14/06: The Tilde Again
When Cassey asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year, I had just been thinking about what I wanted to do after I finished reading The Book of Mormon in French. I've been trying to do some language study each day during my commute to work, and I've been trying to combine that with my scripture study.
One thing I learned while reading the Book of Mormon in French, is that Isaiah still reads like Isaiah, even in a foreign language. Even though I normally have no trouble with Isaiah in English, I found that I could easily tell I was reading Isaiah by the fact that I had to keep my French dictionary handy. Usually I just keep it in my bag and maybe pull it out once or twice a chapter. By I had to look up a word practically every other verse or more whenever I found myself getting into a citation of Isaiah.
Anyhow, I just recently finished reading through Alma, and thought it was time to start planning for the eventual end of the book. I still have a small matter of months before I finish, but the follow-up plan could require some preparation.
Since starting the routine I've really only been through the Book of Mormon in Portuguese (as a refresher), and of course, I'm most of the way through the French translation. I chose French partially because I thought it might help me with Egyptology, and partially because I knew it wouldn't be extremely difficult. (It's just another simple romance language like Spanish or Portuguese. Latin... not simple; I've never gotten very good, but having learned Portuguese helps.) To follow up French, an obvious thought might be German. I'm also interested in Hebrew, Japanese, Arabic, Spanish, Latin, Tagalag, or maybe Samoan. (Not to mention Old English, Middle Egyptian, or Mayan, which I don't think I could find much material for of the right nature.) In the end, however, I chose Coptic, which is obscure, but is descended from Middle Egyptian, which I know a little about and hope to know more about. It also has plenty of standard Christian writings available.
So, when Cassey asked me what I wanted, I told her I wanted some Coptic material, then I promptly compiled a list of books that I would want. I was surprised to find that David had found the time to fix WishCraze, as it had been down for some months. So, I updated my wish list (which is what Cassey used to find the exact item to get me). What I ended up with was the Coptic Etymological Dictionary.
The Coptic Etymological Dictionary is a very scholarly book that few people would be interested in. It has a short introduction that can't be bothered to rehash some basics of grammar, or describe how the entries are organized. (I figured out that entries are organized by consonants. Vowels don't factor into the sorting at all, which I later discovered was the standard applied in Crum's "A Coptic Dictionary" which this book owes much to.) Much of the text is cross-references to books the reader is assumed to have access to. (But of course, I don't.)
A spent some time learning the alphabet and some grammar/phonology basics over the past couple of days, and in the middle of some studying this morning I discovered the following:
The Long Superlinear Stroke is not to be confused with the syllable marker; it often occurs in MSS at the end of a line over the last letter and represents a final n. John Martin Plumley, "An Introduction to Coptic Grammar", ch. 2
The thing that struck me about this, is that this script feature similar to how the tilde is used, and has been used, in Portuguese. In a past blog entry I mentioned that I found this in some English writting from the 1500's. I'm very curious now to see how old this feature is in Coptic and I'm getting more curious as to where it comes from, and whether or not it has a formal name.