from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sahidic (also Upper Egyptian or Thebanic) is an extinct dialect of the Coptic language , the youngest form of the Egyptian language .

The older Coptic literature was written almost without exception in Sahidic, it consists for the most part of translations of biblical books, apocryphal gospels, lives of saints, homilies, Gnostic writings, etc.

In the monastery Dscheme at Thebes a considerable number of documents was found in sahidischem dialect.


The Coptic Alphabet

The Sahidic alphabet consists of 30 letters. Like the alphabet of all Coptic dialects , it is composed of (old) Greek letters and some characters for sounds that are missing in Greek. These Coptic special characters are based on the demotic characters of those Egyptian sounds for which there were no equivalents in the (ancient) Greek alphabet, e.g. B. / sch /, / f / (note: / ph / was also aspirated p in ancient Greek and was not spoken / f / or / v /) or / h / (in ancient Greek, if at all, it was by spiritus asper marked). A total of six special characters are added to the Greek letters.

Transcription : a, b, g, d, e, z, h, T, i, k, l, m, n, Z, o, p, r, s, t, u, v, K, P, w, s, f, x, j, q, +

  • Note: The special characters of all Coptic dialects add up to eight (see the last eight characters on the right figure). The number of six special characters mentioned here only applies to the Sahidic dialect and therefore does not contradict the information given in the article Coptic Language .



abbreviation Explanation
O empty, nothing, no ending u. Ä.
c. communis
f. feminine (see gender)
m. masculine (see gender)
P. person
Pl. Plural (see number)
Sg. Singular (see number)
St. status
St. abs. Status absolutus
St. nom. Status nominalis
St. pron. Status pronominalis

The item

The article in Coptic is proclitical , that is, it precedes the noun directly and cannot be separated from it. Article and noun form a (phonetic) unit.

The definite article

shape Examples
m. Sg. p, pe z. B .: p rwme " the man"; pe klom "the crown (aka the crown)"
f. Sg. t, te z. E.g .: t qij " the hand"; te cxime " the woman"
c. Pl. n, no z. E.g .: n rwme " the men"; ne xiome " the women"

The fuller forms pe-, te-, ne- are used when the following noun begins with two consonants. The exceptions to this rule are expressions that denote time periods (e.g. pexoou "the day").

It should be noted yet that the plural Article n, NE before p and m itself m assimilated; z. B. maein "sign, miracle", pmaein "the sign / wonder", but mmaein "the sign / wonder" (instead of: nmaein ).

The indefinite article

shape Examples
c. Sg. ou z. E.g .: ou rwme "a man"; ou cxime "a woman"
c. Pl. xen z. E.g .: xen rwme "some men"; xen cxime "some women"

When designating unspecific quantities, Coptic uses the indefinite article where one would not expect it in German; z. B. "Water" = ou moou literally: "a water". Abstracts such as “truth (general, ie no specific truth)” can also be reproduced by ou me.

The pronoun

The possessive pronouns

The pronominal possessive constructions of Coptic are roughly divided into two classes, one with possessive prefixes and the other with possessive suffixes. In the majority of cases, Coptic uses the possessive prefixes, but a few nouns require the older possessive suffixes for reasons of linguistic history.

Possessive prefixes

The possessive prefixes of Coptic have the following forms:

m. Sg. Noun f. Sg. Noun pl. noun
1. P. Sg. C. pa eiwt my father ta maau my mother well cnhu my brothers
2. P. Sg. M. pek eiwt your (m.) father tek maau your (m.) mother nek cnhu your (m.) brothers
2. P. Sg. F. pou eiwt your (f.) father tou maaun your (f.) mother nou cnhu your (f.) brothers
3. P. Sg. M. pef eiwt his father tef maau his mother nef cnhu his brothers
3. P. Sg. F. pec eiwt her father tec maau her mother nec cnhu her brothers
1. P. Pl. C. pen eiwt our father ten maau our mother nen cnhu our brothers
2. P. Pl. C. petn eiwt your father tetn maau your mother netn cnhu your brothers
3. P. Pl. C. peu eiwt her father deu maau her mother new cnhu her brothers
Possessive suffixes

The possessive suffixes are mainly used for nouns that denote the inalienable, so. z. B. in nouns that denote body parts. For reasons of the history of science, the suffixes are separated from the noun by a preceding "=" in the transcription. They have the same form as the pronominal suffixes.

1. P. Sg. C. jw = i my head rat = i my foot rw = i my mouth
2. P. Sg. M. jw = k your (m.) head rat = k your (m.) foot rw = k your (m.) mouth
2. P. Sg. F. jw = Ø your (f.) head rat = Ø your (f.) foot rw = Ø your (f.) mouth
3. P. Sg. M. jw = f his head rat = f his foot rw = f his mouth
3. P. Sg. F. jw = c her head rat = c her foot rw = c her mouth
1. P. Pl. C. jw = n our head rat = n our foot rw = n our mouth
2. P. Pl. C. jw = tn your head rat = thutn (1) your foot rw = tn your mouth
3. P. Pl. C. jw = u her head rat = u her foot rw = u her mouth

(1) if the status pronominalis (see noun: status) ends on “t”, the form “-thutn” is used.



There are two genera in Sahidi / Coptic , masculine (m.) And feminine (f.).

Masculine translation Feminine translation
eiwt "Father" maau "Mother"
kax "Earth, soil" pe "Sky"

The gender of a noun can usually only be identified by the specific article . However, some masculines have a feminine form derived from them.

Masculine translation Feminine translation
con "Brothers" cwne "Sister"
xllo "Old man, monk" xllw "Old woman, nun"


There are two numbers, singular and plural. The number cannot be deduced from the form of the noun, as this remains unchanged. Only the article , if it stands, can give information about the number.

Basic form Singular Plural
rwme "man / person" p- rwme "der-Mann / Mensch" n- rwme "the-men / people"
xllo "old man / monk" p- xllo "the-old man / monk" n- xllo "the-old men / monks"

However, a few nouns have retained their own plural form, comparable to the broken plural of Arabic. This plural form has to be learned with the vocabulary. But these can be divided into vocalization patterns:

a) Plural formation by stretching the tone vowel
Singular Plural
rr o king rr w ou Kings
r o mouth r w ou Mouths
p e sky p h ue sky
b) Plural formation by breaking the tone vowel
xbc w dress xbc oo ue clothes
cb w Teaching cb oo ue Teaching
rmei h tear rmei oo ue tears
c) Plural formation by shortening the tone vowel
ei w t father ei o te Fathers
xal h t bird xal a te Birds
mer i t Lover mer a te Lover

The verb

The forms

The infinitive

Some Coptic verbs can be followed immediately by the direct object without an object marker n preceded it. The infinitive of these transitive verbs shows three different forms:

  • Status absolutus, if the direct object is attached with the object marker n (abbreviation: St. abs.)
  • Status nominalis, if the direct object is a noun and is added without an object marker (abbreviation: St. nom.)
  • Status pronominalis, if the direct object is a pronoun and is added without an object marker (St. pron.)
status example translation Explanation
St. abs. ai qine mpaeiwt I found my father Perfect I a = i-qine "I found" + direct object marker n (note: n > m before p / m ) + pa-eiwt "my-father"
St. nom. ai qn paeiwt I found my father Perfect I a = i-qn "I found" + pa-eiwt "my-father"
St.pron. ai qnt f i found him Perfect I a = i-qnt "I found" + pronominal suffix 3rd P. Sg. M. f "he / him"

The first two formulations are equivalent to each other and it is more a question of style than grammar which type of object connection is preferred. Know intransitive verbs because they do not take any objects, only the status absolutus. The status forms of the transitive verbs have to be learned with the verb in principle, but there are some recurring patterns that can be used as a guide.

Infinitives according to the pattern ji
Status absolutus Status nominalis Status pronominalis meaning
+ + - taa = give
ji ji- jit = to take
fi fi fit = carry, lift
si si- sit = (measure)
The qualitative one

While the older Egyptian had a complex synthetic verb morphology, the conjugation of most Coptic verbs only needs two forms: the infinitive and the qualitative. The infinitive mainly expresses a process and can appear both as a predicate and as the head of a noun phrase. In contrast, the qualitative expresses a state and is limited to the function of a predicate. The infinitive and qualitative of a verb have essentially the same consonants, but different vowels: kōt "build" (infinitive), kēt "be built" (qualitative).

The imperative

The imperative of most verbs is the infinitive form. So there is no morphological difference between the two.

infinitive Example of imperative translation Explanation
mosses moose ncw = i Run behind me! moose "run (Inf.)" + ncw = i "behind = me"
mour, mer-, mor = mer- pjoi epwne Tie the boat to the stone / rock! mer- "bind ( Inf.St.nom. )" + ep-wne "zu / an-den-Fels"

A few verbs, however, have retained a special imperative form. This is characterized by a prefixed a- (this corresponds etymologically to the j-prefix of the New Egyptian imperative forms).

infinitive imperative infinitive imperative
just "see" a very "look!" jw , je- , joo = "say" a ji- , a ji = "speak!"
ouwn "open" a uwn "open!" one , n- , nt = "bring" a ni- , a ni = "bring"
eire , r- , aa = "do" a rire , a ri- , a ri = "do! do!"

Bipartite Conjugation Pattern

The present I, present II, the relative form of the present I, as well as the circumstance form and the past tense form a uniform system. The name Bipartite Conjugation Pattern is related to the fact that the associated tenses have no conjugation basis. Apart from the present I, all other tenses in this class result from modifying the basic form with the help of the preceding converters. The form of the verb can be the infinitive or the qualitative.

Present I
With pronominal agent
1. P. Sg. C. + -rime i cry; I am crying 1. P. Pl. C. tn -rime we cry; we are crying
2. P. Sg. M. k -rime you (m.) cry; you (m.) are crying 2. P. Pl. C. tetn -rime you cry; you are crying
2.P.Sg.f. te -rime you (f.) cry; you (f.) are crying 3. P. Pl. C. ce -rime they cry; they are crying
t (e) r -rime you (f.) cry; you (f.) are crying
3. P. Sg. M. f -rime he cries; he is crying
3. P. Sg. F. c -rime she cries; she is crying
With nominal agent
prwme rime The man is crying.

Note: If the agent is indefinite (e.g. “a man” instead of “the man”) the oun construction ( simple existential sentence ) must be used ( oun-ou-rwme rime “There is: -a-man cries. "~" There is a weeping man. "Or simply:" A man is crying. "(As in English: There's a weeping man)).

Relative form of the present I.

The relative form of the present I is used when the subject of the relative clause does not agree with the reference word; z. B. in a phrase like "the woman he saw". Here “he” is the subject of the relative clause and “woman” is the reference word. The subject of the relative clause can also correlate with the reference word, in which case the relative pronoun et / ete is used.

a) Subject of the relative clause agrees with the reference word

prwme et rime The man who cries.

b) Subject of the relative clause does not match the adjective

With pronominal agent
1. P. Sg. C. e = + -cwtm ..., the / the I hear 1. P. Pl. C. e = tn -cwtm ..., the / the we hear
2. P. Sg. M. et = k -cwtm ..., the / to you (m.) Hear 2. P. Pl. C. e = tetn -cwtm ..., the / the you hear
2. P. Sg. F. ete (r) = Ø -cwtm ..., the / to you (f.) Hear 3. P. Pl. C. et = ou -cwtm ..., the / the they hear
3. P. Sg. M. et = f -cwtm ..., the / the he hears
3. P. Sg. F. et = c -cwtm ..., the / the they hear
With nominal agent
etere - prwme cwtm ... that the man hears

Tripartite Conjugation Patter

  • Pattern with pronominal subject / agent: [conjugation base] = [pronominal suffix ] - [verb (always (!) Infinitive)].
  • Pattern with nominal subject / agent: [conjugation base] - [subject / agent] - [verb (always (!) Infinitive)].
  • Note: the qualitative can only be used in the present tense system.
Perfect I.
  • The conjugation basis of the perfect I is a. This codes the past, since the actual verb is always in the infinitive.
With pronominal agent
1. P. Sg. C. a = i -bwk i was going (i was going) 1. P. Pl. C. a = n -bwk we were going (we were going)
2. P. Sg. M. a = k -bwk you (m.) were going (you went) 2. P. Pl. C. a = tetn -bwk her waiting to go (you walked)
2. P. Sg. F. a = r -bwk you (f.) were going (you went) 3. P. Pl. C. a = u -bwk they were going (they were going)
3. P. Sg. M. a = f -bwk he was going (he was going)
3. P. Sg. F. a = c -bwk she was going (she was going)
With nominal agent
a - prwme -bwk the man was going (the man was going)
Negative form of the perfect I.

The negation of the perfect I.

With pronominal agent
1. P. Sg. C. mp = i -bwk i did n't go 1. P. Pl. C. mpe = n -bwk we did n't go
2. P. Sg. M. mpe = k -bwk you (m.) did not go 2. P. Pl. C. mpe = tn -bwk you did not go
2. P. Sg. F. mpe = Ø -bwk you (f.) did not go 3. P. Pl. C. mp = ou -bwk they did n't go
3. P. Sg. M. mpe = f -bwk he did n't go
3. P. Sg. F. mpe = c -bwk she did n't go
With nominal agent
mpe - rwme -bwk the man did n't go
Relative form of the perfect I.

If the perfect I is to be used in a relative clause, the relative form of the perfect I is used. The conjugation base encodes the subjunction and the past. The verb is again in the infinitive.

With pronominal agent
1. P. Sg. C. enta = i -cwtm ..., the I heard 1. P. Pl. C. enta = n -cwtm ... the we heard
2. P. Sg. M. enta = k -cwtm ... to you (m.) Heard 2. P. Pl. C. enta = tetn -cwtm ... to her hearkened
2. P. Sg. F. enta = r -cwtm ... to you (f.) Heard 3. P. Pl. C. enta = u -cwtm ..., the they heard
3. P. Sg. M. enta = f -cwtm ..., the he heard
3. P. Sg. F. enta = c -cwtm ..., the they heard
With nominal agent
enta - prwme -cwtm ... that the man heard
The optative

The optative is also called the injective, especially in Anglo-Saxon literature. The conjugation base is mar (e) -, followed by the pronominal suffix and the verb. The verb is always in the infinitive (no qualitative!). There is no 2nd P. neither in the singular nor in the plural. The imperative takes on this function in Coptic. The 1st P. of the optative correlates with the cohortative (let me / us ...) of other languages, e.g. B. Akkadian i nimgur “let's go”; the 3rd P. with the jussive (he / she should / should ...). These are the forms of the optative:

With pronominal agent
1. P. Sg. C. mar = i -cwtm let me hear 1. P. Pl. C. mar = n -cwtm let 's hear
2. P. Sg. M. s. imperative 2. P. Pl. C. s. imperative
2. P. Sg. F. s. imperative 3. P. Pl. C. mar = ou -cwtm let them hear / she should hear
3. P. Sg. M. mare = f -cwtm let him hear / he should hear
3. P. Sg. F. mare = c -cwtm let them hear / she should hear
With nominal agent
mare - pekran -ouop Your name shall be holy

Sentence pattern

The simple adverbial sentence with a nominal subject

The simple adverbial sentence consists of a certain noun followed by an adverbial (“here”, “there” etc.) or a prepositional phrase (“in the house” etc.). This sentence pattern constitutes a simple statement of the form A is B, where A is a nominal subject / agent and B, as mentioned, must be an adverbial or prepositional phrase. The German verb “ist / sein” has no equivalent here in Coptic. The predicate of the simple adverbial sentence is the adverbial or prepositional phrase. Examples:

Coptic translation Explanation
prwme xipjoi. The man (is) on the boat. p-rwme "the-man" + xi-p-joi "on-the-boat"
tecxime xmphi. The woman (is) in the house. te-cxime "the-woman" + xm-p-hi "in-the-house"
nrwme mmau. The men (are) there. n-rwme "the-men" + mmau "there"
peneiwt xnmphue. Our Father (is) in heaven. pen-eiwt "our-father" + xn-m-phue "in-the-heavens"

The simple relative clause with an adverbial predicate

If a simple adverbial clause with a nominal subject is to be converted into a relative clause, the relative pronoun et is inserted into the sentence pattern of the simple adverbial clause between the specific subject and the adverbial predicate .

Coptic translation Explanation
prwme et xipjoi the man who (is) on the boat ... p-rwme "der-Mann" + et ", der" xi-p-joi "auf-dem-Boot"
tecxime et xmphi the woman who (is) in the house ... te-cxime "the-woman" + et ", the" xm-p-hi "in-the-house"
nrwme et mmau . the men who (are) there ... n-rwme "die-men" + et ", die" mmau "there"
peneiwt et xnmphue our Father who (is) in the heavens ... pen-eiwt "our-father" + et ", the" xn-m-phue "in-the-heavens"

The simple existence sentence with indefinite subject

With a certain subject, the sentence pattern of the simple adverbial sentence is used. If the subject is indeterminate, the oun construction must be used.

The negative existence principle

The negation of the simple existence theorem takes place through the mn construction.

Sahidic text sample

Sahrawi-Coptic text sample

ASCII transliteration

For the following transcription see here .

peneiwt et xn mphue marepekran ouop tekmnttrro marecei pekouws marefswpe n Te etfxn tpe nfswpe on xijm pkax. penoeik et nhu ng + mmof nan mpoou ngkw nan ebol nnet eron nTe xwwn on etnkw ebol nnete ountan eroou ngtmjitn exoun e peiracmoc alla ngnaxmn ebol xitootf m pponhroc je twk te tqom mn peoou sa nienex xamen

Grammatical comment

  • peneiwt: possessive prefix 1. P. Pl. c. pen + eiwt ("father") = our father
  • et: relative converter "which / r / s"
  • xn mphue: xn ("in") + plural article n + phue ("heaven"; Sg. is pe "heaven"). Plural Article n is before p to m > mphue "the heavens"
  • peneiwt et xn mphue: Our Father (you) who is in the heavens ...
  • marepekran ouop: optative base mare “may ...” + pekran “your name” (= possessive prefix pek “your” + ran “name”) + verb ouop “holy”. So: may your name be (holy) holy.
  • tekmntrro: possessive prefix 2. P. Sg. m. tek “your” + abstract mntrro “kingship” (= abstract prefix mnt “-tum” + noun rro “king”> “kingship”)
  • marecei: optative base mare "may ..." + pronominal suffix c "she" ( ie kingship; in S. fem.) + infinitive ei "come"
  • tekmntrro marecei: May your kingdom (it) come ...
  • pekouws: possessive prefix 2. P. Sg. m. pek "your" + noun ouws "wish"
  • marefswpe: optative base mare "may ..." + pronominal suffix for "he" ( ie the wish) + infinitive swpe "will, arise, be, exist" u. Ä.
  • pekouws marefswpe: your wish may be (in the sense of done)
  • n Te: preposition n "in" + noun Te "the manner" (= certain fem. article t "the" + noun xe "manner); t + x > T (theta; see Coptic alphabet ))
  • etfxn tpe: Relative form of the present I. Relative converter et “which / r / s” + pronominal suffix for “er” + adverbial xn “in” + tpe “der Himmel” (= certain fem. article t “die” + noun pe “Himmel ")
  • n Te etfxn tpe: in the way / as he (is) in heaven
  • nfswpe: subjunctive base n “and… may” + pronominal suffix 3rd P. Sg. m. f "er" + infinitive swpe "be, will, arise, exist". Attention: The subjunctive is a progressive form which, in terms of content, continues the last-mentioned verbal form, here the optative marefswpe, hence "and ... may".
  • on: particle "so, also, also"
  • xijm pkax: preposition xijm "auf" + noun pkax "die Erde" (= certain masculine article p "der" + noun kax "(Erd-) Boden, Erde")
  • nfswpe on xijm pkax: (and) so may he be on earth
  • penoeik: possessive prefix 1. P. pl. m. pen "our" + noun oeik "bread"
  • et nhu: relative pronoun et "which / r / s" + qualitative nhu (infinitive: ei "to come") ~ "to come"
  • penoeik et nhu: our coming bread
  • ng + mmof: subjunctive base n + pronominal suffix g (~ k ) “du” + infinitive + “give” + St. pron. of the direct object marker (m) mmo = + pronominal suffix 3rd P. Sg. m. f "he / it". Subjunctive continues optative, hence: "give it" (pleading / pleading)
  • nan mpoou: na = "to" (St. pron. of the preposition n ) + pronominal suffix n "us" + mpoou "today" (lit .: mp- (x) oou "an / in-this-day"; idiomatic for "today")
  • ng + mmof nan mpoou: give (it) to us today
  • ... etc.

See also


  • Thomas Oden Lambdin: Introduction to Sahidic Coptic. Mercer University Press, Macon Ga 1983, ISBN 0-86554-048-9 (reprint 2000).
  • Wolfgang Kosack : Basilius "De archangelo Michael": sahidice pseudo - Euhodios "De resurrectione": sahidice pseudo - Euhodios "De dormitione Mariae virginis": sahidice & bohairice: <Papyrus Code Turin, Mus. Egizio Cat. 63000 XI. > together with variants and fragments. Edited, commented and translated in parallel lines by Wolfgang Kosack. Brunner, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-906206-02-8 .