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Assyrian Neo-Aramaic or simply Assyrian ( or ''Sūreṯ''), also known as Syriac, Eastern Syriac, Neo-Syriac and Modern Syriac, is an
Aramaic Aramaic (Classical Syriac The Syriac language (; syc, / '), also known as Syriac Aramaic (''Syrian Aramaic'', ''Syro-Aramaic'') and Classical Syriac (in its literary and liturgical form), is an Aramaic Aramaic (Classical Syriac ...
language within the
Semitic Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages, a name used since the 1770s to refer to the language family currently present in West Asia, North and East Africa, and Malta. Semitic may also refer to: Religions * Abrahamic religions ** ...
branch of the
Afro-Asiatic Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian or Hamito-Semitic or Semito-Hamitic, is a large language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed lang ...

Afro-Asiatic
language family that is spoken by the
Assyrian people Assyrians (, ) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, mo ...
.Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Northeastern Neo-Aramaic". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. The various Assyrian dialects descend from
Old Aramaic Old Aramaic refers to the earliest stage of the Aramaic language Aramaic ( Classical Syriac: ''Arāmāyā''; Old Aramaic: ; Aramaic alphabet, Imperial Aramaic: ; Hebrew alphabet, square script ) is a language that originated among the Aram ...
, the ''
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from , , from the word , 'disco ...
'' in the later phase of the
Assyrian Empire Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria Assyria () ( akk, 𒀸𒋩, syc, ܐܬܘܪ or ), also at times called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamian kingdom and empire of the Ancient Near East that existed as a state from perhaps as early as the 25 ...
, which slowly displaced the
East Semitic The East Semitic languages are one of three divisions Division or divider may refer to: Mathematics *Division (mathematics) Division is one of the four basic operations of arithmetic, the ways that numbers are combined to make new numbers. ...
Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages''. Ed. Roger D. Woodard (2004, Cambridge) Pages 218-280 ...

Akkadian language
beginning around the 10th century BC.Bae, C. Aramaic as a Lingua Franca During the Persian Empire (538-333 BCE). Journal of Universal Language. March 2004, 1-20. They have been further heavily influenced by
Classical Syriac The Syriac language (; syc, / '), also known as Syriac Aramaic (''Syrian Aramaic'', ''Syro-Aramaic'') and Classical Syriac (in its literary and liturgical form), is an Aramaic Aramaic (Classical Syriac The Syriac language (; syc, ...
, the
Middle Aramaic Aramaic (: ''Arāmāyā''; : ; : ; ) is a language that originated among the in the ancient , at the end of the , and later became one of the most prominent languages of the . During its three thousand years long history, Aramaic went thr ...
dialect of
Edessa Edessa (; grc, Ἔδεσσα, Édessa) was an ancient city (''polis'') in Upper Mesopotamia, founded during the Hellenistic period by King Seleucus I Nicator (), founder of the Seleucid Empire. It later became capital of the Kingdom of Osroene ...
, after its adoption as an official
liturgical language A sacred language, holy language or liturgical language is any language that is cultivated and used primarily in church service or for other religion, religious reasons by people who speak another, primary language in their daily lives. Concep ...
of the . Assyrian-speakers are native to
Upper Mesopotamia Upper Mesopotamia is the name used for the uplands and great outwash plain In geography, a plain is a flat expanse of land that generally does not change much in elevation. Plains occur as lowlands along valleys or on the doorsteps of mountai ...
, northwestern
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
, southeastern
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
and the northeastern
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
, which is a large region stretching from the plain of
Urmia Urmia or Orumiyeh ( fa, ارومیه, ;Variously transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script Script may refer to: Writing systems * Script, a distinctive writing system, based on a repertoire of sp ...

Urmia
in northwestern
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
through to the
Erbil Erbil, also called Hawler ( ku, ھەولێر ,Hewlêr ar, أربيل, Arbīl, syr, ܐܲܪܒܹܝܠ, or ''Arbel'') and known in ancient history as Arbela, is the capital and most populated city in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. It has around 1.5 ...
,
Kirkuk Kirkuk ( ar, كركوك, ku, کەرکووک, translit=Kerkûk, , tr, Kerkük) is a city in Iraq, serving as the capital of the Kirkuk Governorate, located north of Baghdad. The city is home to a diverse population of Iraqi Turkmen, Turkmens, A ...
and
Duhok Duhok ( ku, دهۆک, translit=Dihok, ar, دهوك, Dahūk, syr, ܒܝܬ ܢܘܗܕܪܐ, Beth Nohadra) is the Capital (political), capital city of Duhok Governorate, Kurdistan Region in Iraq. History According to Evliya Çelebi, the city wa ...
regions in northern
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
, together with the northern regions of
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
and to southcentral and southeastern
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia an ...

Turkey
. Maclean, Arthur John (1895). ''Grammar of the dialects of vernacular Syriac: as spoken by the Eastern Syrians of Kurdistan, north-west Persia, and the Plain of Mosul: with notices of the vernacular of the Jews of Azerbaijan and of Zakhu near Mosul''. Cambridge University Press, London. Instability throughout the Middle East over the past century has led to a worldwide diaspora of Assyrian speakers, with most speakers now living abroad in such places as North and South America, Australia, Europe and Russia. Speakers of Assyrian and
Turoyo Turoyo (''Ṭūroyo''), also referred to as modern Surayt (''Sūrayṯ''), or modern Suryoyo (''Sūryōyō''), is a Central Neo-Aramaic Central Neo-Aramaic languages represent a specific group of Neo-Aramaic languages, that is designated as ''C ...
are ethnic Assyrians and are the descendants of the ancient inhabitants of Mesopotamia. Chaldean is not considered its own independent language from Assyrian; rather, the separation of the two is a designation created by SIL on non-
linguistic Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo ...

linguistic
grounds, rendering 'Chaldean' and 'Assyrian' as dialects of 'Suret'. Assyrian is the largest extant Syrian-Aramaic language (828,930 speakers), with Turoyo (103,300 speakers) making up most of the remaining Syrian-Aramaic speakers. Both however, evolved from Middle Syrian-Aramaic which was, along with
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...
and
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
, one of "the three most important Christian languages in the early centuries" of the
Common Era Common Era (CE) is one of the year notations used for the Gregorian calendar (and its predecessor, the Julian calendar), the world's most widely used calendar era. Before the Common Era (BCE) is the era before CE. BCE and CE are alternatives ...
. Assyrian Aramaic is to a moderate degree, intelligible with Senaya, Lishana Deni, Bohtan Neo-Aramaic which are at times, also considered to be dialects of Assyrian. A similar circumstance exists with
Lishan DidanLishan may refer to: * Lishán Didán, modern Jewish Aramaic language People's Republic of China *Lishan District Lishan District () is a district of Anshan City, Liaoning, People's Republic of China. Administrative divisions There are eight Subdi ...
, Hulaulá and Lishanid Noshan. Heinrichs, Wolfhart (ed.) (1990). ''Studies in Neo-Aramaic''. Scholars Press: Atlanta, Georgia. . Its mutual intelligibility with Turoyo is partial and asymmetrical, but more significant in written form.Khan 2008, pp. 6 Assyrian is a moderately- inflected,
fusional language Fusional languages or inflected languages are a type of synthetic language A synthetic language uses inflection In linguistic morphology, inflection (or inflexion) is a process of word formation, in which a word is modified to express dif ...
with a two-
gender Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between femininity Femininity (also called womanliness or girlishness) is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with women A woman is ...
noun system and rather flexible
word order In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languag ...
.Khan 2008, pp. 6 There is some
AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages' ...

Akkadian
influence on the language. In its native region, speakers may use
Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subreg ...
,
Turkic Turkic may refer to: * anything related to the country of Turkey * Turkic languages, a language family of at least thirty-five documented languages ** Turkic alphabets (disambiguation) ** Turkish language, the most widely spoken Turkic language * T ...

Turkic
and
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
loanwords, while diaspora communities may use loanwords borrowed from the languages of their respective countries. Assyrian is written from
right-to-left In a right-to-left, top-to-bottom script Script may refer to: Writing systems * Script, a distinctive writing system, based on a repertoire of specific elements or symbols, or that repertoire * Script (styles of handwriting) * Script (Unicode), ...
and it uses the ''Madnḥāyā'' version of the
Syriac alphabet The Syriac alphabet ( ) is a writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to ...
. Assyrian, alongside other modern Aramaic languages, is now considered
endangered An endangered species is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group ...
, as newer generation of Assyrians tend to not acquire the full language, mainly due to emigration and acculturation into their new resident countries.


History

AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages' ...

Akkadian
and Syrian-Aramaic have been in extensive contact since their old periods. Local unwritten Syrian-Aramaic dialects emerged from
Imperial Aramaic Imperial Aramaic is a linguistic term, coined by modern Aramaic studies, scholars in order to designate a specific historical Variety (linguistics), variety of Aramaic language. The term is polysemic, with two distinctive meanings, wider (sociolin ...
in
Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of We ...

Assyria
. In around 700 BC, Syrian-Aramaic slowly started to replace Akkadian in Assyria, Babylonia and the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
. Widespread bilingualism among Assyrian nationals was already present prior to the fall of the Empire. The language transition was achievable because the two languages featured similarities in grammar and vocabulary, and because the 22-lettered Aramaic alphabet was simpler to learn than the
Akkadian cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo A logo (abbreviation of logotype; ) is a graphic Graphics () are visual The visual system comprises the sensory organ A sense is a biological system A biological system is a complex network which connect ...
which had over 600 signs. The converging process that took place between Assyrian Akkadian and Aramaic across all aspects of both languages and societies is known as ''Aramaic-Assyrian symbiosis''. Introduced as the official language of the
Assyrian Empire Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria Assyria () ( akk, 𒀸𒋩, syc, ܐܬܘܪ or ), also at times called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamian kingdom and empire of the Ancient Near East that existed as a state from perhaps as early as the 25 ...
by
Tiglath-Pileser III Tiglath-Pileser III (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo up Chiswick_Press.html"_;"title="Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press">Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press_ A_logo_(abbreviation_of_logotype,_from__el.html" ;"title="Chiswick_ ...
(745–727BC), it became the language of commerce and trade, the
vernacular language A vernacular or vernacular language refers to the language or dialect that is spoken by people that are inhabiting a particular country or region. The vernacular is typically the native language, normally Spoken language, spoken informally rath ...
of Assyria in the late
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's pa ...
and
classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, ...
,Aramaic Documents of the Fifth Century B. C. by G. R. Driver
/ref>The British Survey, By British Society for International Understanding, 1968, page 3 and the
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from , , from the word , 'disco ...
of the
Neo-Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire (Assyrian cuneiform Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria, a major Mesopotamian kingdom and empire * Assyrian people, an ethnic group indigenous to the Middle East * Assyrian Church (disambiguation) * Assyrian language (disam ...

Neo-Assyrian Empire
(911–605 BC),
Neo-Babylonian Empire The Neo-Babylonian Empire, also known as the Second Babylonian Empire and historically known as the Chaldean Empire, was the last of the Mesopotamian empires to be ruled by monarchs native to Mesopotamia. Beginning with Nabopolassar's coronation as ...

Neo-Babylonian Empire
(605–539 BC), the
Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and offi ...

Achaemenid Empire
(539–323 BC), the
Parthian Empire The Parthian Empire (), also known as the Arsacid Empire (), was a major political and cultural power in from 247 BC to 224 AD. Its latter name comes from its founder, , who led the tribe in conquering the region of in 's northeast, ...

Parthian Empire
(247 BC–224 AD) and the
Sasanian Empire The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (, ''Ērānshahr The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (Middle Persian Middle Persian or Pahlavi, also known by its ...

Sasanian Empire
(224–651 AD). Following the
Achaemenid The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian empire An empire is a sovereign state consisting of several territories and peoples subj ...
conquest of Assyria under
Darius I Darius I ( peo, 𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁 ; New Persian New Persian ( fa, فارسی نو), also known as Modern Persian () and Dari (), is the final stage of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym ( ...
, the Syrian-Aramaic language was adopted as the "vehicle for written communication between the different regions of the vast empire with its different peoples and languages". After the conquest of Assyria by the
Seleucid Empire The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), off ...
in the late 4th century BC, Imperial Aramaic gradually lost its status as an imperial language, but continued to flourish alongside
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
. By the 1st century AD, Akkadian was extinct, though vocabulary and grammatical features still survive in modern Assyrian.Kaufman, Stephen A. (1974),The Akkadian influences on Aramaic. University of Chicago Press The
Neo-Aramaic languages The Neo-Aramaic or Modern Aramaic languages are varieties of Aramaic Aramaic ( Classical Syriac: ''Arāmāyā''; Old Aramaic: ; Imperial Aramaic: ; square script ) is a language that originated among the Arameans The Arameans (Old Aram ...
evolved from Middle Syrian-Aramaic by the 13th century. p. 251 There is evidence that the drive for the adoption of Syriac was led by missionaries. Much literary effort was put into the production of an authoritative translation of the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Gree ...

Bible
into Syriac, the
Peshitta The Peshitta ( syc, ܦܫܺܝܛܬܳܐ ''or'' ') is the standard version of the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hel ...

Peshitta
(, '). At the same time,
Ephrem the Syrian Ephrem the Syrian ( syc, ܡܪܝ ܐܦܪܝܡ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ, Mār ʾAp̄rêm Sūryāyā, ; grc-koi, Ἐφραὶμ ὁ Σῦρος, Efrém o Sýros; la, Ephraem Syrus; ), also known as Saint Ephrem, Ephrem of Edessa or Aprem of Nisibis, was a pr ...
was producing the most treasured collection of poetry and theology in the Classical Syriac language. By the 3rd century AD, churches in Urhay in the kingdom of
Osroene Osroene (; grc, Ὀσροηνή / ''Osrhoēnē'', Romanized as ''Osroëne'', or ''Osrhoene'') was an ancient region and state in Upper Mesopotamia Upper Mesopotamia is the name used for the uplands and great outwash plain In geography, a pl ...

Osroene
began to use Classical Syriac as the language of worship and it became the literary and liturgical language of many churches in the
Fertile Crescent The Fertile Crescent is a crescent-shaped region in the Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an establishe ...

Fertile Crescent
. Syriac was the common tongue of the region, where it was the native language of the Fertile Crescent, surrounding areas, as well as in parts of
Eastern Arabia Eastern Arabia was historically known as ''Al-Bahrain'' ( ar, اَلْبَحْرَيْنِ) until the 18th century. This region stretched from the south of Basra along the Persian Gulf The Persian Gulf ( fa, خلیج فارس, translit=Xa ...
. It was the dominant language until 900 AD, till it was supplanted by Greek and later Arabic in a centuries-long process having begun in the
Arab conquests The early Muslim conquests ( ar, الفتوحات الإسلامية, ''al-Futūḥāt al-Islāmiyya''), also referred to as the Arab conquests and the early Islamic conquests began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad ) , birth_date ...
. The differences with the
Church of the East The Church of the East ( syc, , ''ʿĒḏtā d-Maḏenḥā''), also called the Persian Church, East Syrian Church, Babylonian Church, Seleucian Church, Edessan Church, Chaldean Church, or the Nestorian Church, was an church of the , based ...
led to the bitter
Nestorian schism The Nestorian Schism (431), in church history, involved a split between the Christian churches of Sassanid Persia, which affiliated with Nestorius, and churches that rejected him. The schism rose out of a Christological dispute, notably involvi ...
in the Syriac-speaking world. As a result of the schism as well as being split between living in the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
in the west and the
Sasanian Empire The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (, ''Ērānshahr The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (Middle Persian Middle Persian or Pahlavi, also known by its ...

Sasanian Empire
in the east, Syrian-Aramaic developed distinctive
Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world, countries that ide ...
and Eastern varieties. Although remaining a single language with a high level of comprehension between the varieties, the two employ distinctive variations in pronunciation and writing systems and, to a lesser degree, in vocabulary and grammar. During the course of the third and fourth centuries AD, the inhabitants of the region began to embrace Christianity. Because of theological differences, Syriac-speaking Christians bifurcated during the 5th century into the
Church of the East The Church of the East ( syc, , ''ʿĒḏtā d-Maḏenḥā''), also called the Persian Church, East Syrian Church, Babylonian Church, Seleucian Church, Edessan Church, Chaldean Church, or the Nestorian Church, was an church of the , based ...
, or East Syrians under Sasanian rule, and the
Syriac Orthodox#REDIRECT Syriac Orthodox Church , native_name_lang = syc , image = Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate 2k18.jpg , imagewidth = , alt = Cathedral of Saint George , caption = Cathedral of Sain ...
, or West Syrians under the
Byzantine empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine empire
. After this separation, the two groups developed distinct dialects differing primarily in the pronunciation and written symbolisation of
vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writing system using symbols for syllables ...

vowel
s. The
Mongol The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; russian: Монголы, ) are an East Asian East Asia is the eastern region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") ...

Mongol
invasions of the 13th century and the religiously motivated massacres of
Assyrians Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria, a major Mesopotamian kingdom and empire * Assyrian people, an ethnic group indigenous to the Middle East * Assyrian Church (disambiguation) * Assyrian language (disambiguation) * SS Assyrian, SS ''Assyrian'', seve ...
by
Tamurlane Timur ( chg, ''Temür'' "Iron"; 9 April 133617–19 February 1405), later Timūr Gurkānī ( chg, ''Temür Küregen''), sometimes spelled Taimur and historically best known as Amir Timur or Tamerlane ( fa, تيمور لنگ ; chg, Aqsa ...

Tamurlane
further contributed to the rapid decline of the language. In many places outside of northern Mesopotamia (the
Assyrian homeland The Assyrian homeland or Assyria ( syc, ܐܬܘܪ, Āṯūr) refers to areas inhabited by Assyrian people, Assyrians. The areas that form the Assyrian homeland are parts of present-day Iraq, Turkey, Iran and more recently Syria as well. Moreover, ...
), even in
liturgy Liturgy is the customary public worship performed by a religious group. As a religious phenomenon, liturgy represents a community, communal response to and participation in the sacred through activities reflecting praise, thanksgiving, remembrance ...
, the language was replaced by
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
. "Modern Syriac Aramaic" is a term occasionally used to refer to the modern
Neo-Aramaic languages The Neo-Aramaic or Modern Aramaic languages are varieties of Aramaic Aramaic ( Classical Syriac: ''Arāmāyā''; Old Aramaic: ; Imperial Aramaic: ; square script ) is a language that originated among the Arameans The Arameans (Old Aram ...
, including Assyrian. Even if they cannot be positively identified as the direct descendants of attested Middle Syriac, they must have developed from closely related dialects belonging to the same branch of Aramaic, and the varieties spoken in Christian communities have long co-existed with and been influenced by Middle Syriac as a liturgical and literary language. Moreover, the name "Syriac", when used with no qualification, generally refers to one specific dialect of Middle Aramaic but not to Old Aramaic or to the various present-day Eastern and
Central Neo-Aramaic Central Neo-Aramaic languages represent a specific group of Neo-Aramaic languages, that is designated as ''Central'' in reference to its geographical position between Western Neo-Aramaic and other Eastern Aramaic groups. Its linguistic homeland is ...
languages descended from it or from close relatives. In 2004, the ''Constitution of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region'' recognised Syriac in article 7, section four, stating, "Syriac shall be the language of education and culture for those who speak it in addition to the Kurdish language." In 2005, the Iraqi constitution recognised it as one of the "official languages in the administrative units in which they constitute density of population" in article 4, section four.


Script


History

The original
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
n writing system, believed to be the world's oldest, was derived around 3600 BC from this method of keeping accounts. By the end of the 4th millennium BC, the Mesopotamians were using a triangular-shaped stylus made from a reed pressed into soft clay to record numbers. Around 2700 BC,
cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era. It is nam ...

cuneiform
began to represent syllables of spoken , a
language isolate Language isolates are languages that cannot be classified into larger language families with any other languages. Korean language, Korean and Basque language, Basque are two of the most commonly cited language isolates, but there are many others. ...
genetically unrelated to the
Semitic Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages, a name used since the 1770s to refer to the language family currently present in West Asia, North and East Africa, and Malta. Semitic may also refer to: Religions * Abrahamic religions ** ...

Semitic
and
Indo-Iranian languages The Indo-Iranian languages (also Indo-Iranic languages or Aryan languages) constitute the largest and southeasternmost extant branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family. They have more than 1.5 billion speakers, stretc ...

Indo-Iranian languages
that it neighboured. About that time, Mesopotamian cuneiform became a general purpose writing system for
logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign lang ...
s,
syllable A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels a ...

syllable
s and numbers. This script was adapted to another Mesopotamian language, the
East Semitic The East Semitic languages are one of three divisions Division or divider may refer to: Mathematics *Division (mathematics) Division is one of the four basic operations of arithmetic, the ways that numbers are combined to make new numbers. ...
AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages' ...

Akkadian
( Assyrian and
Babylonia Babylonia () was an and based in central-southern which was part of Ancient Persia (present-day and ). A small -ruled state emerged in 1894 BCE, which contained the minor administrative town of . It was merely a small provincial town dur ...
n) around 2600 BC. With the adoption of
Aramaic Aramaic (Classical Syriac The Syriac language (; syc, / '), also known as Syriac Aramaic (''Syrian Aramaic'', ''Syro-Aramaic'') and Classical Syriac (in its literary and liturgical form), is an Aramaic Aramaic (Classical Syriac ...
as the ''
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from , , from the word , 'disco ...
'' of the
Neo-Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire (Assyrian cuneiform Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria, a major Mesopotamian kingdom and empire * Assyrian people, an ethnic group indigenous to the Middle East * Assyrian Church (disambiguation) * Assyrian language (disam ...

Neo-Assyrian Empire
(911–609BC), Old Aramaic was also adapted to Mesopotamian cuneiform. The last cuneiform scripts in Akkadian discovered thus far date from the 1st century AD. Various bronze lion-weights found in
Nineveh Nineveh (; ar, نَيْنَوَىٰ '; syr, ܢܝܼܢܘܹܐ, Nīnwē; akk, ) was an ancient Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a n kingdom and of the that existed as a state from perhaps as early as the 25th ...
featured both the Akkadian and Aramaic text etched on them, bearing the names of Assyrian kings, such as
Shalmaneser III Shalmaneser III (''Šulmānu-ašarēdu'', "the god Shulmanu is pre-eminent") was king of Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن '; grc, Μεσ ...

Shalmaneser III
(858-824 B.C), King Sargon (721-705 B.C) and
Sennacherib Sennacherib (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo up Chiswick_Press.html"_;"title="Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press">Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press_ A_logo_(abbreviation_of_logotype,_from__el.html" ;"title="Chiswick_Press_. ...

Sennacherib
(704-681 B.C). Indication of contemporaneous existence of the two languages in 4th century B.C. is present in an Aramaic document from
Uruk Uruk, also known as Warka, was an ancient city of (and later of ) situated east of the present bed of the River on the dried-up ancient channel of the Euphrates east of modern , , .Harmansah, 2007 Uruk is the for the . Uruk played a leading ...
written in cuneiform. In
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Babil'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bavel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babili'' *Kassite The Kassites ...

Babylon
, Akkadian writing vanished by 140 B.C, with the exclusion of a few priests who used it for religious matters. Though it still continued to be employed for astronomical texts up until the
common era Common Era (CE) is one of the year notations used for the Gregorian calendar (and its predecessor, the Julian calendar), the world's most widely used calendar era. Before the Common Era (BCE) is the era before CE. BCE and CE are alternatives ...
. The Syriac script is a
writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communic ...
primarily used to write the
Syriac language The Syriac language (; syc, / '), also known as Syriac Aramaic (''Syrian Aramaic'', ''Syro-Aramaic'') and Classical Syriac (in its literary and liturgical form), is an Aramaic Aramaic (: ''Arāmāyā''; : ; : ; ) is a language that ...

Syriac language
from the 1st century AD. It is one of the
Semitic Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages, a name used since the 1770s to refer to the language family currently present in West Asia, North and East Africa, and Malta. Semitic may also refer to: Religions * Abrahamic religions ** ...

Semitic
abjad An abjad () is a type of writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to th ...

abjad
s directly descending from the
Aramaic alphabet Aramaic (Syriac alphabet, Classical Syriac: ''Arāmāyā''; Old Aramaic language, Old Aramaic: ; Aramaic alphabet, Imperial Aramaic: ; Hebrew alphabet, square script ) is a language that originated among the Arameans in the ancient Syria (re ...

Aramaic alphabet
and shares similarities with the
Phoenician Phoenician may refer to: * Phoenicia, an ancient civilization * Phoenician alphabet * Phoenician language * List of Phoenician cities * Phoenix, Arizona See also

* Phoenix (mythology) * Phoenicia (disambiguation) {{disambiguation Language an ...

Phoenician
,
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-survivi ...

Hebrew
,
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
and the traditional
Mongolian alphabet , 2. folded, 3. 'Phags-pa, 4. Todo Todo may refer to: * Todo Bichig, Kalmyk ‘Clear Script’ * To-do list, a time management implementation * TODO, a computer programming Fixme, comment tag * Todo (album), ''Todo'' (album) Tōdō may refer to ...
s. The alphabet consists of 22 letters, all of which are consonants. It is a
cursive Cursive (also known as script, among other names) is any style of penmanship Penmanship is the technique of writing Writing is a medium of human communication that involves the representation of a language with written symbols. Writi ...

cursive
script where some, but not all, letters connect within a word. Aramaic writing has been found as far north as in
Ancient Britain Several species of humans have intermittently occupied Great Britain for almost a million years. The Roman invasion of Britain, Roman conquest of Britain in 43 AD is regarded as the start of recorded history although some historical informatio ...
, in the form of inscriptions in Aramaic, made by Assyrian soldiers serving in the
Roman Legions The Roman legion ( la, legiō, ) was the largest military unit of the Roman army The Roman army (: ) was the armed forces deployed by the Romans throughout the duration of , from the (to c. 500 BC) to the (500–31 BC) and the (31 BC– ...
in northern England during the 2ndcentury AD.


Modern development

The oldest and classical form of the alphabet is ' (); the name is thought to derive from the Greek adjective (''strongúlē'') 'round'. Although ʾEsṭrangēlā is no longer used as the main script for writing Syriac, it has undergone some revival since the 10th century. When
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
gradually began to be the dominant spoken language in the
Fertile Crescent The Fertile Crescent is a crescent-shaped region in the Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an establishe ...

Fertile Crescent
after the 7th century AD, texts were often written in Arabic with the Syriac script.
Malayalam Malayalam (; , ) is a Dravidian language Dravidian languages (or sometimes Dravidic languages) are a family of languages In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recogni ...

Malayalam
was also written with Syriac script and was called Suriyani Malayalam. Such non-Syriac languages written in Syriac script are called ''
GarshuniGarshuni or Karshuni (Syriac alphabet: , Arabic alphabet: ) are Arabic writings using the Syriac alphabet. The word "Garshuni" was used by George Kiraz to coin the term "garshunography", denoting the writing of one language in the script of another. ...
'' or ''Karshuni''. The ''Madnhāyā'', or 'eastern', version formed as a form of shorthand developed from ʾEsṭrangēlā and progressed further as handwriting patterns changed. The ''Madnhāyā'' version also possesses optional vowel markings to help pronounce Syriac. Other names for the script include ', 'conversational', often translated as "contemporary", reflecting its use in writing modern Neo-Aramaic.


Letters

Three letters act as
matres lectionis ''Matres lectionis'' (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power ...
: rather than being a consonant, they indicate a vowel. '' ʾĀlep̄'' (), the first letter, represents a , but it can also indicate the presence of certain vowels (typically at the beginning or the end of a word, but also in the middle). The letter '' Waw'' () is the consonant ''w'', but can also represent the vowels ''o'' and ''u''. Likewise, the letter represents the consonant ''y'', but it also stands for the vowels ''i'' and ''e''. In addition to foreign sounds, a marking system is used to distinguish ', 'hard' letters) from ', 'soft' letters). The letters ''Bēṯ'', ''Gāmal'', ''Dālaṯ'', ''Kāp̄'', ''Pē'' and ''Taw'', all
plosives In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical ...
('hard'), are able to be spirantised into
fricative Fricatives are consonants manner of articulation, produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two Place of articulation, articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the bac ...
s ('soft'). The system involves placing a single dot underneath the letter to give its 'soft' variant and a dot above the letter to give its 'hard' variant (though, in modern usage, no mark at all is usually used to indicate the 'hard' value).


Latin alphabet

In the 1930s, following the state policy for minority languages of the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a of multiple national ; in practice and were highly until its final years. The ...
, a
Latin alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally used by the ancient Romans In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived ...

Latin alphabet
was developed and some material published. Despite the fact that this innovation did not displace the Syriac script, the usage of the Latin script in the Assyrian community has become rather widespread due to the
Assyrian diaspora Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria, a major Mesopotamian kingdom and empire * Assyrian people Assyrians (, ) are an ethnic group indigenous to the Middle East. Some self-identify as Terms for Syriac Christians#Syriac identity, Syriacs, Chaldean ...
's settlement mostly being in
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
and the anglophone, where the Latin script dominates. The Latin alphabet is preferred by most Assyrians for practical reasons and its convenience, especially in
social media Social media are interactive technologies that facilitate the creation Creation may refer to: Religion * Creation ''ex nihilo'', the concept that matter was created by God out of nothing * Creation myth A creation myth (or cosmogonic myth) ...

social media
, where it is used to communicate. Although the Syriac Latin alphabet contains
diacritics A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph The term glyph is used in typography File:metal movable type.jpg, 225px, Movable type being assembled on a composing stick using pieces that ...
, most Assyrians rarely utilise the modified letters and would conveniently rely on the basic Latin alphabet. The Latin alphabet is also a useful tool to present Assyrian terminology to anyone who is not familiar with the Syriac script. A precise transcription may not be necessary for native Assyrian speakers, as they would be able to pronounce words correctly, but it can be very helpful for those not quite familiar with Syriac and more informed with the Latin script.


Phonology


Consonants

Notes: * In all Assyrian dialects, voiced, voiceless, aspirated and emphatic consonants are recognised as distinct phonemes, though there can be an overlap between plain voiceless and voiceless emphatic in sound quality. * In Iraqi Koine Assyrian and many Urmian & Northern dialects, the palatals [], [] and aspirate [] are considered the predominate realisation of //, // and aspirate //. *In the Koine and Urmi dialects, velar fricatives / / are typically uvular as * The phoneme // is only used by Assyrian-speakers under larger Arabic influence. In most dialects, it is realised as []. The one exception to this is the dialect of Hértevin language, Hértevin, which merged the two historical phonemes into [ħ], thus lacking [x] instead. * The pharyngeal consonant, pharyngeal //, represented by the letter '''', is a marginal phoneme that is generally upheld in formal or religious speech. Among the majority of Assyrian speakers, would be realised as [], [], [], [], Zero (linguistics), deleted, or even Gemination, geminating the previous consonant, depending on the dialect and phonological context. * // may also be heard as a tap sound []. * // is a phoneme heard in the
Tyari Tyari ( syr, ܛܝܵܪܹܐ, Ṭyārē) is an Assyrian tribe and a historical district within Hakkari, Turkey. The area was traditionally divided into Upper (''Tyari Letha'') and Lower Tyari (''Tyari Khtetha'')–each consisting of several Assyria ...
, Barwari and Chaldean dialects. In most of the other Assyrian varieties, it merges with //, though [] is found in loanwords for these varieties of Assyrian. * The phonemes and have allophonic realisations of [] and [] (respectively) in most Lower Tyari, Barwari and Chaldean dialects, which is a carryover of ''
begadkefat Begadkefat (also begadkephat, begedkefet) is the name given to a phenomenon of lenition affecting the non- emphatic stop consonant In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in ...
'' from the Ancient Aramaic period. * In the Upper Tyari dialects, /θ/ is realised as [] or []; in the Marga dialect, the /t/ may at times be replaced with []. * In the Urmian dialect, // has a widespread allophone [] (it may vacillate to [] for some speakers). * In the Jilu dialect, // is uttered as a tense []. This can also occur in other dialects. * In the Iraqi Koine dialect, a labial-palatal approximant sound [] is also heard. *// is affricated, thus pronounced as [] in some Urmian, Tyari and Nochiya dialects. // would be affricated to [] in the same process. * // is a marginal phoneme that occurs across all dialects. Either a result of the historic splitting of /g/, through loanwords, or by contact of [] with a voiced consonant. *// is found predominately from loanwords, but, in some dialects, also from the voicing of // (e.g. ''ḥašbunā'' /xaʒbu:na:/, "counting", from the root ''ḥ-š-b,'' "to count") as in the Jilu dialect. */n/ can be pronounced [] before velar consonants [x] and [q] and as [] before labial consonants. * In some speakers, a dental click (English "tsk") may be used para-linguistically as a negative response to a "Yes and no, yes or no" question. This feature is more common among those who still live in the homeland or in the Middle East, than those living in the diaspora.


Vowels

According to linguist Edward Odisho, there are six vowel phonemes in Iraqi Koine. They are as follows: * , as commonly uttered in words like ''naša'' ("man; human"), is central for many speakers. It is usually in the Urmian and Nochiya tribe, Nochiya dialects. For some Urmian and Jilu speakers, may be used instead. In those having a more pronounced Jilu dialect, this vowel is mostly fronted and raising (phonetics), raised to . In the
Tyari Tyari ( syr, ܛܝܵܪܹܐ, Ṭyārē) is an Assyrian tribe and a historical district within Hakkari, Turkey. The area was traditionally divided into Upper (''Tyari Letha'') and Lower Tyari (''Tyari Khtetha'')–each consisting of several Assyria ...
and Barwari dialects, it is usually more back . *, a long vowel, as heard in ''raba'' ("much; many"), may also be realised as , depending on the speaker. It is more rounded and higher in the Urmian dialect, where it is realised as . * , heard in ''beta'' ("house") is generally diphthongised to in the Andaç, Uludere, Halmon dialect (a Lower Tyari tribe). To note, the [aj] diphthong is a Conservative (language), vestigial trait of classical Syriac and thereby may be used in Prestige (sociolinguistics), formal speech as well, such as in Sacred language, liturgy and hymns. * , uttered in words like ''dədwa'' ("housefly"), is sometimes realised as (a schwa). *The mid vowels, preserved in Tyari, Barwari, Baz and Chaldean dialects, are sometimes Raising (phonetics), raised and Phonological change, merged with close vowels in Urmian and some other dialects: **, as in ''gora'' ("big"), is raised to [u]. The Urmian dialect may diphthongise it to . **, as in ''kepa'' ("rock"), is raised to . *, as in ''tora'' ("bull") may be diphthongised to in some Tyari, Barwari, Chaldean and Jilu dialects. *Across many dialects, close vowel, close and close-mid vowels are Near-close vowel, lax when they occur in a Syllable#Open and closed, closed syllable: ** or is usually realised as ; ** or is usually realised as . East Syriac dialects may recognize half-close sounds as and also recognize the back vowel as a long form of . Two basic diphthongs exist, namely and . For some words, many dialects have Monophthongization, monophthongised them to and respectively. For Noun, substantives, A common vowel alteration in Assyrian is Apophony, apophonically shifting the final ''-a'' to ''-e'', so ''ṭera'' ('bird') will be ''ṭere'' ('birds') in its plural form.


Phonetics of Iraqi Koine

Iraqi Koine is a Dialect levelling, merged dialect which formed in the mid-20th century, being influenced by both Urmian and Hakkari dialects. *Iraqi Koine, like the majority of the Assyrian dialects, realises as instead of . *Iraqi Koine generally realises the interdental fricatives , in words like ''maṯa'' ("village") and ''rqaḏa'' ("dancing") as alveolar stops , respectively. *Dorsal fricatives / / are heard as uvular as *Predominantly, in words like ''qalama'' ("pen") does not merge with . *The diphthong in words like ''tawra'' ("bull"), as heard in most of Hakkari dialects, are realised as : ''tora''. *The diphthong in ''zuyze'' ("money") is retained as : ''zuze''. *Depending on the speaker, the velar stops and may be affricated as and respectively. *The in some present progressive verbs like ''či'axla'' ("[she] eats") is retained as : ''ki'axla''.


Grammar

Modern Assyrian is a null-subject language with both ergative language, ergative morphology and a nominative-accusative system, and also features pro-drop language, pronoun drop to a significant degree. Like English and modern Hebrew, Assyrian largely lacks grammatical cases, with prepositions and prepositional prefixes largely taking on the role cases would otherwise. The Semitic genitive case, genitive, which a noun is possessed or modified by another noun or noun phrase, is expressed morphologically by the genitive morpheme ''d-'' (e.g. ''betā d-nāšā'', 'house of the man' or 'the man's house'), indicating Possession (linguistics), possession. Gemination occurs in the language, as heard in words like ''libbā'' ("heart") and ''šmayyā'' ("sky"). Even though subject–verb–object (SVO) is the default sentence structure of Syriac, subject–object–verb (SOV), verb–subject–object (VSO), verb–object–subject (VOS), object–verb–subject (OVS) and object–subject–verb (OSV) are also possible word orders in modern Assyrian, namely due to Inversion (linguistics), inversion taking place, thus making Assyrian Neo-Aramaic a flexible language, akin to
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...
and
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
. Due to language contact, Assyrian may share similar grammatical features with Persian language, Persian and Kurdish language, Kurdish in the way they employ the negative Copula (linguistics), copula in its full form before the verbal Constituent (linguistics), constituent and also with the Affirmation and negation, negated forms of the present perfect. As a Central Semitic languages, central Semitic language, Assyrian is closely related to Hebrew language, Hebrew, Arabic language, Arabic, Western Neo-Aramaic and Mandaic language, Mandaic and bears a relatively similar grammatical style to these languages.


Personal pronouns

In Assyrian, personal pronouns have seven forms. In singular forms, the Grammatical person, 2nd and 3rd have separate masculine gender, masculine and feminine gender, feminine forms, while the 1st (and, in some dialects, the 2nd person subject pronoun) do(es) not. The plural forms also lack gender distinction. Like all Semitic languages and the unrelated Insular Celtic languages, Assyrian uses inflected prepositions when it comes to personal pronouns – the preposition ''āl'' ("on") inflects as ''ālli'' ("on me").


Nouns

Nouns carry grammatical gender (masculine or feminine). They can be either singular or plural in number (a very few can be dual, a vestigial trait of Old Aramaic). Almost all singular Noun, substantives (Proper noun, common nouns and adjectives) are suffixed with ''-ā'' in their Lemma (morphology), lemma form, the main exception being foreign words, which do not always take the suffix. The three Definiteness, grammatical states present in Classical Syriac are no longer Productivity (linguistics), productive, only being used in a few set terms and phrases (for example, , ''bar nāšā,'' "man, person", literally "son of man"), with the emphatic state becoming the ordinary form of the noun. Adjectives always agree in gender and number with the nouns that they modify. In Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, most genitive relationships are built using the relative particle ''d-'', used in the same way as English "of" (e.g. , ''nuhrā d-šimšā'', "the light of the sun"). Though written as a prefix on the noun in the genitive, the modern spoken form occurs as a suffix on the Head (linguistics), head, with some dialects displaying final-obstruent devoicing (e.g. ''nuhr-id šimšā'' or ''nuhr-it šimšā'').


Verbs

Finite verbs carry grammatical person, person, gender and number, as well as grammatical tense, tense and Grammatical conjugation, conjugation. The non-finite verb forms are the gerund and the active voice, active and passive voice, passive participles. Verb forms are marked for person (first, second or third), grammatical number, number (singular or plural), gender (masculine or feminine), mood (indicative, imperative mood, imperative, jussive or gerund) and Voice (grammar), voice (Dynamic verb, active or Passive voice, passive). Assyrian employs a system of Grammatical conjugation, conjugations to mark intensive and extensive developments in the lexical meaning of verbs. Verb conjugations are present in other Semitic languages. These are regular modifications of the verb's root to express other changes in meaning. The first conjugation is the 'ground' stem (a.k.a. G-stem or ''Peal'' stem), which models the shape of the root and carries the usual meaning of the word. The next is the 'intensive' stem (a.k.a. D-stem or ''Pael'' stem), which usually carries an intensive, intensified meaning. The third is the 'extensive' stem (a.k.a. C-stem or ''Aphel'' stem), which is often causative in meaning. Although Classical Syriac has a coordinate passive voice, passive conjugation for each stem (''Ethpeel'', ''Ethpaal'' and ''Ettaphel'' stems, respectively), Modern Assyrian does not. Instead, passive meanings are sometimes expressed through the ''Peal''; Agent (grammar), agentive ones, through the ''Aphel''. The following table illustrates the possible verbal conjugations of the root ''ṣ-l-y'' (), which carries the basic meaning of "descending": The particle ''[h]wā'' () may follow verbal forms to indicate an action further in the past (e.g. , ''ṣālē [h]wā'', "he used to go down"). Assyrian may also Affirmation and negation, negate clauses by using double negatives, such as in the phrase ''le yawin la zuze'' ("I won't give no money"). Common negation words include ''la'', ''hič'' and ''čuh'', depending on usage and dialect. ;Verbal stems


Suffixes

Assyrian uses verbal inflections marking person and number. The suffix "''-e''" indicates a (usually masculine) plural (i.e. ''warda'', "flower", inflection, becomes ''warde'', "flowers"). Enclitic forms of personal pronouns are affixed to various parts of speech. As with the object pronoun, possessive pronouns are suffixes that are possessive affix, attached to the end of nouns to express possession similar to the English pronouns ''my, your, his, her,'' etc., which reflects the gender and plurality of the person or persons. This is a synthetic language, synthetic feature found in other Semitic languages and also in unrelated languages such as Finnish language, Finnish (Uralic languages, Uralic), Persian language, Persian (Indo-European languages, Indo-European) and Turkish language, Turkish (
Turkic Turkic may refer to: * anything related to the country of Turkey * Turkic languages, a language family of at least thirty-five documented languages ** Turkic alphabets (disambiguation) ** Turkish language, the most widely spoken Turkic language * T ...

Turkic
). Moreover, unlike many other languages, Assyrian has virtually no means of morphological derivation, deriving words by adding prefixes or suffixes to words. Instead, they are formed according to a limited number of templates applied to roots.Solomon, Zomaya S. (1994). ''Basic sentence structure in Assyrian Aramaic'', Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies, VIII/1:83–107 Modern Assyrian, like Akkadian but unlike Arabic, has only "sound" plurals formed by means of a plural ending (i.e. no broken plurals formed by changing the word stem). As in all Semitic languages, some masculine nouns take the prototypically feminine plural ending (''-tā'').


Possessive suffixes

Although possessive suffixes are more convenient and common, they can be optional for some people and seldom used, especially among those with the Tyari and Barwari dialects, which take a more analytic language, analytic approach regarding possession, just like English possessive determiners. The following are Periphrasis, periphrastic ways to express possession, using the word ''betā'' ("house") as a base (in Urmian/Iraqi Koine): *my house: ''betā-it dīyī'' ("house-of mine") *your (Grammatical gender, masc., sing.) house: ''betā-it dīyux'' ("house-of yours") *your (fem., sing.) house: ''betā-it dīyax'' ("house-of yours") *your (plural) house: ''betā-it dīyōxun'' ("house-of yours") *3rd person (masc., sing.): ''betā-it dīyū'' ("house-of his") *3rd person (fem., sing.): ''betā-it dīyō'' ("house-of hers") *3rd person (plural): ''betā-it dīyéh'' ("house-of theirs")


Stress

Like English, Assyrian is a Stress timing, stress-timed language, although some dialects may be more Syllable timing, syllable-timed. In native words, Assyrian Neo-Aramaic almost always Stress (linguistics), stresses the penultimate syllable. Although Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, like all Semitic languages, is not a tonal language, a tonal stress is made on a plural possessive suffix -''éh'' (i.e. ''dīyéh''; "their") in the final vowel to pitch accent, tonally differentiate it from an unstressed -''eh'' (i.e. ''dīyeh''; "his"), which is a masculine Possessive determiner, singular possessive, with a standard stress pattern falling on the penult. The -''eh'' used to denote a singular Third person (grammar), third person masculine possessive (e.g. ''bābeh'', "his father"; ''aqleh'', "his leg") is present in most of the traditional dialects in Hakkari and Nineveh Plains, but not for Urmian and some Iraqi Koine speakers, who instead use -''ū'' for possessive "his" (e.g. ''bābū'', "his father"; ''aqlū'', "his leg"), whilst retaining the stress in -''éh'' for "their". This phenomenon however may not always be present, as some Hakkari speakers, especially those from Tyari and Barwar, would use analytic speech to denote possession. So, for instance, ''bābeh'' (literally, "father-his") would be uttered as ''bābā-id dīyeh'' (literally, "father-of his"). In Iraqi Koine and Urmian, the plural form and the third person plural possessive suffix of many words, such as ''wardeh'' and ''biyyeh'' ("flowers"/"eggs" and "their flower(s)"/"their eggs", respectively), would be homophones were it not for the varying, distinctive stress on the penult or ultima.


Determinative

When it comes to a determinative (like in English ''this'', ''a'', ''the'', ''few'', ''any'', ''which'', etc.), Modern Assyrian generally has an absence of an Article (grammar)#Zero article, article (English "the''"''), unlike other Semitic languages such as Arabic language, Arabic, which does use a definite article ( ar, ال, ''al-''). Demonstratives (''āhā'', ''āy''/''āw'' and ''ayyāhā/awwāhā'' translating to "Demonstrative, this", "that" and "that one over there", respectively, demonstrating Demonstrative#Distal and proximal demonstratives, proximal, medial and distal deixis) are commonly utilised instead (e.g. ''āhā betā'', "this house"), which can have the sense of "the". An indefinite article ("a(n)") can mark definiteness if the word is a direct object (but not a subject) by using the prepositional prefix "''l-''" paired with the proper suffix (e.g. ''šāqil qālāmā'', "he takes a pen" vs. ''šāqil-lāh qālāmā'', "he takes the pen"). Article (grammar)#Partitive article, Partitive articles may be used in some speech (e.g. ''bayyīton xačča miyyā?'', which translates to "do you [pl.] want some water?"). In place of a definite article, Ancient Aramaic used the emphatic state, formed by the addition of the suffix: "''-ā''" for generally masculine words and "''-t(h)ā''" (if the word already ends in ''-ā'') for feminine. The definite forms were ''pallāxā'' for "the (male) worker" and ''pallāxtā'' for "the (female) worker". Beginning even in the Classical Syriac era, when the prefixed preposition "''d-''" came into more popular use and replaced state Morphology for marking possession, the emphatic (definite) form of the word became dominant and the definite sense of the word Phonological change, merged with the indefinite sense so that ''pālāxā'' became "a/the (male) worker" and ''pālaxtā'' became "a/the (female) worker."


Consonantal root

Most Assyrian Neo-Aramaic nouns and verbs are built from Semitic root#Triconsonantal roots, triconsonantal roots, which are a form of word formation in which the root (linguistics), root is modified and which does not involve stringing morphemes together sequentially. Unlike Arabic, broken plurals are not present. Semitic languages typically utilise triconsonantal roots, forming a "grid" into which vowels may be inserted without affecting the basic root. The root ' () has the basic meaning of "taking", and the following are some words that can be formed from this root: *' (): "he has taken" (literally "taken-by him") *' (): "he takes" *' (): "she takes" *' (): "take!" *' (): "taking" *' (): "taken"


Tenses

Assyrian Neo-Aramaic has lost the Perfect (grammar), perfect and imperfect morphology (linguistics), morphological tenses common in other Semitic languages. The present tense is usually marked with the subject (grammar), subject pronoun followed by the participle; however, such pronouns are usually omitted in the case of the third person. This use of the participle to mark the present tense is the most common of a number of ''compound'' tenses that can be used to express varying senses of tense and aspect. Assyrian's new system of inflection is claimed to resemble the one of the Indo-European languages, namely the Iranian languages. This assertion is founded on the utilisation of an active participle concerted with a copula (linguistics), copula and a passive participle with a genitive/dative element which is present in Old Persian and in Neo-Aramaic. Both Modern Persian and Assyrian Neo-Aramaic build the present perfect tense around the past/resultative participle in conjunct with the copula (though the placing and form of the copula unveil crucial differences). The more conservative Assyrian dialects lay the copula in its full shape before the verbal Constituent (linguistics), constituent. In the Iraqi and Iranian dialects, the previous construction is addressable with different types of the copula (e.g. deictic) but with the elemental copula only the cliticised form is permitted. Among conservative Urmian speakers, only the construction with the enclitic ordered after the verbal constituent is allowed. Due to language contact, the similarities between Kurdish and Modern Persian and the Urmian dialects become even more evident with their Negation (linguistics), negated forms of present perfect, where they display close similarities, which, from the Assyrian perspective, are patent innovations in the Assyrian language. A recent feature of Assyrian Neo-Aramaic is the usage of the infinitive instead of the present base for the expression of the present progressive, which is also united with the copula. Although the language has some other varieties of the copula precedent to the verbal constituent, the common construction is with the infinitive and the basic copula cliticsed to it. In Jewish Urmian of Assyrian, the symmetrical order of the constituents is with the present perfect tense. This structure of the Assyrian dialects is to be compared with the present progressive in Kurdish and Turkish language, Turkish as well, where the enclitic follows the infinitive. Such construction is present in Kurdish, where it is frequently combined with the locative element "in, with", which is akin to the preposition bi- preceding the infinitive in Assyrian (as in "bi-ktawen" meaning 'I'm writing'). The similarities of the constituents and their Morphosyntactic alignment, alignment in the present progressive construction in Assyrian is clearly attributed to influence from the neighbouring languages, such as the use of the infinitive for this construction and the employment of the enclitic copula after the verbal base in all verbal constructions, which is due to the impinging of the Kurdish and Turkish speech. The morphology (linguistics), morphology and the valency of the verb, and the arrangement of the Grammatical relation, grammatical roles should be noticed when it comes to the similarities with Kurdish language, Kurdish. Unlike Old Persian, Modern Persian made no distinction between Transitive verb, transitive and intransitive verbs, where it unspecialised the absolutive type of inflection. Different handling of inflection with transitive and intransitive verbs is also nonexistent in the Assyrian dialects. In contrast with Persian though, it was the ergative type that was generalised in Assyrian. ;Persian and Assyrian verb tense comparison


Ergativity

Although Aramaic has been a nominative-accusative language historically, split ergativity in Christian and Jewish Neo-Aramaic languages developed through interaction with ergative Iranian languages, such as Kurdish language, Kurdish, which is spoken by the Muslim population of the region. Ergativity formed in the perfective aspect only (the imperfective aspect is nominative-accusative), whereas the subject (grammar), subject, the original agent (grammar), agent Grammatical construction, construction of the passive participle, was expressed as an oblique case, oblique with dative case, and is presented by Agreement (linguistics), verb-agreement rather than case. The absolutive argument in Transitive verb, transitive clauses is the syntactic object (grammar), object. The dialects of Kurdish make a concordant distinction between transitive and intransitive verbs by using a tense-split ergative pattern, which is present in the tense system of some Assyrian dialects; The nominative accusative type is made use of in the present for all the verbs and also for intransitive verbs in past tense and the ergative type is used instead for transitive verbs. Unique among the Semitic languages, the development of ergativity in northeastern Neo-Aramaic dialects involved the departure of original Aramaic tensed finite verbal forms. Thereafter, the active participle became the root of the modern Assyrian imperfective, while the passive voice, passive participle evolved into the modern Assyrian perfective. The Extended-Ergative dialects, which include Iraqi Koine, Hakkari and Christian Urmian dialects, show the lowest state of ergativity and would mark unaccusative subjects and intransitive verbs in an ergative pattern. Furthermore, Assyrian dialects exhibiting a higher level of ergativity are mostly SOV, while the dialects displaying a lower degree of ergativity are generally SVO. ;Ergativity patterns


Vocabulary

One online Assyrian dictionary website
Sureth Dictionary
lists a total 40,642 words–half of which are Root (linguistics), root words. Due to geographical proximity, Assyrian List of loanwords in Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, has an extensive number of
Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subreg ...
loanwords–namely Persian language, Persian and Kurdish–incorporated in its vocabulary, as well as some Arabic, Ottoman Turkish language, Ottoman Turkish and, increasingly within the last century, English loanwords (see list of loanwords in Assyrian Neo-Aramaic). Mesopotamian Arabic, Mesopotamian Iraqi Arabic, being an Aramaic Syriac substratum, is said to be the most Syriac-Varieties of Arabic, influenced dialect of Arabic, sharing significant similarities in language structure, as well as having evident and stark influences from other ancient Mesopotamian languages of Iraq, such as
AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages' ...

Akkadian
,
Babylonia Babylonia () was an and based in central-southern which was part of Ancient Persia (present-day and ). A small -ruled state emerged in 1894 BCE, which contained the minor administrative town of . It was merely a small provincial town dur ...
n and . Mesopotamian Arabic dialects developed by Iraqi Arabs, Iraqi Muslims, History of the Jews in Iraq, Iraqi Jews, as well as dialects by Christianity in Iraq, Iraqi Christians, most of whom are native Syriac speakers. Assyrian Neo-Aramaic has over 300 words borrowed into its vocabulary directly from Akkadian, some of them also being borrowed into neighbouring Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew. Several of these words are not attested in Classical Edessan Syriac, many of them being agriculture, agricultural terms, being more likely to survive by being spoken in agrarian rural communities rather than the urban centres like Edessa. A few deviations in pronunciation between the Akkadian and the Assyrian Aramaic words are probably due to mistranslations of cuneiform signs which can have several readings. While Akkadian nouns generally end in "''-u''" in the nominative case, Assyrian Neo-Aramaic words nouns end with the vowel "''-a''" in their lemma form.


Dialects

SIL Ethnologue distinguishes five dialect groups: Urmian, Northern, Central, Western and Sapna, each with sub-dialects. Mutual intelligibility between the Assyrian dialects is as high as 80%–90%. The
Urmia Urmia or Orumiyeh ( fa, ارومیه, ;Variously transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script Script may refer to: Writing systems * Script, a distinctive writing system, based on a repertoire of sp ...

Urmia
dialect has become the prestige dialect of Assyrian Neo-Aramaic after 1836, when that dialect was chosen by Justin Perkins, an American Presbyterian missionary, for the creation of a standard literary dialect of Assyrian. A second standard dialect derived from General Urmian known as "Iraqi Koine language, Koine", developed in the 20th century.Rev. Justin Perkins : "A residence of eight years in Persia among the Nestorian Christians", New York, 1843 – P: 304. In 1852, Perkins's translation of the Bible into General Urmian was published by the American Bible Society with a parallel text of the Classical Syriac
Peshitta The Peshitta ( syc, ܦܫܺܝܛܬܳܐ ''or'' ') is the standard version of the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hel ...

Peshitta
.


Grouping

* ''Iranian group'': **
Urmia Urmia or Orumiyeh ( fa, ارومیه, ;Variously transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script Script may refer to: Writing systems * Script, a distinctive writing system, based on a repertoire of sp ...

Urmia
(west of Lake Urmia) (Urmia Christian Neo-Aramaic) ** Sopurghan (north of
Urmia Urmia or Orumiyeh ( fa, ارومیه, ;Variously transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script Script may refer to: Writing systems * Script, a distinctive writing system, based on a repertoire of sp ...

Urmia
) ** Naghadeh (south of Lake Urmia) ** Salmas (north west of Lake Urmia) ** Sanandaj (Iranian Kurdistan) (Senaya language, Senaya dialect) *''Turkey group'': **Nochiya tribe, Nochiya ** Jilu (west of Gavar and south of Qudshanis) ** Gawar (between Salmas and Van) ** Diza ** Baz, Turkey, Baz ** Lower
Tyari Tyari ( syr, ܛܝܵܪܹܐ, Ṭyārē) is an Assyrian tribe and a historical district within Hakkari, Turkey. The area was traditionally divided into Upper (''Tyari Letha'') and Lower Tyari (''Tyari Khtetha'')–each consisting of several Assyria ...
– Dialects of the Tyari group share features with both the Chaldean Neo-Aramaic dialects in Northern Iraq (below) and Urmian (above). *** Ashita *** Zawita ***Andaç, Uludere, Halmon/Geramon ***Mangesh **Upper Tyari ***Walto **Upper Barwari *** Qochanis (just south of Lake Van) **Tkhuma **Tal **Lewin **Bohtan ( Bohtan Neo-Aramaic) *''northern
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
(Nineveh Plains)'': ** Chaldean Neo-Aramaic ***Tel Keppe *** Alqosh *** Batnaya *** Tel Isqof, Tesqopa *** Zakhu (i.e. Lishana Deni, although it is not considered a Chaldean dialect) ***Araden ** Lower Barwari – The dialect within this group has more in common with Tyari than with Upper Barwari dialect *** Dooreh *** Hayes


Iraqi Koine

Iraqi Koine, also known as Iraqi Assyrian and "Standard" Assyrian, is a compromise between the rural Ashiret accents of Hakkari and Nineveh Plains (listed above) and the former prestigious dialect in
Urmia Urmia or Orumiyeh ( fa, ارومیه, ;Variously transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script Script may refer to: Writing systems * Script, a distinctive writing system, based on a repertoire of sp ...

Urmia
. Iraqi Koine does not really constitute a new dialect, but an incomplete merger of dialects, with some speakers sounding more Urmian, such as those from Habbaniyah, Habbaniya, and others more Hakkarian, such as those who immigrated from northern
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
. Koine is more analogous or similar to Urmian in terms of manner of articulation, place of articulation and its consonant cluster formations than it is to the Hakkari dialects, though it just lacks the regional Farsi language, Farsi influence in some consonants and vowels, as the front vowels in Urmian tend to be more fronted and the back vowel, back ones more rounded. For an English accent equivalence, the difference between Iraqi Koine and Urmian dialect would be akin to the difference between Australian English, Australian and New Zealand English. During the First World War, many Assyrians living in Ottoman Turkey were Assyrian genocide, forced from their homes, and many of their descendants now live in
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
. The relocation has led to the creation of this dialect. Iraqi Koine was developed in the Urban area, urban areas of
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
(i.e. Baghdad, Basra, Habbaniya and Kirkuk), which became the meccas for the rural Assyrian population. By the end of the 1950s, vast number of Assyrians started to speak Iraqi Koine. Today, Iraqi Koine is the predominant use of communication between the majority of the Assyrians from Cities in Iraq, Iraqi cities and it is also used as the standard dialect in music and formal speech. Some modern Hakkari speakers from Iraq can switch accent reduction, back and forth from their Hakkari dialects to Iraqi Koine when conversing with Assyrian speakers of other dialects. Some Syrian-Assyrians, who originate from Hakkari, may also speak or sing in Iraqi Koine. This is attributed to the growing exposure to Assyrian Standard-based literature, media and its use as a liturgical language by the Church of the East, which is based in Iraq. Elements of original ''Ashiret'' dialects can still be observed in Iraqi Koine, especially in that of older speakers. Furthermore, Syriac folk music, Assyrian songs are generally sung in Iraqi Koine in order for them to be intelligible and have widespread recognition. To note, the emergence of Koine did not signify that the rest of the spoken dialects vanished. The ''Ashiret'' dialects are still active today and widely spoken in northern
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
and Northeastern Syria as some Assyrians remained in the rural areas and the fact that the first generation immigrant, first generation speakers who relocated in urban areas still maintained their native dialects.


Dialect continuum

Neo-Aramaic has a rather slightly defined dialect continuum, starting from the Assyrians in northern
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
(e.g. Alqosh, Batnaya) and ending with those in Western
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
(
Urmia Urmia or Orumiyeh ( fa, ارومیه, ;Variously transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script Script may refer to: Writing systems * Script, a distinctive writing system, based on a repertoire of sp ...

Urmia
). The dialects in Northern Iraq, such as those of Alqosh and Batnaya, would be minimally unintelligible to those in Western Iran.Beth-Zay‘ā, Esha‘yā Shamāshā Dāwīd, ''Tash‘īthā d-Beth-Nahreyn'', Tehran: Assyrian Youth Cultural Society Press, 1963, p. 895 Nearing the Iraqi-Turkey border, the Barwari and
Tyari Tyari ( syr, ܛܝܵܪܹܐ, Ṭyārē) is an Assyrian tribe and a historical district within Hakkari, Turkey. The area was traditionally divided into Upper (''Tyari Letha'') and Lower Tyari (''Tyari Khtetha'')–each consisting of several Assyria ...
dialects are more "traditionally Assyrian" and would sound like those in the Hakkari province in Turkey. Furthermore, the Barwar and Tyari dialects are "transitional", acquiring both Assyrian and Chaldean phonetic features (though they do not use /ħ/). Gawar, Diz and Jilu are in the "centre" of the spectrum, which lie halfway between Tyari and Urmia, having features of both respective dialects, though still being distinct in their own manner.Odisho, Edward: The Sound System of Modern Assyrian (Neo-Aramaic) - Weisbaden, Harrassowitz, 1988 In Hakkari, going east (towards
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
), the Nochiyaye, Nochiya dialect would begin to sound distinct to the Tyari/Barwar dialects and more like the Urmian dialect in
Urmia Urmia or Orumiyeh ( fa, ارومیه, ;Variously transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script Script may refer to: Writing systems * Script, a distinctive writing system, based on a repertoire of sp ...

Urmia
, West Azerbaijan Province, Western Azerbaijan, containing a few Urmian features. The Urmian dialect, alongside Iraqi Koine, are considered to be "Standard Assyrian", though Iraqi Koine is more widespread and has thus become the more common standard dialect in recent times. Both Koine and Urmian share phonetic characteristics with the Nochiya dialect to some degree.


Literature

Early Syriac texts still date to the 2nd century, notably the Peshitta, Syriac Bible and the ''Diatesseron'' Gospel harmony. The bulk of Syriac literary production dates to between the 4th and 8th centuries. Classical Syriac literacy survives into the 9th century, though Syriac Christian authors in this period increasingly wrote in
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
. The emergence of spoken Neo-Aramaic languages, Neo-Aramaic is conventionally dated to the 13th century, but a number of authors continued producing literary works in Syriac in the later medieval period. Because Assyrian, alongside Turoyo, is the most widely spoken variety of Syriac today, modern Syriac literature would therefore usually be written in those varieties. The conversion of the Mongols to Islam began a period of retreat and hardship for Syriac Christianity and its adherents, although there still has been a continuous stream of Syriac literature in
Upper Mesopotamia Upper Mesopotamia is the name used for the uplands and great outwash plain In geography, a plain is a flat expanse of land that generally does not change much in elevation. Plains occur as lowlands along valleys or on the doorsteps of mountai ...
and the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
from the 14th century through to the present day. This has included the flourishing of literature from the various colloquial Eastern Aramaic Neo-Aramaic languages still spoken by
Assyrians Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria, a major Mesopotamian kingdom and empire * Assyrian people, an ethnic group indigenous to the Middle East * Assyrian Church (disambiguation) * Assyrian language (disambiguation) * SS Assyrian, SS ''Assyrian'', seve ...
. This ''Neo-Syriac'' literature bears a dual tradition: it continues the traditions of the Syriac literature of the past and it incorporates a converging stream of the less homogeneous spoken language. The first such flourishing of Neo-Syriac was the seventeenth century literature of the School of Alqosh, in northern
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
.William Wright: ''A Short History of Syriac Literature'', 1894, 1974 (reprint) This literature led to the establishment of Assyrian Aramaic as written literary languages. In the nineteenth century, printing presses were established in
Urmia Urmia or Orumiyeh ( fa, ارومیه, ;Variously transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script Script may refer to: Writing systems * Script, a distinctive writing system, based on a repertoire of sp ...

Urmia
, in northern
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
. This led to the establishment of the 'General Urmian' dialect of Assyrian Neo-Aramaic as the standard in much Neo-Syriac Assyrian literature up until the 20th century. The ''Urmia Bible'', published in 1852 by Justin Perkins was based on the
Peshitta The Peshitta ( syc, ܦܫܺܝܛܬܳܐ ''or'' ') is the standard version of the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hel ...

Peshitta
, where it included a parallel translation in the Urmian dialect. The comparative ease of modern publishing methods has encouraged other colloquial Neo-Aramaic languages, like Turoyo, to begin to produce literature.


See also

*
Assyrian people Assyrians (, ) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, mo ...
*Aramaic language *
Syriac alphabet The Syriac alphabet ( ) is a writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to ...
*
Syriac language The Syriac language (; syc, / '), also known as Syriac Aramaic (''Syrian Aramaic'', ''Syro-Aramaic'') and Classical Syriac (in its literary and liturgical form), is an Aramaic Aramaic (: ''Arāmāyā''; : ; : ; ) is a language that ...

Syriac language
*Jewish Assyrian Neo-Aramaic


Notes


References


Sources

* * * * * *
Remarks on the Historical Background of the Modern Assyrian Language
Geoffrey Khan, University of Cambridge * Maclean, Arthur John (1895). ''Grammar of the dialects of vernacular Syriac: as spoken by the Eastern Syrians of Kurdistan, north-west Persia, and the Plain of Mosul: with notices of the vernacular of the Jews of Azerbaijan and of Zakhu near Mosul''. Cambridge University Press, London. * * * *


External links

* v:Assyrian/Latin Alphabet Learn Assyrian, Latin Alphabet on Wikiversity
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic alphabets
at ''Omniglot''
Semitisches Tonarchiv: Dokumentgruppe "Aramäisch/Neuostaramäisch (christl.)"


{{authority control Eastern Aramaic languages Neo-Aramaic languages Syriac languages Languages of Iraq Languages of Syria Languages of Iran Languages of Armenia Languages of Georgia (country) Languages of Turkey Fusional languages Stress-timed languages Subject–verb–object languages Subject–object–verb languages Verb–subject–object languages Verb–object–subject languages Object–verb–subject languages Object–subject–verb languages Endangered Afroasiatic languages Languages of Kurdistan