GB Coptic pronunciation

edited August 2014 in Hymns Discussion
According to GB:

How is delta pronounced: th, z, or d?

Also, when is beta b and when is it v? Eg would it be tobee em epchois, or tovee em epchois?


  • I had a response ready to go last week and it disappeared. Once again, "God works in mysterious ways". ;)

    Now to your question. Really, I don't like answering questions about pronunciation because the question implies a "correct" vs incorrect way to pronounce a word or a letter. As I said in the past, this is a false concept that has no support in the linguistic literature.

    GB was supposed to mirror Koine Greek. In Greek, the letter delta is pronounced something in between /t/ and /d/. Egyptian Copts however have not internalized this phonological phenome. To compensate, Coptic phonetic inventory changes the /t/ sound and replaces the sound with /z/. It is just like Arabic. MSA Arabic does not have a /p/ phoneme. To compensate for the Coptic letter ⲡ (/p/), Arabic inserted a orthograph (which is a modified ب with three dots and I have no idea how to type it). Since it was not internalized socialinguistically, it is not used in Egyptian Arabic or MSA. So if no one can really use a /p/ sound in Arabic, can we really say the modified ب with three dots is the "correct" pronunciation? 

    The same is true with Coptic. Technically speaking in GB, AFAIK, delta is pronounced /z/ except when it is a name like David, where the letter is pronounced /d/. Back to my point, if Koine Greek doesn't have a /z/ sound for the letter and Copts don't use the /t/ sound, how can we really say what GB intended for the letter? This proves my point that linguistic science acknowledges a dynamic change in phonetics and phonetic inventory, which we Copts have a hard time accepting.

    One more thing. If you notice, in OB, the delta is always pronounced /t/ and the orthography (spelling) reflects the rule. For example, Greek δεσποινα in ⲞⲂ is ⲧⲉⲥⲡⲓⲛⲁ. This shows a closer affinity for OB to Koine Greek. But it also reverses the phonetic inventory. So the Greek/Coptic letter ⲧ is pronounced /d/. For example, ⲑⲉⲟⲧⲟⲕⲓⲁ in OB is also spelled as ⲧⲉⲇⲟⲕⲓⲁ. 

    Regarding the letter b, it is the same concept. Koine Greek pronounces the letter /b/. Technically, in GB, the beta letter is pronounced /v/, except when the letter after the beta is a consonant - in which case it is pronounced /b/. Now Egyptian Copts do not like consonant clusters. The linguistic adaptive mechanims, technically called epenthesis, adds imaginary vowels to break up consonant clusters (more specifically called anaptyxis). So technical, ⲧⲱⲃϩ is pronounced /tobh/ (one syllable) in GB. But this is foreign to Egyptians, so Copts compensate by using an easier phoneme ("v" instead of "b")  and either (1) break up the sound cluster in the middle with anaptyxis resulting in an aspirated stop /tove He/ or (2) break up the sound cluster by dropping the second consonant (technically called elision) resulting in /tov/.

    I hope this helped and I'm sorry if I confused you.
  • @qawe and @remenkimi,
    Of course I didn't want to reply because I hope every one already knows my position. There is no such a thing called GB. However, I must say out of all people I wouldn't have thought @remenkimi would make such false claims about GB, which only goes to show that it's based on whims how you pronounce it. Anyway breaking up clusters of consonants is a feature of authentic Bohairic (Coptic in general, not just Bohairic) but not GB to teh extent that these days people are pronouncing carx as /sarkx/ even though they are the same people who teach that the letter should be pronounced /eks/ irrespective of where it comes in the word. 
    Anyway, back to @qawe questions, dalda is pronounced /ð/ as in English the, and /d/ in names (funny, because I am thinking of naming my child Diakwn, so in the sentence diakwn
    oudiakwn pe
    it's going to be a mess).
    twbh is pronounced /tobh/ because the waida has been succeeded by a consonant. In authentic Bohairic it is either /dobəh/ or /tobəh/ with the /h/ sound being swapped into the Arabic ع (ain) or ح (ha') especially in Sa'idic. 
    oujai qen P[C

  • I hope the Coptic letters I wrote are clear to every body. If not please let me know...
  • Ophadece,
    What false claims did I make about GB? As far as I can tell, most of everything you wrote corroborates what I wrote. The only difference is you continue to claim GB pronunciation is based on individual "whims". I claim it is based on multilingual contact phenomena (nothing malicious about it) as it occurs in nearly every language. 

  • @Remenkimi
    First, dalda is never pronounced as a z In gb.
    Second I'm not aware of any example of dalda being pronounced as a t in authentic Bohairic.
    Thirdly Copts don't have difficulty in acknowledging a dynamic change in phonetics and phonetic inventory.
    Fourth Copts don't have any way of pronouncing p as Do Arabs and Jews by the way.. I mean of course inherent to their respective languages.
    Fifth, breaking up sound clusters is not a characteristic of gb but authentic Coptic..
    sixth even in gb it's pronounced tobh not with a v but it just happens that some church books had transcriptions going too far off
  • There is no hard rule of pronunciation in any natural language. When one sees hard rules for Coptic as conveyed in modern books teaching Coptic, one realizes that these rules do not produce a real natural language such as GB. 
  • I wrote my response in a file beause it exceeds the word count limit. Hopefully this works.

  • "There is no hard rule of pronunciation in any natural language. When one sees hard rules for Coptic as conveyed in modern books teaching Coptic, one realizes that these rules do not produce a real natural language such as GB."

    And when one sees the shift from theoretical and grammatical pronunciation (which you call hard rules) to the practical pronunciation in GB employed in church services, as I showed above, then by your logic - is GB a real natural language?

  • No response? Ok. Were you able to open the file? I will assume you all were able to open the file and no objects anymore.  [-O<
  • Simple Answer:

    For the Delta, it's pronounced as D when it's part of a proper noun such as Dani'eel, David, and Demiani
    it's pronounced as Dh(th in the) otherwise, such Dhiakon (Deacon), Dooron(gift) and Dhevte (in Dhevte Pentis hymn) 
    the Dh is interchanged with Z when the speaker is a native egyptian who can't properly pronounce the TH and pronouce The as Za (I used to do that, it's not shameful, just cultural difference)

    For the Beta, it's pronounced as V is followed by a vowel such as Vaki(city) and Touvo(purify).
    pronounced as B otherwise such as Tobh(Pray), ethouwab(holy) and tebt(fish).
    an exception is made for proper names, such as Barbara (not Varvara), it's a case by case
  • @Tenacpi esna onkh


    so ethouwab would be with a 'b' even if the next word begins with a vowel?

    And does everyone agree with @Tenacpi esna onkh's simplification, because, if so, I think I'll just stick with that, rather than confuse myself. 
  • @tenacpiesnaonkh,
    Demiana doesn't spell with a dalda. Secondly Egyptian or most Arabs more generally don't pronounce the TH as z but as s. They pronounce the DH as z. I hope that's clear.
    it's irrelevant if the waida is followed by a vowel as long as it comes at the end of the word..
  • Qawe, What tenacpi said is exactly what I said. I just gave a more detailed reason behind it. 
  • Thanks guys.
    @ophadece, why do you say Demiana isn't with a delta, isn't that the first letter?
  • @qawe
    It spells with a daw but the pro gb boffins thought there must be something wrong and erased the first letter replacing it with a dalda in the newly printed psalmody books. I'll check the kholagies though..
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