Coptic casing and the syllabic mark

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Mon Dec 01 1997 - 12:16:39 EST

Ar 14:13 -0800 1997-11-21, scríobh John Cowan:

>Also, is Coptic caseless? The Coptic-unique letters in Unicode
>are given in two cases, but the difference appears to be one of
>size only. I don't find any bicameral Coptic fonts or texts
>anywhere on the Web.

Coptic is not caseless. In "Les caractères de l'Imprimerie Nationale", pp.
248, 251, for instance, a printed text is presented with clear and distinct
capital letters (ALFA, EIE, MI, NI, O, PI, TAU, HORI, GANGIA), shaped
differently from the small letters.

The horizontal bar used above Coptic letters to show syllabism is very
important. The Coptic fonts I have seen all encode them as separate
characters (not decomposed).

The Imprimerie Nationale says that "la voyelle e, qui peut être
sous-entendue dans l'écriture, sera marquée sur la première consonne du mot
par un trait horizontal dans le copte thébain, et par un accent grave pour
le copte memphitique ; dans le corps d'un mot, elle se traduit communément
par un trait supérieir couvrant plusieres consonnes."

Might this mean that a Coptic-specific mark should be encoded? Could a
smart "Memphitic" font then display a text with a grave glyph in
word-initial position? I should think that this would be better than using

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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