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October 25, 2015

Coptic language

Different nations with threatened languages have followed different models to revive their national languages; so the Israelis, Irish, and Welsh, for example, have all followed unique ways to revitalise their languages, with various degrees of success or failure.

The Copts are at the beginning of their Coptic language revival. They may need to follow what works for them from all available models. But I have no doubt that any Coptic language revival will have to have the Coptic Church taking a central role in the process.

There are many, many ways in which the Coptic Church can help in that; but before we can discuss this in more detail, we must all agree that the Coptic Church, first, must announce that part of its function or duty is to reverse the language shift of our nation – that our Coptic language is sacred; that it helps to strengthen our identity, religion, and culture.

For this to happen, the Coptic Church must declare that it will protect and promote the Coptic language. This has not happened yet, or at least not embraced with such a vitality since the passing away of Pope Cyril IV in 1861; but we all hope, and pray, that the Coptic Church, represented in its Pope and Holy Synod, will one day issue such a declaration.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 25, 2015 7:54 pm


    The Coptic language so also the Hebrew and the Assyrian languages belong to nations which our almighty God has nominated and reserved for a special role. A special purpose in His penultimate act of redemption. The language of any race cum nation is important, the fact that our Lord has chosen these nations for a role in His plan shifts the importance from themselves to Him. He becomes the central if not the corner stone upon which such efforts must revolve. We owe Him the duty to preserving and enhancing that which He has in His infinite wisdom entrusted us with. It is not so much a question of nationalism, it is a divine objective.

    In Christ,

    George Abraham
    Australian Christian Nation Association

  2. October 28, 2015 10:42 am

    A Coptic writer, once he became familiar with some Assyrians in Sydney, wrote in an Arabic newspaper that the Copts have to lift their hats before the Assyrians for keeping and promoting their language. Even though the Assyrian could number only one tenth of the Coptic population, but the majority know and speak their Assyrian language and many can also write it. So much for one of the three nations keeping their faith in Isaiah 19 Highway.

    Christ is King,

    Sam Shalalo
    Assyrian translator

    • Dioscorus Boles permalink*
      October 28, 2015 10:47 am

      Good to hear that, and there are several things we can learn from the Assyrians. You will have to consider that the Copts had different circumstances and pressures that contributed to their language shift, though.

    • Dioscorus Boles permalink*
      October 28, 2015 10:50 am

      Can you let us know how the Assyrian Church responded to the challenges by the dominant Arabic language? I would be grateful if you could.

  3. October 30, 2015 6:12 am

    Thank you for your interesting response. I know a lot about the Copts’ circumstances and pressures and have in fact translated from Arabic into English more than one book about the life of a Copt in Egypt. However, the Assyrians too had a lot of pressure and more than that, they have been forced to leave their lands since the well known Armenian, Assyrian and Pontic Genocide of early 20th century. Yet, wherever they have settled, the first thing we do is think of keeping our language alive by running schools on weekends and now in Sydney, we have a Primary, Secondary School and planning a University. The Assyrian Church has played a big role in keeping the language alive, though some on the left would say that they haven’t done that much or that they should have done more. The dominance of the Arabic language did not play a significant role in weakening the Assyrian language as none of the religious rites have ever been conducted in Arabic, and that fact more than any other would have made a significant contribution to the task of keeping such a minor language alive and still kicking.
    The important thing is to learn to speak the language, and the reading, writing and grammar come next. The Copts have to hurry and master their language for Isaiah 19 Highway is coming soon.

    • Dioscorus Boles permalink*
      October 30, 2015 7:51 am

      Very interesting indeed.



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