Assyrian Neo-Aramaic

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For the ancient Assyrian dialect of Akkadian, see Akkadian language.
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic
ܐܬܘܪܝܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ Ātûrāyâ, ܣܘܪܝܬ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ Sûret-Ashuri
Suret.png
Sûret in written Syriac
(Madnkhaya script)
Native to

Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria

Region Hakkari Turkey, Urmia Iran
Native speakers
unknown (undated figure of 220,000)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 aii
Glottolog assy1241[2]

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.[citation needed]

History[edit]

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.

Assyrian Neo-Aramaic is one of a number of modern Eastern Aramaic dialects spoken in the region between Lake Urmia in Iranian Azerbaijan and Mosul in northern Iraq.

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.

Divisions[edit]

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.[3]

Dialects[edit]

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 (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.
    • Tkhuma
    • Tal
    • Lewin

Iraqi Koine[edit]

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.[4]

Script[edit]

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.

Sample phrases[edit]

English Assyrian Neo-Aramaic ܣܘܪܝܬ
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
Love ḥooba/khooba ܚܘܼܒܳܐ
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
Kiss nooshaqta ܢܘܼܫܲܩܬ݂ܐ
Thank you Tawdee ܬܳܘܕܝ
Child Yalooda (Male)/Yaldtha (Female) ܝܲܠܘܼܕܳܐ/ܝܲܠܘܼܕܬ݂ܳܐ
Students Talmeeðeh ܬܲܠܡܝܕ݂ܹܐ
(to) sit (y)toov ܝ݇ܬܘܼܒ݂
Stand/Stop Qom/Klah ܩܘܼܡ/ܟܠܳܐ
Hunger Kafna ܟܲܦܢܳܐ
Father Ahba/Ahvah ܐܒ݂ܐ
Mother Emmah/Immah ܐܸܡܳܐ
God Alaha ܞ
Uncle Khalah/ḥalah (Maternal) / ʿAmmah (Paternal) ܚܳܠܳܐ/ܥܲܡܳܐ
Aunt ḥaltha (Maternal) / ʿAmtah (Paternal) ܚܳܠܬ݂ܳܐ/ܥܲܡܬܳܐ
Help / to Help 'Udrana / 'Ader ܥܘܼܕܪܳܢܳܐ/ܥܲܕܹܪ
Man/Human (a)Nasha ܐ݇ܢܳܫܳܐ
Woman Niqwa/Niqva ܢܸܩܒ݂ܳܐ
(little) Boy Bruna/Barona ܒܳܪܘܿܢܳܐ
Girl/Daughter Barta/Bratha ܒܪܬ݂ܳܐ
Book Ktava/Ktawa or Sefra/Sepra ܟܬ݂ܳܒ݂ܳܐ/ܣܸܦ݂ܪܳܐ
Pen Qanya ܩܲܢܝܳܐ
Trousers Sheerwala (Iranic borrowing) ܫܲܪܒ݂ܵܠܵܐ
Table loḥa/looḥa ܠܘܚܳܐ
Plate Lagtha ܠܲܓܬ݂ܳܐ/
Bring M'elelee ܡܥܹܠܸܠܝܗ
Go (a)ze(l)e ܐ݇ܙܺܠ݇ܐ
Birth Yalda or Breytha (to create) ܝܲܠܕܳܐ/ܒܪܝܹܬ݂ܳܐ
Come atha/'tha ܐܲܬ݂ܳܐ
Run Rkhaṭa/rhoṭ ܪܗܘܿܛ
Walk Halka/(h)akla ܗܲܠܟܳܐ/ܗ݇ܠܲܟܳܐ
Jump Shwara ܫܘܳܪܳܐ
Rain Meṭrah ܡܸܛܪܳܐ
Sun / Star Shimsha ܫܸܡܫܳܐ
Moon Sahra ܣܲܗܪܳܐ
Fish Noona ܢܘܼܢܳܐ
Star Kekhwa or Kawkhva ܟܹܟ݂ܒ݂ܳܐ/ܟܳܘܟ݂ܒ݂ܳܐ
Elder (male) Sawa/Sava ܣܳܒ݂ܳܐ
Elder (female) Savta/Sawta ܣܳܒ݂ܬܳܐ
Hand (Y)eeda ܝܕܳܐ
Mouth Pumma/Fumma ܦܘܡܳܐ
Car 'eghalta ܥܹܓ݂ܸܠܬܳܐ
Cow / bull Tawirrta / Tawra ܬܲܘܪܬ݂ܳܐ/ܬܲܘܪܳܐ
Song Zmarta or Zmartha ܙܡܳܪܬ݂ܳܐ
Marriage Zuwagha ܙܘܘܳܓ݂ܳܐ
Tomorrow Mħar ܡܚܳܪ
Today D'Yawma ܕܝܲܘܡܳܐ
Death Mota/Mawta ܡܲܘܬܳܐ
Money (plural) Zoozeh/Kisfeh ܙܘܙܹܐ/ܟܸܣܦܹܐ
Gun Zayuna ܙܲܝܘܢܳܐ
Heart Liba ܠܹܒܳܐ
Breath Napsha/Nafsha ܢܲܦܫܳܐ
Head Reesha/Reysha ܪܝܫܳܐ
Tooth Kaka/Shina ܟܲܟܳܐ/ܫܝܢܳܐ
Dream Khelma/ḥelma ܚܹܠܡܳܐ
Village Mathah/Bnathah/Qreethah/Kafrah ܡܳܬ݂ܳܐ/ܒܢܳܬ݂ܳܐ/ܩܪܝܬ݂ܳܐ/ܟܲܦܪܳܐ
Dig Khparah/ḥfara ܚܦܳܪܳܐ
Flying Prakha/Praḥa/frakha ܦܪܳܚܳܐ
Mirror Nawra ܢܲܘܪܳܐ
River Nahra ܢܲܗܪܳܐ
Creek/Stream Tapah ܬܲܦܳܐ
Ocean Yahma ܝܳܡܳܐ
Computer ḥashoova/Khashoowa ܚܲܫܘܼܒ݂ܵܐ
one-third (1/3) Tooltha/Toolta ܬܘܠܬ݂ܳܐ
Leprosy 'Arya (also means lion) ܐܲܪܝܳܐ
Hail (type of storm) Bardah ܒܲܪܕܳܐ
Purple/Violet color 'argwana/'argewana ܐܲܪܓܘܳܢܳܐ
Color ṣevʿa'/ṣooyʿa' ܨܹܒ݂ܥܳܐ
Swamp/Pool ahmeeshah ܐܳܡܝܫܳܐ
Tin/Lead (metals) ankha/anka ܐܲܢܟܳܐ
Virgin Bthula (male) / Bthulta (female) ܒܬ݂ܘܠܳܐ/ܒܬ݂ܘܠܬܳܐ
Researcher baḥarra/bakharra ܒܲܚܳܪܳܐ
Flood Garpa'/Garfa/Mamolah/ṭawpanna ܓܲܪܦܳܐ/ܡܳܡܘܠܳܐ/ܛܲܘܦܳܢܳܐ

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Assyrian Neo-Aramaic at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Assyrian Neo-Aramaic". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Odisho, Edward, 1988
  4. ^ Odisho, Edward: The Sound System of Modern Assyrian (Neo-Aramaic) - Weisbaden, Harrassowitz, 1988

References[edit]

External links[edit]