1 readers online now  |  69 million page views

Are some languages superior to others? Greek Egyptian language and Arabic in Egypt post 642CE

Reader comment on item: Dhimmis No More
in response to reader comment: Arabs, Copts and Goths

Submitted by dhimmi no more (United States), Dec 28, 2017 at 08:30

gato you wrote

>Coptic was not the highest prestige language in Egypt, it had a strong standing among Christian monks of mostly peasant origin but it had little intellectual production, The language with the highest prestige in Egypt was Greek but it was spoken by a tiny minority of upper classes which largely fled Egypt after the Muslim invasion. Arabic, however, was regarded by Arabs as the language in which the Heaven and its Prophet themselves have spoken, thus in terms of prestige it largely outflanked Coptic.

Are some languages superior to others? Well our dear gato seems to like to communicate in English and may be talk about gourmet food in French and love to listen to Opera in Italian does this make English or is it Italian or French a superior language?

The point to be made here is what is a language? It is a human form of communication be it spoken or written And what is a mother tongue? In the case of 7th century Egypt it would have been the Egyptian language So the Egyptian language would be superior in the home right our dear Gato? But if the son/daughter decides to go to Alexandria or to live in a city of the Cora he/she would be learning in Greek which would make Greek superior when it comes to education (and this is indeed the case now in Egypt where the best university in Egypt is the AUC students receive their education not in Arabic but in English so is English a superior language and not Arabic?)

However, by the 9th century the Greek language was dead in Egypt not because the Greeks left Egypt but because its utility declined because education in the East shifted from Alexandria to Baghdad but as I told you you can still hear Greek spoken as part of liturgy in Coptic churches in Egypt and why is that? Any guesses?

The Egyptian language (notice that I don't use the term Coptic language because it is a misnomer of what the language of Egypt is all about) started to decline as the spoken language and was dead by the 17th century But Egyptian Arabic is full of loan words and grammatical constructions that belong to the Egyptian language and here is a very interesting book about Egyptian language words in today's spoken Egyptian Arabic

http://www.aucpress.com/p-2844-from-pharaohs-lips.aspx

You see our dear gato one's mother tongue never disappears

See? and more evidence of historical continuity as would be expected (C Becker) and not the flawed Islamic al-Jahiliyya

Now let us go to Arabic: This is how it happened: Quranic Arabic----> Classical Arabic or CA (not the other way or CA--->Quranic Arabic) but no one ever spoke classical Arabic because CA became Middle Arabic which immediately was taken over by local colloquial Arabic and in the case of modern Egypt a mix of modern CA, Quranic Arabic as well as the Egyptian language and along the way the civilized (the Egyptians) picked up loan words from French, English, Greek, Italian and Turkish et voila you have Egyptian Arabic and a unique language indeed and not unlike Italian v Latin

So was CA superior? the obvious answer is no because it is a language that no one spoke Is Egyptian Arabic superior? If given the chance it would be in areas of communications arts and literature

For more about Sacred language and spoken language in modern Egypt here is a link to Niloofar Haeri's wonderful book about this very topic

https://www.amazon.com/Sacred-Language-Ordinary-People-Dilemmas/dp/0312238975/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

You see our dear gato there are no simple answers here

Submitting....

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Comment on this item

Mark my comment as a response to Are some languages superior to others? Greek Egyptian language and Arabic in Egypt post 642CE by dhimmi no more

Email me if someone replies to my comment

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

See recent outstanding comments.

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List
eXTReMe Tracker

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2020 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)