The language of the Egyptian hieroglyphs and their modern descendant, the Coptic language is classifed under this category. Scholars group the Egyptian language into six major chronological divisions:
* Archaic Egyptian (before 2600 BC) * Old Egyptian (2600 BC - 2000 BC) * Middle Egyptian (2000 BC - 1300 BC) * Late Egyptian (1300 BC - 700 BC) * Demotic Egyptian (seventh century BC - fifth century AD) * Coptic (fourth - fourteenth century AD)
It should be noted that Egyptian writing in the form of label and signs has been dated to 3000 BC. These early texts are generally lumped together under the term "Archaic Egyptian."
Old Egyptian was spoken for some 500 years from 2600 BC onwards. Middle Egyptian was spoken from about 2000 BC for a further 700 years when Late Egyptian made its appearance; Middle Egyptian did, however, survive until the first few centuries AD as a written language, similar to the use of Latin during the Middle Ages. Demotic first appears about 650 BC and survived as a spoken language until fifth century AD. Coptic -- the Bohairic dialect is still used by the Egyptian Christian Churches -- appeared in the fourth century AD and survived as a written, living language until the fourteenth century AD; it probably survived in the Egyptian countryside as a spoken language for several centuries after that.
Old, Middle, and Late Egyptian were all written using hieroglyphs and hieratic. Demotic was written using a script derived from hieratic; its appearance is vaguely similar to modern Arabic script (although the two are not at all related). Coptic is written using the Coptic alphabet, a modified form of the Greek alphabet with a number of symbols borrowed from Demotic for sounds that did not occur in Ancient Greek.
Arabic gradually replaced spoken Coptic after the Arabian invasions in the seventh century, though Arabic was the language of the Muslim political administration soon thereafter.
The national language of modern day Egypt is EgyptianArabic, which gradually replaced Egyptian and its descendant, the Copticlanguage, as the language of daily life in the centuries after Egypt was conquered by Arab Muslims.
Middle Egyptian was spoken from about 2000 BC for a further 700 years when Late Egyptian made its appearance; Middle Egyptian did, however, survive until the first few centuries AD as a written language, similar to the use of Latin during the Middle Ages and that of Classical Arabic today.
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