Language Typology and Egyptian-Coptic Linguistics

Martin Haspelmath haspelmath at EVA.MPG.DE
Thu Mar 27 12:04:04 UTC 2008


Language Typology and Egyptian-Coptic Linguistics

International conference organized by the Egyptological Institute of the 
University of Leipzig and the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary 

2 – 5 October 2008

Invited speakers

Bernard Comrie (Leipzig)
Orin Gensler (Addis Abeba)
Eitan Grossman (Jerusalem)
Tom Güldemann (Zurich)
Dmitry Idiatov (Antwerpen)
Frank Kammerzell (Berlin)
Antonio Loprieno (Basel)
Elsa Oréal (Paris)
Carsten Peust (Konstanz)
Ariel Shisha-Halevy (Jerusalem)
Andréas Stauder (Basel)
Jean Winand (Liège)

The Egyptian-Coptic language, attested for more than 4000 years from the 
early development of the hieroglyphic writing system before 3000 BCE up 
to its obsolescence and extinction as a spoken language around 1300 CE, 
is not only one of the earliest attested human languages, it may justly 
be called the most long-lived language that is available for study by 

Its uniqueness in terms of age and longevity and the evidence for 
long-lasting processes of language change it provides, including a 
change in typologically basic traits, such as word order correlation, 
make the Egyptian-Coptic language a most worthwhile object for general 
linguistics, regardless of philological and methodological obstacles 
usually connected to the study of dead corpus languages.

However, while the Coptic language has been an important source of 
inspiration and information for pioneers of language typology such as 
Chajim Steinthal, encounters between Egyptian and general linguistics 
have become scarce and sporadic during the last century. Although the 
Berlin school of Egyptology adopted grammatical categories and 
terminology of the advanced linguistics of Semitic languages since the 
1880s, and although Hans Jakob Polotsky started applying terms and 
concepts of linguistic structuralism to Egyptian and Coptic by the 
mid-20th century, and despite even occasional flirtation with generative 
grammar, Egyptian linguistics hardly contributed to, and was no longer 
asked for its evidence by general linguistics.

The aim of our conference is to stimulate, or re-intensify, mutual 
perception of Egyptologists and general linguists. We hope to approach 
this by addressing an issue of obvious significance and considerable 
breadth – the behaviour of the Egyptian-Coptic language in its different 
phases in terms of language typology.

We request papers within this general perspective, dealing with data 
from any period, branch and part of the Egyptian-Coptic language, 
including fields and issues such as areal linguistics, phonology, word 
formation, morphology, syntax, language change and language contact 
typology. Papers are welcome both by Egypologists that are interested in 
a more general typological perspective, and by typologists that have 
been intrigued by data from Egyptian-Coptic and would like to discuss 
their broader significance.

Please submit your proposal containing a provisional title of your talk 
and a 500 words abstract (abstracts in languages other than English are 
also welcome), by 31 March 2008 to:

typology.of.egyptian at

Notification of acceptance is by 15 April 2008.

Martin Haspelmath and Tonio Sebastian Richter

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list