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|ܐܬܘܪܝܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ Ātûrāyâ, ܣܘܪܝܬ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ Sûret-Ashuri|
Sûret in written Syriac
|Region||Hakkari Turkey, Urmia Iran|
|unknown (undated figure of 220,000)|
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic (also known as Aššuri, Assuri, Ashuri, Aturi, Assyrian, Aisorski, Assyrianci, Assyriski, Lishana Aturaya, Neo-Syriac, Sooreth, Suret, Sureth, or Suryaya Swadaya) is a Neo-Aramaic dialect, spoken by an estimated 220,000 people (1994 SIL estimate), formerly in the area between Lake Urmia, north-western Iran, northern Iraq, north-eastern Syria and Siirt, south-eastern Turkey, but now more widely throughout the Assyrian–Chaldean–Syriac diaspora.
Ethnologue estimates that as of the mid-1990s, about 80,000 speakers lived in the Assyrian homeland in the Middle East, while the majority of speakers lived abroad, most of them in the United States or in Europe. Most speakers are members of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Ancient Church of the East. Assyrian Neo-Aramaic is to a considerable extent mutually intelligible with Chaldean Neo-Aramaic and to a lesser extent with Turoyo.
The Neo-Aramaic languages evolved from Middle Aramaic by the 13th century. The division of the Assyrians was a consequence of the religious schism of 1552 which led to the formation of the Chaldean Church. Chaldeans were originally Assyrians before this schism of 1552, causing them to split from the Assyrian people and form an audience and affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church.
All Christian dialects of Aramaic have been heavily influenced by the Syriac language, a dialect of Eastern Middle Aramaic, which became the literary and liturgical language of many churches in the Fertile Crescent and, as linguist Geoffrey Khan suggests, Akkadian elements. Christian Neo-Aramaic therefore has a dual heritage: literary Syriac and colloquial Eastern Aramaic. The Christian dialects are often called Sûret, Syriac, or Sûryāya Swādāya, Colloquial Syriac.
Russian linguists studied Assyrian Neo-Aramaic as spoken by immigrant speakers in Georgia and Armenia at the end of the 19th century. They called the language Айсорский, Aysorskiy, from Armenian: ասորի asori. However, by the 1930s, the official name of the language in Russian had become Ассирийский, Assiriyskiy, or Assyrian.
SIL Ethnologue distinguishes five dialect groups: Urmian, Northern, Central, Western, and Sapna, each with sub-dialects. Standard literary Assyrian is based on the Urmian dialect and is known as "General Urmian" (since the 1830s), with a second standard dialect derived from General Urmian eveloping in the 20th century, known as "Iraqi Koine".
The dialects in the Assyrian language are in a dialect continuum going from west to east. The Assyrian tribes in northern Iraq (i.e. Alqosh, Batnaya and Barwarnayeh to northern edges of the Iraqi border) would already begin to vary, going north. Nearing the Iraqi-Turkey border, the Barwarnayes would begin to sound more like those in the Hakkari province, Turkey (mainly Tyari, as it borders north Iraq).
In Hakkari, going east, the Nochiya, Gawarnaye and Jilwaye (who are on the eastern edge of Turkey's border), would have a slight deviation with Jilus sounding different from Nochiyas. Moving further west, now into Iran, the tribes in the West Azerbaijan Province, which borders Turkey (i.e. Urmijnaye) would have a more 'proper' or refined dialects in contrast to those in Turkey and Northern Iraq.
In a nutshell, the dialects in Northern Iraq (or "far west" in this continuum), such as those of Alqosh and Batnaya, would mostly be mutually unintelligible to those in Western Iran ("far east"), despite speaking the same language. Interestingly, this dramatic dialect continuum would roughly cover the state of Massachusetts, from west to east.
The 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. In 1852, Perkins' translation of the Bible into General Urmian was published by the American Bible Society with a parallel text of the classical Syriac Peshitta.
- Hakkari group (northern):
- Hakkari group (western):
- Tyari (i.e. Ashitha) - Dialects within this group, and especially the Western group, have more in common with Chaldean Neo-Aramaic than with Standard Assyrian (similar to General Urmian). Tyari dialects are often characterised by the presence of the fricatives θ (th) and ð (dh), where other dialects pronounce them either as stops (t and d) or, in the case of the Northern group, often eliding them.
During the First World War, many Assyrians living in Ottoman Turkey were forced from their homes, and many of their descendants now live in Iraq. The relocation has led to a separate dialect usually called Iraqi Koine. It is a mixture of the Ashiret dialects (of the above) with General Urmian. Iraqi Koine does not really constitute a new dialect, but an incomplete merger of dialects. Elements of original Ashiret dialects can still be observed in Iraqi Koine, especially in that of older speakers.
Iraqi Koine was developed in the urban areas of Iraq (i.e. Baghdad, Basra, Habbaniya and Kirkuk). This dialect is a compromise between the thicker rural accents of the mountains (i.e. Tyari) and the elegant "posh" dialect of Urmia. Iraqi Koine generally uses the [t] sound in words like "mata" (village in English), whereas the Tyari dialects of the mountains uses [th] ("matha"). Today, Iraqi Koine is the predominant use of communication between the majority of the Assyrians.
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic/Neo-Syriac is written using the Madnhāyā version of the Syriac alphabet, which is also used for classical Syriac. In the 1930s, following the state policy for minority languages of the Soviet Union, a Latin alphabet for Assyrian was developed and some material published. However, this innovation did not displace the Syriac script.
The Madnhāyā version formed as a form of shorthand developed from the Syriac alphabet and progressed further as handwriting became sloppier. The Madnhāyā version also possesses vowel markings to help foreigners learn and read Syriac.
|Hello (how are you?)||Shlama (dakhee 'eet?)||ܫܠܳܡܳܐ|
|I'm fine||Ṭava ana||ܛܳܒ݂ܳܐ ܐܳܢܳܐ|
|What is your name?||ma' 'eeleh Shimakh? (female)/ma' 'eeleh Shimukh? (male)||ܡܳܐ ܑܝܠܹܗ ܫܡ(ܘ)ܟ|
|My name is ___||'eeleh Shemee' ____||___ ܑܝܠܹܗ ܫܸܡܝܗ|
|Good morning||brikha d-ṣaprakh (female)/brikha d-ṣaprukh (male)||ܒܪܝܟ݂ܳܐ ܨܲܦܪ(ܘ)ܟ݂|
|God bless you||Barekhlakh Allaha (female)/Barekhlukh Allaha (male)||ܒܪܝܟ݂ܳܐ ܕܨܲܦܪܳ(ܘ)ܟ݂|
|I want water||BʿAyyin Mya'||ܒܥܲܝܢ ܡܝܳܐ|
|Child||Yalooda (Male)/Yaldtha (Female)||ܝܲܠܘܼܕܳܐ/ܝܲܠܘܼܕܬ݂ܳܐ|
|Uncle||Khalah/ḥalah (Maternal) / ʿAmmah (Paternal)||ܚܳܠܳܐ/ܥܲܡܳܐ|
|Aunt||ḥaltha (Maternal) / ʿAmtah (Paternal)||ܚܳܠܬ݂ܳܐ/ܥܲܡܬܳܐ|
|Help / to Help||'Udrana / 'Ader||ܥܘܼܕܪܳܢܳܐ/ܥܲܕܹܪ|
|Book||Ktava/Ktawa or Sefra/Sepra||ܟܬ݂ܳܒ݂ܳܐ/ܣܸܦ݂ܪܳܐ|
|Trousers||Sheerwala (Iranic borrowing)||ܫܲܪܒ݂ܵܠܵܐ|
|Birth||Yalda or Breytha (to create)||ܝܲܠܕܳܐ/ܒܪܝܹܬ݂ܳܐ|
|Sun / Star||Shimsha||ܫܸܡܫܳܐ|
|Star||Kekhwa or Kawkhva||ܟܹܟ݂ܒ݂ܳܐ/ܟܳܘܟ݂ܒ݂ܳܐ|
|Cow / bull||Tawirrta / Tawra||ܬܲܘܪܬ݂ܳܐ/ܬܲܘܪܳܐ|
|Song||Zmarta or Zmartha||ܙܡܳܪܬ݂ܳܐ|
|Leprosy||'Arya (also means lion)||ܐܲܪܝܳܐ|
|Hail (type of storm)||Bardah||ܒܲܪܕܳܐ|
|Virgin||Bthula (male) / Bthulta (female)||ܒܬ݂ܘܠܳܐ/ܒܬ݂ܘܠܬܳܐ|
- Assyrian Neo-Aramaic at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
- Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Assyrian Neo-Aramaic". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
- Odisho, Edward, 1988
- Odisho, Edward: The Sound System of Modern Assyrian (Neo-Aramaic) - Weisbaden, Harrassowitz, 1988
- Heinrichs, Wolfhart (ed.) (1990). Studies in Neo-Aramaic. Scholars Press: Atlanta, Georgia. ISBN 1-55540-430-8.
- 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.
|Assyrian Neo-Aramaic test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|
|For a list of words relating to Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, see the Assyrian Neo-Aramaic category of words in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Assyrian Neo-Aramaic alphabets at Omniglot
- Semitisches Tonarchiv: Dokumentgruppe "Aramäisch/Neuostaramäisch (christl.)" (text in German).
- Online Assyrian (Sureth) / English-French Dictionary by Association Assyrophile de France