“An Emerging New Dialect of Coptic” (review article of Gardner, Alcock and Funk, Coptic Documentary Texts from Kellis)


The work under review presents in full, with a translation and extensive erudite philological, textual and grammatical annotations, detailed indices and long descriptive, historical and linguistics introductions, the elegant editio princeps of forty-four Coptic texts (fifty-four epistolary and documentary texts in all, of which fifty-two are papyri) from the site of Ismant el-Kharab (the Dakhle oasis, at the Roman-period village of Kellis). All were written to members or associates of a textile-processing Manichaean or Christian-Manichaean community at the place, and are datable to the fourth century A.D. (mainly 355–380). These texts are written in a special dialect of Coptic, which — as W.-P. Funk believes — may be the closest yet to “L” pure and simple — a dialect exhibiting some interesting features, on some of which I shall very briefly dwell in the following review (which focusses only on the linguistic, not historical or archaeological aspects of this exciting find). They are not easy, but are remarkable rich in interesting grammatical features and of considerable syntactic interest.

See also: Coptic
Last updated on 01/18/2018