Coptic is the name used to refer to the last stage of the written Egyptian language. Coptic should more correctly be used to refer to the script rather than the language itself.
The Hieroglyphic, Hieratic, Demotic and Coptic are different scripts to one language, which is the Egyptian language.

The ancient Egyptians devised a writing system to record their spoken language many centuries ago. The system started by developing symbols to different sounds, called hieroglyph. It was used for inscription on Egyptian monuments as well as a variety of written texts on papyrus.

Parallel to the development of the Hieroglyphic script, a second script came to light. Such script was a mere simplification of the Hieroglyphic. It was originally devised by the priests to archive the records of the temples and then became a tool of the government servants, educated by the learned priests, who used it to record the affairs of the state. Due to the priestly origin of the script the name 'Hieratic' was popularly affixed to it. This script used the same symbols, drawn in a simplified way.

In the fifth century BC a new script was devised that was both simpler to write and included about ten percent of the total number of hieroglyphs used previously. This new script came to be referred to as 'Demotic'.

Coptic is the final stage of the written Egyptian language. Egyptians began to write using the Greek alphabet, which had also been developed based on the hieroglyphs with the addition of seven signs from the Demotic script to represent Egyptian phonemes absent from Greek . The new writing system became the Coptic script.

Dipl. Ing. Vert Bassili – Matta

Download text (PDF) with coptic letters >>

top of page