Babylonian Aramaic was the form of Middle Aramaic employed by writers in Babylonia between the 4th century and the 11th century CE. It is most commonly identified with the language of the Babylonian Talmud (which was completed in the seventh century) and of post-Talmudic (Geonic) literature, which are the most important cultural products of Babylonian Jews. The most important epigraphic sources for the dialect are the hundreds of Aramaic magic bowls written.
The language was closely related to other Eastern Aramaic dialects such as Mandaic and the Eastern Syriac of the Assyrian Church. Its original pronunciation is uncertain, and has to be reconstructed with the help of these kindred dialects and of the reading tradition of the Yemenite Jews, and where available those of the Iraqi, Syrian and Egyptian Jews. The value of the Yemenite reading tradition has been challenged by some scholars. (The vocalized Aramaic texts with which Jews are familiar, from the Bible and the prayer book, are of limited usefulness for this purpose, as they are in a different dialect.)
Talmudic Aramaic bears all the marks of being a specialist language of study and legal argumentation, like Law French, rather than a vernacular mother tongue, and continued in use for these purposes long after Arabic had become the language of daily life. It has developed a battery of technical logical terms, such as tiyuvta (conclusive refutation) and tiqu (undecidable moot point), which are still used in Jewish legal writings, including those in other languages, and have influenced modern Hebrew.
The language has received considerable scholarly attention, as shown in the Bibliography below. However, the majority of those who are familiar with it, namely Orthodox Jewish students of Talmud, are given no systematic instruction in the language, and are expected to "sink or swim" in the course of Talmudic studies, with the help of some informal pointers showing similarities and differences with Hebrew.