I’ve been trying to enter corrections to the Coptic section of my book. Unfortunately all I got from the translator was *paper* corrections. I don’t know the Coptic alphabet. Worse still, I’m working with Bohairic, using the Alphabetum unicode font, rather than the commoner Sahidic unicode fonts. What am I to do?
Luckily we live in the age of the web. Here’s what I have done.
Firstly, look at the Wikipedia Coptic alphabet page. This has a really useful table, which shows and names all the letters with images. But it also has two columns which actually use a unicode font. Naturally these appear as squares, invalid characters.
So what I did then was copy and paste the whole table into a Word document. The unicode characters remained invalid, mostly — hey, my default font is Times New Roman and it doesn’t contain these.
Then I selected the two columns in Word and changed the font to Alphabetum. And … magically I got a whole load of Coptic unicode characters, all labelled, displayed at 18pt:
Now what I can do is use these characters, and just copy and paste them, one by one. Yes, I still don’t know the alphabet. But I can compare the letter types against the images, against the word document. For small amounts of Coptic, it works.
It would work for Sahidic as well, of course — just use a different font than Alphabetum.
But … the translator talks about “supralinear strokes” whatever these may be. The Wikipedia article is silent on these.
I have found a page on Coptic unicode input that does discuss these things. You can enter any unicode character using charmap. So:
Here are the choices made for the punctuation and diacritics used in modern printing of Coptic texts:
- normal English punctuation (comma, period, question mark, semicolon, colon, hyphen) uses the regular Unicode codepoints for punctuation
- dicolon: standard colon U+003A
- middle dot: U+00B7
- en dash: U+2013
- em dash: U+2014
- slanted double hyphen: U+2E17
Combining diacritics (codepoints applied after that of the character they modify):
- combining overstroke: U+0305
- combining character-joining overstroke (from middle of one character to middle of the next): U+035E
- combining dot under a letter: U+0323
- combining dot over a letter: U+0307
- combining overstroke and dot below: U+0305,U+0323
- combining acute accent: U+0301
- combining grave accent: U+0300
- combining circumflex accent (caret shaped): U+0302
- combining circumflex (curved shape) or inverted breve above: U+0311
- combining circumflex as wide inverted breve above joining two letters: U+0361
- combining diaeresis: U+0308
It is easier to enter Coptic Unicode characters if one has a customized keyboard, but it is also possible to enter any four-digit hexadecimal codepoint that you know using particular utilities in Mac OS X or Windows. … In Word for Windows, you can type a four-digit code (or a five-digit code) directly into your document and then type ALT-x, which converts the code to the character.
And there we are.
The same page also gives a Coptic unicode keyboard for Windows XP, but that’s for people who know what they are doing.