[Editorial note: [...] indicates use of Coptic or Egyptian text. Original script is available for viewing in the PDF format of this article.]
VOCABULARY, AFRICAN CONTACTS WITH AUTOCHTHONOUS COPTIC. There were doubtlessly close contacts between Egyptian or Coptic and the neighboring African languages. The latter have almost entirely disappeared in Egypt, and the three languages still spoken there are of relatively recent date: (1) Berber, the language subfamily of the Berbers of Siwa Oasis in the west, near the Libyan border, who settled there in the Middle Ages, though the people of the oasis itself were Berber-speaking from the oldest times; (2) Nubian, the tongue of the Nubians in the Nile Valley from Aswan southward, who penetrated there after the fall of the Meroitic empire, probably in the fourth century A.D.; and (3) Bedawiye, the language of the Beja of the Eastern Desert, between the Nile Valley and the Red Sea, approximately south of the desert road from Qift to Qoseir, who seem to be the oldest inhabitants of their territory, though they are mentioned farther south in an inscription of Ezana, king of Ethiopia (fourth century AD.).
In all these cases, one must distinguish between Hamito-Semitic words and loanwords. Hamito-Semitic are the words for “tongue” (Arabic lisan, Egyptian ls = Bohairic (B) and Sahidic (S) [...], Berber i-les, and Chadic lisi in Mubi) and “to die” (Arabic mat, yamut: mawt, Egyptian mwt = S [...] [...], Berber emmet, Chadic mutu in Hausa). Berber shares several words with Egyptian that are not Hamito-Semitic, such as u[...]en, jackal (Shilha in Morocco, Kabyle in Algeria): wn [...] = B, S [...], [...], date (fruit) (Ghadames in Libya), Egyptian bny = B [...], S [...]; also S [...], fruit of the dum palm (Hyphaene thebaica), corresponds to Tuareg a-kuka. A Berber loanword of the Libyan period (Twenty-second Dynasty) is B, S [...], beard, Berber tamart (Shilha of Morocco), with variants, in almost every dialect.
In Bedawiye, the language of the Beja in the Eastern Desert, the horse is called hatay (plural, hatáy). This word derives from Egyptian [...]tr, yoke of oxen, later pronounced [...]t[...] = B [...], S [...]. Yet hatay does not derive from [...]tr or [...][...] but from a third form, [...]ty (probably pronounced *[...]atáy), not found in Coptic dialects.
Bedawiye san, brother, looks like B, S [...]. In spite of the similarity, the words are of different origin. This can be seen from the different derivations. Coptic has B [...], sister, and the plural B [...], brothers, while the Cushitic languages have different forms: Bedawiye kwa, sister, and in Dembea zän, in Khamir zin, in Bilin dan, brothers.
Mehel, to treat medically, is probably of Coptic or Egyptian origin; compare P [...], to heal, apparently an emphatic verbal noun (*ma[...]ilaw or similar).
Nubian is not a Hamito-Semitic language. In the Middle Ages there were several Christian kingdoms in Nubia and the old-Nubian texts contain a certain number of Coptic and Greek loanwords, such as [...] temple: B [...], S [...]; [...], wine: S, B [...], probably [...] or similar; and [...], pray, with which compare B, S [...], to pray, and Bedawiye silel, pray, prayer. In modern Nubian one finds adir, winter = the month Hathor or, more exactly its Greek form [...], pronounced Atir (without h); and bogon, a month name (Arabic Ba ans) from Greek [...], pronounced Pakon (without h).
Kam, camel, derives not directly from B [...], S [...], camel, but from an earlier form, *kamuli. There were no camels in pharaonic Egypt unless in the last centuries ac., but Cambyses’ expedition to Siwa Oasis is unthinkable without camels; it took place shortly after 525 B.C. But the name of the animal, which is of Semitic origin (Akkadian gammalu-m, Hebrew gamal, Aramaic gaml-a but gemal- before a genitive, Arabic gamal, [...]amal), must have been known in Egypt a long time before, as the shift from a to o (gamal-i : gamol-i) took place before 1000 B.C. The Coptic forms derive from kamuli, u being due to postnasalization, and the same form is the ancestor of various forms in Berber, such as Kabyle [...], plural [...], where a- and i-are the old singular and plural articles and g is Arabic ghayn, a fricative g as in the modern Greek gála, milk. The Berber form derives from *kalumi (metathesis for *kamuli) and similar forms are found in numerous languages in the western Sudan, such as Hausa rak’umi, camel, Kanuri ka-ligimo (prefix ka-), probably also Fulani n-geloba, camel, and so on. In Nubian the word has lost its last part (kam instead of kamul), but the plural is still kaml-i (plural ending -i).
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