Talk:Syriac language

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misreading?[edit]

Am I misreading it, or does the box header say "Puryaya"? - Mustafaa 23:56, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Thank you, Mustafaa, you are absolutely correct. I find the Unicode characters hard to read, and I thought the first letter looked odd. I've found the right code. For some reason, I thought ܦ looked close enough to ܣ.

Gareth Hughes 19:51, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Number of speakers[edit]

Total speakers: 404,000 fluent

May I ask how did anybody got this figure? I find this very hard to believe.

It's probably the sum of the reported figures in Ethnologue. --Gareth Hughes 13:16, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
But those would be for modern Aramaic/Syriac languages, not for Old/Middle/Classical Syriac! — Preceding unsigned comment added by Linguistatlunch (talkcontribs) 21:59, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

Related - What is the current status of this language? Does any community still use it or teach it as a living language? An explicit comment to that effect would be helpful.--Andyberks (talk) 23:41, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

Which SIL codes apply[edit]

User:Mustafaa reverted my SIL code deletions (which left only SYR (Turyo) and SYC (Syriac) in the list.

I did this with best intentions, to clarify the relationship between Syriac language and Aramaic language, but I'm not an expert and it was only an attempt in bringing both articles in sync.

Hopefully Mustafaa can explain what's really the case and perhaps clarify the relationships.

I started noting this chapter in Aramaic language:

Modern Eastern Aramaic

See Syriac language for more information.

Syriac continues to be spoken in two major dialects: western and eastern. Modern Western Syriac is the language of Tur Abdin in eastern Turkey, and referred to by its speakers, all of whom are Syriac Orthodox as 'Turoyo'. Modern Eastern Syriac is divided into a number of dialects, and is sometimes referred to as 'Assyrian'. Its speakers are mostly Chaldean Catholic or Assyrian Christians. A small community of Jews speak a closely related dialect of Modern Eastern Syriac which they call 'Targumic'.

A few Mandaeans living in the province of Khuzestan in Iran speak Modern Mandaic.

IMHO this chapter implies:

  • "Syriac" is another name for "Modern Eastern Aramaic"
  • "Syriac" consists of two major dialects:
    • Modern Western Syriac = Turoyo
    • Modern Eastern Syriac = Assyrian
      • The latter has further subdivisions

Please clarify.

Pjacobi 21:25, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I admit that the long list of SIL codes looks a bit cumbersome. SIL emphasises 'living' languages, or at least languages that are still in use. Sometimes its classifications look a little bit like an exercise in hair splitting, but I do appreciate this fine level of detail and think the codes should stay.

There is a general confusion between 'Aram', 'Aramaean' and 'Aramaic', and 'Syria', 'Syrian' and 'Syriac'. The latter set is really the Greek translation of former, 'native' words. However, technically, Syriac is an Eastern Aramaic language that runs its own thread within the bigger bundle of Aramaic. Most of the 'Neo-aramaics' are 'Neo-syriacs', but the reverse is not necessarily true. Not all brandies are cognac!

I do intend to write something about Modern Syriac languages, either on this page or in related articles. I'm currently reading through an old tome on Modern Eastern Syriac, as I'm only really familiar with Turoyo. I'll see how that goes.

Gareth Hughes 21:51, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)
OK, do I get this right:
  • You affirm that "Syriac" = "Modern Eastern Aramaic"
  • And all of the long lists of SIL codes here a dialects/sublanguages of "Syriac" = "Modern Eastern Aramaic"
  • The chapter cited above should be more clear, that there are more than two dialects of "Syriac"
Pjacobi 22:46, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I suppose it's still work in progress. The relation between these dialects can be quite obscure. The article is correct, in that it describes two groups of Modern Syriac dialects: Western (which is really Turoyo, but may include the obscure Mlahso) and Eastern (which is diverse). The SIL codes listed are for Classical Syriac (Kthobonoyo), Turoyo, Mlahso, and the Eastern dialects (all the other codes). It seems that Modern 'Targumic' fits in here too, but I'm not sure how. I'm not sure whether this clarifies at all; I hope it does.

Gareth Hughes 01:26, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)


Sorry, but two parts of your answers confuse me:
  • The term "Classical Syriac" - Wasn't the distinction, that Syrian is (part of) modern Aramaic? So, why ist there "classic modern"? Perhaps a concrete time label would help.
  • "The SIL codes listed" - do you mean the SIL codes on Syriac language or the even longer list at Aramaic language? I assume Syriac?
Pjacobi 10:26, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Different Syriacs[edit]

I hope the new lead section helps a wee bit. I was starting to realise that the article wasn't at all clear on what is and what isn't Syriac. In its most restricted sense, Syriac is the local Eastern Aramaic dialect of Edessa and Osrhoene before the advent of Christianity. As that city became a major centre of Eastern-Aramaic-speaking Christianity, Syriac became the liturgical and classical language of Eastern Aramaic Christians, or Syriac Christians. Thus, Syriac is sometimes used to refer to all the different dialects of Eastern Aramaic spoken by Christians as well as the classical language that was originally local to Edessa. Thus, Turoyo and Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, an all the others, are Syriacs in one sense, but not in another. These languages traditionally refer to themselves as Suryaya, Suryoyo or Sureth: Syriac. Is that helpful? Gareth Hughes 16:27, 9 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Direction of writing[edit]

I am using Firefox 1.0.2 (one of the most recent versions) and I can read the Syriac word of the language from left to right as follows: S W(or U) R Y Y (glottal stop). But the article about Syriac alphabet claims "Syriac is written from right to left". Either this statemnet is wrong or letters are entered in wrong order or something is wrong with my browser. BTW Arabic is displayed fine (always in the right order)

Just checked the other browsers. Mozilla displays characters in the same direction as FF, IE and Opera in the other direction. I guess Syriac script is too exotic to Mozilla and FF developers and I'll have to report this problem to them
Exactly, I was looking at this [1] and I couldn't understand why the language is written from right to left. I dont know how to write the language, but I was always told the langauge was written from left to right. Chaldean 06:32, 16 February 2006 (UTC)
Um, have you got your left and right muddled up? Syriac is written from right to left. — Gareth Hughes 11:14, 16 February 2006 (UTC)

Transcription[edit]

I've corrected the phonetic representation. The original /ˌsurˈja.jɑ/ is puzzling. (1) Why the secondary stress on the first syllable? It may sound a bit heavy just because it's a closed syllable, but it surely isn't phonologically stressed. (2) Why are /a/ and /ɑ/ different? In Syriac script they're the same, and if they're slightly different in pronunciation it's a insignificant, automatic (sub-phonemic) result of the difference between a word-final syllable and a medial one, and should not be shown in a phonemic transcription (represented by the slant brackets / /). (The syllable boundary is redundant and superfluous. (If it's left out it could hardly be mistaken for /surˈjɑj.ɑ/, which is virtually unpronounceable.)

Middle (Classical/Literary) Syriac[edit]

Other sources say or imply that there is only one Middle Syriac (the liturgical language for the Church of the East, Syriac Orthodox Church, etc.), and not Eastern and Western branches. Could someone comment on this? Best, Xemxi 10:18, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

The differences between these two varieties of Classical Syriac are mostly superficial: amounting to orthographic and phonemic variation. There are a few differences in vocabulary, but they are minor. Spelling variation also exists for some words that were borrowed late by Syriac: usually where West Syriac would have a Fthoḥo where East Syriac would have Zqāpā. I'll see if I can reword this. — Gareth Hughes 13:44, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
Much appreciated. Xemxi 18:18, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

The Syro-Aramaic Reading Of The Qur'an[edit]

Not sure why no mention of this is in this article. It's probably the most significant modern point of interest about the language to most people who aren't syriac speakers, or syriac christians. ThuranX 06:59, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

Interesting, yes, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it 'most significant'. Non-Muslim media seemed to enjoy it, in rather puerile fashion, anyway. — Gareth Hughes 12:40, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
Fine, nevermind. Wouldn't want to interfere with YOUR article. ThuranX 15:28, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
My questioning of the significance of this book does not deserve such a rude answer. I did not question whether it should be included or not, but just wanted to flag up that saying 'most significant point of interest about the language' is off the mark. Why? Well, it's pretty speculative research that has received a mixed reception in academic circles. Also, there are a lot more interesting books about Syriac that one could read (and some that are aimed at the popular audience). I would expect someone to engage rationally in such a discussion, not to make a cheap snipe at my person. — Gareth Hughes 15:56, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

/n/[edit]

/n/ is an alveolar nasal, not "dental". I would fix it myself, but it proved to be too complicated. — Zerida 19:57, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for noticing that. I've just moved it to the right column. It's not easy, is it? — Gareth Hughes 13:18, 2 June 2007 (UTC)
Definitely not for less technically savvy people like me. Wonderful read though. — Zerida 19:16, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

Syriac Scouting[edit]

Can someone render "Be Prepared", the Scout Motto, into Syriac? Thanks! Chris 04:36, 8 August 2007 (UTC)

The Lord's Prayer[edit]

Listening to this rendition was very touching. Musically reminiscent of medieval chants of the Catholic Church, what was most exciting is that any speaker of Modern Hebrew could easily indentify some of the words. For example: mal'chuto - His Kingdom! Tkeu 09:48, 8 September 2007 (UTC) ليش ما في واحد غير اسرائلي بيهتم باللغة الشورية والله!!ا —Preceding unsigned comment added by LanguageSLO (talkcontribs) 00:02, 26 November 2007 (UTC) لأن في البلاد العربية وبلاد الشرق الأوسط بالجملة ما بيهتموا باللغات الحديثة واللهجات المحلية، للأسف. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 69.112.64.79 (talk) 21:58, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

I've heard that language in which Our Lord Jesus Christ has spoken was Old Aramaic. Can someone confirm that with a source and add it to this article (since I don't know how)? 87.116.148.246 (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 17:33, 25 April 2011 (UTC).

Accusative[edit]

Would some kind person who knows please add information to the Grammar section explaining how the direct object in Syriac is marked. This is not just a problem on this page but several pages about langauges fail to include such basic information. Yes the history of a language is important and you may question the need to include information on how to form the accusative case but for anyone who wants to actually begin to study the language, this is vital information that is not avaliable on the internet as of yet.

The page on Aramaic also lacks this information. I was able to find a scholar who states that (l) used as a prefix is the direct object marker in Aramaic but I do not know this to be true nor do I know that it also applies to Syriac. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 219.127.251.137 (talk) 03:14, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

All the major reference grammars of Syriac (citing from Brock, An Introduction to SyriacStudies: R. Duval, Grammaire syriaque (Paris, 1881) and (above all) T. Nöldeke, Kurzgefasste syrische Grammatik (Leipzig, 2nd ed. 1898; English translation by J.A. Crichton (London, 1904); but also (my addition Brockelmann and e.g. Thackston) have this information. L- (lamed) can be used to introduce the direct object, when it is 'definite'. E.g. _qabblāh (h)wā Yešūʾ l-eggartā_ "Jesus received the letter" (lit.: he received it was Jesus the letter), speaking about a specific, aforementioned letter, not 'a letter'. Simha (talk) 08:34, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

"Modern Syriac"[edit]

The beginning of the article clearly states that this one is about "Old" and "Literary" Syriac and not about the modern Christian Neo-Aramaic languages that sprung from it in one sense or another. I have removed information relevant to the modern language(s) as it should be discussed elsewhere under the various Christian Neo-Aramaic varieties. (Taivo (talk) 11:44, 22 October 2008 (UTC))

rename to Classical Syriac[edit]

Since ISO 639 calls the modern language "Syriac" [2] and the classic language "Classical Syriac" [3] users in Wikipedia introduce wrong links. Solution could be to move this article to "Classical Syriac" or "Classical Syriac language" if desired and make "Syriac language" an overview about the modern Syriac. "Syriac languages" could become an overview about all of them. TalkChat (talk) 21:40, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

Hatnote[edit]

Make a template so that we don't have to type out "other uses".96.53.149.117 (talk) 07:27, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

Poizat reference[edit]

I notice that there has been concern over the inclusion of a paragraph referenced with a nod to Bruno Poizat's little book. Classical Syriac has always referred to itself as ܠܫܢܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ. The adjectival ending ـܝܬ is used in Neo-Aramaic, hence ܣܘܪܬ. The link with various words for 'Assyria' is misleading. Please don't forget that in all varieties of Christian Aramaic it is spelt — ܐܬܘܪܝܐ — with a ܬ rather than a ܣ. It's fairly clear that the term ܣܘܪܝܝܐ/Syriac is derived from Greek. A term like 'Assurit' is a Neo-Aramaic ending stuck onto a Greco-English root; it lacks any historicity. It seems that Poizat is simply repeating things he's been told by speakers of Neo-Aramaic, rather than looked into the history of it. If you need proof, then look at any dictionary of classical Syriac. Robert Payne Smith's Thesaurus Syriacum is fairly hefty, drawing on a wide collections of late-antique and mediaeval Syriac manuscripts. It doesn't have an entry for 'Assurit'. I think that trumps Poizat easily. Also, the reference to the language being spoken by 'Assyrians' is controversial as a prominent proportion of speakers do not self-identify as Assyrian: just the facts, I'm afraid. — Gareth Hughes (talk) 12:01, 18 April 2009 (UTC)

vowels[edit]

Classical Syriac had the following set of distinguishable vowels:

  • Close front unrounded vowel — /i/
  • Close-mid front unrounded vowel — /e/

etc.

Comment: it would be useful to provide one or two example-words after each vowel.

In eastern dialects there is more fluidity in the pronunciation of front vowels, with some speakers distinguishing five qualities of such vowels, and others only distinguishing three.

Comment: this is CLASSICAL Syriac - what do you mean by "speakers" ?!

Vowel length is generally not important: close vowels tend to be longer than open vowels.

Comment: Please provide some source for this statement; among three readily-available handbooks, all which say they are describing the Eastern pronunciation, Takamitsu Muraoka's "Classical Syriac" recommends against transcribing short versus long i or u , and it can be seen that he treats o in the same way too. Thackston's "Introduction to Syriac" treats every i and u as long (which is also clear from his stress rules), but distinguishes between short and long o in his transcriptions. Nöldeke's "Compendious Syriac Grammar" transcribes short vs. long for all five cardinal vowels. - Your statement above does not fit in with any of this tradition, nor do you describe why you have decided to depart from the treatments in these standard texts.Jakob37 (talk) 01:31, 29 November 2009 (UTC)

The first two sentences in the Vowels section are problematic. "As with most Semitic languages, the vowels of Syriac are mostly subordinated to consonants." This is nearly meaningless. The vowels are certainly phonemes in Syriac, one word can differ from another solely by having different vowels, the vowels often have meaningful grammatical function, as do consonants. The only significance of the statement is that the vowels often (far from always) function as morphemes, or parts of morphemes; this information belongs in the grammar section. The second sentence, "Especially in the presence of an emphatic consonant, vowels tend to become mid-centralised", refers to the modern pronunciation, but there's no evidence that it was true at the time Classical Syriac was a living language with its own native speakers. (The emphatic consonants may even have been ejective, and not pharyngealized at that time, in which case this effect on the vowels would probably not exist.) Linguistatlunch (talk) 14:09, 2 October 2011 (UTC)

WP:BEBOLD Face-smile.svg.--Rafy talk 15:37, 3 March 2012 (UTC)

Map of speakers[edit]

I removed a map that was erroneous. Two major issues: 1. The map claimed to show areas with native Syriac speakers. Syriac is a dead language like Latin. Just like Latin, it did evolve into living languages, but just as it would wrong to put a map of Latin America and Mediterrean Europe at Latin language and claim that native Latin speakers live there, so is it wrong here. 2. Most areas in the map do not have even native speakers of modern Aramaic languages. The map showed where there are people belonging to the Syriac church, but that is not the same as being a native Aramaic speaker. Most Syriac Christians speak Malayalam or Arabic as their native language these days. Once again, we can compare with Latin. A map of the Catholic world would be completely wrong to show either Latin speakers or speakers of Romance languages.Jeppiz (talk) 22:06, 4 November 2011 (UTC)

  1. One can also claim that Arabic is a dead language since it's not spoken as a native language any more. The term Syriac denotes both the Classical language which ceased to exist after the 13th century, and a macrolanguage of a number of neo-Aramaic languages spoken by hundreds of thousands. Classical Syriac has been revived, in a way, through Kthobonoyo, There are currently a number of TV and radio station which use this form of neo-Syriac, (Nineveh Radio is one of them).
  2. You have a point regarding the native speakers in the map. I will remove India, Israel, Palestine and Cyprus.
Do you find this map then more suitable here?--Rafy talk 22:50, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
Unfortunately, both maps are bad for Wikipedia as they give the wrong impression. Any map should attempt to provide as correct information as possible, and I fear both of these maps hugely overstate the spread of Syriac. To the best of my knowledge, there are a lot more speakers of languages such as French, Swedish, Danish or Spanish in India than native Syriac speakers, yet nobody would dream about including India on a map of those languages. The best option would be a map that shows exactly where Syriac is still spoken. If we cannot get that, then I suggest that unless at least 1% of the population of a country are native speakers of a language (any language), it should not be included on maps of the language.
In the case of Syriac, we don't need any other map as the article already includes a rather good map showing exactly where Syriac is spoken [4] Jeppiz (talk) 14:39, 5 November 2011 (UTC)
Point taken.--Rafy talk 20:28, 5 November 2011 (UTC)

Request from Wikisource[edit]

At the bottom of this image used on Wikisource, there is a Syriac word that needs to be transcribed. Could someone who knows the language write down this word? Thanks. –abjiklamʙᴊıᴋʟaᴍ[|] 23:38, 18 April 2013 (UTC)

It says Mār(y) (ܡܪܝ), followed by an ellipsis (short for Mardáïád, evidently). --334a (talk) 03:37, 20 April 2013 (UTC)
Thank you. –abjiklamʙᴊıᴋʟaᴍ[|] 05:06, 20 April 2013 (UTC)

The new map[edit]

This map is still wrong. It uses "Syriac" instead of "Aramaic", which hasn't been standard academic usage at least for a century and a half. In particular, the Western Neo-Aramaic dialects (e.g. Ma'loula) are not normally referred to as "Syriac". --91.148.130.233 (talk) 20:27, 18 July 2013 (UTC)

You have a point here. I called it Syriac because this is how vernacular modern Aramaic is known natively called. I will change Syriac to Aramaic.--Kathovo talk 13:20, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

Origins?[edit]

Since when is there any evidence that Syriac originated in Assuristan? Seems to me like another attempt by Assyrian nationalists to Assyrianize everything and twist facts to make their side sound more believable. — Preceding unsigned comment added by SuryanAntiochia (talkcontribs) 05:39, 19 December 2013 (UTC)