The student wishing to acquire a knowledge of Coptic, the last stage of the Old Egyptian Language,has had perforce to consult the Grammars of Stern, Steindorff, Mallon, Till and Chane, none of which areavailable in an English translation, and all of which are difficult to procure. The last Coptic Grammar of importance printed in English was the second edition of Dr Tattern's Grammar, published as long ago as1863. Since that time our knowledge of the language has been greatly increased by the work of twogenerations of Coptic scholars. On the other hand, there now exists in English the magnificent
compiled by the late Dr W.E. Crum (www.metalog.org/files/crum.html). It is with sometrepidation that I have ventured to write a new Grammar. The need for a work in English is pressing, but itmust not be thought that this attempt to supply the need is in the nature of an exhaustive study. Such anattempt cannot yet be undertaken until a thorough systematic and statistical examination of the writings of Shenoute, the sole outstanding native writer of Coptic, has been made.The Sahidic dialect has been chosen, not because of any theory about its age, but for the very practicalreason that it is the dialect which holds pride of place in Crum's dictionary. In addition to this fact, thereexists a variety of texts in this dialect for the student to read. The examples, all of which are actualquotations from texts, have been drawn for the most part from the Bible. Zoega's great
Catalogus Codd.Copticorum &c.
, 1810 (hereafter Z) has been utilized to a lesser degree. I have purposely limited myself toquoting a few examples in full, rather than giving many references to published texts which few studentsever look up. The need for strict economy in space has compelled me to deal sketchily with Dr H.J.Polotsky's great discovery of the function of the Second Tenses (
), but students must not fail to readhis study for themselves (
Études de Syntaxe Copte
, Cairo, 1944).The most pleasant part of my task remains. It is to express my thanks to those who have mademy work possible. First, I have to thank Prof Jaroslav Cerny, of the University College, London, withwhom I began my Coptic Studies. His kindness and help have been unfailing, and my debt to him isimmeasurable. To Prof S.R.K. Glanville, of Cambridge, I am equally indebted. It was at his suggestion, andwith his encouragement, that I began to compile this Grammar, and I have had the benefit of his advice atall times. Prof Battiscombe Gunn discussed several points of grammar with me on two occasions when Ienjoyed his hospitality at Oxford, and I need hardly add that the result of these discussions has been theimprovement of the work generally. Finally, I have to thank my wife, who not only read through the wholemanuscript and made several valuable suggestions, but also by her thoughtfulness and management of avery busy household, has made the labour of writing this book infinitely easier than I had dared to hope.J. Martin PlumleySt Paul's VicarageTottenham, England17 July 1947
Windows includes an
(in Start/All Programs/Accessories/Accessibility),which can readily be set to any installed font; thus one can type in Coptic script, and also search in Coptic.A few minor additions and corrections to Plumley’s mimeograph,as well as the dots between word elements, have been added in 2007-8.Corrections:
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com.