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EGYPT

 

O.T. FORD

 

مصر « Masr » / « Misr » (Arabic) / ΚΗΜЄ « Kēme » (Coptic) / « Kmt » (Ancient Egyptian)

Egypt in its original sense was simply the region of the Nile River. The Nile delta was Lower Egypt; the valley of the Nile was Upper Egypt. Ancient Egypt was inhabited by a culture of the Afro-Asiatic language family, related to but distinct from the Semitic that dominated (and continues to dominate) the Near East. The direct descendant of Ancient Egyptian is Coptic, now dead and preserved only as a liturgical dialect for the Coptic Christians. The Ancient Egyptian script, Egyptian Hieroglyphics, probably gave rise to the Semitic script that led to the modern Latin and Arabic scripts.

In modern usage, ‘Egypt’ generally refers to the state controlling the lower Nile, or the country based on that state and largely identical in extent. This state is dominated by Arabs, a Semitic people now controlling most of the Middle East and North Africa. The Egyptian state is, in terms of population size and popular culture, the clear center of the Arab World. Arabs speak Arabic, the most prominent dialect within Semitic, a branch of Afro-Asiatic. The dialect of Modern Standard Arabic is used for formal purposes throughout the Arab World; but the local vernacular, Egyptian Arabic, is quite distinctive, not only from MSA but from other vernaculars, and because of the Egyptian cultural influence (through movies, television, and music, in this case), one of the most familiar vernaculars to Arabs from elsewhere. The main city is Cairo (القاهرة « ɔal-Qāhiraḧ »).

For the modern state of Egypt:

 

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