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The language - The old Nubian

The Nubian Language is the common feature among all Nubian. Nubian of today talk the language but don't write it. Several scholars have conducted researches and studies on the Old Nubian. Except for one single Nubian speaking Scholar( the Late Dr. Mukhtar M.Khalil of the Dept. of Archaeology- Cairo University) all others are non-Nubian and their researches and studies are based mainly on findings. Dr. Khalil believed that talking the language itself makes alot of difference in verification of the Old Nubian Language and scripts. In his book "The Nubian Language - Writing in Nubian Script..?" which is about to be published in the near future (by Nubian Publishing House-faye - Dr. Shallabi and others -Sudan) there are answers to many frequently asked questions on this Old Nubian language. The script or characters he used are almost similar to those verified by other acknowledged scholars like Griffith and Browne.The Old Nubian Miracle of Saint Menas Manuscript (British Museum) is considered as the most significant finding in this respect.There is a set of TrueType Nubian Fonts for Microsoft Windows used by almost all scholars nowadays which I am referring to. The first manual on writing in Old Nubian based on the late Dr. Mukhtar's set of Characters has been published by The Nubian Studies and Documentation Center-NSDC- Dec. 1997

Greek letters had been used to write the Old Nubian Language.Both the Old Coptic and the Old Nubian used Greek letters but they are not one same language.

"..In my publications , I have always used a Coptic font (as did Griffith and Zyhlarz), simply for convenience. But the Old Nubian writing has a decidedly different ductus from Coptic , so much so that one can easily decide between Coptic and Old Nubian even in the smallest fragments...." Prof. Gerald M. Browne in a letter to Abubakr Sidahmed- author of this Nubian Home Page... (oct. 1994)

" ..the appearance of the letters is basically greek, in particular the kind of Greek alphabet in use in the East in the 9th./10th. centuries. Modern editions use the Coptic font, but this is simply for convenience. All one has to do is juxtapose a typical Coptic ms. with an Old Nubian ms. , and the difference is striking...." Prof. Gerald M. Browne in a letter to Abubakr Sidahmed (May 1996)

" Prof. Gerald M. Browne is the acknowledged world expert on Old Nubian ...." Derek A Welsby BA, PhD.- Honorary Secretary of SARS in a letter to Abubakr Sidahmed - author of this Nubian Home Page

Resources and References:

Prof. Gerald M. Browne- University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign-Dept. of the Classics - College of Liberal ARts and Sciences- 4072 Foreign Language Bldg., 707 South Mathews Ave. Urbana, IL 61801

" THE OLD NUBIAN MIRACLE OF SAINT MENAS" a monograph on Miracle of Saint Menas by : Gerald M. Browne

"Old Nubia: the past,Present and Future" article by :Gerald M Browne (Egypt and Africa- Nubia from Prehistory to Islam-M.V.Davis - British Museum Press)

Mahas and Fiadidja http://www.sil.org/ethnologue/
http://www.sil.org/htbin/ethcodes/gopher/ethnologue/?TEXT=R457448-458142 -/gopher_root/ethnologue/ethnolog12/eth12af.db

Part of the Ethnologue, 12th Edition
Copyright 1992, SIL Inc.

Ethnologue Record:


Language name (for sorting):

Language code:


Alternate language names:

Genetic affiliation :
Nilo-Saharan, Eastern Sudanic, Eastern, Nubian, Northern

Primary country of language:

Geographical region:
Upper Nile Valley. Also in Sudan

338,000 total; 52% of Nile Nubians in Egypt are Fiadidja (1987 Schreck and Barrett)

Printings of whole books of Bible:

67% lexical similarity with Kenuzi-Dongola; not intelligible. Spoken by the Fedicca in Egypt and the Mahas in Sudan. The language is the center of Nubian identity. 70% of the men can read Arabic script; many can read Roman script

Copyright 1996, Summer Institute of Linguistics, Inc.
Send feedback on the content of the Ethnologue to: Ethnologue@sil.org

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