Languages of Egypt


Languages of Egypt

There are a number of languages spoken in Egypt, but Egyptian Arabic (Maunicode|ṣri) is by far the most widely spoken in the country. Coptic, the last stage of the indigenous Egyptian language, is used by the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Official language

The official language of Egypt is Standard Arabic and is used in most written media. Egyptian Arabic is the national and spoken language, and is occasionally written. English and French are also widely spoken and used in business and educated circles.

Egyptian languages

The Egyptian languages (also known as Copto-Egyptian) consist of ancient Egyptian and Coptic, and form a separate branch among the family of Afro-Asiatic languages. The Egyptian language is among the first written languages, and is known from hieroglyphic inscriptions preserved on monuments and sheets of papyrus. The Coptic language, the only extant descendant of Egyptian, is today the liturgical language of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

The "Koiné" dialect of the Greek language was important in Hellenistic Alexandria, and was used in the philosophy and science of that culture, and was also studied by later Arabic scholars.

Arabic languages

Arabic came to Egypt in the seventh century, and Egyptian Arabic has become the modern spoken language of the Egyptians. Of the many varieties of Arabic, Egyptian Arabic is the most widely understood first dialect in the Middle East-North Africa, probably due to the influence of Egyptian cinema throughout the Arabic-speaking world.

A Bedouin Arab minority speaks a variety of Bedouin Arabic mostly in the Sinai Peninsula. Sudanese Arabic is also spoken by a number of Sudanese refugees.

Berber languages

The Berber languages are represented by Siwi, spoken by about 5,000 in the Siwa Oasis.

Nubian languages

In the Upper Nile Valley, around Kom Ombo and Aswan, there are about 300,000 speakers of Nubian languages, mainly Nobiin, but also Kenuzi-Dongola.

Other languages

Approximately 77,000 speakers of Beja live in the Eastern Desert and along the coast of the Red Sea.

Some 234,000 (2004) Dom speak the Domari language (an Indo-Aryan language related to Romany) and are concentrated north of Cairo and in Luxor.

There are also about 42,000 (2004) speakers of Greek in Alexandria, and a comparable number of Armenian speakers, mostly in Cairo.

External links

* [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_country.asp?name=EG "Ethnologue" page on "Languages of Egypt"]
* [http://www.panafril10n.org/wikidoc/pmwiki.php/PanAfrLoc/Egypt PanAfriL10n page on Egypt]


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