The Coptic language is derived from Late Egyptian, though its script is based
on the Greek alphabet with the addition of seven Demotic (late Hieroglyphic)
Its origins date to the third century AD when it was developed to make the
Christian scriptures available to the Egyptians. It became the liturgical
language of the Coptic Church after the council of Chalcedom in 451AD when the
Coptic Church officially broke away from the Orthodox Church.
Subsequently Coptic was used for theological writing, liturgy, and religious
purposes of a more general nature. It developed four to five regional dialects
and was used to translate many Greek and Gnostic manuscripts as a spoken
language. In Upper Egypt spoken Coptic appeared to persist among the Christian
communities there until about the seventeenth century.