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Coptic monasteries gradually supplanted Greek gymnasiai as the most important educational and cultural centers. It was only in the fourth century that translations of Greek texts became widely diffused and only in the fifth century that literary texts began to be written in Coptic 2.
The emergence of Coptic as a language of literature was, moreover, to a large extent linked to the emergence of a new religions and social culture manifested in the Manichaean, Gnostic and Christian movements and crystallized in the rise of monasticism.
The meager results obtained from attempts to show a Coptic influence on the Arabic of Egypt preserved in papyri,as well as the literary texts of the Copts, clearly indicate that the languages were kept apart as belonging to different settings 8.
There is little evidence that the poor quality of the Arabic of these texts, as compared with classical Arabic, has anything to do with a Coptic substratum.
It was only with the large-scale immigration of Arabs, the defeat of Coptic peasant résistance to the new rulers and the repressive taxation of the Copts with the subsequent conversion oflarge parts of the population to Islam in the later eighth and in the ninth century, that Arabic became the main spoken language.
By the early ninth century, the use of Arabic among Christians had become widespread but was still regarded as contrary to their fidelity to the Christian heritage 4.
Secondly, Arabic was the language of the new rulers who decided to make it the language of administration in the early eighth century.
Thus the Christians responsible for the administration had to learn to use Arabic.
Within a few generations Coptic died out as a spoken language, and by the end of the twelfth century, Arabic had become the main written languageof the Church.
Due to the lack of firm historical data however, the process by which the Copts abandoned Coptic as their spoken language is difficult to follow.
The differences between geographical areas as well as social strata must have been very great, and the simultaneous use of Coptic and Arabic in different areas of a person's life would have been a normal phenomenon.
Not only technical terms but also particles and common verbs were borrowed 3.
As a literary language therefore, Copticis as much part of the Greek Hellenistic legacy as of the ancient Egyptian.The process in which the last stage of the Egyptian language, Coptic, was replaced by Arabic, has not yet received much attention from scholars.