Alphabetum – a more “Bohairic” coptic font? Plus notes on Coptic

I’ve had complaints from my translator that the Keft unicode font for Coptic isn’t that “Bohairic” in appearance.  Well, I could pass a Bohairic book in the street and not recognise one!  But I do recognise a difference in letter forms between Keft and what is used by De Lagarde in his 19th century printed text.

Quite by accident I have come across the Alphabetum font.  It’s not free, but not expensive.  Here’s a bitmap comparing the fonts; top one is De Lagarde; the middle one is Alphabetum; bottom one is Keft. 

Three Coptic Fonts; De Lagarde, Alphabetum and Keft

 The Keft font is apparently a “Sahidic” Coptic font.  The New Athena Unicode font is of the same type.

There’s some stuff on entering Coptic unicode here.  It looks as if I’m going to need to do it.  And I have just found these links by Christian Askeland, which look good.  These led me here, to some more fonts, of which only Arial Coptic seemed like De Lagarde, and the diacriticals didn’t seem right.  And this in turn gave this test page.

One difference I can see between De Lagarde and Alphabetum is the diacriticals.  It’s not that easy to find out about these, I find.  I wonder if the difference is important?

I need to find a basic grammar that is good on these things.

UPDATE: I have also found a wikipedia test page for Coptic in unicode 5.1, which lists a number of fonts as well-supported although is still vague on typefaces.  Quivira is listed, and is a VERY nice font; but Sahidic again.  Analecta is another new one to me.

2 Responses to “Alphabetum – a more “Bohairic” coptic font? Plus notes on Coptic”


  1. Bishoy

    Unfortunately, very few studies have been made in the field of history and places of Coptic fonts (Coptic Paleography), Tito Orlandi has submitted three references published in Paris and Heidelberg and Wiesbaden:
    H. Hyvernat, Album de paléographie copte, Paris, 1888.
    A. Stegemann, Koptische Paläographie,Heidelberg, 1936.
    M. Cramer,Koptische Paläographie,Wiesbaden, 1964.

    But this references very primitive in the study of fonts of the Coptic language, contrary to the work of the two languages : Greek and Latin, as if there were a few lines from any page of any manuscript can the specialist would have to determine this line by the Greek and Latin from the monastery or the place that this, and may also determine the approximate time of the text.
    And I do not know why this weakness in the study of Coptic Fonts!!

  2. Roger Pearse

    Coptic paleography sounds as if it needs attention, then. That’s ridiculous! Surely some scholar could sit down and compile a list of dated and dateable manuscripts, and thereby create the basics for the subject?

    That’s what Mabillon did, with the very first textbook on paleography, and such a book should exist for Coptic. Coptic manuscripts have colophons; so they can certainly be dated.



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