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A language with a long documented history may be expected to show a great deal of dialectal diversity. For Egyptian-Coptic there are particular conditions. Except for the Delta, the country is one-dimensional, a feature that may make the distribution of dialectal differences simpler than in a country with a normal areal extension. Another specific feature is that all Egyptian idioms that precede Coptic are transmitted without the vowels, thereby obscuring all vocalic differences (which play such a great role in Coptic dialect variation). However, recent research has revealed that in the earliest stages of Egyptian language history there was a drastic dialectal gap. The feature best visible is the phonetic value and the etymology of graphemes ?ayin and ?.