Lesson 1
/ Courses / Lambdin. Introduction to Sahidic Coptic / Lesson 1 Lesson 1 Vocabulary

Lesson 1

1.1 Gender. There are two grammatical genders in Coptic: masculine and feminine. Nouns denoting male beings are usually masculine; those denoting females, feminine. The gender of other nouns cannot, in general, be deduced either from their form or meaning and must be learned for each noun. Examples:

 

masculine

feminine

 

ⲉⲓⲱⲧ

father

ⲙⲁⲁⲩ

mother

ⲕⲁϩ

earth            

ⲡⲉ

sky, heaven

ϩⲟⲟⲩ

day

ⲟⲩϣ

night

 

 

There are some pairs of nouns where a formal relationship exists between the masculine and the feminine form:

 

masculine

feminine

 

ⲥⲟⲛ

brother

ⲥⲱⲛⲉ

sister

ϣⲏⲣⲉ

boy, son

ϣⲉⲉⲣⲉ

girl, daughter

ϩⲗ̄ⲗⲟ

old man

ϩⲗ̄ⲗⲱ

old woman

ⲟⲩϩⲟⲣ

dog (male)

ⲟⲩϩⲱⲣ

dog (female)

 

 

These will be noted in the lesson vocabularies. The derivational process involved is no longer a productive one in Coptic: such pairs cannot be formed at will.

1.2 Number: singular and plural. Only a relatively small number of nouns have preserved a distinct plural form. For example:

 

singular

plural

 

ⲉⲓⲱⲧ

father

ⲉⲓⲟⲧⲉ

fathers

ⲥⲟⲛ

brother

ⲥⲛⲏⲩ

brothers

ϫⲟⲓ

ship

ϫⲏⲩ

ships

 

 

The plural is otherwise made explicit by the form of the article (see below), the noun itself remaining unchanged.

Those plurals that are in common use will be given in the lesson vocabularies along with the singular. They should be learned as they occur, since there is no consistent pattern for their formation.

1.3 The definite article. The definite article has the forms

 

masc. sing.

, ⲡⲉ

common plural

ⲛ̄, ⲛⲉ

fem. sing.

, ⲧⲉ

 

 

These are attached directly to the noun, as in

 

ⲣⲱⲙⲉ

man

ⲣⲱⲙⲉ

the man

ⲛ̄ⲣⲱⲙⲉ

the men

ϭϫ

hand

ϭϫ

the hand

ⲛ̄ϭϫ

the hands

 

 

The plural article appears as ⲙ̄ before and (cf. Intro., p. xvi):

 

ⲡⲉ

sky

ⲧⲡⲉ

the sky

ⲙ̄ⲡⲏⲩⲉ

the heavens

ⲙⲁⲉⲓⲛ

sign

ⲡⲙⲁⲉⲓⲛ

the sign

ⲙ̄ⲙⲁⲉⲓⲛ

the signs

 

 

Before nouns beginning with a vowel the plural article appears as either ⲛ̄ or :

 

ϫⲏⲩ

ships

ⲛ̄ⲉϫⲏⲩ or ⲛⲉϫⲏⲩ

the ships

 

 

Before initial stroked consonants there are several possibilities:

 

ⲙ̄ⲧⲟⲛ, ⲉⲙⲧⲟⲛ

repose

ⲡⲉⲙⲧⲟⲛ, ⲡⲙ̄ⲧⲟⲛ, ⲡⲉⲙ̄ⲧⲟⲛ

the repose

ⲛ̄ⲕⲁ, ⲕⲁ

thing

ⲛⲉⲕⲁ, ⲛⲛ̄ⲕⲁ, ⲛ̄ⲛ̄ⲕⲁ

the things

 

 

 

The fuller forms ⲡⲉ-, ⲧⲉ-, ⲛⲉ- are used regularly before nouns beginning with two consonants:

 

ⲕⲗⲟⲙ

crown

ⲡⲉⲕⲗⲟⲙ

the crown

ⲛⲉⲕⲗⲟⲙ

the crowns

ϩⲓⲙ

woman

ⲧⲉⲥϩⲓⲙⲉ

the woman

ⲛⲉϩⲓⲟⲙⲉ

the women

 

 

Note that ⲟⲩ and () have a consonantal value (w and y respectively) in certain initial situations:

 

ϩⲟⲣ

dog

ⲡⲉⲩϩⲟⲣ

the dog (pewhor)

ⲛⲉⲩϩⲟⲟⲣ

the dogs

ϩⲓⲏ

road

ⲧⲉϩⲓⲏ

the road (tehyē)

ⲛⲉϩⲓⲟⲟⲩⲉ

the roads

 

 

The fuller forms are also used with certain nouns denoting periods of time:

 

ⲡⲉⲟⲩⲟⲉⲓϣ

the time

ⲧⲉⲣⲟⲙⲡⲉ

the year

ⲡⲉϩⲟⲟⲩ

the day

ⲧⲉⲩϣ

the night (ⲟⲩϣ)

ⲧⲉⲩⲟⲩ

the hour (ⲟⲩⲛⲟⲩ)

 

 

 

 

Note that ⲟⲩⲛⲟⲩ and ⲟⲩϣfall under the two-consonant rule above.

1.4 Prepositions. Coptic prepositions are proclitic (i.e. unstressed and bound) to the word they govern. In many texts some or all of the prepositions are printed as a unit with the following word: ϩⲓⲡϫⲟⲓ on the ship, ⲉⲡⲏⲓ to the house. In this text, however, all prepositions will be printed as separate words: ϩ ϫⲟⲓ, ⲡⲏⲓ. An exception will be made only in the case of the preposition (to, for) if it is ligatured orthographically to a following ⲟⲩ- as ⲉⲩ-.

The preposition ⲙⲛ̄ (with) is used as the conjunction "and" in joining two nouns: ⲡⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲙⲛ̄ⲧⲉⲥϩⲓⲙⲉ the man and the woman.

A definite noun followed by a prepositional phrase or local adverb (e.g. ⲙ̄ⲙⲁⲩ there) constitutes a full predication (sentence) in Coptic:

 

ⲡⲣⲱⲙⲉ ϩ ϫⲟⲓ.

The man is on the ship.

ⲧⲉⲥϩⲓⲙⲉ ϩⲙ̄ⲡⲏⲓ.

The woman is in the house.

ⲛⲉϫⲏⲩ ⲙ̄ⲙⲁⲩ.

The ships are there.

 

 

In sentences of this type there is no overt equivalent of English "is/are." We shall refer to sentences of this type as sentences with adverbial predicates.