The Info List - Coptic Alphabet

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The COPTIC ALPHABET is the script used for writing the Coptic language . The repertoire of glyphs is based on the Greek alphabet augmented by letters borrowed from the Egyptian Demotic and is the first alphabetic script used for the Egyptian language
Egyptian language
. There are several Coptic alphabets, as the Coptic writing system may vary greatly among the various dialects and subdialects of the Coptic language .


* 1 History * 2 Form

* 3 Alphabet

* 3.1 Letters derived from Demotic

* 4 Unicode

* 5 Diacritics and punctuation

* 5.1 Punctuation * 5.2 Combining diacritics

* 6 See also * 7 References * 8 External links


Coptic letters in a florid Bohairic script

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* Hieroglyphs * Hieratic * Demotic * Coptic

* v * t * e

History of the alphabet
History of the alphabet

Egyptian hieroglyphs
Egyptian hieroglyphs
32 c. BCE

* Hieratic 32 c. BCE

* Demotic 7 c. BCE

* Meroitic 3 c. BCE

* Proto-Sinaitic 19 c. BCE

* Ugaritic 15 c. BCE

* Epigraphic South Arabian 9 c. BCE

* Ge’ez 5–6 c. BCE

* Phoenician 12 c. BCE

* Paleo-Hebrew 10 c. BCE

* Samaritan 6 c. BCE

* Libyco-Berber 3 c. BCE

* Tifinagh

* Paleohispanic (semi-syllabic) 7 c. BCE

* Aramaic 8 c. BCE

* Kharoṣṭhī 4 c. BCE

* Brāhmī 4 c. BCE

* Brahmic family
Brahmic family

* E.g. Tibetan 7 c. CE

* Hangul
(core letters only) 1443

* Devanagari
13 c. CE

* Canadian syllabics 1840

* Hebrew 3 c. BCE

* Pahlavi 3 c. BCE

* Avestan 4 c. CE

* Palmyrene 2 c. BCE

* Syriac 2 c. BCE

* Nabataean 2 c. BCE

* Arabic 4 c. CE

* N\'Ko 1949 CE

* Sogdian 2 c. BCE

* Orkhon (old Turkic) 6 c. CE

* Old Hungarian c. 650 CE

* Old Uyghur

* Mongolian 1204 CE

* Mandaic 2 c. CE

* Greek 8 c. BCE

* Etruscan 8 c. BCE

* Latin 7 c. BCE

* Cherokee (syllabary; letter forms only) c. 1820 CE

* Runic 2 c. CE * Ogham
(origin uncertain) 4 c. CE

* Coptic 3 c. CE * Gothic 3 c. CE * Armenian 405 CE * Georgian (origin uncertain) c. 430 CE * Glagolitic 862 CE

* Cyrillic c. 940 CE

* Old Permic 1372 CE

Thaana 18 c. CE (derived from Brahmi numerals )

* v * t * e

The Coptic alphabet
Coptic alphabet
has a long history, going back to the Hellenistic period, of using the Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet
to transcribe Demotic texts, with the aim of recording the correct pronunciation of Demotic. During the first two centuries of the Common Era
Common Era
, an entire series of magical texts were written in what scholars term Old Coptic, Egyptian language texts written in the Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet
. A number of letters, however, were derived from Demotic, and many of these (though not all) are used in "true" Coptic writing. With the spread of Christianity
in Egypt, by the late 3rd century, knowledge of hieroglyphic writing was lost, as well as Demotic slightly later, making way for a writing system more closely associated with the Christian church . By the 4th century, the Coptic alphabet
Coptic alphabet
was "standardised", particularly for the Sahidic dialect. (There are a number of differences between the alphabets as used in the various dialects in Coptic.) Coptic is not generally used today except by the members of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria to write their religious texts. All the Gnostic codices found in Nag Hammadi used the Coptic alphabet.

The Old Nubian alphabet—used to write Old Nubian , a Nilo-Saharan language —is written mainly in an uncial Greek alphabet, which borrows Coptic and Meroitic letters of Demotic origin into its inventory.


The Coptic alphabet
Coptic alphabet
was the first Egyptian writing system to indicate vowels , making Coptic documents invaluable for the interpretation of earlier Egyptian texts. Some Egyptian syllables had sonorants but no vowels; in Sahidic, these were written in Coptic with a line above the entire syllable. Various scribal schools made limited use of diacritics: some used an apostrophe as a word divider and to mark clitics , a function of determinatives in logographic Egyptian; others used diereses over ⲓ and ⲩ to show that these started a new syllable, others a circumflex over any vowel for the same purpose.

The Coptic alphabet's glyphs are largely based on the Greek alphabet, another help in interpreting older Egyptian texts, with 24 letters of Greek origin; 6 or 7 more were retained from Demotic , depending on the dialect (6 in Sahidic, another each in Bohairic and Akhmimic). In addition to the alphabetic letters, the letter ϯ stood for the syllable /ti/. As the Coptic alphabet
Coptic alphabet
is simply a typeface of the Greek alphabet, with a few added letters, it can be used to write Greek without any transliteration schemes. Latin equivalents would include the Icelandic alphabet (which likewise has added letters), or the Fraktur
alphabet (which has distinctive forms).



Ⲁ ⲁ 1 Alpha Α, α a

Ⲃ ⲃ 2 Bēta Β, β b, v

Ⲅ ⲅ 3 Gamma Γ, γ g

Ⲇ ⲇ 4 Delta Δ, δ d

Ⲉ ⲉ 5 Ei Ε, ε e

Ⲋ ⲋ 6 So Ϛ, ϛ (stigma ) –

Ⲍ ⲍ 7 Zēta Ζ, ζ z

Ⲏ ⲏ 8 Ēta Η, η ē / e

Ⲑ ⲑ 9 Thēta Θ, θ th / t'

Ⲓ ⲓ 10 Yota Ι, ι i

Ⲕ ⲕ 20 Kappa Κ, κ k

Ⲗ ⲗ 30 Lamda Λ, λ l

Ⲙ ⲙ 40 Me Μ, μ m

Ⲛ ⲛ 50 Ne Ν, ν n

Ⲝ ⲝ 60 Eksi Ξ, ξ ks

Ⲟ ⲟ 70 O Ο, ο o

Ⲡ ⲡ 80 Pi Π, π p

Ⲣ ⲣ 100 Ro Ρ, ρ r

Ⲥ ⲥ 200 Sima Σ, σ, ς s

Ⲧ ⲧ 300 Taw Τ, τ t

Ⲩ ⲩ 400 Epsilon Υ, υ u / ou

Ⲫ ⲫ 500 Fi Φ, φ ph / p'

Ⲭ ⲭ 600 Khe Χ, χ kh

Ⲯ ⲯ 700 Epsi Ψ, ψ ps

Ⲱ ⲱ 800 Ōu Ω, ω ō / o

Ϣ ϣ

Shay (none) sh / š

Ϥ ϥ 90 Fay Ϙ, ϙ (koppa ) (form, number) f

Ϧ (Ⳉ) ϧ (ⳉ)

Khay (none) x

Ϩ ϩ

Hōri (none) h

Ϫ ϫ

Janja (none) j / dzh

Ϭ ϭ

Tshēma Ϙ, ϙ (koppa ) (function) q / tsh

Ϯ ϯ

Ti / De (none) ti / de

Ⳁ ⳁ 900

* ^ In Sahidic dialect, it is , while, in Bohairic dialect, it is . * ^ The vowel /uː/ is commonly written with ⲟⲩ not ⲩ alone. * ^ The additional letter xai is Ⳉ ⳉ in Akhmimic and Ⳋ ⳋ in Bohairic, both for a velar fricative /x/. * ^ Some scholars constructed its pronunciation as , while others as . * ^ In Sahidic dialect, it is , while in Bohairic dialect, it is .


The following letters were derived from Demotic :




Ϣ š

Ϥ f

Ϧ x

Ϩ h


Ϭ q

Ϯ ti


Main articles: Greek and Coptic ( Unicode
block) , Coptic (Unicode block) , and Coptic Epact Numbers ( Unicode

In Unicode
, most Coptic letters formerly shared codepoints with similar Greek letters, but a disunification was accepted for version 4.1, which appeared in 2005. The new Coptic block is U+2C80 to U+2CFF. Most fonts contained in mainstream operating systems use a distinctive Byzantine style for this block. The Greek block includes seven Coptic letters (U+03E2–U+03EF highlighted below) derived from Demotic, and these need to be included in any complete implementation of Coptic.

GREEK AND COPTIC Official Unicode
Consortium code chart (PDF)

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F

U+037x Ͱ ͱ Ͳ ͳ ʹ ͵ Ͷ ͷ

ͺ ͻ ͼ ͽ ; Ϳ


΄ ΅ Ά · Έ Ή Ί



U+039x ΐ Α Β Γ Δ Ε Ζ Η Θ Ι Κ Λ Μ Ν Ξ Ο

U+03Ax Π Ρ

Χ Ψ Ω Ϊ Ϋ ά έ ή ί

U+03Bx ΰ α β γ δ ε ζ η θ ι κ λ μ ν ξ ο

U+03Cx π ρ ς σ τ υ φ χ ψ ω ϊ ϋ ό ύ ώ Ϗ

U+03Dx ϐ ϑ ϒ ϓ ϔ ϕ ϖ ϗ Ϙ ϙ Ϛ ϛ Ϝ ϝ Ϟ ϟ

U+03Ex Ϡ ϡ Ϣ ϣ Ϥ ϥ Ϧ ϧ Ϩ ϩ Ϫ ϫ Ϭ ϭ Ϯ ϯ

U+03Fx ϰ ϱ ϲ ϳ ϴ ϵ ϶ Ϸ ϸ Ϲ Ϻ ϻ ϼ Ͻ Ͼ Ͽ

NOTES 1.^ As of Unicode
version 10.0 2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points

COPTIC Official Unicode
Consortium code chart (PDF)

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F

U+2C8x Ⲁ ⲁ Ⲃ ⲃ Ⲅ ⲅ Ⲇ ⲇ Ⲉ ⲉ Ⲋ ⲋ Ⲍ ⲍ Ⲏ ⲏ

U+2C9x Ⲑ ⲑ Ⲓ ⲓ Ⲕ ⲕ Ⲗ ⲗ Ⲙ ⲙ Ⲛ ⲛ Ⲝ ⲝ Ⲟ ⲟ

U+2CAx Ⲡ ⲡ Ⲣ ⲣ Ⲥ ⲥ Ⲧ ⲧ Ⲩ ⲩ Ⲫ ⲫ Ⲭ ⲭ Ⲯ ⲯ

U+2CBx Ⲱ ⲱ Ⲳ ⲳ Ⲵ ⲵ Ⲷ ⲷ Ⲹ ⲹ Ⲻ ⲻ Ⲽ ⲽ Ⲿ ⲿ

U+2CCx Ⳁ ⳁ Ⳃ ⳃ Ⳅ ⳅ Ⳇ ⳇ Ⳉ ⳉ Ⳋ ⳋ Ⳍ ⳍ Ⳏ ⳏ

U+2CDx Ⳑ ⳑ Ⳓ ⳓ Ⳕ ⳕ Ⳗ ⳗ Ⳙ ⳙ Ⳛ ⳛ Ⳝ ⳝ Ⳟ ⳟ

U+2CEx Ⳡ ⳡ Ⳣ ⳣ ⳤ ⳥ ⳦ ⳧ ⳨ ⳩ ⳪ Ⳬ ⳬ Ⳮ ⳮ ⳯

U+2CFx ⳰ ⳱ Ⳳ ⳳ

⳹ ⳺ ⳻ ⳼ ⳽ ⳾ ⳿

NOTES 1. ^ As of Unicode
version 10.0 2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points

Consortium code chart (PDF)

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F

U+102Ex 𐋠 𐋡 𐋢 𐋣 𐋤 𐋥 𐋦 𐋧 𐋨 𐋩 𐋪 𐋫 𐋬 𐋭 𐋮 𐋯

U+102Fx 𐋰 𐋱 𐋲 𐋳 𐋴 𐋵 𐋶 𐋷 𐋸 𐋹 𐋺 𐋻

NOTES 1.^ As of Unicode
version 10.0 2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points


These are also included in the Unicode


* Normal English punctuation (comma, period, question mark, semicolon, colon, hyphen) uses the regular Unicode
codepoints for punctuation * Dicolon: standard colon U+003A * Middle dot: U+00B7 * En dash: U+2013 * Em dash: U+2014 * Slanted double hyphen: U+2E17


These are codepoints applied after that of the character they modify.

* Combining overstroke: U+0305 (= supralinear stroke) * Combining character-joining overstroke (from middle of one character to middle of the next): U+035E * Combining dot under a letter: U+0323 * Combining dot over a letter: U+0307 * Combining overstroke and dot below: U+0305,U+0323 * Combining acute accent: U+0301 * Combining grave accent: U+0300 * Combining circumflex accent (caret shaped): U+0302 * Combining circumflex (curved shape) or inverted breve above: U+0311 * Combining circumflex as wide inverted breve above joining two letters: U+0361 * Combining diaeresis: U+0308


* Coptic pronunciation reform * Institute of Coptic Studies


* ^ A B Ritner, Robert Kriech. 1996. "The Coptic Alphabet". In The World's Writing Systems, edited by Peter T. Daniels and William Bright. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. 1994:287–290. * ^ Campbell, George L. "Coptic." Compendium of the World's Writing Systems. 2nd ed. Vol. 1. Biddles LTD, 1991. 415.

* Quaegebeur, Jan. 1982. "De la préhistoire de l'écriture copte." Orientalia lovaniensia analecta 13:125–136. * Kasser, Rodolphe. 1991. " Alphabet
in Coptic, Greek". In The Coptic Encyclopedia , edited by Aziz S. Atiya . New Yo