Mike Aquilina

Liturgical Language

Saturday October 21st 2006, 3:02 am

Interesting piece from The Daily Star (Egypt) on the survival of the ancient Coptic language in Christian culture. (If you want to hear it in the liturgies, visit here. If you want to buy recordings, click here.)

Considered an extinct language, the Coptic language is believed to exist only in the liturgical language of the Coptic Church in Egypt. The ancient language that lost in prominence thanks largely to the Arab incursion into Egypt over 1300 years ago remains the spoken language of the church and only two families in Egypt.

Coptic is a combination of the ancient Egyptian languages Demotic, Hieroglyphic and Hieratic, and was the language used by the Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt following the spread of Greek culture throughout much of the Near East. In essence, it is the language of the ancient Egyptians themselves.

Mona Zaki is one of only a handful of people that continue to use the language in everyday conversation. She speaks a colloquial form of Coptic with her parents and a few relatives …