The Egyptians slowly adopted the Arabic language as a written language following the Arab-Muslim conquest of Egypt in the 7th century AD. Up until then, they were speaking Egyptian in its Coptic form. For more than three centuries, there existed a period of Coptic-Arabic bilingualism in Lower Egypt. This trend would last for many more centuries in the south. Arabic may have been already familiar to Egyptians through pre-Islamic trade with Bedouin Arab tribes in the Sinai Peninsula, and the easternmost part of the Nile Delta. Egyptian Arabic seems to have begun taking shape in Fustat, the first Islamic capital of Egypt, and now part of modern-day Cairo.
One of the earliest linguistic sketches of Egyptian Arabic is a 16th century document entitled Daf` al-'iṣr `an kalām 'ahl Miṣr (دفع الإصر عن كلام أهل مصر, "The Removal of the Burden from the Language of the People of Egypt") by Yūsuf al-Maġribi (يوسف المغربي). It contains key information on early Egyptian Arabic and the language situation in medieval Egypt. The main purpose of the document was to show that while the Egyptians' vernacular contained many critical "errors" vis-à-vis Classical Arabic, according to Maġribi, it was also related to Arabic in other respects. With the ongoing Islamization, and Arabization of the country, Egyptian Arabic slowly supplanted spoken Egyptian. Local chroniclers mention the continued use of Coptic Egyptian as a spoken language until the 17th century AD by peasant women in Upper Egypt. Coptic is still the liturgical language of the Egyptian Coptic Church.
Read more about this topic: Egyptian Arabic
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