Peust, Carsten  
Egyptian phonology: an introduction to the phonology of a dead language — Göttingen, 1999

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liturgical purposes, although most of them understand little or nothing of these texts. The
role of Coptic among modern Christian Egyptians is thus comparable to the role of Latin
in the Catholic church.

2.1.6 Synopsis



preferred spoken
language

written language
preferred for per-
sonal correspon-
dence and lower
administration

written language
preferred for
higher admini-
stration

written language
preferred for
religious texts

3ioo—i3oobc

probably vari-
eties close to
Old and Middle
Egyptian

Old and Middle
Egyptian

Old and Middle
Egyptian

Old and Middle
Egyptian

i3oo-5oobc

probably vari-
eties close to
Late Egyptian

Late Egyptian

basically Late
Egyptian

Neo-Middle
Egyptian

500BC—50AD

Demotic

Demotic

Aramaic, Greek,
Demotic

Neo-Middle
Egyptian

50-250AD

Demotic

Greek

Greek

Neo-Middle
Egyptian

250—700AD

Coptic

Coptic, Greek

Greek

Coptic, Greek

700AD-1400AD
(Christians)

Coptic, vernacu-
lar Arabic

Coptic, standard
Arabic

standard Arabic

Coptic, Greek

1400-

i70o(?)ad

(Christians)

vernacular Ara-
bic, late vari-
eties of Coptic

standard Arabic

standard Arabic

Coptic, Greek,
standard Arabic

today
(Christians)

vernacular
Arabic

standard Arabic

standard Arabic

Coptic, Greek,
standard Arabic

700AD—today
(Muslims)

vernacular
Arabic

standard Arabic

standard Arabic

standard Arabic

2.2

Late Coptic

Coptic finally became extinct as a spoken language but continues to be used as a liturgi-
cal language of the Coptic church until the present day. Even when Coptic was no longer
in productive written use, it still experienced major phonetic developments (DST §§ 3.3.8
and 5.5.6). On the records about late pronunciation traditions Kg* appendix 7.

3o
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