Macquarie University
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Linguistic and legal continuity in 6th to 8th century Coptic documents: a comparative study of Greek and Coptic legal formulae in Byzantine and Early Islamic Egypt

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posted on 2022-03-29, 03:04 authored by Samuel Peter Cook
The study aims to investigate linguistic and legal continuity in Coptic legal documents of the 6th to 8th centuries. Drawing on theoretical frameworks from the fields of papyrology and contact linguistics, the study presents a comparison of a selection of Greek and Coptic legal formulae common across multiple genres of legal documents. Through this, it aims to investigate the extent to which the language of pre-existing Greek legal formulae is replicated in later Coptic documents, and whether this replication results in contact-induced grammatical change. Chapter one provides a historical background to the study focusing on language contact, language use, and multilingualism in Egyptian law and administration from the Late Period to the Early Islamic period, as well as an overview of the aims of the study and the corpus of material used. Chapter 2 focuses on the field of contact-linguistics, providing a discussion on current theoretical frameworks on contact-induced grammatical change and their application to the study of Greek-Egyptian language contact. Chapter 3 focuses on methodological issues encountered in the study of language use in legal papyri. After examining past work on the issue of linguistic and legal continuity in Egyptian documents, a discussion is provided on some of the unique methodological issues faced when using papyri for linguistic study. Chapters 4 and 5 present an analysis and comparison of particular Greek and Coptic legal formulae selected for the study. Chapter 4 discusses formulae which commonly appear in the opening clauses of the documents. Chapter 5 presents Coptic formulae which appear in the closing of documents. Chapter 6 provides an overall synthesis and discussion of the findings of the data, and the significance of these results for our understanding of the development of Coptic legal formulae in Late Byzantine and Early Islamic Egypt.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. Egptian and Greek from the perspective of contact linguistics -- Chapter 3. Juristic papyrology and the study of language : theory and methodology -- Chapter 4. Opening formulae -- Chapter 5. Closing formulae -- Chapter 6. Discussion and conclusion -- Bibliography -- Appendices.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 372-398

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Ancient History

Department, Centre or School

Department of Ancient History

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Malcolm Choat

Additional Supervisor 1

Jennifer Cromwell

Additional Supervisor 2

Trevor Evans


Copyright Samuel Peter Cook 2019. Copyright disclaimer:






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