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comment by johnnyFive
johnnyFive  ·  289 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: June 6, 2018

Slowly getting back into the swing of things. Did my first drawing session in months this past weekend, and I can feel what I've learned coming back.

Also getting back into language learning. The vaguely-annoying thing about Coptic compared to Greek is that there are fewer standardized texts out there (but thankfully no shortage of grammars/textbooks). Spelling/phonology in general is just harder, too. For example, there's still a fair amount of disagreement over how certain letters were pronounced. It also loves some conosonant clusters, and frequently has what are technically vowel-less syllables (think about how we'd pronounce the last syllable of "tunnel" in English; Coptic does this all the time, and with many other consonants). Diphthongs are a pain, since we think some letters could be either a consonant or vowel. Ellision happens a lot, since Coptic uses prefixes and suffixes for most grammatical things (including articles, subject pronouns, possession, et al.). And all this on top of the fact that native speakers themselves weren't always consistent. (The good news, at least, is that they did often use a bar at the top of a word to indicate breaks.)

Still, it's a fascinating language, and I'm enjoying it. I'm going to compile a grammar reference for myself as I go through the various textbooks and grammar references that I have, since they're all organized a little differently and explain things in different ways.

Here's what John 1:1 looks like in Sahidic (the dialect from which we have the most, as well as the primary one for the New Testament translations):

    ϩⲛ ⲧⲉϩⲟⲩⲉⲓⲧⲉ ⲛⲉϥϣⲟⲟⲡ ⲛϭⲓ ⲡϣⲁϫⲉ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲡϣⲁϫⲉ ⲛⲉϥϣⲟⲟⲡ ⲛⲛⲁϩⲣⲙ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲡⲉ ⲡϣⲁϫⲉ

(See page 228 of this PDF if the text doesn't render). A rough transliteration would be:

    Hn tehoite nefsho'op n.chi p.sha*e auo p.sha*e nefsho'op n'nahrm pnoote auo neunoote pe p.sha*e

A couple notes. The ' indicates a glottal stop, so in nefsho'op, you pronounce the two O's as separate syllables. Dots in the middle of words represent a syllable break (but not a stop). Finally, * is one of those letters whose pronunciation isn't fully agreed upon. I've seen various theories, including j like in judge, dz, , or ch (the book that uses this last one uses the sound ky (say "kyee" and take off the "ee") for what I rendered as "ch" above).

Good times.

goobster  ·  289 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Fascinating. I wish I had discovered the interesting complexities of language earlier in life. German class in high school just didn't resonate with me. It wasn't until I moved to Budapest and started learning Hungarian, and talking with people who study linguistics, that I figured out these are the greatest detective stories in the world!

So much crazy complexity and beautiful artistry and foibles of human understanding... they're all laid bare when you study language.

Maybe if I'd found linguistics earlier I would have ... well ... made far less money as an academic, studying dusty texts covered with psychedelic molds... ...hmmmm...

johnnyFive  ·  287 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Your description is a perfect one for why I love this stuff. I was fortunate in that I have a gift for learning language, and so it was far less frustrating for me than for many of my classmates. This in turn meant that I could see the things you talked about.

I've also come to realize more and more that I'm a systems person: I'm most interested in those things where it's a matter of watching interlocking parts.

ThatFanficGuy  ·  289 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    and frequently has what are technically vowel-less syllables (think about how we'd pronounce the last syllable of "tunnel" in English

For those curious, that "tunnel" can have no vowel in the last syllable, or it can have a vowel that has no representation in the language, and yet, is abundantly common: the schwa.