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Egyptian Arabic colloquial words from Coptic
  • I thought this was pretty neat. This is from Copticworld:

    Ah - from the Coptic word "Aha", meaning yes 
    Shebsheb - from the Coptic "seb-sweb," which means the measurement of feet 
    Kokha - Coptic for dirt
    Embu - originates from the Coptic word for water 
    Mumm - derived from the Coptic word "mout" and the Demotic word "ounum", meaning eat 
    Bo3bo3 - originates from a Coptic name for a ghost, used to scare children 
    Sett - Coptic for woman 
    Tanesh - derived from the Coptic for ignore 
    Ba7 - the Coptic word for finished 
    Fouta - Coptic for towel 
    Taboot - from the Coptic for coffin 
    7antoor - derived from "han" a word referring to plural objects, and "hatoor" meaning horses 
    7anafeya - the word for faucet 
    Khonn - from the Coptic word "khoun", which means inside 
    Rokh - the Coptic word for drop/fall 
    Sahd - the Coptic word for hot 
    Zarta - the Coptic word for… wind (yes, really) 
    Fatafeat - Coptic for crumbs or small pieces 
    Wawa - from the Coptic word used to express pain 
    Nunu - the Coptic word for small/little 
    'Outa - Coptic for tomato

    So pretty much, we as little Egyptian babies were speaking Coptic this whole time ;)
  • Keda spelt as ke de
    Dekha spelt as de ke
    Outah is a fruit
    Kaman spelt as ke men
    Abnoudi spelt as evnoti
    Kaka means dark
    Bekh means the ghost
    Wala which is the proper pronunciation of owalow meaning kid
    La3la3 proper one of lali meaning sing with passion
     Dowsha the proper pronunciation of tievshy hous proper for hos
    Damanhour proper for timienhor meaning the valley of the god Horus
    More to follow
  • Tarabeza for the table
    Taftaf spelt as thefthef meaning spit
    Maow for mother, sorry for my transcription system..hehe..
    Embare7 for empaihoou meaning that day as the phrase object used in colloquial Egyptian Arabic as yesterday
    Boktor spelt as Victor
    More to follow
  • These are really nice!  If you're part of Copticworld, you should definitely share those in there as well :) (and here of course)
  • @minasoliman,
    I'm a member of Copticworld but I haven't used that website often. Of course if you are keen on that please copy and paste all of this over there
  • Here's another exciting one I just found out.  The English word "Chemistry" in relation to the Arabic word "Al Kimya" comes from the Coptic word "Kemi", which means "Egypt".  Chemistry pretty much means "The Egyptian science"

  • Not exactly Mina. Kima means black. Egypt is called Kemi because it is the land of black (fertile) soil. Chemistry means "Black science". 

    Some if not most of the words from Copticworld (not ophadece's list) seem to be incorrect. I don't think they are Coptic per se. They might be some sort of local sub dialect of Ancient Egyptian, but not coptic. For example, woman in Coptic is always es-himi, not sitt. Maybe it is a Copticized Greek word but I can't find anything on most of these words. Maybe ophadece can shed some light.
  • I appreciate any and all corrections :)
  • @Remenkimi,
    Thanks for believing in Me to that extent.. Kama, Kami, or Kaimi, but not actually Keemi all refer to black and to Egypt too. You're absolutely right about woman of course. Sett refers to an Egyptian god that was a female, although I have an inkling not even human but in the pharaonic language. I don't think it refers to the human lady if at all found in the Coptic vocabulary.
     Other words include:
    EdDeeny spelt as ti nee i meaning give me
    shewa or shewaya meaning few
    foota meaning towel..
    More to follow hopefully soon

  • Interesting...I could imagine at that ancient time, the term "Sett", if applied to a woman was either a blasphemous or a romantic gesture :P

  • As far as I can tell, Set (or Seth) is a male (not female) Egyptian God, the brother of Osiris. He was the god of the desertstorms, disorder, violence and foreigners in ancient Egyptian religion. Now Seti was (male) pharaoh of Egypt from 1290BC - 1274BC. And Seti II was (male) pharaoh from 1200BC - 1194 BC. 

    On the other hand, Setet, was the female goddess of the Nile inundation/flooding. "Her name means she who shoots forth referring to the annual flooding of the river. She was an early warhunting, and fertility deity who was seen as the mother of the goddess Anuket and a protector of southern Egypt. Later she became regarded as one of the consorts of Khnum, the god identified as the guardian of the source of the Nile, with whom she was worshipped at Elephantine (the First nome of Egypt), indeed the centre of her cult was nearby, at Sahal, another island of the Nile. Since she was most dominant at the southern end of Egypt, she became regarded as the guard of Egypt's southern border with Nubia. Satet's child was Anuket, goddess of the Nile River herself, who formed the third part of the Elephantine triad of deities when formed." 

    Likely Sett is a Copticized word for Setet found in Upper Egypt. Coincidentally, Setet is now the plural form of Sett, even though Setet (the goddess) was a singular entity. Now since that is out of the way, we should look in to possible etymological origins of these other words. 

  • @Remenkimi,
    Thank you very much for this.. very perfect analysis and to the core. Indeed I like you argue that it's more related to varying the Arabic term than the Egyptian god or goddess even.. thanks again
  • by the way, tarabeza comes from the greek trapeza, which means table.
    if you remember that it was the europeans who invented high tables and chairs (instead of low tables and couches on the floor to recline on) then it makes sense.

    holidays in greek places, greek orthodox church
  • According to the lists above these words the Coptic language have in common in Tigriniay or Amharic or both. Having anything in common with Copts makes me mabsoota :D ;)  

    Sett (Amharic)- Coptic for woman 

    Fouta (Amharic)- Coptic for towel 

    Taboot (Amharic & Tigriniya)- from the Coptic for coffin. But in Amharic & Tigriniya it means that Holy Tablet that is put on the Altar. 

    Fatafeat (Amharic) - Coptic for crumbs or small pieces. But in Amharic it means a food that is made making crumbs from injera (bread) and socking it in a sauce.  

    Tarabeza (Amharic) - for the table

    Taftaf (Tigriniya) - spelt as thefthef meaning spit

    In Christ 


  • @mabsoota,
    You're absolutely right, that's an example of Greek loan words in the Coptic vocabulary also like dekha, keda, Ekhrestos, etc
    Taboot is an Arabic word not Coptic. Sett was analysed by Remenkimi as above..
  • Here are some additional words:
    Dameera used in Upper Egypt to denote the annual flood
    Taff to spit
    ward meaning flower
    tawi to hide
    7anafeya an arabized word for 7onfah  
    laklek to hurry up

    Paying attention to such words prove the authenticity of OB and the invention of GB
  • I wasn't aware that people denied the authenticity of Old pronunciation 
  • If it were not denied then it would have been accepted by the church. 99% of Copts do not even know that it exists and accordingly thewy only know of the invention of GB.
  • That is such a false presumption. The authenticity and the existence of OB is not denied. It is the assumption that OB must circumvent the established GB because of some inherit superiority that is denied. 
  • False presumption according to who? and why is it a false presumption. 

    When you have a Coptic word pronounces thaff and is propnouced taff in everyday usage then this denotes that the Coptic letter "th", as used in GB, is pronounced T rather than th. Of course this is just one example among many many others.
  • According to the Coptic Orthodox Church and common sense. It is no different than saying "Since Sahidic Coptic is older and superior than Bohairic Coptic (and one can cite many examples), then the Church must accept Sahidic Coptic (and circumvent the established "invention" called Bohairic Coptic)." Such a false presumption or claim and insult to common sense will always be justifiably denied. Notice I said "cite many examples", not prove superiority. There is a difference. Anyone may be able to do the first, no one can do the second. 
  • @Remenkimi,
    And how is gb comparable to old Bohairic in your example? I fail to see how you equal a fabricated dialect with a naturally developed one unless you can enlighten me with the similarities..
  • A fabricated dialect that takes on the same dynamic process of a natural dialect makes the two comparable. We have discussed this in many threads. Do a search and you see I had already highlighted the similarities. 
  • @Remenkimi,
    First of all I hope you are not getting upset or fed up of having to defend your position in the face of strong evidence to the contrary. Your lack of Arabic fluency is certainly going to lock you up in such a position where I am more than astonished that you once had an opposing view.
    The fact that you discussed your point in numerous threads before doesn't convince me of your position one iota. Indeed besides translating Erian Moftah's book I'm also preparing a long list of words that I will post here in this very thread soon.
    Lastly when one day all English language speakers cease to exist and someone takes it upon themselves to assign the pronunciation of the letters to the French letters, that doesn't qualify it as a dynamic and natural evolution of a language.. especially when there is someone else out there who has access to older manuscripts showing the fallacy of such an attempt..
  • @ophadece.....i am sorry, but you are not making any sense....
  • @minatasgeel,
    There is no need to apologise at all. Please let me know how I am not making any sense and I will answer asap. This thread is on my bookmarked list.. looking forward to your queries personally @minatasgeel..
  • GB is a false dialect, an invention and it would be against logic to prove the superiority of OB over GB. The church does not own a language but a nation and a people. 99.9% of the Copts know nothing about Coptic and know no difference between OB or GB even those within the Church ranks. So to say that the your (Remenkimi)presumption stands is a wrteched thought because unfortunately it stands on ignorance.
  • You can attack me all you want. You have never addressed the actual argument in a coherent manner. Continuing to say GB is built on ignorance is a proscriptive argument, not a descriptive argument. As I said before, many of your arguments on OB are also built on inconsistent hearsay. Languages develop and revolve on usage. There is science behind that. Just because people don't understand or use a language, it doesn't make it an invention. 

    I am not fed up defending my position. I am fed of repeating myself with evidence that has gone ignored. My Arabic fluency has nothing to do with social linguistics. Again, stick to the topic and respond to the argument with evidence or just don't respond. 
  • We have demonstrated on several other threads the invention of GB and because it is an invention then it is a false dialect .. not a natural one. When colloquial spoken current words are used in a way that supports the OB and in no way supports GB, then there is evidence for OB's authenticity and evidence for GB falsehood. If you want to burry your head and chose to ignore those facts then that is your choice. However, do not claim that we have not been descriptive. 
  • Here we go again with the repetition.

    There is no such thing as a false dialect. If two people can communicate with a dialect, even if it is an abruptly fabricated language like Klingon or Esperanto, then it is not false. Insisting on calling it false is proscriptive. I never said OB does not have support in colloquial usage. I have never denied or ignored OB's facts. In fact, I explicitly wrote on August 26 in this thread, "The authenticity and the existence of OB is not denied". So don't argue that I am claiming OB has no support or authenticity. I only claim your definition of authenticity is false. As long as you equate authenticity with superiority, then you are proscriptive and your definition of authenticity is skewed. The idea that OB is superior to GB or that GB is a false dialect is a political argument, not linguistic fact. 
  • Ok @Remenkimi, evidence huh? Ok what more evidence Do you want than people pronouncing the letter waida one way and others another when they both live in the same country, have the same accent and speak the same dialect? What about the letter dalda? Bei, etc? You note I am not talking about vowels that do change from dialect to dialect, I'm talking about consonants.. there's no such a thing as gb
  • @Remenkimi
    For gb to equate to Klingon and Esperanto is to have another name than Coptic and to not depend on the text used by the church as originally a different language.. have you ever heard on wrong language teaching, or are they each called a new dialect or a variant of such a language?
  • @ophadece and @imikhail stop arguing for the sake of arguing....i feel like you guys have spent some time with sasi/vassilios to be acting this way. Also, @ophadece, please stay on topic. evidence or not, invention or mish invention, it's what we are using now and what we will keep using that's a fact and that makes it a dialect.

    Remnkemi's statements are clear enough.
  • Ophadece and Imikhail,
    Listen I know you are both very passionate about OB. I wish we had more people like you passionate about linguistic history and identity. I have stated in the past that I like OB and I have used it in Church. I too lament over the misunderstanding and lack of use of OB. But I cannot sit back and let anyone trash GB in their zeal to improve OB's status. You may disagree with this because you believe GB is not a real entity. But as Mina said, you cannot deny GB's usage. My dream is that OB and GB proponents can one day use both dialects bilingually, not one over the other. 

    BTW, I would still like to continue the discussion if we are all open to learning, not arguing. 
  • @minatasgeel,
    No problem.
    Please answer my questions above in order to prove to me how gb is any thing as you or @minatasgeel claim. By the way, I am arguing because as you rightly say I feel so passionately about this. You are probably ignorant of what saints like St. Samuel the confessor said about Copts at the end of days. I don't want to see my beloved church drown into ignorance, and lack of knowledge, when the evidence is so overwhelming of the opposite. There is no SCIENTIFIC evidence for me other than Mr. Guirguis's work not being acknowledged, and Fr. Shenouda obtaining a doctorate from Oxford. You may choose not to answer any of my arguments above, but this is not important. More importantly you should actually study the claims in a scientific manner (I doubt that for so many things are mixed with Arabic notations anyway). 
  • Your definition of dialect does not fit what we are discussing here. I am talking about a natural dialect with natural development of a certain language. You, instead accept the fact that an invention of a language is a dialect so long as two people understand each other. This is not the definition we are addressing here. 

    GB is an invented dialect because it arbitrarily invented sounds for Coptic. It is not a natural development of the Coptic language.

  • @imikhail,
    Very well said. Thanks
  • I'd like to ask how I could attach a file. I have finished the word document I was preparing about Coptic words used in Egyptian colloquial lingo. Please let me know...
  • Please have a look onto sucha  link (this is the best I could do for now):
  • I will hopefully some day pursue another project to get another list from Crum and Georgy Sobhy.. pray for me please..
  • foota means towel 
  • Also dont you people have anything better to do than to fight on the internet ??
  • If the material doesn't interest you, keep moving. There are people who are passionate about things others may believe are non-essential. It is not simply internet polemics. Be respectful of others.
  • regarding the transition from OB to GB as people claim, sometimes I ask how did that happen all of a sudden, why did it happen and who did it. Why did the Church agree to use it as the standard. It's enough to remember that it happened at the time of Pope Cyril IV Father of Reforms, who is credited for the Coptic revolution in all branches if Christianity. Why would this reformer let such heresy spread, the language which represents the Copticnationality. Therefore denying the authenticity of the current dialect is not very logical.

     my theory is the claimed-to-be-Old-Bohairic-dialect is probably an evolution for the language, however was not a natural revolution similar to the one we see in KJV and NKJV. Arabs has influenced the Copts a lot, Coptic was banned at some point and was replaced by Arabic by force, so everyone in Egypt at some point spoke Arabic, along with some remnant of Coptic. this Coptic started to look like Arabic a lot. Notice the similarity!! the letters that do not exist in Arabic DO NOT exist in OB too, such as PH, P,... Copts have probably used some Coptic words, but pronounced it in Arabic way as it is the colloquial language of the time. This theory could be observed on the Egyptians born and raised in the West. Their arabic is pronounced almost like English. I have once an 'O Kirios Metasou' from a Montreal Church that took me a while to realize it's Greeko-Coptic (very poor meaningless language)  not French. And the way the arabic words of Coptic origin coheres with the OB way of pronunciation supports my point too.
  • @tenacpiesnaonkh,
    Manuscripts from as old as the tenth and ninth centuries prove the authenticity of Bohairic and its relationship to the Demotic language. Not only that but it is structurally different yet linguistically similar to Sa'idic and Akhmimic. If anything it was the Coptic language that influenced the Arabic language and not the severe.
    Unfortunately by the time of the 19th century the Bohairic has died down considerably but not the Sa'idic. Therefore due to ignorance and other political reasons the need for Hellenising the Coptic language arose. However because Sa'idic dialect was still more or less surviving as a dialect for communication the former was referred to as Bohairic. When coptologists and other scientists discovered and brought to use the old Bohairic manuscripts the pro gb boffins started to distinguish it calling it Greco-Bohairic!
    So in a nutshell the gb was a fabricated dialect based on the premise that Coptic uses Greek letters hence it ought to be pronounced as Greek. Pope Kyrollos IV may not have had any problems spreading Coptic by any means necessary but unfortunately the one he allocated that job to wasn't up to the task in a strictly scientific sense, or even loosely for that matter.
    All what I mentioned is recorded historically and you just need to spend a couple of hours googling sources that are reliable enough and you'll understand. There's no need to venture any guesses or personal deductions. Pray for me I am currently undertaking the project of translating Erian Moftah's book but that is still going to take a long while
  • What? Pope Cyril IV, Father of Reforms....let such heresy spread? You really need to look up the definition of heresy. A heresy implies a false belief that is detrimental to one's salvation. How can changing a language justifiably be called a heresy? 

    O Kirios meta sou is the end of Shere theotoke. I assume you are speaking of Agios Istin, which is a different hymn. Agios Istin is not meaningless. It is hymnographic poetry. I wrote about it in Coptic 10. This is outside the topic so I won't go into it.

    I am working on an article that shows Erian Moftah's technic has linguistic science to support it. I will wait till Ophadece translates Moftah's book to see if it supports my hypothesis. 

    In the meantime, please give sources of ninth and tenth century manuscripts that support OB over GB. No one is arguing that Bohairic is not a unique dialect of Coptic and that Coptic in its totality influenced Arabic (and not vice versa). The discussion is about OB and GB, not Bohairic and Sahidic. 
  • @Remnkemi

    Doesn't the hymn go "o kyrios meta so, Agios Esteen..." How are they 2 distinct hymns?
  • No it does not. "O Kyrios meta sou" is the last line of Shere Theotoke. 

    No manuscript starts Agios Istin with "O Kyrios meta sou". 

    Attaching "O Kyrios meta sou"  to Agios istin had two purposes. First, it was just a convention many cantors used to "say" the hymn Shere theotoke without the long melismatic tune. Think of it as a pseudo-damg way of saying Shere theotoke (without actually saying the remaining part of Shere theotoke). Second, it was a mnemonic tool to remember how to start Agios istin musically by attaching it to the end of the previous hymn. The same is done with the beginning of the melismatic (long) version of Shere theotoke. Musically the end of Ksmaroot is attached to the beginning of Shere theotoke. Conventionally, the hymn is given the title "on she" because "on" is the last syllable of Ksmaroot and "she" is the first syllable of Shere theotoke. Contrastly, the same is done by connecting Shere theotoke to Agios Istin (except it was not the last syllable but the last stichon/line of Shere theotoke). Similarly, the hymn Agios istin is given the title "O Kyrios meta cou" but it has semantically and contextually, the two are separate hymns. Shere theotoke is a theotokia, a hymn for the Theotokos. While Agios Istin is a Trinitarian hymn. 
  • @Remenkimi,
    I was mistaken. The manuscripts listed as references in Fr. Shenouda Maher's research are from the 10th and 11th centuries AM, or 13th and 14th AD. I don't think I will hold my breath to read your study on Erian Moftah's technic. As a person who supports scientific evidence, and the practical use of the brain (something less prevalent in a place like Egypt), I wouldn't get convinced by any arguments supporting his technic. To me it is like some Indians called the English they pronounced modified Cockney, because people refuted their original nomination of such being Cockney. That is not only dishonesty, chaos, but lack of scientific applications, however or whatever the end goal reached was (or still is!)
  • wow, can you open another thread to discuss agios istin?
    is there a good english translation somewhere?
    i have heard on the internet that the hymn is not in very good greek / coptic, but there is something about it i love a lot.
    please tell me more if you can.
    if i had a good translation, i would be able to share it at church, as i have been asked to find hymns in english (NOT easy to find good hymns - the old english ones sound like someone has died and many modern ones have wrong theology).

    i would love so much to sing this in english.

    i am not going to comment on the different forms of coptic.
    i am still on lesson 11 of the internet series and have just leant the letters.
    i may return to the subject in 10 or 20 years when i have something to say!
  • ophadece said:

    Tarabeza for the table

    Taftaf spelt as thefthef meaning spit
    Maow for mother, sorry for my transcription system..hehe..
    Embare7 for empaihoou meaning that day as the phrase object used in colloquial Egyptian Arabic as yesterday
    Boktor spelt as Victor
    More to follow

    what's up guys? Language nerd here.

    imbari7/embare7 for "yesterday" is actually from tribal Yemeni Arabic

    Some tribes in Southern Yemen say "am-" instead of "al-" for "the", so "al-bari7a" which is another fusha way of saying "yesterday" becomes "am-bari7a" or imbari7

    Not coincidentally Southern Yemenis pronounce "jeem" as "geem" just like Egyptians!

    ophadece said:

    Wala which is the proper pronunciation of owalow meaning kid

    Oh my gosh! I've been looking FOREVER for someone who knows "Wala!" as a way of saying "boy!/hey you!" An old Egyptian neighbor used to call me that as a joke when I was a kid, but when I went to Cairo NO ONE knew what I was talking about when I mentioned that! Is this a regional thing or obscure slang or what?

    The only person who got it was an old Syrian guy who said he saw it one time in an Egyptian movie where they shouted it as a waiter and he said it was slang that very few people would know.

Memorial for HH Pope Shenouda

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