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The Neo-Aramaic or Modern Aramaic languages are varieties of the Semitic Aramaic, that are spoken vernaculars from the medieval to modern era that evolved out of Imperial Aramaic via Middle Aramaic dialects, around AD 1200 (conventional date). The term strictly excludes those Aramaic languages that are used only as literary, sacred or classical languages today (for example, Targumic Aramaic, Classical Syriac and Classical Mandaic). However, the classical languages continue to have influence over the colloquial Neo-Aramaic languages. Northeastern Neo-Aramaic and Central Neo-Aramaic dialects are spoken primarily (though not wholly exclusively) by ethnic Assyrians, who are members of the Assyrian Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic Church (Eastern Rite Catholics), Syriac Orthodox Church, Ancient Church of the East, Assyrian Pentecostal Church and Assyrian Evangelical Church. The Assyrians are an indigenous people of Iraq, northeast Syria, southeast Turkey and northwest Iran, descendants of the ancient Mesopotamians. As of 2014[update], the number of fluent Neo-Aramaic speakers is significantly smaller, and newer generations of Assyrians generally are not acquiring the full language, especially as many have emigrated and acculturated into their new resident countries.[2]

Contents

1 Speakers 2 History 3 Varieties 4 See also 5 References 6 Further reading 7 External links

Speakers[edit] The numbers of fluent speakers of Neo-Aramaic languages range from approximately 575,000 to 1,000,000. The largest of these are Assyrian Neo-Aramaic with approximately 235,000 speakers, Chaldean Neo-Aramaic with approximately 216,000 speakers and Surayt/Turoyo with approximately 250,000 speakers. While these are often associated with specific religious affiliations among Assyrians (Assyrian Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic Church and Syriac Orthodox Church respectively) these dialects have speakers from different churches amongst their numbers, for example, a member of the Chaldean Catholic Church may speak Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, and a member of the Assyrian Church of the East or Syriac Orthodox Church may speak Chaldean Neo-Aramaic. There are also smaller numbers of speakers of smaller Northeastern Neo-Aramaic languages, notably Jews originally from Kurdistan, in approximate number of dozens of thousands of speakers in Israel, Western Neo-Aramaic, Judeo-Aramaic languages and Neo-Mandaic. History[edit] Throughout the history of the Aramaic language, a clear dialect boundary dividing western and eastern varieties has existed, running transversely across the Syrian Desert from southeast to northwest. Eastern Aramaic has remained dominant throughout history, and all classical languages are eastern varieties originating in Mesopotamia (Assyria-Babylonia). Only Western Neo-Aramaic, spoken in Maaloula and surrounding villages in the Anti-Lebanon by Syriac-Aramean Christian communities, remains as a witness to the once widespread western varieties of the Levant and Transjordan. Neo-Aramaic languages are not uniform; they grew out of pockets of Aramaic-speaking communities that have held fast to their language through the changes of past centuries. Therefore, the dialect continuum is incomplete, with many varieties absent. Mutual intelligibility between the varieties of the group is limited to closest neighbours only. However, many of the varieties share features that have developed in parallel from Middle Aramaic varieties and the classical languages. Varieties[edit] The other Neo-Aramaic languages are all eastern varieties, but with little homogeneity. Most distinct in this group is Modern Mandaic, which has low intelligibility with other varieties. It is the direct descendant of Classical Mandaic, which traces its roots back to the Persian-influenced Aramaic of the Arsacid Empire. Modern Mandaic is spoken fluently by about 6,000 people[3] mostly in Ahvaz, Iran, all of whom are Mandaeans, a Gnostic ethnic minority with approximately 70,000 followers in Iraq and Iran, most of whom have largely adopted Arabic or Persian despite being non-Arab and non-Iranian ethnically. The other Eastern Neo-Aramaic languages have a lot more in common with each other. Some studies have labelled this group Central Neo-Aramaic (however, that name is also used for a smaller sub-grouping) or Northern Neo-Aramaic. These languages can be divided in various ways. Sometimes they are divided by religion into Jewish and Christian varieties. However, there is not complete intelligibility throughout either religious community, and on occasion better intelligibility across the religious divide. From this group, the Christian varieties of the extreme north west of Mesopotamia – Central Neo-Aramaic (confusingly different from the definition above) – stand apart. This sub-grouping is witnessed by Turoyo/Surayt and, the now extinct, Mlahsô, both influenced by the Classical Syriac of Sassanid Assyria (Assuristan). The other varieties, both Jewish and Christian, form the largest sub-grouping of Neo-Aramaic, which is usually referred to as Northeastern Neo-Aramaic (NENA). Christian NENA varieties are influenced by Classical Syriac, but to a lesser degree than Central Neo-Aramaic, and appear to retain some Akkadian loan words and grammatical structures; Jewish NENA varieties are influenced by Targumic Aramaic. See also[edit]

List of loanwords in Assyrian Neo-Aramaic Syriac Latin alphabet

References[edit]

^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Aramaic". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.  ^ Perlin, Ross (August 14, 2014). "Is the Islamic State Exterminating the Language of Jesus?". Foreign Policy. Graham Holdings Company.  ^ Mandaic at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)

Further reading[edit]

Poizat, Bruno (2008). Manuel de Soureth (in French). Paris: Geuthner. p. 271. ISBN 978-2-7053-3804-6.  Père Jean Rhétoré (1912). Grammaire de la Langue Soureth (in French). Mossoul: imprimerie des Pères Dominicains. p. 255.  Costaz, Louis (1963). Syriac-English Dictionary. imprimerie catholique de Beyrouth. p. 421.  Oraham, A.J. (1941). Oraham's Dictionary of the stabilized and enriched Assyrian Language and English. p. 576.  Sabar, Yona (2002). A Jewish Neo-Aramaic Dictionary. Harrassowitz. ISBN 978-3-447-04557-5.  Sabar, Yona (2003). "Aramaic, once a great language, now on the verge of extinction," in When Languages Collide: Perspectives on Language Conflict, Language Competition, and Language Coexistence, Joseph, DeStefano, Jacobs, Lehiste, eds. The Ohio State University Press. pp. 222–234. ISBN 978-0-8142-0913-4.  Waltisberg, Michael (2016). Syntax des Ṭuroyo (= Semitica Viva 55). Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 978-3-447-10731-0.

External links[edit]

Aramaic Dictionary – search the online dictionary using English or Aramaic words, including many other options. Sureth – French/English Dictionary

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Modern Aramaic languages

Christian

Assyrian Neo-Aramaic Bohtan Neo-Aramaic Chaldean Neo-Aramaic Hértevin Koy Sanjaq Surat Mlahsô Senaya Turoyo

Jewish

Lishanid Noshan Barzani Jewish Neo-Aramaic Hulaulá Lishana Deni Lishán Didán Betanure Jewish Neo-Aramaic

Mandaean

Neo-Mandaic

Other

Western Neo-Aramaic

Links to related articles

v t e

Modern Semitic languages

Arabic

varieties of Arabic Judeo-Arabic Maltese

Modern Hebrew Aramaic

Western Neo-Aramaic Northeastern Neo-Aramaic Central Neo-Aramaic Assyrian Neo-Aramaic Chaldean Neo-Aramaic Bohtan Neo-Aramaic Hértevin Turoyo Koy Sanjaq Surat Senaya Syriac Mandaic Neo-Mandaic Mlahsô Judeo Aramaic

South Semitic

Old South Arabian

Jabal Razih

Modern South Arabian

Ethiopian Semitic

Gurage languages Arqobba Amharic Tigrinya Tigre Chaha Harari Silt'e Soddo Inor

v t e

Languages of Iran

Official languages

Persian

Regional languages

Azerbaijani Kurdish Luri Gilaki Mazanderani Arabic Balochi Talysh Tati Qashqai Turkmen Semnani

Minority languages

Armenian Assyrian Circassian Georgian Hebrew Domari

Sign languages

Persian Sign Language

v t e

Languages of Iraq

Official languages

Standard Arabic

Mesopotamian Arabic (Main) Bedawi

Kurdish

Minority languages

Kurdish (Main) Neo-Aramaic

Assyrian Neo-Aramaic

Armenian South Azerbaijani Luri Persian

Sign languages

Iraqi Sign Language

v t e

Languages of Syria

Official language

Standard Arabic

Minority languages

Adyghe Afshar Armenian Azerbaijani Domari Kurdish

Kurmanji

Turoyo Western Neo-Aramaic

Varieties of Arabic

Bedawi Levantine Mesopotamian Najdi North Syrian

Sign languages

Levantine Arabic Sign Language

v t e

Languages of Turkey

Official language

Turkish

Minority languages

Arabic Armenian Bulgarian Georgian Greek Kurdish (Kurmanji) Laz Zaza(ki)

Sign languages

Turkish Sign Language Mardin S

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