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78                  The Loom 0/ Language
a Frenchman He was able to do this as lie had a good knowledge of
the Coptic language The Copts were, and still are, Egyptian Christians,
and m the old days their language was Egyptian In time small changes
came about, as is natural Their writing was in Gieelr, with seven
special letters for sounds which aie not in Greek In Coptic churches
to this day the books of rehgion arc in Coptic, though only a small
number, even of the readers, have knowledge of the language It went
out of common use five hundred yeais back With the help of this
language, Champollion was able to make out the other signs after the
name PTOLM*S, and much moie, foi the Copts had word-books giving
Egyptian words in the Coptic writing '*
The preceding account does not expose all the relevant circumstances
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(By kind permit ion of Mi. I  J  Pitman)
which led to this discovery The readci will find further details in
Science for the Citizen (p 1080) On lus expedition to Egypt, Napoleon
took with him a staff of savants, including some of the greatest men of
science of that time A discovery which may seem remote from useful
knowledge, if we overlook the deplorable social consequences of
arrogantly dismissing the cultural debt of any favoured race or nation
to the rest of mankind, was the direct outcome of encouraging research
with a practical end m view. We may hope for greater progress in our
knowledge of the evolution of languages when there are fewer scholars
who cherish their trade-mark of gentlemanly uselessness, and more
real humanists whoa like Sweet, Jespersen, Ogden, or Sapir, modestly
accept their responsibility as cm/ens* co-operating in the task of
making language an instrument for peaceful collaboration between
nations, A avilization which produces poison gas and tliermite has no
need for humanists who are merely grammarians What we now need
is the grammarian who is truly a humanist,
The fact that all alphabets come from one source has an important