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Bilingualism in Ancient SocietyLanguage Contact and the Written Text$
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J. N. Adams, Mark Janse, and Simon Swain

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199245062

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199245062.001.0001

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Bilingualism in Roman Egypt

Bilingualism in Roman Egypt

(p.220) 9 Bilingualism in Roman Egypt
Bilingualism in Ancient Society


Oxford University Press

This chapter examines bilingualism in Roman Egypt from a historical rather than linguistic perspective. In particular, the problems of functioning in a society where administration was officially confined to the language of the minority are discussed to see how far up or down the social hierarchy individuals were likely to remain monolingual (that is, at what points translation standardly took place), and also to look briefly at the cultural implications of language use and choice. An understanding of how far Rome’s subjects were prepared to use the language of their conquerors, and in what ways they did so, may contribute to the ongoing debates about cultural change and resistance in the Roman empire.

Keywords:   bilingualism, Roman Egypt, language use, language choice, social hierarchy, cultural change, resistance

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