Coptic Alphabet

What is Egypt?

Egypt, known as the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country which is located both in Africa and Asia. It has had an extremely great influence on many different global cultures throughout the world and has seen thousands of years within its reign. The Reign of the famous Empress Cleopatra is closer to the invention of retail stores than the building of the pyramids. Some ancient Egyptian historians studied the even more ancient history of Egypt.

Egypt has been considered the cradle of civilization, as ancient Egypt, in the 6th millennia BCE, developed a form of writing, urbanization, agriculture, central government, and even organized religion. The Giza Necropolis and the Great Sphinx are one of the most popular monuments in the world and were created many thousands of years ago. Egypt was part of the Hellenic League, and its culture was a mixture of mostly Greek, Roman, and related cultures, where it also had an important Christian influence until the seventh century. At this time, Islam became the overwhelmingly dominant religion in the area, but still has a significant Christian minority in the Coptic faith.

What is the Coptic Alphabet?

The Coptic alphabet is also known as the Coptic script, which is used to write various variations of the Coptic language. The original repertoire of the glyphs is largely based on the old Greek alphabet and was augmented and influenced by the Egyptian Demotic - which is the first script used for more modern Egyptian languages after the hieroglyphs became outdated. With this being said, there are many different Coptic alphabets as this writing system varies greatly between dialects and subdialects of the various countries that have adopted the Coptic language.

The alphabet itself is the first Egyptian writing system that indicates the use and inflection of vowels, which made it crucial and invaluable for interpretation, particularly when reading earlier texts developed in ancient Egyptian society. Some syllables have sonorants but no vowels, and in some languages, these are written in Coptic with lines above the entire syllable to denote the sound. The glyphs are centered around the Greek language, with 24 letters of Greek origin found within the alphabet. 7 of these letters were retained from the Egyptian Demotic script. In addition to the other letters, there is a letter ϯ, which is pronounced te, or de - largely used in biblical texts.

History of the Coptic Alphabet

The Coptic alphabet has a long and proud history which derives itself from the Hellenistic period, where the Greek alphabet was used to translate texts written in the Egyptian Demotic script. In essence, the Coptic alphabet was created to correctly pronounce and understand the words spoken in the Demotic language. Series upon series of spiritual and religious texts were written in the early Coptic developments of the language, which are Egyptian texts that were written in the Greek alphabet.

With the spread of Christianity in Egypt in the 4th century, complete knowledge of hieroglyphs was lost, which heavily influenced the Coptic language to adopt the created alphabet to decipher religious texts.

Coptic Alphabet