Chaldean Neo-Aramaic

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Chaldean Neo-Aramaic
ܟܠܕܝܐ Kaldāyâ, ܣܘܼܪܲܝܬ Sōreth
Sureth.png
Sûret in written Syriac
(Madnkhaya script)
Pronunciation [kalˈdɑjɑ], [sorɛθ]
Native to Iraq, Iran, Turkey
Region Iraq; Mosul, Ninawa, now also Baghdad and Basra.
Native speakers
unknown (undated figure of 220,000)[1]
(110,000 in Iraq in 1994)
Syriac (Madenhaya alphabet)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 cld
Glottolog chal1275[2]

Chaldean Neo-Aramaic is a Northeastern Neo-Aramaic language[3] spoken throughout a large region stretching from the plain of Urmia, in northwestern Iran, to the Nineveh plains, in northern Iraq, together with parts of southeastern Turkey.[4]

As of the 1990s, the NENA group had an estimated number of speakers just below 500,000, spread throughout the Middle East and the Assyrian diaspora. More than 90% of these speak either the Chaldean Neo-Aramaic or Assyrian Neo-Aramaic variety, two varieties of Christian Neo-Aramaic or Sureth which, contrary to what their names suggest, are not divided among denominational Chaldean church/Assyrian church lines.[5][6][7] A further number speak Central Neo-Aramaic dialects, with figures for these ranging from 112,000 to 450,000 speakers.[8] Mutual intelligibility with Assyrian Neo-Aramaic and Chaldean Neo-Aramaic is considerable, but to a limited degree in some dialects.

It is extremely closely related to Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, both evolving from the same Syriac language, a distinct dialect which evolved in Assyria[9] between the 5th century BC and 1st century AD. The terms Syrian and thus Syriac were originally 9th century BC Indo-Anatolian derivatives of Assyrian.[10]

Speakers are ethnic Assyrians and are descendants of the ancient inhabitants of Upper Mesopotamia.[11][12][13][14][15]

Despite the terms Chaldean Neo-Aramaic and Assyrian Neo-Aramaic indicating a separate religious or even ethnic identity, both languages and their native speakers originate from and are indigenous to the same Upper Mesopotamian region (what was Assyria between the 25th century BC and 7th century AD), and both originate directly from Syriac, which was founded in that same region, speakers of both languages are regarded as of exactly the same ethnicity by historians, linguists, and geneticists.

Even in a puerely theological sense, the terms are misleading, as many speakers of Chaldean Neo-Aramaic are in fact members of the Assyrian Church of the East, Syriac Orthodox Church, Assyrian Evangelical Church, or Assyrian Pentecostal Church, and similarly, many speakers of Assyrian Neo-Aramaic are members of the Chaldean Catholic Church and Syriac Orthodox Church.[16]

History[edit]

The Syriac language in turn, had evolved from Imperial Aramaic, an Akkadian infused dialect introduced as the lingua franca of Assyria and the Neo-Assyrian Empire by Tiglath-Pileser III in the 8th century BC. The term Syrian and thus its derivative Syriac, had originally been 9th century BC Indo-Anatolian and Greek corruptions of Assyria.[17]

Before the schism of 1552, most Christians in northern Mesopotamia were members of the Assyrian Church of the East, with a minority being affiliated with the Syriac Orthodox Church.[18] When the schism split the church, many of the Christians of the northern Amid region opted for communion with the Roman Catholic Church and became members of the Church of Assyria and Mosul in the 1550s AD, which was only much later renamed the Chaldean Catholic Church in 1683 AD.[19]

Chaldean Neo-Aramaic is one of a number of modern Northeastern Aramaic languages spoken by the Assyrian people,[20][21] native to the northern region of Iraq from Kirkuk through the Nineveh plains, Irbil and Mosul to Dohuk, Urmia in northwestern Iran, northeastern Syria (particularly the Al Hasakah region) and in southeast Turkey, particularly Hakkari, Bohtan, Harran, Tur Abdin, Mardin and Diyarbakir. The Assyrian Christian dialects have been heavily influenced by Classical Syriac, the literary language of the Assyrian Church and Syriac Christianity in antiquity.

Therefore, Christian Neo-Aramaic has a dual heritage: literary Syriac and colloquial Neo-Assyrian Eastern Aramaic. The closely related Assyrian Christian dialects are often collectively called Soureth, or Syriac in Iraqi Arabic.

Jews, Mandeans and Syriac-Aramean Christians speak different dialects of Aramaic that are often mutually unintelligible.

Dialects[edit]

Chaldean Neo-Aramaic and Assyrian Neo-Aramaic are dialects originating in the Nineveh Plains and Upper Mesopotamia, a region which was an integral part of ancient Assyria between the 25th century BC and 7th century AD. They have a number of identifiable dialects, each corresponding to one of the Chaldo-Assyrian Christian villages where the language is spoken. The village/dialects are: Ankawa, Alqosh, Aqrah, Mangesh, Tel Keppe, Baghdeda, Tel Skuf, Baqofah, Batnaya, Bartella, Sirnak-Cizre (Bohtan), Araden and Dahuk.

Phonology[edit]

Consonants[edit]

Table of Assyrian Neo-Aramaic consonant phonemes
Labial Dental/
Alveolar
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
plain emphatic
Nasal m n
Plosive b k ɡ q ʔ
Fricative sibilant s z ʃ
non-sibilant f θ ð x ɣ ħ ʕ h
Approximant w l j
Rhotic r
  • Like the Assyrian Neo-Aramaic dialect of Tyari, most of the Chaldean dialects are characterised by the presence of the fricatives /θ/ (th) and /ð/ (dh), which correspond to, respectively, /t/ and /d/ in other Assyrian dialects.
  • Most Chaldean Neo-Aramaic varieties would use the phoneme of /f/, which corresponds to /p/ in Assyrian Neo-Aramaic (besides the Tyari dialect).
  • In some Chaldean dialects /r/ is realized as [ɹ]. In others, it's either a tap [ɾ] or a trill [r].

Vowels[edit]

Front Central Back
Close i
Mid ɛ ə ɔ
Open a ɑ

Script[edit]

Chaldean Neo-Aramaic is written in the Madenhaya version of the Syriac alphabet, which is also used for classical Syriac. The School of Alqosh produced religious poetry in the colloquial Neo-Aramaic rather than classical Syriac in the 17th century prior to the founding of the Chaldean Catholic Church and the naming of the dialect as Chaldean Neo-Aramaic, and the Dominican Press in Mosul has produced a number of books in the language.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Chaldean Neo-Aramaic at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Chaldean Neo-Aramaic". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Beyer, Klaus; John F. Healey (trans.) (1986). The Aramaic Language: its distribution and subdivisions. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht. p. 44. ISBN 3-525-53573-2.
  5. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Northeastern Neo-Aramaic". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
  6. ^ Blench, 2006. The Afro-Asiatic Languages: Classification and Reference List
  7. ^ Khan 2008, pp. 6
  8. ^ Turoyo at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  9. ^ Khan 2008, pp. 6
  10. ^ Tekoglu, R. & Lemaire, A. (2000). La bilingue royale louvito-phénicienne de Çineköy. Comptes rendus de l’Académie des inscriptions, et belleslettres, année 2000, 960-1006.
  11. ^ The Fihrist (Catalog): A Tench Century Survey of Islamic Culture. Abu 'l Faraj Muhammad ibn Ishaq al Nadim. Great Books of the Islamic World, Kazi Publications. Translator: Bayard Dodge.
  12. ^ Herodotus, The Histories, VII.63, s:History of Herodotus/Book 7
  13. ^ From a lecture by J. A. Brinkman: "There is no reason to believe that there would be no racial or cultural continuity in Assyria, since there is no evidence that the population of Assyria was removed." Quoted in Efram Yildiz's "The Assyrians" Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies, 13.1, pp. 22, ref 24
  14. ^ Especially in view of the very early establishment of Christianity in Assyria and its continuity to the present and the continuity of the population, I think there is every likelihood that ancient Assyrians are among the ancestors of modern Assyrians of the area." Biggs, pp. 10
  15. ^ Assyrians After Assyria, Parpola
  16. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Northeastern Neo-Aramaic". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
  17. ^ Rollinger, Robert (2006). "The terms "Assyria" and "Syria" again" (PDF). Journal of Near Eastern Studies 65 (4): 284–287. doi:10.1086/511103.
  18. ^ Wilhelm Baum and Dietmar Winkler: The Church of the East: A Concise History. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003. pages 5, 19, 30, 79, 89, 103-104
  19. ^ Wilhelm Baum and Dietmar Winkler: The Church of the East: A Concise History. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003. page 112
  20. ^ Parpola, Simo (2004). "National and Ethnic Identity in the Neo-Assyrian Empire and Assyrian Identity in Post-Empire Times" (PDF). Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies (in English) (JAAS). Vol. 18 (No. 2): pp. 22.
  21. ^ Mar Raphael J Bidawid. The Assyrian Star. September–October, 1974:5
  22. ^ *Beyer, Klaus (1986). The Aramaic language: its distribution and subdivisions. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht. ISBN 3-525-53573-2.

References[edit]

  • Heinrichs, Wolfhart (ed.) (1990). Studies in Neo-Aramaic. Scholars Press: Atlanta, Georgia. ISBN 1-55540-430-8.
  • 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.

See also[edit]

  • Dani Khalil - a Chaldean homicide detective in Low Winter Sun

External links[edit]