[Editorial note: [...] indicates use of Coptic text. Original script is available for viewing in the PDF format of this article.]
DIALECT G (OR BASHMURIC OR MANSURIC). To judge by a rather curious orthographical-phonological system more or less adequately attested by a group of small, late nonliterary Coptic texts of the eighth century, of which the principal ones have been published by Krall (1887 [extracts]; 1892) and, most completely, by Crum (1939), there must have existed, probably in Lower Egypt, an idiom of Coptic conventionally called dialect G, occasionally called Bashmuric (Kasser, 1975, esp. pp. 406-407) or even Mansuric (Schüssler, 1969, p.154). According to orthographical criteria, G should be included in the BOHAIRIC dialectal group (Kasser, 1981, pp. 102-103, 121-122), itself a subdivision of the northern (dialects and vehicular language)—southern (vehicular language) Coptic dialect major group (see DIALECTS, GROUPING AND MAJOR GROUPS OF; and Kasser, 1982, p. 51). Although it is difficult to locate this dialect geographically with any precision, several features would support assignment of it to the eastern Delta.
The most striking characteristic of the G texts is of an alphabetic nature (see ALPHABETS, COPTIC): the letters used in them are all of Greek origin. Thus, the alphabet of G does not include [...] (which does not mean the absence in G of all the phonemes normally used in other dialects by these graphemes of demotic origin, as will be seen). This alphabetic idiosyncrasy is glaringly evident, to the point of overshadowing other, nonalphabetic characteristics and with the consequence that the current view of the language of these texts is that it is, for all practical purposes, more or less pure Bohairic, even if a Bohairic disguised by a graphemic system different from that of Bohairic proper. This view has delayed the definition of G, although its main texts had been edited for over a century.
To compile the phonological inventory of G, it would be simplest to compare it with that of Bohairic, B, the idiom to which it is closest. If one studies mainly the manuscript K 1785 of the Austrian National Library in Vienna, one may have the impression that G lacks several phonemes occurring in the B system.
First, consider the phoneme series expressed in Coptic by letters of Greek origin, which may therefore be taken to match phonemes existing in Greek itself. After an unstressed vowel and before a stressed one, G replaces Bohairic [...] by [...]: thus, [...], out(ward), but [...], every. Unfortunately, no lexeme beginning with [...] in B is attested in the G documents; elsewhere, however, G has [...], which seems to have a /v/ rather than a /[...] value (see below). Before the stress-carrying vowel and in word-initial position, G appears to replace Bohairic [...] /d/ by [...] /t/ fairly regularly (e.g. ,[...], sharing). B aspirates [...] /k/, [...] /p/, and [...] /t/ into [...] /kh/, [...] /ph/, and [...] /th/, respectively, in certain well-defined conditions (Stern, 1880, pp. 16-26; Mallon, 1907, pp. 17-18; Worrell, 1934, pp. 18 23; Till, 1961, p. 7), but G does not (see below, on the phonemes /f/, /x/, [...], and also [...] h/ of B). This can be stated in spite of the occurrence in G of [...] etc., not [...] etc., for “put”, since this exceptional instance of what might, at first sight, be taken for the aspiration /kh/ of /k/ remains entirely isolated in G; and this [...] of G can be explained differently, on diachronic grounds: one may assume that the value of this [...] is not /kh/ as in B but /x/ as invariably elsewhere in G, for S etc. [...] and B [...] stem from Egyptian [...] although for this lexeme alone, old Ii has exceptionally evolved into /k/ or /kh/, whereas normally h became /x/ > Coptic /h/, [...] in a few cases similarly /x/, in most part [...] > [...]. On the other hand, Bohairic [...] /t/ corresponds to [...] /d/ in G when preceded by a stress carrying vowel and followed by an unstressed one (e.g., [...], God; [...], hear; [...,] artisan). Since [...] in G not only renders the Greek f in Greco-Coptic words but also corresponds to Bohairic [...] /f/ in the autochthonous Coptic vocabulary (e.g., [...], [up]on him), one may assume that [...] in G was throughout and did not maintain the /ph/ value in the Greco-Coptic vocabulary. Similarly, since [...] in G not only renders Greek c in Greco-Coptic but corresponds also to Bohairic [...] /x/ in the autochthonous vocabulary (e.g., [...], in), it is a safe assumption that [...] in G had the value /x/ throughout and did not maintain the value /kh/ in Greco Coptic—and that even in the apparently exceptional case of G ,w, put (see above).
Turning now to the series of Coptic phonemes rendered by graphemes of demotic origin, one observes the following: Bohairic [...] corresponds to [...] in G (e.g., [...], until), Bohairic [...] /f/ to [...] /f/ in G (see above), and Bohairic [...] /x/ to [...] /x/ in G (see above); [...] /h/ in B does not correspond to any G graphemes, which may give reason to assume that this phoneme has completely disappeared (leaving, however, some traces in neighboring vocalism; see below). Bohairic j / / corresponds to tz in G (e.g., tzom, power); Bohairic [...] also corresponds to [...] in G (e.g., [...], take), from which one could conclude that G (probably) does not have the aspiration so typical of Bohairic (see above). Finally, G does not use the grapheme [...] /ti/, expressing this combination of phonemes simply by [...] (as is the case in all OLD COPTIC alphabets and in the Coptic DIALECT H as well as in the Fayyumic subdialects F8 and F9). The foregoing gives some basic ideas of G consonantism; one should add that G replaces word-initial Bohairic [...] by b [...] (e.g., [...], wish).
As for the vocalism (to give here but the most essential), G seems to treat what is in B rendered by o /o/ and [...] /o/ as a single phoneme, expressed by o /o/ (e.g., [...], hear) except in the following special cases: In closed syllable, after disappeared [...] /h/ this vowel is [...] /o/ in G (e.g., [...], thing); after [...] /v/ (replacing [...] /w/ in B), this vowel is [...] /u/ (see [...], wish, above); and before [...] /w/, this vowel is [...] /o/ (e.g., [...], tomorrow). In open syllable, after disappeared [...] /h/, this vowel is [...] /o/ (e.g., [...], face, person); and after [...], this vowel is [...] /u/ (e.g., [...], become, but [...], first).
The G texts are too short and too unhomogenous o make possible a detailed and exhaustive observaion on the morphosyntactic level. However, one lay observe a negative imperative (or vetative) [...], most often followed by the negator particle [...], in a combination that is quite unusual elsewhere in Coptic (combining with the vetative [...], normal in A and P, this negator particle that is not compatible with it, with some exceptions, very rare in S, less rare but not frequent in B, some indicated in Crum, 1939a, p. l0b, under an, sec. d; others, particularly B, indicated in Shisha-Halevy, 1981, pp. 324, 333 n. 51). Thus [...], Release him not; [...], Take not surety of me for (?) Tinnis; [...], Hearken not unto him; [...], Suffer not that he quit (?) thee without undertaking himself; [...], No, these two craftsmen that I have sent thee, suffer not evil to befall them.
Little is known of the G verbal prefixes, an ignorance due to the scarcity of texts in this dialect, all nonliterary, as well as too rare and too short. Given below will be the third-person singular masculine form and then the corresponding prenominal form (nom. = before nominal subject), if attested, the former in brackets, reconstructed where possible according to an associated form:
Bipartite pattern. Present I [[...]], nom. zero (neg. [[...]] … [...], nom. zero … [...]); circumstantial of present I [[...]]; present II [[...]].
Tripartite pattern. Perfect I [...] neg. [[...]]; relative perfect I [...]; perfect II [[...]]. Futurum energicum (or third future) [...]. Imperative [...] ([...], see), neg. (vetative) [...] ... ([...]), see above. Causative imperative, nom. [...] (?). Conjunctive, 1st singular [...], 2nd masc. [[...]] (or [...]), 3rd masc. [[...]] (or [...]), and so on (a morphological duality not unknown in B; see Shisha Halevy, 1981, p. 324), nom. [...] (?) (or ente-); combined with [...], until (limitative) [...], nom. [...]; combined with [...], let, allow, suffer, [...] (see above); combined with [...], if, a kind of conditional, [...]. Conditional [[...]].
It is hoped that one day the caprice of discovery may yield a literary G text, one more extensive than the small documents on which observations of the orthographical-phonological account of this dialect have perforce been based. Finally, as an illustration, the initial greeting in the text of Vienna K 1785 is presented here: [...] (In God’s name. Before all things I write and I greet my God-loving brother, in all ways honored, and all thy house, from small to great).
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.