19 May 2007

Coptic online

I do fear that mycopticchurch.com who offered up a searchable Coptic dictionary (Sahidic dialect) is now no more (UPDATE May 26/07: Sweet joy of joys, a miracle! The site has returned to us). It's been many days since I've tried to access the site, only to see a blank "Page Not Found" screen. I know that they had been asking for donations from generous benefactors but perhaps between atheists, non-Christians and sectist Christians, no one felt enough love. Sad.

Thankfully though there are other websites, just not as web-friendly and searchable, like A Coptic Dictionary by Walter Ewing Crum, originally published in 1939.

I've been looking at Coptic recently because I've been turned on to the problems of the Middle Egyptian vowel system. I'm just sick and tired of staring at Sir Wallis Budge's fake vowels in Egyptian notation. I don't want to see made-up words like maat anymore (written vowellessly as [mȝˁt] in Egyptian), but rather *maʔūʕat (as reconstructed by John Callender) and also seen in the Amarna rendering of [nb-mȝˁt-riˁ] as Nimmuria (for *Nib-*Maʔūʕat-Rīʕa) during the Middle Kingdom.

I'm also sick and tired of seeing multiple and wildly differing versions of Egyptian words. A perfect example of this can be seen in some numerals. Sometimes people cite [ỉfdw] as "four", others just [fdw]. The word "seven" is represented in Budge's books as sekhef (nope, that's not a typo) even though it's [sfḫ] to everyone else. Some reconstruct *saɹsaw for "six" (à la Schneider) and some reconstruct *yassaw (Callender), but Budge publishes sås! And there's little to go on but things like Sahidic Coptic siou which fails to show the second "s". So something is obviously stinky and fishy. I have a hard time believing that something can remain a mystery like Middle Egyptian vocalism for a hundred years, despite a wealth of information to glean from, without these so-called mysteries being artificially propped up for the sake of commercialism.

Since I have my own Etruscan database (678 entries) with handy comments to myself on each word, I expanded my personal system to include Middle Egyptian (80 entries thus far). I found some interesting stuff and juicy contradictions along the way. I will share these ideas with you in the near future.


Post a Comment