The Multilingual Experience in Egypt, from the Ptolemies to the Abbasids  book cover
1st Edition

The Multilingual Experience in Egypt, from the Ptolemies to the Abbasids

ISBN 9781138257344
Published November 28, 2016 by Routledge
250 Pages

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Book Description

For over a millennium and a half, Egypt was home to at least two commonly used languages of communication. Although this situation is by no means exceptional in the ancient and medieval worlds, the wealth of documentary sources preserved by Egypt's papyri makes the country a privileged observation ground for the study of ancient multilingualism. One of the greatest contributions of papyri to this subject is that they capture more linguistic registers than other ancient and medieval sources, since they range from very private documents not meant by their author to be read by future generations, to official documents produced by the administration, which are preserved in their original form. This collection of essays aims to make this wealth better known, as well as to give a diachronic view of multilingual practices in Egypt from the arrival of the Greeks as a political force in the country with Alexander the Great, to the beginnings of Abbasid rule when Greek, and slowly also Coptic, receded from the documentary record. The first section of the book gives an overview of the documentary sources for this subject, which for ancient history standards are very rich and as yet under-exploited. The second part contains several case studies from different periods that deal with language use in contexts of varying breadth and scope, from its the ritual use in magic or the liturgy to private letters and state administration.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction, Arietta Papaconstantinou; Linguistic identity in Graeco-Roman Egypt, Sofia Torallas Tovar; Bilingual papyrological archives, Willy Clarysse; Coptic or Greek? Bilingualism in the papyri, Sarah J. Clackson; Multilingual archives and documents in post-conquest Egypt, Petra Sijpesteijn; What's in a sign? Translating filiation in the demotic magical papyri, Jacco Dieleman; Early Coptic epistolography, Malcolm Choat; Toujours honneur au grec? À propos d'un papyrus gréco-copte de la région thébaine, Anne Boud'hors; Language choice in the Qurra dossier, Tonio Sebastian Richter; Aristophanes son of Johannes: an 8th-century bilingual scribe? A study of graphic bilingualism, Jennifer Cromwell; Index.

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Dr Arietta Papaconstantinou is lecturer at the Université Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne, France, and Oriental Institute, University of Oxford, UK


'The essays by Torallas, Clarysse, Clackson, Sijpesteijn, and Richter combine background material that would be very helpful to both beginners and advanced students with expert analysis of a specific problem. The entire case study section (Part Two) offers material from the cutting edge of multilingual studies, where technical command of the material is combined with understanding of the theoretical framework.' The Medieval Review 'Toutes les contributions sont de très grande qualité et donnent un aperçu utile, argumenté et original sur les contacts entre langues et textes en Egypte. On ne peut que remercier l’éditrice du volume pour la démarche qui sous-tend le livre, la qualité de réalisation et la très belle introduction.' Chronique d’Egypte '...thought-provoking and informative... well researched and well executed' Arctos