Coptic Language - Writing System

Writing System

Main article Coptic alphabet

Coptic uses a writing system almost wholly derived from the Greek alphabet, with the addition of a number of letters that have their origins in Demotic Egyptian. (This makes it comparable to the Latin-based Icelandic alphabet, which includes the runic letter thorn.) There is some variation in the number and forms of these signs depending on the dialect. Some of the letters in the Coptic alphabet that are of Greek origin were normally reserved only for words that are themselves Greek. Old Coptic texts employed several graphemes that were not retained in the literary Coptic orthography of later centuries.

In Sahidic, syllable boundary may have been marked by a supralinear stroke. Such words in the northern dialects have ⲉ ( or ) in place of the superlinear stroke. Some scribal traditions use a diaeresis over /i/ and /u/ at the beginning of a syllable. Bohairic uses a superposed point or small stroke known as a djinkim. It may be related to the Sahidic supralinear stroke, or additionally, it may indicate a glottal stop. Most Coptic texts do not indicate a word division.

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