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THE NEGLECT OF COPTIC LANGUAGE AS DISPLAYED IN THE PLAQUES OF OUR SACRED SPACE

December 27, 2012

All Coptic sacred space, whether churches, monasteries, schools or social services organisations, should have their names displayed in Coptic

The Copts’ neglect of their language is a sad story. At no place do we find that tragically demonstrated as in our churches. No one seems to have given heed to Samuel of Kalamoun in his Apocalypse: Arabic has replaced Coptic even in the sacred Coptic Church prayers, and we now see the beautiful liturgies of St. Basil, St. Cyril and St. Gregory being sung by priests, bishops and popes in Arabic. What a sad situation!

The neglect we see in our churches cannot be attributed to the clergy alone – the lay people take a large blame for it too. This shared neglect is best seen in the church plaques that display the names we give to our churches. Churches nowadays seem to be displaying their names in Arabic and rarely in Coptic; and even in the Coptic Diaspora, in Europe, Australia, Canada and the US, Coptic churches’ plaques often carry their names in the national language of the country, such as English, German or French, and in Arabic, as if Arabic is our national language.

 The Coptic Church of St. Mary in Meyrin, Genevan The Coptic Church of the Virgin May in Meyrin, Geneva

church2 The plaque at the Church of the Virgin Mary, displaying its name in Arabic

church3 The name of the church dislayed in French

Just one Example I use here:[1] The Coptic Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary in Meyrin, Geneva, Switzerland (Eglise Copte Orthodoxe de la Vierge Marie de la Suisse Romande – Genève Rue Virginio-Malnati 35, 1217 Meyrin, Switzerland). When you visit that church you will find that its name has been displayed on its plaque in French and Arabic with no use of Coptic. How can our children in the Diaspora know their national language or manage to keep their Coptic identity if their sacred places do not show pride in their language?

The Coptic church at Meyrin, Geneva, is not the only Coptic church that shows its neglect of our sacred language so shamelessly. Look at your local church, whether in Egypt or outside it, and see if your sacred place displays its name in Coptic first, if at all, or in Arabic, and then go and ask your local priest and the church’s lay committee why that is the case.

We recommend this: all Coptic sacred places, whether churches or monasteries or schools or social services organisations, have their names displayed in plaques first in Coptic, which is our national language, and then in the official language used in the country they exist in. So, in Egypt let us use Coptic and Arabic (plus English where tourists visit); in English-speaking countries, Coptic and English; in Germany, Coptic and Deutsch; in France, Coptic and French; in Holland, Coptic and Dutch; in Italy, Coptic and Italian; etc. There is no convincing argument for using Arabic in displaying the name of our sacred spaces in any country that does not have Arabic as official language – and even where Arabic is the official language of the country, such as in Egypt, Sudan, Syria, etc., the name in Arabic should come second to the name in Coptic.

But, for that to happen, both Coptic clergy and laity should understand the national and ecclesiastical significance of our sacred language and be cooperative and willing to rectify matters.

 

SEE ALSO: THERE IS NO EXCUSE WHATSOEVER FOR MONASTERIES IN EGYPT TO PROMOTE ARABIC AT THE EXPENSE OF COPTIC LANGUAGE EVEN IF IT IS THE GREAT MONASTERY OF SAINT ANTHONY here

 


[1] Photos credited to Miss N. I. B.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. JKL permalink
    December 27, 2012 7:18 pm

    Hello Dioscorus
    I don’t know if you received my congratulations on the election of our new pope, but here goes another go: CONGRATS!

    About the Arabic language, as a Muslim Copt, I agree with you. Egypt needs to revive its indigenous languages: Coptic first, for sure, and who knows may be one day the old language of Kemi too. After all the Jews revived Hebrew so no reason we cannot do it if the will is there.
    What do you suggest we do? I myself have always been very keen on reviving our heritage as Copts (Christian or Muslim) to stop the encroachment of Arabization.
    Eedy Fi Eedak as we say back in the old country.
    Jkl

    • Dioscorus Boles permalink*
      January 6, 2013 1:31 am

      Hello, my friend. I am sorry that I missed your earlier congrats about Pope Tawardros II. Thank you very much. It is great to see you here and good to know that you are in agreement. God bless you and have a very happy New Year. Dios

  2. December 27, 2012 9:43 pm

    JKL made my day year,life worth all the trials & tribulations.Muslim ethnic EgyptiCoptic,is music to my ears!It is like the DarfurMuslimNonArabs&NubianMuslimNonArabs!The Aramaic MuslimNonArabs of Syria & Iraq provinces of ArabEmpire Sphere,are noted occationally,too!

  3. December 27, 2012 9:45 pm

    Reblogged this on socialhumanrace and commented:
    EthnicNational EgyptiCoptic cultural conserving is vital to all our whole HumanRace!

  4. mindthehat permalink
    January 1, 2013 5:49 pm

    Many years ago, and more specifically in 1994, Pope Shenoute visited London. He gave a lecture in the Institute of Education. I asked him a simple question which he tried his best to circumvent: why your Holiness have you neglected the Coptic language? Being someone who is not very much into the church, after the lecture I left and promised myself to know more about Pope Shenoute.

    To my horror, because I am terribly narrow minded, I found out that Pope Shenoute used to write poetry in Arabic. At this point, I realised that the survival [ not revival] of the Coptic language requires full separation between the church and the Coptic culture [ including the language].

    However, in the absence of other avenues through which the Coptic language could be promoted, I now accept that it is a necessary evil [ now all will be up in arms to shoot me, for using evil and church in the same sentence:)] to use the church to promote the Coptic language; at least for a transition period.

    • Dioscorus Boles permalink*
      January 6, 2013 1:39 am

      Since the Church is central in our nation, I think its role in reviving Coptic, in cooperation with the Laity, will be crucial. One would hope that Pope Tawardros II will understand the importance of Coptic not just for our national wellbeing but also for the Church’s own Christian purposes.

  5. Dioscorus Boles permalink*
    October 26, 2015 10:03 am

    Reblogged this on ON COPTIC NATIONALISM في القومية القبطية.

Trackbacks

  1. THE NEGLECT OF COPTIC LANGUAGE AS DISPLAYED IN THE PLAQUES OF OUR SACRED SPACE | ON COPTIC NATIONALISM في القومية القبطية | socialhumanrace
  2. THERE IS NO EXECUSE WHATSOEVER FOR MONASTERIES IN EGYPT TO PROMOTE ARABIC AT THE EXPENSE OF COPTIC LANGUAGE EVEN IF IT IS THE GREAT MONASTERY OF SAINT ANTHONY | ON COPTIC NATIONALISM في القومية القبطية

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