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Bohairisch or Boheirisch (also Alexandrian ) is a dialect of the Coptic language once spoken in the Nile Delta ( Egypt ) and to this day the liturgical language of the Coptic Church . The name is derived from the Arabic al-buhaira "lake", "sea" (also: "coast") and traditionally describes the area around Alexandria .

This dialect did not emerge until around the 7th century, when it became the official language of the church as the language of the Patriarchs of Alexandria and, in the early Islamic period, replaced the Coptic dialect of Upper Egypt , the Sahidic , as the language of church and liturgy.

The literature of Bohairi consists predominantly of adaptations of Upper Egyptian works.


Phonologically, it differs from the other Coptic dialects mainly in the following points:

  • There are two aspirants (h-sounds), Hori and Chei (see Coptic alphabet ).
  • Simple diphthongs are stretched (e.g. Sahidic er oi "to me" becomes in Bohairian to he wi , nmm ai to nem hi ).
  • Sahidic e becomes i (e.g. rwm e to rwm i "human").
  • Remnants of the ancient Egyptian Ayins are preserved as i (e.g. mh i "true" instead of Sahidish ma ).
  • Aspiration of the p, k and t to ph ( transcription : v), kh (transcription: K) and th (transcription: T) before tone vowels and Blemner consonants ( b , l , m , n , r ). It should be noted that ph and kh do not correspond to the modern pronunciation / f / and / ç / (as in me), but, as in ancient Greek, a strongly breathed (aspirated) p (+ h) and k (+ h) correspond.


Orthographically, Bohairi differs from other Coptic dialects or from the standard Sahidic dialect in the following points:

  • The supralinear lines / dots in Sahidi are almost completely absent. They are resolved by inserting a vowel e . If a vowel or a consonant alone forms a syllable, however, it also receives a supralinear dash / point in Bohairi.
  • The Bohairic has no double vowels in script.
  • The Coptic / u / is always written in Bohairian ou , never just u .


  • Wolfgang Kosack : Coptic Hand Lexicon of Bohairischen. Coptic - German - Arabic. Christoph Brunner, Basel 2013, ISBN 978-3-9524018-9-7 .
  • Wolfgang Kosack: Novum Testamentum Coptice. New Testament, Bohairisch, edited by Wolfgang Kosack. Novum Testamentum, Bohairice, curavit Wolfgang Kosack. Coptic - German. Christoph Brunner, Basel 2014. ISBN 978-3-906206-04-2 .
  • Alexis Mallon: Grammaire copte: bibliography, chrestomathie et vocabulaire. Imprimerie catholique, Beirut 1956, PDF file ( Memento from September 20, 2011 in the Internet Archive ); 19.1 MB.
  • Walter C. Till: Coptic dialect grammar. With reading pieces and Dictionary. 2nd redesigned edition. Beck, Munich 1961.