[Editorial note: [...] indicates use of Coptic text. Original script is available for viewing in the PDF format of this article.]
DIALECT i (OR PROTO-LYCOPOLITAN OR PROTO-LYCO-DIOSPOLITAN). The siglum of dialect i comes from the title of the text contained in the unique document attesting to its presence (Lacau, 1946), “The Ascension of Isaiah.” This dialect (and partially its subdialects i7 and i74) shows in its orthography phonological qualities that allow one to consider it a PROTODIALECT—more precisely, the protodialect corresponding to the former phonological level of some lost variety of the impor-tant dialect L, a collective entity whose chief manifestations are the subdialects L4, L5, and L6 (cf. LYCOPOLITAN and LYCO-DIOSPOLITAN). (Besides what makes i etc. a protodialect, most of the phonological characteristics of this dialect and its subdialects are those of one or another of the branches of L, or at least resemble them more closely than those of all the other Coptic idioms.) These qualities cause each witness of i in particular, but also of i7 and i74, to be of greatest interest for Coptology. One must all the more regret that up to now the texts attested by these manuscripts have been extremely brief and full of gaps (the total amount of text expressing i, i7, and i74 is scarcely 0.01 percent of all the Coptic texts known nowadays and 0.6 percent of those of the L dialect). This excessive briefness prevents any observation in many important sectors of i. Any possible observations elsewhere being too isolated, this textual poverty causes useful generalizations to be quite problematic, rendering difficult a comparative orthographic system of rules necessary to compare i with L4, L5, L6, A, and so on.
It is fitting here to specify that despite the fundamental systematic elements that can be observed in the texts, particularly with regard to the protodialectal quality and the major characteristics of the dialectal group L, each of the small texts expressing i etc. remains a separate and special case under other aspects (as are moreover, in a lesser but not negligible measure, each of the texts expressing L4, L5, and L6; cf. LYCOPOLITAN and LYCO-DIOSPOLITAN).
Here are these protodialectal texts, each with its (sub)dialectal attribution.
i (= pL): All of Lacau (1946; a manuscript from the fourth century at the latest), with the exception of several words that, through oversight or ignorance, the scribe wrote with [...] instead of proto-LycoDiospolitan normal [...]. (These words are considered to belong, then, to i7; cf. infra.)
i7 (=p’L): The few words of Lacau (1946) mentioned above, not really typical of i; furthermore, the texts of Leipoldt (1904; fourth century), and Goehring (1984; fourth century) if [...] (cf. L6, L5 [...]; L4, A [...]) can (or could) be a case connected with the rule of Edel (1961). Possibly Browne (1979, no. 6; fourth or fifth century), though unfortunately no lexeme covered by the rule of Edel (1961) is present. If these two last texts are not i7, they are i74 (cf. below). One can be tempted to relate to i7 in a way the text of Crum (1934; from the second half of the third century, bought in Luxor), which indeed presents, by at least one of the typical central characteristics of i7, a vulgar orthography that appears rather strange (indicated by the siglum J in Kasser, pp. 113—15). Consonants: The initial consonant [...]/w/ is replaced by [...]/v/, and likewise all [...]/f/. Unfortunately this text has no example of [...], thus lacking proof that Crum’s text belongs to i etc. (Perhaps it is only a particularly aber-rant form of A, although A does not have the -i of Edel, 1961, with certain exceptions [Lacau, 1911], [...], ancestors, 2 Mc. 6:1, 6.) The consonant [...] is always omitted. [...] is maintained in a series of cases where i and A have [...], [...] is retained nine times and replaced three times by [...] (= /[...]/ rather than /x/; cf. ALPHABETS, COPTIC). [...] is replaced by [...]. Stressed vowels: They frequently conform with those of A and L (56 percent), less often with those of S (44 percent). Unstressed vowels: Those of L6 are preferred, since the [...] of Edel (1961), missing in L5 and L4, is regularly found in [...] etc. and L6.
i74 (= p”L): Possibly Goehring (1984) and Browne (1979, no. 6; cf. above); certainly Lefort (1939; from the fourth century at the latest). The text of Crum (1922; fourth or fifth century, origin unknown) could reasonably (in a sense) belong to i74 also because of certain chief characteristics, such as use of /x/ and /[...]/ as in i7 and i74 (cf. below). Yet one sees in it various spellings (sometimes systematic or nearly) that are very strange and far from L etc.; in Crum (1922) the normal c is replaced by [...](!) in six out of eight cases, such as [...], painful. It also has a strong tendancy to replace the sonant (nasal) with /[...]/ followed by the sonorant, having thus [...], to carry; [...], in; and the negation [...].
One will additionally note that i (with i7 and i74) is a protodialect with an impoverished alphabet. Indeed, each supplementary phoneme characterizing i as a protodialect, pL, with regard to L, is not written with a special grapheme but with a grapheme common to L, supplied, however, with a diacritical sign in pL. Thus, /x/ is [...] in pL (as it is in A), which is [...] (the ordinary grapheme for /h/) supplied with a diacritical sign (and in fact, in the phonological evolution, pL > L, pL [...] > L 2), whereas in *pS (reconstructed on the analogy of DIALECT P, an alphabetically rich protodialect), /x/ is [...] used for nothing else. (One will here notice that in A[...]/x/ and in B [...]/x/ have no protodialectal function, since they belong to the alphabet and to the phonological stock of the dialect A and the language B themselves, according to their usual and traditional definition in Coptology.) Likewise, /ç/ is [...] in pL, which is [...] (an ordinary grapheme for / /) supplied with a diacritical sign (and in fact, in the phonological evolution pL > L, pL [...] > L [...]), whereas in P (generally analogous to *pS), /ç/ is [...], used for nothing else.
The essential characteristics of i, qualifying it as a protodialect, are (1) the survival of /ç/ (arising from majority x3 cf. PROTODIALECT), written [...]; (2) the survival of /x/ (arising from x2, united with minority x3 cf. PROTODIALECT), written [...]; (3) the survival of the final unstressed vowel [...] in the cases described by Edel (1961; formerly [...]), a survival also found in the L6 branch of L.
One or more of these characteristics have disappeared in i7 or i74 (following an evolution that can summarily be represented as i > i7 > i74 > L). i7 has the second and third characteristics only, while i74 has just the second.
The other phonological characteristics of i, i7, and i74 are not characteristics of protodialects but, rather, show their relation to (sub dialects within the range of L’s subdialects (L4, L5, L6; cf. Kasser, 1984, p. 307). At this point, it will be interesting to add A, the Coptic language form whose vowels are the closest to L’s and i’s vowels. i, [i7], i74, L6, and A assimilate /s/ in /[...]/ before /[...]/: [...], L4, L5 [...], word. i, [i7, i74], L4, and A have the potential final aleph: [...], L5 [...], L6 [...], one (masc.). Before the stressed vowel, i, [i7, i74], L5, L6, and A have /f/: [...], L4 [...], remove. i74, L5, and L6 have the final sonant, which on the contrary is the sonorant followed by [...] in i, L4, and A [i7 lacks this form]: i, L4, A [...], i74, L5, L6 [...], to hear. i, i7, [i74], L44, and A lose /w/ with metaphony in the end stressed syllable that in L4 (except L44), L5, and L6 is [...]: i, i7, [i74], L44, A no, L4, L5, L6 [...], to see. Where i and L4 have the stressed final vowel in [...], i74, L6, and A have /u/ (a situation quite unclear in L5; i7 lacks this form): i, L4 [...], L6, A [...], to say, but i74 [...], A [...], L4 [...], serpent (fem.). The end syllable’s vocalization of the pre-nominal form of causative verbs with t-initial, /[...]/ [i] 17, [i74], (L4), L6, and /-a/ L5: i7 (?) [...], to create; cf. A [...] or [...], L5 [...]. Peculiar lexemes: i74 [...], L44 (and L4, which is rare) [...], L6 [...], L5, L4 [...] (cf. P [...]), A [...], ear. The particle of the prolepsis i, i7, i74, L6, (L5), A [...], (L5) [...], L4 [...], but [...] or [...] (A) Sometimes also. i, [i7, i74], L4, L5, A [...], L6 [...], where (interrog.); i (?), i7, L5, L6, (A) [...], A [...] (or [...]/[...]), but L4 [...] (cf. P [...]), to keep. Verbal prefixes: first future third sing. masc. etc. i, i7 [i74], L5, L6, A [...], L4, (A) [...]. First perfect first sing., etc. i7, i74, L4, L5, A [...], i [...] or [...] (cf. V hybrid also, M exclusively [...], etc.), L6 [...] or [...]. Relative perfect third sing. masc. etc. i, i7, [i74 ], L4, A [...], L5, L6 [...].
The texts attesting i etc. are unfortunately too brief to allow systematic observations in morphosyntactic lexicologic fields. However, one should note forms such as i [...], mouth, which has no known Coptic equivalent except A [...]; further, i and A have [...], left (hand) (cf. P [...]), while L4 and L5 have [...], and S, M, and F have [...].
Finally, here are some typical examples of proto-Lycopolitan (pL or i etc.): i7, L6 [...], L4, L5, A [...] obscurity; i, L44, A [...], L4 (except L44), L5, L6 [...], that (one) i7, L4, L6, S [...] seven (masc.) (L5 etc. fem. [...], H [...]), B [...], M [...] (and [...] special dialectal [?] variant of B.M.Or. 5300(27), between M and H rather than F), A [...], P [...]; i7, A [...] L4, L5, L6 [...] (and L5 [...], John [Lond.], [...] John [Dub.]), B [...] (cf. P w q), S [...], M, W, V, (F) [...], (F) H [...], living; i7, L4, L5, L6, S etc. [...], A [...], P [...], little, i [...], P [...], A [...], L4, L5, L6, S etc. [...], become; i7 [...]], i74, L4, A [...], P [...], S etc. [...], birds; i, i7, i74, A [...], P [...], B [...], L4, L5, L6, S etc. [...], in; i, L6 [...], L4, L5, A, M [...], P, S [...], B [...], F, H [...] (from [i etc.], L4, L5, L6, A, S, M [...], metadialectal H [...], V, F [...], B [...], exalted.
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