Towards a definition of an Egyptian Greek variety

  • Sonja Dahlgren


In this paper I study the possibility of an Egyptian Greek variety that — on the phonological level — developed from the 2nd century CE onward, and which has so far not been defined as an independent language variety. Some preliminary remarks on this have been made, based on the great amount of features present in Greek in Egypt potentially stemming from the contact with Egyptian.  Greek texts from Egypt display a substantial amount of nonstandard variation on all linguistic levels. In this paper I investigate the phonological level, concentrating on vowel orthography. Preliminary results of my study indicate Coptic phonological influence in, for example, the allophonic distribution of unstressed vowels, the tendency for consonant-to-vowel coarticulatory effects, and transfer of the Egyptian stress system. Parallel material can be found in the nonstandard usage of Greek loanwords in Coptic, which are used as a comparison for the Greek nonstandard writing forms. In order to be able to differentiate between Coptic impact and Greek internal phonological variation in the analysis of the phonetic variants, Coptic phoneme qualities are compared to the nonstandard renderings of Arabic loanwords in Coptic which display the same phenomena as the Greek ones.