Article

The Multilingual Environment of Late Antique Egypt: Greek, Latin, Coptic, and Persian Documentation

Jean-Luc Fournet

in The Oxford Handbook of Papyrology

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199843695
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199843695.013.0018

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

 The Multilingual Environment of Late Antique Egypt: Greek, Latin, Coptic, and Persian Documentation

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This article considers three languages—Coptic, Latin, and Pehlevi—all of which were widely spoken and written in Egypt in the fourth to seventh centuries, analyzing their use and interaction with Greek, which remained the official language and is by far the most abundantly documented. Each of these languages poses in a distinctive way the problem of multilingualism or of multiliteracy and presents a nuanced picture, ranging from a nearly total and deliberate absence of bilingualism to a deep bilingualism (where the relationship between the languages tends to reverse itself), passing by way of diglossia.

Keywords: Coptic language; Latin language; Pehlevi language; Egypt; multilingualism; multiliteracy; deep bilingualism

Article.  11760 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Greek and Roman Papyrology ; Historical Archaeology

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