Aripsalin: Grammatical mistake

The Psali Aripsalin by Sarkis who probably wrote several acrostic psalis esp. in Kiahk bearing the initials of his name instead of the regular alphabet as in Aripsalin.
Fr Shenouda Maher Ishak (Rochester, NY, US - Ph.D Phil Coptic language, Oxford) stated that the verse that starts with /chi/ should be as follows correction in red

ⲭⲱⲗⲉⲙ ϧⲉⲛ ⲟⲩⲛⲓϣϯ ⲛ̀ϣⲣⲱⲓⲥ

ⲱ ⲛⲏⲉⲧⲉⲣⲥⲉⲃⲉⲥⲑⲉ ⲙ̀ⲡϭⲟⲓⲥ

ⲛⲉⲙ ϯⲫⲩⲥⲓⲥ ⲧⲏⲣⲥ ⲉⲧⲁϥⲁⲓⲥ

ϩⲱⲥ ⲉⲣⲟϥ ⲁⲣⲓϩⲟⲩⲟϭⲁⲥϥ

as the original was  "ⲛⲓⲫⲩⲥⲓⲥ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ ⲉⲧⲁϥⲁⲓⲥ" It seems as a clear grammatical mistake. as ⲉⲧⲁϥⲁⲓⲥ is for single feminine object, the stated object in the sentence is written as plural, to keep the the quatrain's rhyming scheme intact ending in 'IC' the singular feminine form should be used. 

I hope it gets corrected in newer prints  of the Psalmody

Reference:

Ishak, Emile Maher (1978), The Annual Holy Psalmody, part I, p.58-59

For further info. regarding which acrostic psalis were written by Sarkis you can visit https://bashandy.blogspot.com.eg/ after 03.10.2017 where a list of works of Sarkis would be added under Biographies & Poetry

Comments

  • Bashandy,

    We cannot definitively say Sarkis made a grammatical mistake. It is just as likely that Sarkis, who was a unique multilinguist, intended to use common phrases known in the 14th century Middle Eastern world. 

    If you want to strictly follow the Arabic translation, ϯⲫⲩⲥⲓⲥ ⲧⲏⲣⲥ ⲉⲧⲁϥⲁⲓⲥ is correct. However, it is very plausible that in that time ⲛⲓⲫⲩⲥⲓⲥ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ ⲉⲧⲁϥⲁⲓⲥ conveyed a special nuance that is closely related to ϯⲫⲩⲥⲓⲥ ⲧⲏⲣⲥ ⲉⲧⲁϥⲁⲓⲥ but was understood as something more. This is what morphosyntax of all languages do. Sometimes we hear a phrase from a bilingual who has a different first language that is technically correct but just doesn't sound right. Why? Because as primary language users, we know when something violates morphosyntax. It sounds wrong. But foreigners who learned the language from textbooks (didactically), never learned the substructural morphosyntax in use by primary users' specific geographical and chronological environment.

    From a purely didactic and academic reading of Coptic ϯⲫⲩⲥⲓⲥ ⲧⲏⲣⲥ ⲉⲧⲁϥⲁⲓⲥ is fine but it seems that this is only true for non-Arabic influenced Coptic of our post-modern era, not from Arabic influenced Coptic 14th century medieval era. From the context, it is clear Sarkis had the plural in mind since the line before speaks of "the worshipers of the Lord." It makes very little sense to go from plural "worshippers" to singular "nature". He probably meant "natures" since he did add "ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ". He likely changed the last word (more accurately the last morpheme of the last word) to the singular for rhyme which is very common in Coptic bilingualism.

    If Sarkis made a grammatical mistake, then he and only he would exhibit this type of "mistake". But since we see similar texts with this pattern in many Coptic bilingual hymns, we can't say it is a mistake. It very well may have been the normal Coptic of that time. Our problem here is that we are comparing the text to 21st century Coptic grammatical rules, not the 14th century of Sarkis' Coptic Jerusalem environment. 

    We will never know for sure what he intended or if he made a mistake. The evidence does not support the theory of Sarkis making a grammatical mistake. My point is that ⲉⲧⲁϥⲁⲓⲥ may have been a commonly acceptable morphosyntactic equivalent of ⲉⲧⲁϥⲁⲓⲧⲱⲟⲩ at that time but not now. It would not have triggered a "something sounds wrong" like it does today.   

    Does this make sense?

  • @Remnkemi this is so interesting to see, however, it seems to stem from the assumption that Sarkis as a multilinguist cannot make mistakes, and hence it is becomes easier to think that grammar rules can overbend to acommodate for Sarkis, rather than to admit that it's a simple grammatical mistake that can be corrected.

    In short, I find no convincing evidence to support the claim that this is intentional, let alone correct.
  • No Basandy. It doesn't assume Sarkis cannot make mistakes. Reread what I wrote. I already said If Sarkis is the only one who makes these mistakes all the time, then there is evidence that we can conclude Sarkis made mistakes. But if everyone in that time makes the same grammatically divergent "mistakes", then they are not mistakes.

    For example, If we take Modern Standard Arabic as the norm of Arabic grammar, then someone who speaks or writes colloquial Cairene or Upper Egyptian (Sa'edi) Arabic is grammatical wrong for MSA. On the other hand, if I as an individual consistently use Modern Standard Arabic incorrectly (for example, I use wrong diactrics/tashkeel) but no one else does, then I am grammatically wrong in MSA Arabic. 

    But if everyone from Egypt uses wrong tashkeel every time something is written, according to MSA grammar, we can't say it is a "grammatical mistake". This is not bending grammar rules to accommodate for Egyptians. Nor can we say that it's a simple grammatical mistake that all Egyptians can correct. Rather linguistic science will acknowledge that Egyptian Arabic is sufficiently and consistently different that it is considered a dialect of Arabic related to MSA Arabic, not a mistake of MSA Arabic. 

    And I didn't say Sarkis' change in Aripsalin was intentional. Again reread what I wrote. When an Egyptian speaks Egyptian Arabic, is he intentionally confusing Modern Standard Arabic? No. He is not using MSA. He is using the type/dialect of Arabic that is normal in that time and period. It is the person who learns MSA didactically that says people who use Egyptian Arabic are grammatically wrong and intentionally being wrong. This is not the case in Egyptian Arabic, nor is it necessarily true for Sarkis. I already gave evidence to show that Sarkis intended the plural tense. I also posited the evidence and behavior of many other hymnographers, grammatical rules were not as important as rhyme and other factors. To come and say it was a grammatical mistake divorces language from the environment in which it was used. 

    In short, I find your response irrelevant since you didn't even bother to put forth an actual rebuttal. 
  • @Remnkemi First, I would appreciate if we do not make this personal by drawing bold claims in whether I bothered or not. I don't think I need to respond to this or justify myself for you.

    Second, I have not came across any evidence to support that this is a common expression, or that it does not violate the morphosyntax of Coptic. I have not came across any similar phrasing like this in Coptic. I would highly appreciate if you provide similar grammatical 'mistakes' so that it justifies a statement that is supported by 'likely' and  'very plausible'.

    Whether Sarkis was a talented multilinguist or not, or whether this was intentional or not. I do not find this to be relevant to the subject which is grammar. I am not sure how was this psali backdated to 14th Century. However, if this dating is accurate this would be when Bohairic Coptic was deemed dead in Delta, according to History of Coptic Language by Emile Maher.

  • @bashandy: concerning the dating, many conclude that it was Fr. Sarkis that wrote, and some conclude that Sarkis lived during 14-15 century: https://st-takla.org/articles/fr-basilous-sobhy/characters/sarkis.html
  • edited October 15
    You came insisting that Sarkis made a a mistake and the only correct interpretation of this verse in Aripsalin is the phrase ϯⲫⲩⲥⲓⲥ ⲧⲏⲣⲥ ⲉⲧⲁϥⲁⲓⲥ. I gave reasons why that phrase is not appropriate and I also gave reasonable explanations of why "ⲛⲓⲫⲩⲥⲓⲥ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ ⲉⲧⲁϥⲁⲓⲥ", although incorrect in modern Coptic, can be accurately understood in 14th century bilingual Coptic. And yet, you did not actually address those reasons and explanations but merely stated you're not convinced. 

    And I am not necessarily saying this specific phrase, ⲛⲓⲫⲩⲥⲓⲥ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ ⲉⲧⲁϥⲁⲓⲥ, was common rather the divergence from standard Coptic grammar was commonplace. We see similar phrases in hymns like ⲧⲉⲛⲉⲛ, ⲣⲁϣⲓ ⲛⲉ, ⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲓⲥⲧⲓⲛ, ⲥⲉⲛⲧϣⲟ, ⲁⲥⲟⲙⲉⲛ, ⲟⲛⲧⲟⲥ, ⲁⲥⲧⲏⲣ ⲙⲁⲅⲓ and many other hymns. It's called the "Bohairicization" Process. It is discussed in "Consecration of the Myron at Saint Macarius (MS 106 Lit) by Youhanna Nessim Youssef, p. 109-110.

    The same process, although not specifically mentioned, is addressed in
    1. T. LeForte, "La Litterature Bohairique" Le Museon 44 (1935), 115-135.
    2. G. Ghaly, "Coptic Bilingualism and Hymn Writing: A Study of the Glorification Hymns Agios Istin", Coptic 10 (2011), 
    3. NF Soliman, "A Hymn in Greek, Coptic and Arabic, by a Coptic Hymnographer "Asomen to Kyrio" Ephermerides 124 (210), 345-353
    4. NF Soliman, "Byzantine influences on Coptic Hymnography: The Bilingual Hymn of the Coptic Midnight Office Ⲁⲣⲓⲯⲁⲗⲓⲛ by the Coptic Hymnographer Sarkis (1492 AD)
    5. OHE Burmster, "The Greek Kirugmata Versicles and Responses and Hymns in the Coptic Liturgy", OCP 2 (1936), p. 363-394
    6. YN Youssef, "A New Witness of A Copts-Greek Hymn  - Poiekon" ANES 9 (2012) 184-201
    7. M Awad, "Ein umpublizierter Koptischer Hymnus Uber Die Drei Manner Im Feurofen in Der Pariser MS. 68 Im Vergleich Zu Einer Entsprechenden Passage in Der Koptischen Jahres-Psalmodie" (An Unpublished Coptic Hymn for the Three Men in the Fiery Furnace in the Paris M68 compared to a relevant passage in the Coptic Yearly Psalmody) in From Old Cairo to the New World: Coptic Studies Presented to Gawdat Gabra on his 65th Birthday (2013), p. 5-15. 

    Concerning Ⲁⲣⲓⲯⲁⲗⲓⲛ, Magdi Awad writes in the article mentioned above, "The Psali is a mixed Coptic text (different) from the rules of ordinary language and shows that it has been keeningly subjected to editorial revision." In other words, even though the psali does not use ordinary Coptic grammar, it has been subjected to revision either by Sarkis or later copyists. This revision process is likely part of the Bohairicization process. Notice how Awad does not say Sarkis made a mistake. 

    I think this is enough evidence to show that it was common for hymns to have divergent text that does not follow standard Coptic grammar. Yet none of the writers I menioned consider these texts as mistakes. 
  • @Remnkemi thank you very much for the references that you provided. I have yet to search for these references to learn more and reach a conclusion. These are my thoughts at the moment.
     
    According to the link provided by @minatasgeel it seems like Sarkis had grammatical mistakes in Greek, but, it stops short of mentioning whether he had grammatical mistakes in Coptic or not.

    With respect to the phrase from a grammatical point of view there are two ways out of it:
    01.ϯⲫⲩⲥⲓⲥ ⲧⲏⲣⲥ ⲉⲧⲁϥⲁⲓⲥ
    02.ⲛⲓⲫⲩⲥⲓⲥ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ ⲉⲧⲁϥⲁⲓⲧⲟⲩ
    The first one would reduce one syllable at 
    ⲧⲏⲣ instead of ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ  ending this word with a consonant rather than a vowel which can be cumbersome to extend musically to compensate for the lost syllable; which may disturb the meter yet it will preserve the the rhyming scheme of this stanza ⲓⲥ
    The second one would add one syllabe at
    ⲉⲧⲁϥⲁⲓⲧⲟⲩ instead of ⲉⲧⲁϥⲁⲓⲥ  which may disturb the meter and it will also affect the rhyming scheme of this stanza ⲓⲥ

    I am aware of the influence of co-existing languages on each other, in the Coptic Encyclopedia by Aziz S. Attiya some examples were mentioned about the influence of Arabic on the syntax and vocabulary of the language. It is interesting to learn that Aripsalin has been revised, however, I have not come across any similar example where the plural
    ⲛⲓⲫⲩⲥⲓⲥ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ is followed by a singular feminine object ⲉⲧⲁϥⲁⲓⲥ, in the aforementioned examples.

    I believe that it is safe to deduce that this has to do with the inflence of Arabic language as it matches with the translation. I appreciate the effort to explain the process by which such unusual syntax came to being. However, I cannot safely deduce that this phrase should not be regarded as grammatical mistake.
  • To conclude, there is a glaring grammatical mistake of using single feminine instead of plural. in Coptic, which no similar mistake or pattern has been observed in other texts dating roughly to this era.

    There are no discussions before that gave justification to this error, and no similar occurences. Therefore, I cannot accept the conclusion that this is 'OK', just because it was revised or that there were other forms of influence of Arabic on Coptic backdating to this era.

    e.g. If I say ϯⲣⲏ ⲛⲉⲙ ϯⲕⲁϩⲓ instead of ⲫⲣⲏ ⲛⲉⲙ ⲡⲕⲁϩⲓ it will be understood that I am thinking of the sun and earth as feminine probably owing to Arabic language, but this would not make it right in Coptic.
  • edited October 16
    Dear @Remnkemi,
    Thank you very much for providing the references, which I believe all are related to "bohairicisation" of Sa'idic, or mistaken Greek text as I understand (please correct me if I am wrong). However, this does not explain the mistake that Sarkis fell in the trap of. @minatasgeel mentions that he must have composed the hymn in the 14th or 15th century, and that appears to be as @bashandy pointed out after the decline of the Coptic language. You may call him a bilinguist, or a multilinguist, but he seems to me to have made a mistake basing the Coptic text on Arabic grammar (doesn't make sense). Quoting other examples, as "o Kurioc", "cena [o", "tenen" one would notice that the whole text's grammatical structure is off-white (for lack of a better expression), or unusual, and not just one word. So by saying that such a specific sentence to have meant differently in an era when Coptic ceased to be used as a day to day language, and only used in isolation in monasteries, makes little sense. One last thing to point out, when you say "divergence from Coptic grammar was commonplace", you actually strike at heart the need for reviewing Coptic grammar of any hymn altogether. I do not think that is the way forward, or is it? 
    Oujai qen P[c
  • It is not just the Bohairicization of Sahidic Coptic. It also describes lexical influence of Egyptian Greek and modern Greek. (I can show other articles for that). It also describes the sociolinguistics of any language. Every language goes through a development process. Comparing one stage of the language to a previous and concluding it is a mistake is dishonest. It's also illogical to call it a "decline". Take English for example. It would be dishonest to say the Old English 7th century poem Beowulf has grammatical mistakes. Now this is an extreme example since Anglo-Saxon Old English is nothing like modern English. But if we go from 20th century American English to 19th century British English, we'll see the same thing. It would be a serious flaw of logic to conclude a specific 19th century British English sentence is a mistake because it doesn't conform to 20th century American English.

    It is equally illogical to call the modern form any language a decline compared to the ancient form. Using English again, is modern English a decline from Anglo-Saxon English? Most people would say no and all linguist would say that's really a question about politics, not language.

    Your response to the other hymns (Tenen, O Kyriois, etc) proves my point. What you call "off-white" or "unusual" or "mistake" is an assessment based on modern Coptic grammatical rules. I'm saying what Sarkis and others wrote in these hymns was perfectly normal to the audience at the time. When it comes to linguistic academia, there is no such thing as a linguistic mistake. It's called a variant. 

    No where did I say this was type of style of writing was found only in isolation in monasteries. It was commonplace. It is found in non-liturgical writings too, such as hagiography, legal documents, literary texts and contracts. Again, not this specific example but this style was common. 

    Reviewing Coptic grammar does not mean changing a text to fit contemporary grammar. It should only be done to offer a better understanding of the context and the theological and spiritual understanding of the hymn, not to replace it because we deemed it atypical. It's one thing to point out how a hymn is different from contemporary grammar and understanding with foot notes. (This is called critical study. It's another thing to say we need to review (and possibly replace) hymns or correct parts of hymns. Go tell that to the academic world and see what they think.


  • @bashandy...I am sure you are aware of the huge amount of Kiahk arabic hymns/madayeh/psalies/commentaries...all of the ones we have now may have been written in the last 6 centuries, this is considering the lives of many of the writers of which names are in the madayeh. Tons of of those madayeh have variants in many arabic words. Many words were changed drastically to fit a specific rhyme rule or pattern or "nizam"... what do we say about those hymns. I can tell a couple of things that some have done to deal with this (without commenting):
    1-redo all the madayeh with "newer" or "better" words--Fr. Samuel Thabit did this
    2-replace only some of the doctrine-affected words--some bishops have books on this
    3-just write articles blaming the church for keeping such Islamic words in church hymns--seminary students have done that
    4-admit that, yes, these are words that are hard to understand with today's standards of arabic, but "these are the words they had available to work with to explain our faith" HE Anba Benyamin says this.


  • edited October 16
    @Remnkemi Than you for your reply. There are huge differences between Old English/Contemporary English & Coptic language. The comparison is just misplaced. English language is one of the world's major languages. It has been a living language all over, flourishing, expanding, borrowing, interacting, and developing by the tongues of its own native speakers.

    Bohairic Coptic started to decay slowly and die. It was probably dead in lower Egypt if the backdating of the psali is 14th century. Corruption of grammar is a symptom of decay in a language, not a variant, that happens in languages that are in a living language. Coptic in the 14th century never had different grammatical rules, than we have today

    Proto Coptic Old Coptic (before second century CE) had their own grammar & even letters, in some places. As for the Coptic we know now, the grammar did not really develop much after the 8th century, the language was decaying slowly. There is no clear evidence that these grammatical mistakes are variants, or developments in the language.

    I am not aware of any grammatical change that occurs in a dead language. What is happening at present, is that people who use Coptic language as their second language copy styles from their own language to Coptic but as they progress, some learn how to form a proper Coptic syntax. Yes, there is right and wrong in grammar, and mistakes can be spotted.

    The contemporary grammar books, are no different than Al-Muqaddimat.  I am not aware of different sets of grammar in modern Coptic that are different from Coptic.
    • There are no recorded incidents of the same pattern/grammatical mistakes
    • No book/muqaddimat/grammar book taught this kind of expression/grammatical mistake
    • The dialect was dead at best dying at that era
    • The error is in grammar not in how the sentence was structured
    • The author had obvious difficulties with usage of Greek as well
    • By applying grammatical rules from Al-Muqaddimat, which belongs closely to the same era it will be deemed as a mistake.
    Hence, I cannot safely attiribute this to morphosyntax of an era, or treat Coptic akin to English or other healthy living languages that are in full vitality.

    @Minatasgeel I am aware that madayeh had different vocabulary and phraseology from what is common now, even colloquial Egyptian Arabic a hundered years ago, is slightly different from what Egyptians speak now. Yet, in a living language as Arabic which is one of the world's major languages, these can be studied; but Coptic is different, it was dead, and it did not have equal opportunity for development. As for madayeh we can think of them as we think of the architecture of the old churches, when we find a crack in an old pillar what would we do about it
    • Leave it, as it is monumental and should not be touched
    • Study it, adn write articles about it
    • Document the state, and attempt to restore in-line with how it looks
    What to do with it is up to church leaders. In the case of ⲁⲣⲓⲯⲁⲗⲓⲛ Aripsalin, I would study it document it, archive the original version and save it carefully, update the mistake with a footnote stating the date of official change, the original version, and a reference to the whole process. Again this is not my call.

    I think these are not sacred texts, mistakes can happen, we can admit that, grammatical mistakes can be corrected. The value of this has two facets the linguistic facet, where we can engage with Coptic linguists to study and rectify texts with glaring errors, also a spiritual value as praise is a symbol of sacrifice which has to be in the best shape we can offer.

    Also, the church is not a monumental place, it is a living place, it has been always interactive when it comes to worship, many texts were borrowed from Greek, used in Greek, some texts were translated to Coptic, some Bohairic texts were translated from Sahidic. The order of older masses had the congregation of saints much earlier in the mass than its present form.  Apparently, at the era 13-14th century new psalis and hymns were added. Pope Cyril IV added new hymns to the church as τονσινα ναρχων λογον from the Greek Church. In the late 19th century, by Iryan Moftah, the church gradually adopted Greco-Bohairic pronunciation, many masses were excluded from Church. Even ϩⲓⲧⲉⲛ ⲛⲓⲡⲣⲉⲥⲃⲓⲁ (ⲛⲓⲧⲱⲃϩ) that are recited before the readings were not there till early 20th century, the only ϩⲓⲧⲉⲛ ⲛⲓⲡⲣⲉⲥⲃⲓⲁ was after reading the Gospel in 'The mass of believers'.  As the church formed union with the Eritrean church the name of the Eritrean Pope was added to prayers. Some prayers of the priest became spoken aloud where originally they were to be only read in silence.

    Madayeh is a dynamic part, even some churches started singing hymns in church of Good Friday as
    Wa Habibi واحبيبي or by the end of Good Friday as Sabt E[l]nour ayyedna fi farah sayyedna سبت النور عيدنا

    These are a few examples of how dynamic is the Coptic Church. I do not believe that correcting a grammatical mistake in a professional manner is nothing less than showing respect to our heritage by restoring it and being proactive in having well edited and revised versions of prayers, while properly archiving the change.
  • Dear @Remnkemi
    There is a difference between a hymn containing around 24 verses with one blatant mistake in the Coptic grammar, and other hymns containing a system of "atypical" Coptic grammar..
    Ⲟⲩϫⲁⲓ ϧⲉⲛ Ⲡ̀ϭⲥ
  • @bashandy...I actually agree with you on how to deal with those madayeh.

    Concerning Coptic...so what I am understanding is, because Coptic is a "dead" language, the standards that are applied to other languages are not here?!

    It would be nice to get scholarly references that first says that Coptic is accepted by most to be a dead language, and secondly, the standards of considering dead languages are different. 
  • @minatasgeel thank you for your reply. I would be surprised to find a scholar who would argue that Coptic language is considered alive or and endangered language. It can be difficult to admit to the harsh truth about Coptic language, but I guess proper diagnosis of its current status is one of the steps to remedy an unsatisfactory situation.

    Languages are classified as either alive as English, French, Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic & Russian etc. or Endangered as Nubian language where the number of speakers is declining, and dead languages as Coptic, Latin and many other African & Native American languages. Some linguists would add subcategories as critically endangered, and some would add extinct languages for languages that were lost and fell out of usage completely to the extinct that we cannot decode the language as what happened with Ancient Egyptian language before Champollion could decipher it.

    A dead language is defined as a language that has no native speakers, or that the native speakers are elderly people and that it has not been transmitted as a native language to future generations. Coptic language went through Gradual language death: slowly, over a period of time which is estimated to be by the 12-13th Century CE in lower Egypt and by 17th Century CE in Upper Egypt based on testimonies of Vansleb, Al-Maqrizi and other historians who at points found ladies of upper Egypt speaking Sahidic Coptic or so it seemed, to others who reported encounters with the language's last survivor. Also, Coptic experienced Bottom-to-top language death: cessation of the use of language except in special circumstances (liturgical language). Moreover, it also had Top-to-bottom language death: when language shift begins in a high-level environment such as the government, where it was banned as an official language in Al-Dawawin. This was happening with Language Attrition: describes the loss of proficiency in a language at the individual level.

    In the late 19th century, Claudius Labib and then Pisenti Rizkalla attempted to revive Coptic languages in their families using Greco-Bohairic pronunciation, while these attempts are worthy of praise and respect (with my reservation on the pronunciation); they are far from sufficient to re-classify Coptic as an endangered language.

    The usual process includes people becoming bilingual and then one of these languages starts to die, the process of death is called obscolecence which may include overgeneralization; undergeneralization; changes in word order; morphological loss; syntactic loss (i.e. lexical categories, complex constructions); loss of word-formation productivity; style loss, and other forms of obscolecence and attrition.

    During the 14th century lower Egypt Coptic was considered dead; the hymns and psalis backdating to this era can have grammatical mistakes, which would usually follows the pattern of the native spoken language at that time. These are not signs of healthy exchange of languages as with what was happening between Greek & Coptic in earlier centuries. It is a sign of obscolecence, decay and death of the language. One cannot take Aripsalin as a yardstick of how Coptic should be written. These are not signs of variability of a living language.

    For a visual analogue, during Renaissance artists did not rely on the art of dark ages to revive their arts, they did not use Gothic art as a reference point. They reverted to Classical Greco-Roman art & sculpture, and they studied anatomy.

    Aripsalin's grammatical mistake is a glaring example of the way Coptic died. For archaeological purposes it should be recorded and studied but for practical reasons, it should be rectified and noted.

    References:
    01. St Shenouda Archmandrite Society. History of Coptic language
    02. Coptic language living of dead, Cambridge University library blogs
    03. Language Death: Factual and Theoretical Explorations, edited by Matthias Brenzinger
    04. From Hellenism to Islam: Cultural and Linguistic Change in the Roman Near East p.417
    05. Language Decline and Death in Africa: Causes, Consequences, and ChallengesBy Herman Batibo p.74
    06. INTRODUCTION LANGUAGE DEATH AND LANGUAGE MAINTENANCE PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS, MARK JANSE
    07. Indiana University list of extinct languages on linguilist

  • @minatasgeel Thank you for your reply. Some people may find what I say as insensitive, but I prefer to stick to addressing facts as they are rather than to have a rosy painted picture of what is going on with Coptic language. Coptic is a dead language, and it has been dead for centuries, singing in Coptic does not make it a living language, and not even having it as a second language.
     
    In short languages are classified as living e.g. English, Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic, French etc. defined as having native speakers as is used in communication.

    There are endangered lanuages in which the numbers of people speaking the language are declining as Nubian language and dead languages as Coptic, Latin and many other historical languages. in which there are no native speakers of the language, the language can still be used in scholarly studies, specific uses as liturgical services, but it is no more a native spoken language.

    There are also extinct languages, like Andua, Ayukawa, where there are no native speakers, and the languages is lost and is not used by any means. However, some references do not differentiate between dead and extince languages.

    Coptic language has been defined as a dead language. The exact date of death is obscure, the process included Arabic manuscripts written in Coptic letters, then decline and cessation of new material written in Coptic, and then testaments by various historian about their struggle to find a native speaker of the language. Usually, linguists would estimate that Bohairic Coptic died somewhere in the 12-13th century CE, & Sahidic died at best 17th century CE.

    The current status of Coptic is that there are no native speakers apart from the single family of Pisenti Rizkalla who himself was not a native speaker of Coptic language, and it is more of a family that is basically bilingual in Coptic at best. The language used is pronounced in Greco-Bohairic with minimal to non-existent Greek loan words, and some coined words and neologisms. This is worthy of respect, but far from calling Coptic a living language.

    Coptic probably passed through a linguistic process called obscolecence, where its grammar started showing signs of decay and death. there are various types of decay including overgeneralization; undergeneralization; changes in word order; morphological loss, syntactic loss (i.e. lexical categories, complex constructions); loss of word-formation productivity; style loss, etc.

    Back to the psali, what we see is a sign of death, rather than a sign of life. The second part of the question is that the signs of obscolecence cannot be mistaken as signs of life, and hence one cannot reply on these to form grammar books, or consider them 'variants'.

    A visual analogue to this is the decay of visual arts in Europe in the dark ages, when renaissance era flourished Renaissance artists as Da Vinci & Michelangelo did not opt to study Gothic art, or art of dark ages. They studied Greco-Roman arts, they studied human anatomy to salvage their arts.

    In conclusion, Coptic was probably dead by the time of the acrostic psali Adam Aripsalin Ⲁⲣⲓⲯⲁⲗⲓⲛ and the grammatical mistake seems to be a direct influence of Arabic on a dead/dying language at that era. This is vastly different from Old English or any changes that happen in a living language.

    These are a few references defining language death, and stating the decline and death of Coptic language
     




    Language Death
    https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=7fVsvzHi8iQC&oi=fnd&pg=PA401&dq=Coptic+language+death&ots=fgE22TcMZE&sig=kDdsHLgODvVwD6VhP_KDdGhCSAk#v=onepage&q=Coptic language death&f=false
    https://biblio.ugent.be/publication/217315/file/6773094.pdf

    Coptic classified as a dead language
    https://www.prolingo.com/language-news/dead-languages-a-review-of-the-past
    http://www.coptic.org/language/stshenouda1.htm
    https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=7fVsvzHi8iQC&oi=fnd&pg=PA401&dq=Coptic+language+death&ots=fgE22TcMZE&sig=kDdsHLgODvVwD6VhP_KDdGhCSAk#v=onepage&q=Coptic &f=false

    A reference showing Coptic among extinct languages
    https://linguistlist.org/forms/langs/get-extinct.cfm
  • @minatasgeel thank you for your reply. I would be surprised to find a scholar who would argue that Coptic language is considered alive or and endangered language. It can be difficult to admit to the harsh truth about Coptic language, but I guess proper diagnosis of its current status is one of the steps to remedy an unsatisfactory situation.

    Languages are classified as either alive as English, French, Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic & Russian etc. or Endangered as Nubian language where the number of speakers is declining, and dead languages as Coptic, Latin and many other African & Native American languages. Some linguists would add subcategories as critically endangered, and some would add extinct languages for languages that were lost and fell out of usage completely to the extinct that we cannot decode the language as what happened with Ancient Egyptian language before Champollion could decipher it.

    A dead language is defined as a language that has no native speakers, or that the native speakers are elderly people and that it has not been transmitted as a native language to future generations. Coptic language went through Gradual language death: slowly, over a period of time which is estimated to be by the 12-13th Century CE in lower Egypt and by 17th Century CE in Upper Egypt based on testimonies of Vansleb, Al-Maqrizi and other historians who at points found ladies of upper Egypt speaking Sahidic Coptic or so it seemed, to others who reported encounters with the language's last survivor. Also, Coptic experienced Bottom-to-top language death: cessation of the use of language except in special circumstances (liturgical language). Moreover, it also had Top-to-bottom language death: when language shift begins in a high-level environment such as the government, where it was banned as an official language in Al-Dawawin. This was happening with Language Attrition: describes the loss of proficiency in a language at the individual level.

    In the late 19th century, Claudius Labib and then Pisenti Rizkalla attempted to revive Coptic languages in their families using Greco-Bohairic pronunciation, while these attempts are worthy of praise and respect (with my reservation on the pronunciation); they are far from sufficient to re-classify Coptic as an endangered language.

    The usual process includes people becoming bilingual and then one of these languages starts to die, the process of death is called obscolecence which may include overgeneralization; undergeneralization; changes in word order; morphological loss; syntactic loss (i.e. lexical categories, complex constructions); loss of word-formation productivity; style loss, and other forms of obscolecence and attrition.

    During the 14th century lower Egypt Coptic was considered dead; the hymns and psalis backdating to this era can have grammatical mistakes, which would usually follows the pattern of the native spoken language at that time. These are not signs of healthy exchange of languages as with what was happening between Greek & Coptic in earlier centuries. It is a sign of obscolecence, decay and death of the language. One cannot take Aripsalin as a yardstick of how Coptic should be written. These are not signs of variability of a living language.

    For a visual analogue, during Renaissance artists did not rely on the art of dark ages to revive their arts, they did not use Gothic art as a reference point. They reverted to Classical Greco-Roman art & sculpture, and they studied anatomy.

    Aripsalin's grammatical mistake is a glaring example of the way Coptic died. For archaeological purposes it should be recorded and studied but for practical reasons, it should be rectified and noted.

    References:
    01. St Shenouda Archmandrite Society. History of Coptic language http://www.coptic.org/language/stshenouda1.htm
    02. Coptic language living of dead, Cambridge University library blogs goo.gl/YMfspf
    03. Language Death: Factual and Theoretical Explorations, edited by Matthias Brenzinger https://goo.gl/2Boryy
    04. From Hellenism to Islam: Cultural and Linguistic Change in the Roman Near East https://goo.gl/Avn6De p.417
    05. Language Decline and Death in Africa: Causes, Consequences, and ChallengesBy Herman Batibo p.74 goo.gl/QBxFM1
    06. INTRODUCTION LANGUAGE DEATH AND LANGUAGE MAINTENANCE PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS, MARK JANSE  goo.gl/Z6y19r
    07. Indiana University list of extinct languages on linguilist goo.gl/YA2xG4 Coptic status http://multitree.org/codes/cop

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