Here is an attempt to codify transliteration of foreign names into Late Coptic, while respecting as much as possible the Coptic syllable structure, traditions, as well as the word's original pronunciation.
- ⟨ⲃ⟩ /w~b/ or probably /w~β~b/? ⲍⲉⲃⲉⲑⲉ evolved to /ˈzeftæ/ which means, it must have been pronounced as [β] intervocalically and was devoiced before ⲑ after canceling the in-between vowel, otherwise, it would have been */ˈzebtæ/.
- Evolved twice to */ˈzeptæ/, then /ˈzeftæ/?
- ⟨ⲡ⟩ only /b/? Not /b~f/ and never /p/, particularly by careful speakers? How did ⲧⲡⲏϩ evolved to /ʔɑtˤˈfiːħ/, but not */ʔɑtˤˈbiːħ/.
- ⟨ⲫ⟩ was /f~pʰ/, where /f/ was mostly for Greek origin words. Another sound was /b/ under Egyptian Arabic influence. E.g. ϯⲫⲣⲉ (Egyptian Arabic: /ˈdefɾæ/) and Ϫⲉⲫⲣⲟ (Egyptian Arabic: /ˈʃobɾɑ/), both before /ɾ/? The plosive variant was more likely an allophone at syllable ends. Did ϯ have an effect?
- ⟨ⲯ⟩ /ps/ or /bs/?
- ⟨ϩ⟩ has highly likely had an allophone as /ħ/ (like Arabic ح) and syllable-finally, particularly following another consonant. Otherwise, it transcribed words with the second sound that were inherited from Demotic Egyptian. E.g. ⲧⲡⲏϩ evolve to /ħ/ (like Arabic ⟨ح⟩) and in ⲕⲁϩⲕ (Egyptian Arabic: /kæħk/), but not "remain" /h/? It remained in ⲧⲁϩϭⲟⲩⲣ (likely /dɑh(t)ʃu(ː)ɾ/), the same as the Egyptian Arabic pronunciation, /dɑhˈʃuːɾ/.
- ⟨ϫ⟩ /ɟ/ is such a mysterious one, sometimes evolved to /ɡ/, as in Ⲡⲉϫⲁⲙ, in Egyptian Arabic: /beˈɡæːm/ (بيجام), but other times as /ʃ/, as in Ϫⲉⲫⲣⲟ ⲉⲙⲉⲛⲧ, in Egyptian Arabic: /ˈʃobɾɑ mænt/ (شبرا منت), which leads to two theories:
- [ɟ] between vowels, but [ʃ] otherwise.
- It was actually more like /t͡ʃ/, softened to [ʃ] or /d͡ʒ/, changed to [ɡ] or [ʃ] in Egyptian Arabic.
- An interesting example is Ϫⲉⲃⲣⲟⲛ̀ⲛⲉϫⲓ evolving to /ʃæbˈɾenɡi/ (شبرنجى).
- ⟨ϭ⟩ seems to have completely merged with ⟨ϫ⟩ with the same pronunciation rules.
- ⟨ϯ⟩ /di/, is a special letter, as it behaves both as a consonant + a vowel, and based on that, the vowel element of it acts exactly as the letter ⟨ⲓ⟩, therefore the digraph ⟨ⲓⲉ⟩ in Bohairic to indicate /e/, as in Ϯⲉⲗⲗⲁⲥ, is pronounced /delˈlɑs/, rather than /dijælˈlɑs/.
Whenever Coptic words had ⟨ⲁ⟩ /ɑ/, their consonants were converted to the "emphatic" one (ط ظ ص ض ق + ر) whenever possible, in Egyptian Arabic, however, that was a source of confusion that Coptic had them, and also a source of confusion as people began hyper-correcting their pronunciation and pronounced them with pharyngeal consonants. E.g. Ⲧⲁⲛⲧⲁⲑⲟ, historically pronounced /tɑnˈtɑtʰo/, as well as Ⲧⲁⲙⲓⲁϯ /dɑmˈjɑdi/, both have acquired Arabic emphatic consonants, making them طنطا and دمياط, respectively.
The practice extended to Coptic names like Ⲃⲏⲥⲁ /ˈwɪsɑ, ˈβɪsɑ/, Arabized ويصا, and Ⲑⲉⲟ́ⲇⲱⲣⲟⲥ /tæˈwodo(ː)ɾos/, confusingly pronounced /tɑˈwodoros/, as Coptic speakers are not natives anymore and confuse their Egyptian Arabic vowel harmony and syllable structure with that of Coptic, leading to confusing ⟨ⲁ⟩ with ⟨ⲉ⟩, which in turn leads to Arabized Coptic names like تاوضروس.
The linguist Janet C. E. Watson, who mostly concentrated on Yemeni dialects, claims that Egyptian Arabic has "emphatic" /bˤ, mˤ, ɾˤ/, using the example of بابا, not seeing beyond Arabic, that these words were actually inherited from Coptic which normally had that vowel, with nothing to do with emphasizing /bˤ, mˤ, ɾˤ/. The word's origin is actually ⲡⲁⲡⲁ /ˈpɑpɑ/, distorted to /ˈbɑbɑ/, then elongating the stressed vowel /ˈbɑːbɑ/, meaning "patriarch", "father", and "daddy", by extension.
Why many letters have the same pronunciation? edit
Coptic language evolved, so as Ancient Greek. Letters used to express different phonemes. Some consonants shifted and merged with others. This is the reason why some words with specific letters are of Egyptian origin, despite the same modern pronunciation with others of Ancient Greek origin.
Since we are reviving Coptic as a language for all, not a liturgical, clerical language, changes and simplifications are needed.
Loanwords consistency edit
I've seen inconsistent loanwords borrowing, some adhere to the original Ancient Greek ones, but more others are randomly or mistakenly taken from a word which is taken from other languages as loanwords inside Modern Greek.
- Loanwords should be taken from their original known language or major language lending it to the world.
- Just because a word has a Modern Greek equivalent doesn't automatically mean this is the original word.
- Anglicized or Arabized words should have a spelling pronunciation, unless they were borrowed from another source.
Maintaining these three simple rules achieves an easy and consistent way for borrowing words.
I see the weirdest Egyptianizations, like Ⲁⲙⲉⲣⲓⲕⲏ rather than from the original Latin America (Ⲁⲙⲉⲣⲓⲕⲁ), and ⲭⲁⲛⲁⲧⲁ rather than the French Canada (Ⲕⲁⲛⲁⲇⲁ). France (Ϥ̀ⲣⲁⲛⲥ) from French or Francia (Ϥ̀ⲣⲁⲛⲕⲓⲁ or Ϥ̀ⲣⲁⲛⲥⲓⲁ [Francized pronunciation]) from Latin is a lot better than borrowing from a distorted second-hand Arabized word like Ϥⲣⲁⲛⲥⲁ (actually Ϥⲁⲣⲁ́ⲛⲥⲁ), while Gallia (Ⲅⲁⲗⲗⲓⲁ) from Latin is also possible, it is very ancient to use outside of Modern Greek which borrowed it from Ancient Greek from Latin. Ⲁⲫⲣⲓⲕⲏ should be Africa, from Latin, even though in this case the word has an equally old Ancient Greek one, but for the sake of harmony with, America, Africa (Ⲁϥⲣⲓⲕⲁ/Ⲁⲫⲣⲓⲕⲁ), Europa (Ⲉⲩⲣⲱⲡⲁ), Antarctica, Asia (Ⲁⲥⲓⲁ)...
You have to understand that we need to revive Coptic. Such practices are much the same as rendering in Arabic every /ɡ/ as غ /ɣ/ and insisting on not transliterating /v/ ڤ or /p/ پ, but using ف /f/ and ب /b/, limiting the language and making it difficult to mend to our modern needs.
I believe, using in loanwords, ⲭ for /k/, ⲧ for /d/, ⲡ for /b/, and ⲃ for /w/, is very awkward and doesn't fake an Egyptian origin.
Ⲭⲁⲛⲁⲧⲁ, Ⲃⲓⲕⲓⲡⲁⲓⲇⲉⲓⲁ, Ⲁⲙⲉⲣⲓⲕⲏ, Ⲁⲫⲣⲓⲕⲏ, Ϥⲣⲁⲛⲥⲁ are just a few examples for every point I addressed.
Initiative for standardization edit
(Egyptian) Arabic words used by Egyptians tend to lose their initial glottal stop, e.g. أحمد /ˈæħmæd/, rather than /ˈʔæħmæd/. A phrase like, "o Ahmed", becomes more like ياحمد /ˈjæħmæd/, rather than يا أحمد /jæˈʔæħmæd/.
Greek pronunciation given here is the historical Egyptian Greek pronunciation.
Remaining issues edit
A revived Coptic needs to be simplified and re-introduce a few lost phonemes to allow it to be practical, if we ever wish for it be alive. Some letters are really problematic and need ideas from other fellow users and probably linguists.
How to spell words with an initial or an intervocalic /b/? I see others who simply generalize the use of ⟨ⲡ⟩, but I don't like this practice since it needs to be restored for /p/.
What about /v/? How to transliterate it inside Coptic? With ⟨ⲃ⟩? The name "Victoria" /vɪkˈtɔːɹi.ə/ would be Ⲃⲓⲕⲧⲟⲣⲓⲁ /wɪkˈtoɾ.jɑ, βɪk-, vɪk-/.
The French consonant in "George" /ʒɔʁʒ/ needs to be possible to transliterate. The closest one to it is ⟨ϫ⟩ /ʃ~ɟ/ which is not close enough. In case there is a need to have /d͡ʒ/ as well, it could be simply transliterated with ⟨ⲇ⟩ + ⟨ϫ⟩, I would imagine.
Should ⟨ⲫ⟩ be used for /b/, but for /f/ in Greek origin words?
Could we use ⟨ⲫ⟩ only at the positions where ⟨ⲃ⟩ could never sound like /b/? Should we use ⟨ⲡ⟩ in this case only, which I vehemently oppose?
What is the actual use of ⟨ϭ⟩ other than Egyptian words which had them originally? The consonant it represents has completely merged with ⟨ϫ⟩, pronounced exactly like ⟨ϣ⟩ /ʃ/, but only intervocalically as /ɟ/ which Egyptians approximate to /ɡ/.
⟨Ⲗ̀⟩ and ⟨Ⲣ̀⟩ edit
The unstressed English liquids /-əɫ/ ⟨el, le⟩ and /-əɹ/ ⟨er, re⟩ at the end of words, as in Angel, Michael, Bartle, Boyle, Oliver, Piper, Desire, Jennifer should be spelled with ⟨ⲗ̀⟩ and ⟨ⲣ̀⟩ rather than ⟨ⲓⲉⲗ⟩ and ⟨ⲓⲉⲣ⟩.