Lesson 1

1.1 Introduction.

1.2 Coptic Alphabet: The Coptic alphabet consists of 31 phonetic characters, a special numerical character, and a vowel point. The first 24 characters plus the special numerical character come from the Greek alphabet. The last seven characters are Demotic characters, modified to match the script of the first 24 characters. Pronunciation rules vary for some characters depending on whether they occur in words of Egyptian or Greek origin.

The orthography (or shape of the characters) reflects the way Greek uncial (block) characters were written in the 2nd century A.D. Since then, many of the characters evolved along Egyptian artistic ways, independent of the natural evolution of the Greek characters.


Current Modern Pronunciation

Modified Pronunciation

a "a" as in "apple" same
b "b" as in "back", or

"v" as in "vine"

g "g" as in "good", same


"ng" as in "England"


d "th" as in "then"

"d" as in "dog" in proper nouns

"d" as in "dog"
e "e" as in "let" same
6 Not a letter, used for numbers only
z "z" as in "zoo" same
/ "ee" as in "feet" "ai" as in "aid"
y "th" as in "thin"

"t" as in "top" after "c"

"t" as in "top"
i "i" as in "machine"

"y" as in "yet" following a vowel

k "k" as in "skin" same
l ""l" as in "law" same
m "m" as in "man" same
n "n" as in "net" same
x "ks" same
o "o" as in English "fog" same
p "p" as in "spin" same
r "r" as in "road" same
c "s" as in "see" same
t "t" as in "stop" same
u ou as Coptic vowel "oo" as in "food" same

as consonent "w" as in "way"

as Greek vowel "i" same


"av" "aw"


"ev" "ew"






v "ph" as in "phone" same
, "k" as in "kin", in Coptic words

"sh" or "kh" in some Greek words

' "ps" same
w "o" as in "hope" same
s "sh" as in "shall" same
f "f" as in "foot" same
q "kh" as in "khan" same
h "h" as in "high" same
j "g" as in "go"

"j" as in "judge" after e, /, i

[ "ch" as in "church" same
] "ti" same
` "e" same

1.2.1 Examples:

abot month ave head areh to keep
bwk servant bal eye ebol from
agioc holy agora marketplace aggeloc angel
diakwn deacon erm/ tear eybe because
eyouab holy anaz/b school /i house
/rp wine yel/l rejoice ym/i just
yamio to create iwt father iom sea
ini to bring kim to move kac bone
kouji little aloli grapes alwm cheese
lac tongue ma place mau mother
moni to shepherd nau to see niben every
nobi sin on also ohi to stand
wp to count ro door rwmi man
cwbi to laugh cmou to bless cim grass
toubo to purify tako to destroy tacyo to return
ouwm to eat ouws to want ouwrp to send
wik bread sai nose fwi hair
qello elder hwb thing jwm book
[oic lord ]mi village

1.3 Vocabulary:


m. eye


m. tongue

1.4 Excercises:

Practice the pronunciation of the examples listed above.