape is like the apostrophe and it can be added before words to produce a special sound. 1Minow (talk) 17:18, 5 May 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hieroglyphs in language tree[edit]

There is an anonymous editor adding Egyptian hieroglyphs as the ultimate parent of a number of alphabets, primarily in the infoboxes but also sometimes in article text. I reverted them once on this article but they have reinstated the change. I don't know enough about the subject matter; could someone who does evaluate the claim? Yngvadottir (talk) 15:37, 1 August 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've seen that claim on many websites but I can't substantiate it using the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages nor Daniels and Bright's The World's Writing Systems. While neither of those sources state outright that "Egyptian hieroglyphs are NOT the parent of Proto-Siniatic" (also known as Proto-Canaanite), I think The World's Writing Systems comes close:

"The origin of the Semitic abjad (and hence the Greek and European alphabet) has ethnocentrically received great attention for centuries (SECTION 5). In more recent decades, it seems that each time a new script was discovered or deciphered, it was taken to be the direct ancestor of the Canaanite script: Egyptian Hieratic, Proto-Sinaitic, Linear A or B, pseudo-hieroglyphs of Byblos have all been placed in that exalted line. The truth is that insufficient materials from the earliest phases of writing in the Levant and neighboring regions are available; every new discovery adds a new piece to the puzzle and potentially could be the key in the entire development.
The most commonly presented scenario has West Semitic mine workers in the Sinai taking the idea of consonantal writing and the shapes of the letters from hieroglyphs, and writing dedicatory inscriptions in their language on religious objects. The values of the letters are not as in Egyptian. Rather, they are supposed to have been assigned on the acrophonic principle, whereby a letter stands for the initial sound in the word for the object of which it is a picture. This new script is then supposed to have been taking into use in the Canaanite area. Aside from the sociological objections mentioned in SECTION 5, this theory requires the proposed decipherment of the Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions to be valid, which is a dubious assumption (see below)."
DRMcCreedy (talk) 14:18, 2 August 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That was kind of the way I thought it was. However, the IP editor has reverted me and the claim is currently in the article, and I found it was being put into several articles. Possibly this should be raised at WikiProject:Linguistics? Yngvadottir (talk) 19:38, 2 August 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What about So?[edit]

Where's the transliteration and pronunciation for So (Ⲋ/ⲋ)? It's just blank on the page. ThatGuy30722 (talk) 20:57, 11 April 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

If I'm not mistaken this letter is only used to express the number 6, but not in actual words. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:05, 6 June 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@ThatGuy30722 The pronunciation of ⲋ is (apparently) /dz/. Also, I created the transliteration as 6. Hope this helps. JordiLopezboy (talk) 21:50, 1 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Modern pronunciation[edit]

It would be very useful to add a column that shows how the letters are commonly pronounced in contemporary Egypt. The pronunciation differs in several cases, but I don't know enough to make the appropriate edit.

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Case difference?[edit]


Call me blind, but I fail to see the difference between uppercase and lowercase letters, aside from their size, and maybe except for one or two letters. What is really the difference?


CielProfond (talk) 04:07, 10 March 2018 (UTC) the difference is the lower is poor and the upper is not — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:53, 2 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Cheema Letter[edit]

Hi everyone, I noticed that this article shows Cheema transliterated using "c", when really it is a ch or tch, (think chimney or church). This makes me wonder if the pronunciation may be incorrect as well. I wanted to fix this but I don't know how to properly format/read the pronunciation. Can someone fix or tell me how it should be written? Thanks. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:42, 7 November 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It's a common practice to transliterate palatalized /k/ with c. The phoneme is not for sure how it was supposed to be pronounced, /t͡ʃʰ/ or at some point was // (or probably /c/), which evolved to /ʃ/, and intervocalically to [ɟ]. --Mahmudmasri (talk) 20:57, 17 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ⲋ ⲋ[edit]

I can't find any evidence about a /dz/ sound existing in Coptic. I am a Green Bee (talk) 18:31, 30 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]