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UD Coptic contains manually annotated Sahidic Coptic texts, currently from the Gospel of Mark, Shenoute of Atripe's "Not Because a Fox Barks", the Letters of Besa, and several short stories from the Apophthegmata Patrum.


The Coptic Universal Dependency Treebank is a manually annotated corpus of Sahidic Coptic texts, currently containing excerpts from the Sahidic New Testament Gospel of Mark, Archmandrite Shenoute of Atripe's "Not Because a Fox Barks", the Letters of Besa, and several short stories from the Apophthegmata Patrum (Sayings of the Desert Fathers). Detailed information about the treebank is available here:

The data was digitized and annotated manually for part of speech in the project Coptic Scriptorium. For individual credit and further information see:

Coptic POS tags come from the Coptic Scriptorium tag set, which is available from the project and treebank websites.

Further details

Basic statistics

subcorpus documents tokens
Not Because a Fox Barks MONB XH204-216 2,553
Abraham our Father MONB XL93-94, YA518-520 1,199
Acephalous Work 22 MONB YA421-428 1,703
Gospel of Mark Chapters 1 - 6 7,087
1 Corinthians Chapters 1 - 6 3,571
Letters of Besa #13,15,25 1,981
Apophthegmata Patrum #1-6,18-19,23-32 1,978
Martyrdom of St. Victor Chapters 1 - 6 1,985
Total: 22,057


Coptic was originally written in scriptio continua, without spaces, and modern conventions fuse multiple tokens into so-called bound groups, collapsing clitic pronouns, prepositions and other morphemes into single orthographic units.

The Coptic Treebank now annotates these bound groups as 'multi-unit' tokens. However, morphological units below the POS level, including affixes and fused compounds, are now annotated in the treebank in MISC column, using an attribute Morphs=A-B-C, where A, B and C are constituent morphemes of a complex word. There is also a further attribute in the MISC column, called Orig, which appears whenever normalization has taken place and renders the word form as it appeared in the original manuscript. This can include removal of optional diacritics and contracted forms of nomina sacra, which appear expanded in the word form column.

Note that for some fused forms carrying multiple parts of speech, the native Coptic POS tag set assigns portmanteau tags, such as APST_PPERS (auxiliary, past, fused with a subject personal pronoun). In the UD guidelines for Coptic, these forms are tolerated by always selecting the argument as the function-determining unit. Thus APST_PPERS, the past auxiliary with fused pronoun, is attached as nsubj, ignoring the aux dependency. In a future version, we are considering integrating a more subtle analysis using enhanced dependencies.

For more information on Coptic tokenization, see the Coptic Scriptorium website.


The underlying POS tagged material was produced as part of the projects Coptic Scriptorium, KOMeT and KELLIA, funded by the NEH in the USA and BMBF and DFG in Germany (see for more details). Treebank annotation was done mainly by Mitchell Abrams, Liz Davidson and Amir Zeldes. Thanks are also due to Israel Avrahamy, Asael Benyami, Yinon Kahan and Oran Szachter for their contributions.

Data Splits

Dataset splits attempt to balance genres across all sets, as well as preserve contiguous documents whenever possible. Sentence and document IDs in the data indicate the respective source texts. Sentences are not shuffled.


To cite the treebank please refer to the following paper:

  • Zeldes, Amir & Abrams, Mitchell (2018). "The Coptic Universal Dependency Treebank". In: Proceedings of the Universal Dependencies Workshop 2018. Brussels, Belgium, 192-201.
  author    = {Amir Zeldes and Mitchell Abrams},
  title     = {The Coptic Universal Dependency Treebank},
  booktitle = {Proceedings of the Universal Dependencies Workshop 2018},
  pages     = {192--201},
  year      = {2018},
  address   = {Brussels}

Further information on relevant annotation standards and NLP tools used prior to manual correction can be found in these papers:

  • Zeldes, Amir & Schroeder, Caroline T. (2016a). SCRIPTORIUM Part-of-Speech Tagsets for Sahidic Coptic. Georgetown University and University of the Pacific, Technical Report.
  • Zeldes, Amir & Schroeder, Caroline T. (2016b). "An NLP Pipeline for Coptic". In: Proceedings of LaTeCH 2016 - The 10th SIGHUM Workshop at the Annual Meeting of the ACL. Berlin, 146-155.


  • CHANGELOG 2.2 -> 2.3

Added new documents: Shenoute's Acephalous Work 22 (YA421-428) and Abraham our Father (XL93-94, YA518-520), the Martyrdom of St. Victor Chapters 1-6, Apophthegmata Patrum 27-32, 1 Corinthians Chapters 3-6 (corpus now includes 1-6) and Mark 6 (coprus now includes 1-6). Rearranged documents in train/dev/test so that all documents are contiguous and genere balance is improved (all sets now include different Shenoute texts).

Also added MISC attributes: Morphs (for sub-word morphological segmentation) and Orig (records unnormalized word form where normalization has been carried out)

  • CHANGELOG 2.1 -> 2.2

Repository renamed from UD_Coptic to UD_Coptic-Scriptorium. Added 1 Corinthians 1-3, rearranged material from Mark to make contiguous documents in train/dev/test.

  • CHANGELOG 2.0 -> 2.1

Added Apophthegmata Patrum (AP) 1-4 to training data and moved AP24 to dev and AP26 to test to create contiguous document partitions for the AP portions.

  • CHANGELOG 1.4 -> 2.0

Switched to UD v2 and added bound group information (multiword super-tokens). Added Gospel of Mark chapters 3-5 to previously available dev data, and numerous error corrections.

  • CHANGELOG 1.3 -> 1.4

First inclusion in full release as of v1.4. Added Gospel of Mark chapter 2 to previously available dev data, and numerous error corrections.

=== Machine readable metadata ==============

Documentation status: complete Data source: manual Data available since: UD v1.4 License: CC BY 4.0 Includes text: yes Lemmas: manual native UPOS: converted from manual XPOS: manual native Features: automatic Relations: manual native Genre: bible fiction nonfiction Contributors: Abrams, Mitchell; Davidson, Elizabeth; Zeldes, Amir Contributing: elsewhere Contact: