Re: Coptic Unification Proposal

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Tue Nov 25 1997 - 06:07:42 EST

Ar 12:27 -0800 1997-11-24, scríobh Mark Davis:
>I would disagree about the Latin and Greek alphabets. The normal user of Latin
>could not make out text if it were written in Greek letters (except the
>If the normal user of Coptic cannot make out the text if the letters were
>written in a Greek style, then I would agree that they should be
>distinguished. I personally don't know enough about them to say one way or

In an edition of The Gospel According to St Thomas (1959, Leiden: Brill;
New York: Harper & Row), all of the Coptic text is written on the left-hand
page in Coptic script. Sometimes there is an English word ("blank") in the
text of that page, naturally written in the normal Latin script. On the
right hand page, the text is in English, in Latin script, and the direct
loanwords in Greek ("þálassa", "hótan", "dé") are written in the normal
Greek script. The writing conventions aren't the same either, since hótan
is written with an initial h- in Coptic (and no accent) and in Greek it's
with the rough breathing.

I doubt very, very much if any Copticist presented with a Coptic text in
Greek Times or Helvetica could read it with any ease whatsoever. The two
scripts are closely related, but they should not be unified.

I further note that I would be surprised if anyone had designed the
Coptic-specific letters in a Greek Times or Helvetica font in a way that
would mix pleasingly with the other letters. Doing so would certainly be an

I think the burden of proof FOR the unification of the Coptic and Greek
scripts should be upon those who say that the scripts are identical. This
would mean finding Coptic texts printed in the Greek script (i.e. in a
normal Times or Helvetica face). I'd wager that no one will find one, even
in Greece.

Michael Everson, EGT *
15 Port Chaeimhghein Íochtarach; Baile Átha Cliath 2; Éire (Ireland)
Gutháin:  +353 1 478-2597, +353 1 283-9396
27 Páirc an Fhéithlinn; Baile an Bhóthair; Co. Átha Cliath; Éire

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